June ’04. I had just quit my job selling mufflers at Midas. I went for 6 weeks without making a single dollar. It was one of those wonderful warm summer weekends you get in the Midwest… yet it was as though I couldn’t sleep, eat or breathe. The pit in my stomach grew daily, I was terrified. I took a leap of faith, quit a decent paying job, to pursue a full time career in online marketing and almost like a little bird who decides to jump out of the nest a just a couple days too early, only to find the ground is patiently waiting to reach up and smack him in the face.
I was sure I would have to go back to my job. Mentally, I was flailing. Questioning myself incessantly, feeling stupid for deciding to quit so soon. I was throwing every piece of crap I could conjure at the walls in hope of making something stick. Only to have it fall right back into my face and burn my eyes.
This dream, that I thought I was entitled to be fulfilling, was crumbling in front of me like concrete made without limestone. I felt a sense of pending doom and panic come over me, unlike anything I had ever (and now will never) experience. I found myself paralyzed with fear, crippled with debt, completely insolvent. Credit cards maxed out, unable to pay my rent, and out of money. Out of time.
It wasn’t long after the proverbial ton of bricks hit me. The solution MUST be inside me, hiding in some back corner of my subconscious mind, covered by the web of paralyzing fear and chatter. The solution was there from the beginning, patiently and simply waiting to be discovered. The whisper of the solution was drowned out by the static of my fear. I was days away from railroading myself back to my job, and my old defeated way of thinking. Back to a way of life where I was sitting victim and being defined by my circumstances.
I made the decision right then and there. The decision that I would refuse to revert into the old person who was powerless, and paralyzed by fear. I was going to create my own circumstances, regardless of the cost. As a reactive being, I prepared myself mentally to live in a cardboard box should that be required. But going back, admitting defeat, was no longer an option. I burned the boats. This was it.
If you know depression. I know it as well.
If you know panic, and every other fight and flight response. I know them better.
If you are broke. I was likely more broke.
If you are afraid, and know fear. I was just as terrified.
I decided to try to go inside, and retain the power that I knew was lying dormant in me. To take the initiative to recreate my circumstances the way I wanted them to be created. It became clear to me to persist, even just a little longer than I thought possible, a solution would appear. Not an indignant refusal to quit, but rather a calm knowing, that I could do it too. Not unlike the thousands of successful entrepreneurs that have proven the dream of free enterprise is attainable, if you are willing to pay the price to earn it.
Lose my house and get evicted? Big deal.
Suck it up and work a couple side jobs to pay the bills? Who cares.
Sell my couch to buy groceries? Not so bad.
Sleep less? I will sleep when I am dead.
Allow my ego to learn its place? Finally.
Now, I am not here to present to you a overly simplified recollection of the events. Or make this sound easy. All I know is that once I was able step OUT of my head, and start to truly trust myself, my innate ability (that we all share) to formulate systematic solutions for each of the problems I was facing, started to happen organically.
In the end, I didn’t have to go back to my job. I didn’t have to call any more friends or family for more bailout funds. I didn’t have to spend another dollar that I didn’t have on leads. Most importantly, I didn’t have to allow the fear to continue to suffocate me. It was clear the only person that I could trust, or needed was myself. The cacophonous clamor of my mind was drowning them out, Like an old tube radio, slightly off tune, the crackling static tuned into a clear message like a calming symphony.
Within 10 days of this weekend experience, now over five years ago, I was on the leader-board for top sales in my company. I was being recognized nationally and mentioned on calls. I was now an example of someone that “Could.”
I say this not to brag, but to rather fortify the notion that we ALL have what it takes inside. Somewhere along the journey we forget.
I choose to remember, and I choose to remember it well. I choose to remember that if I keep my head down, stay humble about my success, take responsibility for my failures, I can continue to contribute more to society than I take. Somehow, we all know inside that the secret to a happy and fulfilled life as an entrepreneur is really nothing more than this: Giving more than you take.
What are you giving? What are you taking? Who are you going to help get closer to their dreams today? Who are you going to challenge to become a more selfless person? Who are you going to inspire? How are you going to be the tide that raises all of the boats in YOUR harbor?
Figure out how to answer these questions, and you won’t know what to do with the abundance that begins to flow. To me, that’s ultimately all it took. Looking back it seems easy, but for everyone of you still trying to earn your way, there is no circumventing this lesson.
And if there was, it probably wouldn’t be honest and right. Madoff come to mind?
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