How it began

I was 21 years old when I started looking for a job after quitting my studies. As with everything that is new, the new job was good fun. But as with everything that is new, the newness tends to wear of. So after some time, my thinking became less colourful, I felt no longer on top of the world. I started to notice that I only could ‘live and enjoy life’ in my free time, which were after working hours and in weekends. And so it seemed that everyone around me was looking forward to the end of their career, so that they could finally do what they have been dreaming of for so long. But that was still 40 years ahead of me. So I will be 70 when I can finally enjoy freedom? Oh my… This doom scenario got the best of me after a dreadful long period of thinking and overthinking. The first doubts came up when I was around 25 years old. It took over 4 years to make the single decision to set myself free and to quit my 9-to-5-job in a big company. The only decent solution that I came up with to earn an income to live the life that I wanted was to become my own boss and start a business. Freedom was my main thrive, so as long as I could arrange my own agenda I would be more than happy. I had some savings which would be enough to get me going.

How it evolved

Building a business from scratch without knowing how to get started is not easy. But even though I knew this wouldn’t be a walk in the park, it was still harder than I imagined, but in different ways. Compare starting a business with getting a train to move by mere hand power. Once there is slight movement, it gets fairly easy to increase the speed of the train. The most difficult part, however is not getting the train to move, but to keep it moving while being in control of it. One of the biggest pitfalls in running a business is growth. My business train did derail because of high speed. Once the train goes too fast, it is really hard to take back the control. All I wanted in the beginning was freedom, which meant to make up my own agenda. When to work and especially when not to work. It didn’t take too long before my agenda was being arranged for me, full with deadlines. I was back at the beginning, with only moments to enjoy life when I was not working, which became even more scarce compared to working in a 9-to-5-job. My train had picked up too much speed and was heavily overloaded. A crash was inevitable, the only question was when it was about to happen.

How I changed

I decided to let it crash with some kind of control so that the damage was not too big. Painful but still alive, I needed a period to think about what had happened. Where did I go wrong? How can success lead to failure? What caused me to make certain decisions? Why didn’t anyone help me out here? This period of inquiry took me down the path of self-reflection. I started realizing that it was not life’s fault, nor anyone else’s fault that my business train derailed. I looked around me and saw that also my private life got damaged very hard. But by reconstructing my train and making new roads, I managed to put myself out there again. I picked up the pieces and started building. I noticed that owning a business is a perfect tool to learn more about myself, others and the environment.
I didn’t know exactly how to rebuild it all without falling in the same traps again. I realized I needed help, I needed the knowledge and experience of others. Books, videos, real life people and the environment around me showed all the answers that I was looking for. It is a matter of seeing things in the right perspective and a never ending journey of learning. This insight lead me to founding ‘Extra Paar Handen’, which is a Dutch expression for offering help to others. You and I all need help from others to succeed in whatever challenge that comes our way. I never stopped asking questions in order to learn more. While I still have so many questions left unanswered with new ones coming in my life every day, I am happy with the questions that I have been able to answer.

How to help changing or change helping

Nowadays, I embrace change as a way of learning, using change as a tool and not seeing it any longer as a burden of life. Change is what keeps us going and growing. The way you and I do business has an impact on our society. It is of great importance that we finally step up and change the way business is done by emphasizing on helping rather than on profits. A conscious entrepreneur knows that profits are a consequence of helping and that it shouldn’t be the other way around. It’s my quest to help that new style of entrepreneurship take over the steering wheel so that as many people are affected by those positive vibes that change can bring. Enjoying life with work being a natural part of it.

How to help – The Conscious Business Model

I have developed a model in order to help myself out when dealing with certain situations:
  • Overcoming obstacles
  • Learning a new skill
  • Teaching or explaining
The concept is very simple and comes natural. In short, there are 4 levels that you need to figure out in order to fully understand something. I have given these layers following names:
  1. Structure = how you perceive something
  2. Strategy = how you think about something
  3. Network = how you (inter)act
  4. Heart = how you are
All these levels are strongly connected with one another and influence each other. The way how you see things will have an impact on how you think about it in order to come up with a strategy that works for you. Vice versa, the strategic thinking might force you to expand your knowledge and influence your perspective on the matter. When you figured out a plan in order to overcome or to learn something, you will take that first step in real life expecting a certain result, hopefully bringing you closer to the end goal you have in mind. When the result is not as expected or as good, things need to be re-evaluated. So the strategic part and the network part are strongly influencing each other. Throughout the process of going through these levels, emotions are used as guidance. In the steps you take towards reaching your goals, emotions will show you the way by being experienced as positive or negative. Nature has given us always two options: good = continue as such and negative = there’s a better way to continue. The emotional level is situated at the heart of our being and influences all levels. The heart level is what makes you unique and authentic. A conscious business owner is on his way to mastering the skill of perception, strategic thinking and using emotions to follow the right path of actions which will show the true purpose of that business attracting more people alongside it. You can read more about the Conscious Business Model here.

How you can help

With this article, I am asking you to join the new way of doing business. Make your business a conscious one that is focused on offering help to others but not forcing them into taking your help when they actually can’t really benefit from it. Growth happens when an organism helps the environment. In return, the environment will support the organism with all that it needs. It is my strong appeal to you, to start thinking about the daily choices you make. Figure out why you are making these choices and what the consequences are. Are your decisions based upon values that exist within you or are they based upon external motivation such as money, fame, recognition, …? Change the way you see and think. Align your actions with your existence. Success will follow.