It’s been 1094 days since I quit my job and went full-time into running ME as a company and sprinting after dreams like I was meant to. To encourage all of you others who are on the fence, in the thick of it, or still waiting for your chance, here are some of the lessons I learned reflecting back on my 3+ year timeline!
- Your biggest wall and barrier and enemy and hater (the list goes on….) is you.
Dreaming many nights as a kid, I remember floating high in the sky. It was a terrifying dream – watching myself float against a dark, cloudy sky in what seemed to be an abyss with nothing solid to touch or land on. There was no sound, nothing happening, and no action taking place. It was solitude.
But, there was someone else floating with me.
For years, as I circled around myself, staring intensely at another person, nearly nose-to-nose in epic dragon ball battle format, I realized something chilling.
The person I was standing face to face against was none other than myself.
In regular fashion of self-deprecating, I was the guy mad at himself for not getting up on time, or not working enough hours (more on that to come in number 5) or not celebrating a success with the team.
When I learned that I needed to get out of my own way, spend time finding better systems to keep me moving forward and out of my own way, and was more honest about what might have been holding me back, I was able to climb the walls and barriers faster and with more ease.
To do that, I stepped up big time to number 2, and I would recommend that if you’re in your own way, you do the same to get yourself more in-tune with the fact that you’re likely holding yourself back and screwing up your own progress.
- Money is energy – and spending energy on self-development always pays you back
3 years ago, I would have snuffed my nose up to investing in a course or spending to join a peer group. I could do it on my own, after all.
More importantly, I wanted to.
But the reality was that at those points where I turned my nose up to investing in myself, I was being bullish by refusing to accept that I didn’t know something. Deeper than that, I was denying myself the chance to learn and denying myself the reality that as I learned, I would get better and my business would do better.
But I was basically insane, going about my business and doing the same thing over and over and expecting to one day get to abundance. Nonsensical!
Not only was that impossible, but I had the wrong idea completely.
This last 12 months, from mid-2017, I’ve invested a total of $8,145. 17 in myself. Courses, summits, networking groups, etc. Want to know how much my business has grown since then?
Nearly $58, 977.41. Would you say it was worth it? What’s holding you back from investing in yourself?
Find a course, mentor or peer group that can hold you to the fire of your own dreams, STFU about what you think you know and go learn it, and then come back to me and tell me it wasn’t the best decision you’ve made.
There. Challenge issued.
- Paydays come from Persistence.
No. No. No. No. No. No. YES! That’s how it goes.
There’s two truths here.
- Don’t think that you should be living in the whole “10% of your calls will be successful, so just make a TON of them.” That probably means your calls don’t showcase your product or your pitching is self-centered, rather than you looking to solve someone’s problem. But, you’ll still have to make a lot of them. The trick is to iterate quickly – learn what’s missing, learn what works, and get to the point where you can nail more calls at a higher rate. But you’re going to have to put in the time to learn it, and persistence through the NO period is key.
- Second, frustration is good. If you’re not angry that you’re not selling, if you don’t suffer a little bit, then you probably aren’t going to make it very far anyway. Because, at every level there are challenges and things that get you frustrated, and things that don’t work. So, pull your heart strings together, toughen up your skin, stiffen up that upper lip, and keep going through the hard times. The sunlight is just beyond the clouds.
- Get quick at identifying things you’re bad at; the faster you do, the faster the company grows
I wore a pendant for a while that helped me keep my mind on my attitude. It was a Jack of Hearts, and I was the Jack of all Trades, with a love for knowledge. But – I eventually had to retire that.
I found while hunting on the interwebs that the poem I knew was unfinished as it was often said:
Jack of all trades, master of none.
But really, it was written WAY back in the early days as:
Jack of all trades, master of none, oft times better than the master of one.
I was hooked. THIS WAS ME! Marketing, Consulting, designing, personal training, painting, coaching, start upping…. the list went on and on! I learned a lot, but man I was pulled in SO many directions.
I’ve since retired this Jack, as it can no longer be me. You see, I was using this phrase as justification to learn anything try anything, and delegate little so I could learn.
This would be fine if I was at a full-time job – as taking on more assignments and learning from them is a great policy. But in the land of startups, this is a flippin’ death trap!
