My health coach, Tyson James Lee, asked me a question the other day. "What do you think people would do if they only knew how much we struggled?" We were discussing the ups and downs of business and life and comparing notes on challenges we had overcome to build our businesses to where they are today.
In the first business deal I ever made, I lost $70,000 of my own money that I invested. Seven years later, I invested $140,000 in another business where I was repeatedly lied to about the return. When I started my own business, I struggled for over a year, going negative in my bank account several times before I figured out what I was doing. I began doubling my revenue every year for multiple consecutive years until I got so sick that I was in a wheel chair for a year and discovered I had three tumors that drained me of all of my energy and landed me in and out of the hospital for emergency blood transfusions.
What did the world see? They only saw that I launched an international consulting business and traveled the world giving keynote presentations at conferences and led training classes for the top Fortune 100 companies across the globe. They didn't see that I spent a year traveling through airports in wheelchairs because I didn't have the strength to walk. They didn't see that I had to fly other trainers in to help me because I couldn't get through a whole class by myself. They didn't see that because I didn't post about it online and I didn't talk about it. I suffered in silence.
Things Often Get Worse Before They Get Better
The Satir Change Model, developed by Virginia Satir, provides a really good explanation on why things often seem to get worse before they get better. When you look at your current situation and you want it to be different, something has to interrupt the status quo for change to occur. There is usually a foreign element that acts as a disruptor. Otherwise, you would likely continue on the same cycle, doing the same things the way you have been. In the status quo is comfortable, familiar, maybe even a bit boring.
When a foreign element is introduced, that can lead to some chaos with the unknown. For example, when I first left my 9-5 job to start my business, I didn't have anything else lined up. My consulting contract came to an end. But I realized that my business was never really going to take off while I was giving it partial attention. I found myself in a state of chaos wondering how I would pay my rent in Chicago and wondering how long I could last until I figured out what to do next. When I went negative in my bank account, I realize now, that was just a stepping stone. You often have to go through some chaos, some state of the unknown, every time you up level. Satir says that when you find a transforming idea, you can make sense of the chaos and come up with creative ways to get around the challenges.
Focus on Leveling Up Your Problems
I have a friend that grew his business to several Million dollars in yearly revenue. He's experienced massive growth, however he was telling me that he now has to cover about a Million dollars in payroll each month. That's definitely a problem many would like to have.
Sometimes, however, when you neglect what's really important, your problems get worse. When I finally hit my first million dollars in overall revenue, my problems didn't go away. I just had different ones. I had neglected my health and pushed myself so far trying that I couldn't get up out of bed. Not being able to walk and needing multiple blood transfusions to stay alive is far worse than not having enough money in the bank. When you reach a certain level of success, problems don't just go away. You just have better problems. You trade one set of problems for another.
When you look at the number of millionaires that have failed before they made it, it's pretty astonishing. Failure appears to be a key step to success. Without trying things, without experimenting, you may never up level to a new status quo. To get to where you want to be you may have to do something different from what you've always done. That involves taking risk.
Life goes up and down. Know this. Expect it. Save when times are good to whether the storm when things are bad. But don't give up on your dreams just because they are hard. Everyone struggles, so you might as well go for your dreams. I aim for luxury problems. For most successful people, if you asked the right questions, you may discover how difficult the road really was. They just kept going.