Lydia Lee was a self-described “multi-potentialite” growing up and loves to experiment and play games growing up. You can probably draw a straight line from her hosting television shows for the stuffed animals in her room to her current YouTube channel Screw The Cubicle TV. However, life is never that simple.
In University Lydia was drawn to many different things but did not know anyone who was taking a different path so she kept exploring within the context of the corporate world. To deal with her underlying curiosity, she kept moving to different jobs: “two years was the maximum that I could last.”
Burning Out In Moscow
Lydia was working 60 hours a week, “thinking about work the whole time” and had not taken a vacation in five years. The stress caught up to her in Moscow when she was traveling on a work trip. It was burnout. It presented itself not only as a feeling that something was “off” (she said that had been there for years) but as something that was physical. She had a panic attack and a feeling of “agoraphobia” and not wanting to leave her hotel room. She also reflects now and believes that burnout is often a deeper call for more creative expression. She said: “part of the burnout for me was that I was a creative person.”
Meeting That First Friend
Many of us can grasp conceptually that different options are available to us, but it does not become real until we connect with another person who has done it. This happened to Lydia during a two-month vacation to her home country in Malaysia. While on a boat, she struck up a conversation a man from Germany who was running a business remotely. This piqued her interest and planted the seeds for her to start to think about her work and life in a new way. When she returned to Canada, she re-visited Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week with new eyes and started to apply some of the lessons to how she might work with more freedom.
A Journey Of Learning & Experiments
A question I often get from people who want to leave the corporate world is “how do I get a job doing x?” Lydia and I talk about how this is often the wrong framing. Creating your own job is more about a series of experiments and evolution of where your creative energy takes you. Even this language can be a bit uncomfortable for people to grasp. We live in a world that operates around getting “access” to a job, not creating it.
Lydia now lives in Bali building a business she is passionate about. Was that the plan? No. Often with many entrepreneurs, the first thing they do is not what they end up sticking with. The shift from full-time work to a different world often comes with a deeper shift about what is possible.
Lydia was running her first business and blogging on the side about her journey when someone reached out about coaching them on helping him carve his own path. Freeling a bit hesitant about her coaching skills, she decided to create her own “internship” if you will so she could get the experience. She decided she would reach out to her network and ask eight people to commit to eight weeks with her. She offered the coaching for free and in the process created a priceless 64-hour coaching training for herself which enabled her to understand who she liked working with, what she still needed to learn and help her figure out if she wanted to do more of it.
What About The Pineapples?
If you go to Lydia’s site, you will see purple pineapples. Like this one:
I asked her about this and she said that a client she worked with described her as a pineapple: someone direct and firm on the outside, but inside really cares about the people she works with. She likes working with people who are comfortable being challenged and has had such success with her clients because of this approach!