Speed is the game out here, and while I was learning my tail off, I was slowing everything down.
Once I took an inventory of the things I was truly best at (read also, best practiced at), I was able to find people to do the other work faster. Now that we’re up and moving faster with more income coming in, that is essentially how other jobs get created. Go figure.
Now I feel like duh, but serious advice here for other ‘jack of all trades’ types out there – lay down your pride, pick a few things you’re good at, and learn more about those skills rather than spreading yourself thin. Everything you’ve done to date, all that web work, marketing, product design, and all that – keep it with you.
You never know when you’ll call on it or when you’ll use that experience to connect two dots from two industries that create a brilliant mix!
When you can admit what you’re not good at, you can not only find the right person, but you will then know your strengths and be able to really lean into them too.
- Keep doing those humbling gritty tasks and celebrate the team wins
I was at an Ortus Academy event recently. The team and I were all done, and they were all huddling together, sharing stories and laughing. I knew we had a tight deadline to clear the room and get out of there.
You know those CEOs or leaders that go down to the janitors or boxing department and get ridiculed for being bad workers? Yeah, that won’t be me. Now, I might not be able to do everything, see above, but I can at least be unafraid of getting my hands dirty.
I was picking up the crayons left on the floor, sweeping up trash, and more.
And the best part is, I loved it!
The staff was sharing how enjoyable the event was, and how special the day was to the kids.
In a case like that, they deserve the chance to relish in the victory.
Five minutes later, after they were done celebrating, they all took a hand in the cleanup and we knocked it out and left. But I do believe that leaders lead from the front and serve the cause and the group before themselves. Rather than delegate the gritty stuff, take it on and see how transformative it can be for your team.
To my second point – I have had YEARS of moments where I chose to get back to work rather than celebrate a team win. After effort and energy is expended, let me share this massive lesson with you, in hopes you learn from it:
An hour spent celebrating with your team, cherishing the moments together, and building the chemistry and comradery needed to grow, is worth 50x what the one hour would be of un-energetic work after a long day.
Take it from me, build the team, and you’ll go further anyway.
- Finding better ways to do something at the start will teach you how to find better ways, but eventually, just fkn pay for it
This goes back to my Jack comment, number 4.
You know that guy that will work 4 hours to save himself $4? Been there.
A friend of mine once asked me why I had food delivered to my house. I was getting a service, HelloFresh, to deliver weekly meals, so I didn’t have to shop as much and had meals available.
Her argument was that I could save likely $20-30 a week, $120 a month, on food if I shopped at a market. I appreciated her concern, but here’s the reality.
If I have food delivered weekly, I save roughly 5 hours a month – the 15-minute drive both ways (30), 20 minutes in the store, 8 at the register, and 7 texting in the parking lot while I sit in my car. I still need to kick that habit.
In 5 hours, I can make WAY more than $120. In fact, at just my personal training rate, I could earn $350+ with that time.
Ease or pay – do the math, figure out if it’s worth it. And if not, spend the flipping money and go get you some more!
- Balance is not a real thing. Harmony is a better objective
Ask any entrepreneur or found or whatever you call us. Don’t count the guy or girl that wants to start a company but always finds a reason not to. Also, don’t count a guy that buys a franchise. I don’t think those belong in the same definition of the word.
But ask them about balance – about how many hours they take off, and how many days in a row they work. I just hit 43 days in a row, no days off. Even on a day “off” I’m likely to answer emails and plan out items or manage the team or be on the phone.
Balance is a myth in this world.
But harmony can exist.
Laden with passion, I love what I do and don’t want a whole lot of time off. That’s what got me here in the first place, through all the frustrations and need for persistence (see number 3). But, that means balance is not possible; still, there’s a need for something.
Be it not rest, or sleep, or love, or what-have-you, you may still need breaks and respites. Based on your aspirations and dreams, you may need or want less, but with the idea of Harmony in mind, your life should still be moving forward in all directions.
Harmony to me, in this context, is: The ability to create a lasting and perpetual lifestyle of work, play, and learning based on solid prioritization and alignment with purpose and goals.
With harmony, it’s not really taking a vacation. When I travel, it’s to reconnect with my creative side by changing my environment, and to experience new things with a new lens so that I can add more value to our business through that lens.
