I stood up, put my guitar on its stand and reached out my hand to thank Susan for the lesson. She reached into her purse, pulled out $30 in cash and handed it to me. I looked down at the cash with confusion, though I shouldn’t have been confused at all.
I mean, that’s what the agreement was: I’d show her some things on the guitar to help get her started and she’d pay me. But I was confused nonetheless.
I had spent the last 45 minutes sharing my passion with Susan, enjoying every moment of it and here she was handing me cash. I actually forgot that I was getting paid for the session.
That’s when my dream was born.
Over the next two years, I took steps towards making guitar lessons my life. It wasn’t easy. I still had to work at my day job while building my student roster. I also had to learn how to build the infrastructure of my business. I read several books on how to start a business. I spoke with business and tax consultants. I learned how to do basic accounting. Those two years were filled with a lot of work, excitement, and passion. I also experienced a lot of self-doubt.
And here enters the hero of my story.
My wife Pam could have advised me to stay with my day job at a printing company – it was secure and paid well – and she would have been prudent and justified. She could’ve encouraged me to keep guitar playing and lessons as a hobby and to stick with my job.
But she didn’t.
Pam knows a thing or two about passion and having a career that aligns with your personal mission. She knows how much happiness that can bring to your life. She’s a journalist. Pam has bylines every day in The Baltimore Sun, a dream she’s had since she was a child. So, when she saw that twinkle in my eye after that first lesson with Susan, she recognized it immediately. It was that same passion she has for journalism and the role it has in preserving our democracy. When she saw that twinkle, she saw my dream being born, too.
Right away, without wavering one bit, Pam supported and encouraged me to do whatever I could to make my dream possible, even though it meant that she’d have to make sacrifices. I am forever grateful for that. She helped me change my life for the better in a profound way.
Finally, after building my business and a steady roster of students, it was time to make the switch. I gave my employer four weeks notice that I would be leaving my job to pursue my guitar lessons business full-time. My last day working for The Man was February 4th, 2011.
Since then, I have been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. Why? Because despite giving over 12,000 lessons since then, it feels like I haven’t worked a single day.
Just like that first lesson with Susan, I love every guitar-pickin’ minute of it.
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit www.ewguitar.com.