Even though I have literally stared down barrels of guns aimed at my head and had my life flash before my eyes – when money is an issue in business, it can equally stir up confronting emotions about fear & survival.
Bringing in my “Peter Jackson” dark humor into things too, I get people asking me all the time “Wow Ed how did you overcome those life & death situations?”. I usually laugh and respond saying “That was easy, overcoming unemployment during the GFC was the hard bit!” When I was washed up and couldn’t pay my bills – it was a far worse feeling as it just hangs over to till you resolve your situation (which can take months – for me about 3 years of hard work).
Speaking to my friend & client Lauren Watts (from Miss Virtual Assistant) got me thinking on this type of issue in that she has survived many situations like this in her business and life. If you don’t know Lauren (who of course I would like to dedicate this article too) – she is one tough, yet quite feminine woman who I am going to put in the Sigourney Weaver / Sarah Connor category as to women who are tough cookies and never melt under pressure!
In business, Lauren and I have survived quite a few crucial moments where we have been on the edge, about to lose everything and the stress and the hormones that kick in.
In my own personal experience, for a man of 35 I probably have had more of these than most and my recent one about over a year ago as I write this article was when my business was still quite small and most of my revenue came from one larger corporate client.
The situation I was in was quite unsustainable and the corporate knew I was financially reliant on them. Over time the demands and pressures got more and more and I knew they were going to try something on me. Right before Christmas 2012 they hit me with everything they had – there were unpaid invoices and I barely had enough money to make it through Christmas in one piece.
It was one of the hardest Christmas times in my life as I felt like “I got it wrong”. That is, all of my bravo and ego, my 6 figure income in the old world, where was it? Still, I hardly did not wallow and deep down felt that it’s time for me to embrace change for the better. I was faced with some critical choices and in reflection I realized that the day they hit me and I was facing losing the farm – it actually started 3 years before that. That is, all of the previous choices I made to not working on my business and get new clients when I should have – set me up for that big “Near Failure” to come later.
When I was about to lose everything and I was quite metaphorically staring down the gun barrel, it made me look really deep within myself and think what must I do to turn things around. Upon reflection I considered many things on a deep level and I made quite a few decisions – consciously I may add.
In this moment, I realize that “The current form of Edward cannot succeed”. Reading my wording very carefully, it was my “current form”. That is – I knew I had the potential to be a powerful entrepreneur, but in my current form – I was unable to achieve that. So in order for me to turn my business and life around (which I did in 3 months!) I had to accept massive change and growth quickly.
Going back to awesome Lauren and my discussion with her on the phone during a fine Saturday afternoon – we all change. Be it for the better or worse we change. What I was able to successful do was do this more consciously and in creating my new form (which is who I am today) – I worked out that traits to take with me and leave behind.
I made a list of these and I recall my traits that I focused on were:
POSITIVE TRAITS – ONES TO GROW:
– Consistency & Focus.
– Honesty & Transparency.
– Intelligence & Entrepreneurialism.
– Charisma & Physical Health.
NEGATIVE TRAITS – ONES TO LEAVE BEHIND:
– Fear of Failure & Insecurity.
– In-authenticity & Pathetic Ego.
– Addictions and Comfort Eating.
– Envy & Jealously.
I was quite honest with myself and over time I have evolved to be a much more powerful version of myself. I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore and what I am proud of in my case is that it wasn’t luck – I created my new self.
That is, I made the decision to clean up my act – go from selfishness to helping the lives of others and go from lazing about to working harder than I ever have before (I wasn’t actually “Lazy” I more was fearful of doing certain activities and I focused in the wrong areas – this is what really cost me).
As Lauren and I traded war stories – we reflected on heroes and villains we know including how ones have changed. Most of our awesome friends took the positive path and are benefiting and what hurt us both was watching some of our friends take the negative path.
We both took no pleasure in this discussion – as we reflected on people we once considered friends that when they themselves were “Staring down the barrel” they made very different choices to what we made. Several of them are almost out of business (some are) and what really hurt me more – was that no matter what I could say or tried – they wouldn’t listen and they are out of the game.
Sure, you can logically argue that it’s their choice (and I agree), but unless you are a machine when friends move on (especially when they destroy themselves) nobody wins that situation. You lose a friend who has been corrupted, they can often turn on you, then you can see them lose everything.
This has happened to me several times in 2013 and Lauren and I both agreed that at times when you are on the edge, you got be careful of the choices you make – be it consciously or subconsciously. Several great friends who ultimately turned and moved on from me I could summarize thought quite differently. That is, instead of say the positive path I think they embraced ideals of focusing on themselves, using others to get what they want and ultimately chasing the dollar over delivering results and value.
You could tell that they made a darkly decision and overtime you could see their humanity leaving them, their language changing, them push friends away from them and ultimately them not getting the financial or emotional results they want. When you saw them, you could even see the pain behind the hostility in their eyes – and when they would lock onto me, you could see envy and rage influence they way they perceived me. You would also hear increased chatter about them – it wasn’t just me, others would report similar experiences. Talking business and money this is not good! You want the public liking you – not disliking you! What confounds me is how we as humans can at times act out of emotion and not in our better interests (as I was certainly guilty of this type of behaviour at times when I was younger).
What was interesting is that in their minds, I think some thought they were getting back at me – and they are right. By ignoring me or using me – they thought they could hurt me. They did succeed in that. Not out of costing me money or success (in that my own power and success has grown), but more seeing the loss of innocence and seeing and old friend destroy themselves. They hurt me by hurting themselves – I take no pleasure when I see old friends self-inflicting harm on themselves.
The ultimate tragedy is that they did it to themselves – and they have no one else to blame. They didn’t wake up that day deciding to destroy their lives – they started walking that path some months ago (or even longer) to the point of today.
In reflecting on awesome Lauren and the lessons learned, I am very lucky that most I know have picked the positive side and we are working together at each others side to this day. Many of the great people I am lucky to call friends and colleagues picked the positive and I personally see them getting stronger each day.
That to me brings me great joy and satisfaction and even thought I realize I can’t save everyone, the many I have helped (and who help me back) make it all worth living and fighting for.
My lesson and advice from this experience? Think carefully about how you are and who you want to become. When you are busy running your own Small Business and driving yourself as an Entrepreneur you are 100% responsible for your own thinking – so choose wisely! You may have done some things you aren’t too proud of – and that’s okay. You can turn things around and get on the right track. Equally too, you may be winning and kicking total butt. Just make sure you don’t let your ego take over like I did and get wiped out in the GFC x x
Focus on what you like about yourself and consciously grow it – and the things you don’t like about yourself, move away from them so only your AWESOMENESS remains! This is where life is at and it brings me nothing but total satisfaction I must say.
And of course, if you like Awesome Stuff – make sure you check out my Online Course THE AWESOME MARKETING VAULT packed full over powerhouse Sales & Marketing Strategies (I love getting that sell in LOL).
Thank you for reading this and if you are reading this – it means you are an awesome person for sure. So keep up the great work out there make your AWESOMENESS only more AWESOME!
God Bless and thank you from Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor and man who likes to embrace his positive side!