I don’t want to get away, even if I do book southwest a lot.
- It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – PLUS how you know them
I knew a guy that was a total dick to me the first time I met him, let’s call him Mike. Like – mean for no reason. He asked me to connect him to another friend of mine who we will call Dave, as he thought he’d be a great client.
I agreed with him, because what he was selling WAS a good fit for my other friend and would solve one of Dave’s problems.
The issue was that Dave was a phenomenal friend. And, I didn’t want to damage that relationship, not only for myself, but for all the referrals I would later be able to add back into Dave’s life.
So, I didn’t refer Mike.
Now, before you throw the judgment book at me, imagine this:
If the world worked where it didn’t matter how you treated people, only on the product you offer, how would you pick who to buy from?
We all like to buy from people we like. We like to work with people we like. Maybe we don’t get the option, but I’m willing to bet if you did, you’d choose based on likeability.
So, before you go about spreading negativity, burning former teammates, treating people you work with or for poorly, keep this in mind. You never know how and when people will come back to help or offer you something if you treat them right.
NOTE: On the flip side of this, I’ve also had people I just barely know refer people to me or my business because of how I treated them and how they felt being around me. It takes faith, but I believe this system to be foolproof.
- In a world of “work more,” and “hustle harder” there’s such a thing as overwork, and burnout
I love seeing the Instagram of Eric Thomas and Gary V. that get me up in the morning ready to put my fist through a cinderblock covered in copper. It really is true that you need to work hard to achieve major success, except that there’s more to it.
Major success is about leverage too – delegating, hiring staff to take on projects for you, and other things like that. Working so much your eyes bleed is not harmonious (see number 7) to you being healthy and able to sustain a lifestyle.
While you might believe that working harder will get you to where you want, consider investing in yourself and getting more educated, deploying better systems, and understanding your market and client’s needs better. Then, working 2x as hard can earn you 15x as much.
But, don’t expect 22-hour days, a diet heavy on red bull and caffeine, and a bed that’s essentially a chair with a headrest on it to give you the harmony you need to really hit success.
- Bad quality work will get you somewhere faster than waiting
Just write. Or draw. Or speak. Or dance. Or program. Or build.
Whatever it is you do, you may be convinced it needs to look good or work well. But I’m here to argue otherwise!
When you create something new, or are creating at all, the usual block is quality. Instead, hedge your bet and put out something unrefined and see how the market responds, or how readers like the general theme and topic. This is how Ortus Academy has grown – out of testing and refining for TWO YEARS. Each time we ran a program, we changed the program to align with our vision and capabilities. More time, more programs, the more flaws we found.
In doing so, we have lots of iterations, data points, and yes, a list of fails.
But we also have am equally large list of learning moments, a list of people that come back to see how far we’ve come, and students that never knew the difference anyway.
I know you want it to be perfect, but dammit, just do it!
Post the article. Instagram the painting. Build the prototype and test it.
Then, use lesson number 3 to keep on moving forward and perfecting it after the frustration or failure hits.
This article, for example, is not perfect.
- Someone lied to me about me, and I’m so glad I found that out
In 5th grade, someone told me I was ugly.
In 9th grade, someone told me I was never going to play soccer in college.
In 12th grade, someone said I would never heal and play soccer again.
In college, someone told me I was always going to be an employee.
The worst part is, I believed all of them. Until I didn’t, and until I gave myself a reason to be what I wanted to be.
It was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do – to really look inward and look at the definitions I had of myself. I had to dig deep.
But what I found was life-changing.
Here I was, nearly 30 and all the definitions of myself, all my self-talk, stemmed from things I was told as a kid. Can you believe that? Not many of my beliefs about myself came from me.
And so, I looked at where they came from.
Teachers. 12-year-old (seriously, who can’t even formulate a serious thought at that age). People that didn’t know me.
And worse – for every negative thought, there were likely 12 positive ones that got outweighed or overshadowed.
So, I spent some of that awesome self-investment (see number 2) money on becoming more aware, and I rewrote my history.
My guess is that someone in your history assign you a label that you haven’t gotten rid of.
I imagine that you might not feel able to outrun it. But if you’re brave enough to write it in the comments below, I’ll respond with a few sentences you can say to yourself to help you override it.
Because your history is wrong. You can do anything.