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Commitment Time! (Taking the big leap)

It's official - I've given my two week notice and I'm quitting my research programming job to put full effort into my workflow coaching practice. Joining the ranks of the self-employed is exciting and frightening, and I'm sure it'll increase my rate of lessons learned per day (see Some thoughts from tracking "lessons learned" for a year).

After hearing the news, a friend asked me why in the world I'd risk leaving a stable job - with great people, fine pay, retirement, health insurance, etc. - for something with no guarantees, especially as I'm a parent and husband. The best answer I came up with: I want to know how the story's going to end, and I can't do that without a major commitment.

I like how Timothy Butler puts it in Is Your Job Your Calling:
Everyone tries to do something that seems like the wise thing to do-but that you shouldn't do: compromise [emphasis added]. You've got two competing needs or desires-say, independence and security-and you try to find the position that's halfway between them. Typically that doesn't work.
In my case, it's simply that I'm driven to do this - I feel I have no choice. I want to help people feel better about their work and lives, and to do their important work and living with minimal stress and maximum creativity, intelligence, and authenticity. I've seen the results in myself and my clients, and I'm a believer.

In the future I'll be continuing to build my practice, stretching into marketing, sales, and networking, as well as continued professional development by reading, taking classes, and experimenting. And of course doing all this and still enjoying the ride.

Specifically, I'll be focusing on medium and large organizations in the Northeast, mostly New England, but I'll be doing some flying as well. Wish me luck! (Naturally, if you know someone who could use my help, I'd appreciate your referral.)

Let me leave you with a longish but wonderful passage from Fred Gratzon's article The Secret to Attracting Resources:
Basically, a business sprouts out of some playing or fiddling with an idea. Initially you are driven by your curiosity, or your interest, or your passion, or your natural talent. As you are playing around, you find that the process makes you happy. That is a wonderful early indication that you are on the right track. You're having fun and that leads to more knowledge, sophistication, and skill. That increase in expertise in turn increases the fun. And so it goes, higher and higher.

Eventually you come to a point in this merry journey when you get a glimpse into the future. At that time you get a clear idea of what it will take to be a roaring success in your particular undertaking. In other words, you see what is required to take your current fun and games to a higher, more productive level.

You have now come to an important moment. Here you begin to appreciate that to progress any further, you are going to have make a substantial leap, and that leap is embodied in one word - commitment. You realize that for your project to be truly successful, you are going to have to make an increased commitment in time and/or money.

It can be scary vision. There is overwhelming risk and there are no guarantees. Most people back off at this point. They think of how much money they could lose, or how awful failure would feel, or how much time could be wasted, or how embarrassing falling on their faces could be.

However, those who are exhilarated by the process, or are driven by their passion, or are so desperate that they have no other choice, take that leap.

If you take the leap by making the commitment, here is where the magic begins. That commitment turns out to be Mother Nature's price of admission. Once you make that commitment, Nature rushes in and miraculously supplies you with the resources to take your endeavor to the next level.
Thanks, Fred!

Reader Comments (26)

What an inspiring post, Matt. I'm happy you're taking this step and wish you all the best!

January 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Gibbon

Thanks very much, Jim.

January 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

All the very best, Matt. I am confident that this new adventure will be a great success.

This is a farewell to the research programming job, but not to this great blog, right?

January 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPascal Venier

Hey, Pascal. Yes, I should have said: I'll continue to blog, and to take on any fascinating programming projects that might come up. Thanks!

January 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Hi Mattew,
I came across your blog for the first time. It has a collection of interesting post. Indeed a useful find!
As for the current post, I am happy for you. Most people just think of change but don't carry through. On that note, I say congrads..

Wish you all the best on your new path.

January 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEnhance Life

Thanks very much, Shamelle.

BTW, I appreciated your post [ What Every Blogger Ought To Know About Outstanding Bloggers | http://enhancelifethinktank.blogspot.com/2007/01/couple-of-weeks-ago-john-wrote-post.html ] - good tips!

January 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Way to go Matt!!

January 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Hi, Matt, congratulations on your decision. I never regretted making the same decision five or six years ago. It's amazing how things open out before you once you make a commitment and start moving.

