As you may or may not know, just about thirteen years ago I left my day job working for Midas to take the terrifying leap into entrepreneurship. I wasn’t sure exactly where it would take me. What I did know though, was that up until that point I’d spent most of my life feeling completely alone and that had to change.
Little did I know it was about to…
I went to a marketing event in Phoenix, Arizona to network and make a last ditch effort into making something work. It was at this event that I met one of my closest people, Patty Perry and my mentor, John (JJ) Jackson; suddenly I started to realize…I wasn’t alone.
I was in a transitional phase from being trapped in my head for years. Up to that point, I felt:
“I don’t fit in.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“I don’t have anyone to ask about it.”
This constant inner dialogue lead to character traits like being introverted and shy, timid, insecure, untrusting. I was searching for something outside of myself. A leader. Someone who could give me direction on what to do, how to do it, when to do it, or at least give me the confidence I needed and a sense of direction…
Because when you don’t have a sense of direction or an internal guidance system or a certain set of beliefs, values, priorities – without these things, it’s kind of like driving your car across the country without GPS. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s certainly more difficult, and the chances of getting lost along the way are all but certain.
There are times in life when we really do need directions. Whether we’re about to run out of gas, there’s bad weather coming, there’s a place we need to be or a loved one that’s sick, or we’re trying to make a certain destination to meet a certain deadline – whatever it is, metaphorically I’m talking about those times in life when you’ve got to make tough decisions, and all you can think is, “I’m alone, and I don’t know what the right decision is.”
Every one of us has this little bit of humanity in common…
If we’re not questioning ourselves as to whether or not we’re on the right path, if we’re not asking ourselves, “Did I make the right decisions,” then what’s the opposite of that? The opposite of that is just blind confidence, and that’s not healthy either… What’s healthy is a balance between two things:
- Knowing that you don’t know everything
- Knowing what you do know with confidence
The only consistent formula or internal GPS to navigate those times of uncertainty is to suspend your personal beliefs and opinions – your ego, the voice in your head, the little monkey on your shoulder whispering in your ear.
So let’s break it down…
If you’re in a place right now of real and genuine excitement, euphoria even…maybe you’ve found a new sense of belief in yourself, you’ve had a breakthrough in a relationship or a promotion at work. Whatever the reason, you’re on a real high right now.
We’ve all had so many of these moments, but we all know that these moments don’t last forever. Life doesn’t work that way. Things lose their luster over time.
So what do we do when this happens? When the excitement and the intensity and the drive fades? When disenchantment hits…
We have to realize that as humans we all experience this.
The mistake that I make in times of disenchantment or disinterested in my projects is to question myself and the decisions that I’ve made to lead me to where I am. That monkey jumps up on my shoulder and just won’t shut the f**k up, won’t stop chirping in my ear…
“Jay, who do you think you are?”
“You’re just the blind leading the blind.”
“Who are you to lead others?”
“Jay you sound like a fool.”
“How can you possibly inspire others if you’re not feeling inspired yourself?”
Those voices and feelings and anxieties are there, and they go on and on and on…
So what do we do in these times? Because these times are when I personally feel the most alone. It’s scary, it’s intimidating, it’s humiliating, and makes me question everything – my values, my confidence, my abilities, everything.
We carry around all of these expectations, plans, ideas, anxieties, questions and it all becomes our baggage. We carry it around in a metaphorical suitcase, and when that suitcase gets too full it busts open, and it all spills out and goes everywhere. That’s when we get down on ourselves for letting it get that far. We beat ourselves up for the plans we never kept, the projects we never finished, and the ideas never realized.
Then comes the blame on others and then finally, the monkey on your shoulder again…
“I told you so.”
Who can’t relate to that? It’s something we all have in common.
Which brings me back to my original WAKEUP Call for today…
It brings me back to 13 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona to that marketing event where I learned the importance of finding your people and that there’s some good news and bad news when it comes to feeling so alone.
The good news: There’s massive relief, there’s a solution, there’s a secret to combating these feelings and doubts.
The bad news: It’s a lifelong endeavor. And even then, it’s not truly bad news because it’s the moments that challenge us and test us that reminds us to check ourselves and remain present.
If it weren’t for the times where you slip up where, you’re reminded of your weakness, your mortality, your fragility, your mistakes, we’d have nothing to ground us and humble us and keep us present and in a place of learning and growing. We require humility if we’re going to do anything that’s sustainable long-term and fulling not just for ourselves but for others.
Humility is like anything else – abundance, wealth, money – you can’t possibly know the feeling of abundance or wealth if you don’t also know the feeling of poverty of struggle. That feeling of “Holy shit! Can I afford to pay the electric bill this month? The water? Can I afford to have them turned off to take the kids to the movies tonight?”
Sometimes we have to make these decisions, but it’s how we choose to react to these struggles and remaining humble and grateful that allows us to move forward and stay present.
One of the ugly truths is that everyone has to be alone sometimes…and that’s ok – just don’t stay there. Find your people. Lean on them if you have to. Know that everyone who has ever gone on to change the world and be an inspiration to others and do great things has been exactly where you are…they needed their people too.
Thirteen years ago at that resort, I felt alone, and I still feel alone at times. That person inside of me thirteen years ago is still there the difference now is the dialogue, the words, the inner conversations are all still there, but with the help of others, I’ve learned what to give my attention and credence to versus what I used to. Now I know that when that voice is talking that’s just my lower self talking – that monkey on my shoulder.
But knowing that there are others like me, that I’m not the only one to have been here, to have experienced this, makes telling that monkey to shut the f**k up just a little bit easier.
Find your people. They’re looking for you too.