Finding passion in your work is something we all want right???
Or at least it’s an ideology that most of us think about from time to time.
The trick is realizing that passion isn’t exclusively found in corner offices or executive suites. In fact, I found my passion as far from the boardroom as one can get, the unsexy and often overlooked industry of window cleaning.
This is the story of how I went from recording Grammy winning records with world class artists like Brian Adams, AC DC and Micheal Buble to building a $1M window cleaning business and ultimately franchising the systems I created to inspire others like me to chase their unconventional dreams to the top of their proverbial mountain.
I have been an extremely driven person my entire life and at a young age I discovered a recording device at a garage sale and began to record my friends highschool bands. I loved recording music and quickly made the decision that recording music would be my “job” when I grew up. From that day forward I obsessively learned everything there was to know about the recording industry and practiced by giving my services away for free in my hometown until I graduated high school and set off for Vancouver to realize my dream in Canada’s most musical city.
I applied for and was accepted to a prestigious private recording school, where I graduated at the top of my class a full semester earlier than scheduled because I had completed the 24 month curriculum in only 12 months. At this point I was ready to turn my passion into my income. So I set off to relentlessly pursue each and every studio in town regardless of how many times I was turned away.
The Top of the Mountain
Finally after months of calling I was granted an interview at the top studio in the city. And arguably one of the top in the world. The Warehouse Studio’s owned by none other than Bryan Adams. After years of climbing, the top of my mountain was in sight.
I was hired on the spot and began working as a studio runner aka a coffee pot filler. It seemed like a dream come true. The work ethic and relentless drive of chasing a goal that I was truly passionate about combined with a little luck had landed me exactly where I wanted to be. I now worked alongside world class artists whose music I loved.
From here, I slowly worked my way up from a Runner to an Assistant Engineer. Eventually, I was helping shape the music that would go on to win awards and become top 40 hits. But something was wrong… The passion I had anticipated was gone. My calling had become my job and the joy quickly turned into obligation. The problem was that I was constantly reminding myself how hard I worked to achieve this goal.
The Trap of Getting What You Wanted
I kept telling myself I had gotten exactly what I wanted, regardless of whether I was enjoying my work. This negative self talk was forcing me to keep “enjoying” my work and to be grateful for how lucky I was. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the studio, the people or the industry I had chosen. The problem lied with my expectations of what the top of the mountain would look like.
I was unfulfilled by my career and stuck in the trap of not wanting to throw it all away. After a decade, it seemed like a waste. I continued on this way for almost a year before I made an extremely difficult decision. One day, I decided to put my actual happiness ahead of what I thought should make me happy. This is when I leapt off the mountain that I had been climbing for ten years. I resigned from my position and walked out the door of the Warehouse Studio for the last time. I left in search of something I wasn’t sure existed…my passion.
A New Perspective
On that same day I was walking the downtown streets of Vancouver heading back to my apartment. Looking up, I saw a high-rise window cleaner washing one of the many downtown condos. I thought to myself, maybe washing windows would be a good way to earn an income while I try to figure out what’s next. So, I did what I had done in the past and inserted myself into the opportunity.
I sat on a bench and waited for the window cleaner to clean all the way to the ground. When he got down I approached him and asked for a job. He was slightly confused but decided to give me a shot. I started the next day and immediately felt a connection with the work. I loved being outside and the instant gratification of the work really resonated with me. While I enjoyed the work, from the early days I found myself extremely passionate about the opportunity.
Finding Passion in Your Work
Everywhere I looked I saw glass and fantasized about starting a company to clean it. It seemed to me that there were more dirty windows than could possibly be cleaned and all the window cleaning companies I could find appeared to be mom and pop operations who were giving lackluster service to a market that was begging to be brought into the 21st century. I realized at this time that the passion I had been looking for was actually the challenge of building and working towards something rather than achieving a specific goal.
So, in 2012 I made the leap from technician to entrepreneur. This was my aha moment. My life became filled with challenges to work towards and the opportunities seemed endless. Rather than having a top, my mountain just kept growing and I loved the climb. Over the next 9 years I worked to develop technology that would change how windows were cleaned, and build a business that was generating over a million dollars in revenue and growing! I surrounded myself with an amazing team who shared my vision and we all kept climbing together. I was finding passion in my work.
Building New Mountains
We built an amazing franchise system where others could feel the excitement that I felt when the opportunity in the industry of window cleaning presented itself to me. I am a builder at heart and my job, as it stood now, was to help others build amazing businesses and achieve their own goals using the systems we put in place to find purpose in their work and find passion in their career. By this point I don’t need to tell you how much I enjoy what I do for a living. Still, I can’t help but think, if I had stopped searching when I reached the top of an industry. An industry that left me feeling unfulfilled. I would have never found what I love to do – help other builders build amazing companies and find their passion.
If you are reading this and seeing yourself at the crossroads of making a paycheque vs finding fulfillment in what earns you a living, it might be time to change what you do and find passion in your work. Leaving your comfort zone to start fresh will not be easy. But in my experience, climbing the mountain is far more enjoyable than sitting on top. And who knows, you may even find your passion lies in an opportunity as overlooked as the windows you stare through everyday.
Founder/CEO Elite Window Cleaning
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