January 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark Forster

Tom: Thanks very much!
Mark: I very much appreciate your support and encouragement. It'll be fun.

January 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Best of success to you, Matt.

If you;ve not already read it, I strongly recommend that you read the E-Myth, by Michael Gerber.

This book was a great help to me 18 years ago. Only only wish I'd read it 25 years ago when I started as an independent consultant.

January 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEric Mack

Thanks, Erik. And I'll definitely check out the book - good tip.

January 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

So it sounds like your Independence Day will be Jan. 26, 2007. Celebrate this day every year. Where will your story lead you? Now it is your own story to tell. Yea! Quit the man!

One book I'm finding valuable is "In Action: Building a Successful Consulting Practice" by Jack Phillips . It has 12 case studies from small (1 or 2 person) consulting businesses and the type of businesses they run our training, productivity, performace improvement. I found reading real stories more interesting.

January 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJon Pappas

Thanks a bunch, Jon. I love the suggestion of celebrating the anniversary! I also appreciate the book tip. You reminded me of this post, which I found helpful: [ 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job | http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/07/10-reasons-you-should-never-get-a-job/ ]

January 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

just read your [ LinkedIn profile | http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewcornell ] and congrats on creating a new life for yourself!

it's been a pleasure keeping in touch with you and let me know I may be of assistance to you at any time.

good luck in your new adventures!

ps. look fwd to discussing research prototype collaborations further!

January 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDancin Forever

Much appreciated, Chinarut.

January 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Great post Matt & congratulations!

You might want to check out Pamela Slim's Escape from Cubicle Nation blog/podcast for more ideas/inspiration at


January 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBob Walsh

It's nice to hear from you, Bob - thanks! And I agree, Pamela's blog is great. Just today I bookmarked her post [ Escape from Cubicle Nation: Yes are great, nos are great, maybes will kill you | http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/get_a_life_blog/2007/01/yess_are_great_.html ]

January 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Congrats Matt! You're moving on to bigger and greater things :)

If I haven't recommended you this book before, I'll recommend it now:

[ Getting Started in Personal and Executive Coaching : How to Create a Thriving Coaching Practice | http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=alvinnsblog-20%26link_code=xm2%26camp=2025%26creative=165953%26path=http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html%253fASIN=0471426245%2526tag=alvinnsblog-20%2526lcode=xm2%2526cID=2025%2526ccmID=165953%2526location=/o/ASIN/0471426245%25253FSubscriptionId=0EMV44A9A5YT1RVDGZ82 ]

It's a useful little guide to the business side of coaching.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAlvin

Alvin: Thanks for the good wishes, and the book pointer.

January 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell


Congratulations on taking the leap! I hope you will continue to blog so we can all follow your adventures. As a consultant,you might find use for the products at Jaxtr.com and Ether.com which can help your clients connect to you using thir computers. I may sign up for them myself soon...they seem fascinating. Anyway, good luck!!!

January 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterManny

Manny - thanks very much for your kind wishes, and for reading. I'm certainly planning to continue blogging - it's my way of figuring out what I'm thinking, and for getting feedback on ideas from my great readers.

Thanks also for the pointers. I think they're clever, esp. Ether. Given my perspective on [ Value-based Fees | http://www.matthewcornell.org/blog/2006/11/books-value-fees-and-major-changes-in.html ], I don't think the latter is for me. I have to think about it, though - thank you!

January 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Congratulations on deciding to make the move! Your blog is one that inspired me early on, and it's cool to see how you're continuing to push your personal envelope. Rock on!

January 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDave Seah

Thanks so much, Dave. Your note meant a lot to me, given the success you've had with your work and blog. Much appreciated!

January 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell


Wow! Way to go. I've been self-employed for the past 5 years and love it. Though I'm not sure my job is my calling it is nice to call my own shots, pass on bad assignments, and reap the fruits of my own work.

Best of luck to you,


February 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGTDjedi

James, thanks very much for your kind words. Five years is great! I completely get what you're saying about control - I feel it's a privilege to be able to make those choices and learn from those mistakes. Well said!

February 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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