When ‘friends’ aren’t really being friendly to nonconformists.
Brace yourself for a long, painful, personal story of bad times, and some brief thoughts on how I overcame them.
Over the last 7 years, I’ve been working on some personal struggles in my life. I had a dark 2-year bout with depression and to some degree, this might be related to dealing with self-worth. I’ve been a strong independent person all my life. I started a business in my late twenties and went out and worked my ass off to create a life for myself that was pretty amazing. I proved that even if you sucked in school, you could make your own way in this world.
Although I’ve accomplished some impressive successes, the journey has not been always easy. One of the biggest challenges has been self-doubt perpetuated by people I trusted and called friends (or family). A decade or so ago, I was in a place where business was slow and so I needed to do something to drum up business. I was getting smaller clients that didn’t understand the value of my services and the importance of commitment to them and the reward that would come from said commitment.
So on my search, I found a new marketing platform to help get the word out in a new way. I was excited and it seemed to be a nice addition to what I was currently doing, but it was costly, much more than I’ve ever spent in previous efforts. It looked like a good risk, so I called my wife at work to run it past her before I pulled the trigger. I was fired up but scared.
The first year I poured my heart and soul into blogging which was part of the platform. I sucked at grammar and spelling so this was hard to put myself out there like this, but I pushed through. Luckily I had analytics and data proving I was moving the needle.
Sadly, although the needle was moving, it was not converting into business. Looking back I can now ask was the movement actually in the right direction? Anyhow, I asked a trusted ‘friend’ from my new platform where the hang-up was and how could I do better. He shared that sales was the problem. So I asked how could I remedy this issue and he told me to call this guy, tell him I sent you, pay him whatever he asks and do whatever he tells you.
Okay so I did just that. I hired this guy, an older male, sales trainer. Again, I was scared as this was going to quadruple my current monthly payments which was already higher than I’ve ever paid consistently before. What if it didn’t work? Well, again, I thought about it. I slept on it. I discussed with my wife. Then I finally pulled the trigger and got to work.
I worked closely with this old experienced man (close to retirement age) weekly for 3 years. I grew attached to this person. They were like a father figure of sorts, taking me under their wing and showing me how to step up my game in sales. It worked. I was landing new gigs, bigger gigs, recurring revenue. It was awesome! I was stepping up my game as an advisor to CEOs. The work was impressive and results focused and in my eyes truly an asset for a business.
Then there were holes in the system. Looking back now, I can see maybe these were not my flaws I needed to fix, but flaws in the current systems I was buying into. After putting in 5 years on the marketing platform and 3 years on the investment of sales training, some of these flaws were becoming apparent and naively, I doubled down to ask for what I was missing from both of these systems so I could fix it.
At this time, my friend, my confidant, my coach started changing direction of attitude. He wanted to retire and wanted no more of my questions or seeking help. The change moved from being helpful and supportive and a close friend to psychological warfare trying to actually harm my mental attitude, but also my business, publicly. Some crazy shit went down for like 6 months and looking back some lines of ethics were very severely crossed.
At the time, I am not sure what caused this 180 degree change, but looking back I realize how harmful this event was. I dropped some $30K on this relationship and education to potentially need therapy to fix how this situation played out. I also do coaching and I cannot imagine intentionally breaking a client’s trust, intentionally trying to sabotage a client’s business, and burn bridges of everything we worked on to reap rewards for my own personal gain and ego, but that is what happened.
That said… I still have my skills and I did learn great technics for using sales as a service to help people, but the cost was so much, not in monetary means, but in self-confidence and mental health means. The first two-years after this shit storm and a few other big personal issues hitting lead to undiagnosed depression. I worked hard to heal myself and my business which took a major, maybe detrimental hit because of this stuff.
I continued investing in the marketing platform for over a decade and easily spent over $40K on this stuff. After a few years of struggling and continuing to search for the missing pieces of the sales puzzle (prospecting and perfect customer identification), I thought maybe I should hang things up, maybe I should get a job, maybe I should ask someone for help.
I reached out to another ‘friend‘. A well connected and successful Christian CEO friend. Although we disagreed on a few things, I felt overall we were both working to make the world a little better and maybe they could point me to someone that might need the type of work I do, if their own company was not in need. Sadly, I was told I was too much of a ‘non-conformist’ to help. I’ve always taken pride in my nonconformist ways, being raised on punk rock and skateboarding. Even going into business was going against the grain of typical societal practices which was to conform to being an employee. This struck me as odd as all business owners were nonconformists in my eyes. It was hurtful using a term I felt so attached to being used to against me.
In the time I was looking for a job, a few years, no one would hire me because I was overqualified to be an employee for owning a business too long, or because I “failed in business”, or because I was a “nonconformist”. Ha! it was a real predicament. Already struggling with my self-worth and now things just went totally down the shitter. Being vulnerable and asking for help from a friend to be turned away for who I was as a person has weighed on me. I honestly am a nonconformist, but does that make me a bad person? Does that make me a bad employee? Well, maybe as I do challenge people including management when I see problem areas. So casting a light on problems, in my business, seemed like a good thing and helped me improve things. Other people on the other hand, find this as a threat. I never want to harm, but have a track record of working to grow people and organizations, but here I sit reflecting on some heavy shit as I work through my next steps in life and in business.
I started meditation 7 years ago, and 2 years ago I found Buddhism which for me has been a tool for using psychology to work on all my shit as the healthcare industry has failed me. So I found my own way to heal. This morning I read chapter 2 of Real Change by Sharon Salzberg and it brought up all this shit I carry around and then after the brief meditation at the end of the chapter, I thought maybe telling this story would help others, and help me. My self-worth should not be tied to my business or to what these two people think of me, or how they harmed me. It should not be tied to my income or what I am losing in this time of transition. Sadly, though, it very much has been, for me and this is why I created a daily self care routine for myself. I find joy in the little things today and they lead to big things surprisingly.
I’ve focused on helping others as a way to let go of my bullshit and what’s happened to me to help others work on what’s happened to them. I realized long ago money, consumption, fame, ‘success’, and achievement are not what brings peace, happiness, and joy. These things come from inside. The problem with this truth is you must be a nonconformist breaking free from what society tells us every day. Even if you know this truth and even if you believe it, and even if you practice it as often as you can, society and the marketing machine pushing the opposite, is very powerful, and it’s everywhere you turn. It is a tough battle and not everyone wants to fight it if they find a safe space within the matrix.
The point of this article is to address one important thing. Although I want you to have massive success and happiness in your life, as I’ve learned in Buddhism, life includes suffering. It is inescapable. We must learn to accept our suffering and then embrace it and start working on fixing it. Everything I am creating on this website is meant to help others not go through what I had. Although I still have my struggles, I also found the path out of all this suffering and work on it every day. On the high days, I am happier and filled with more love than I ever knew. On the bad days, I am aware of the problems and know how to step up and do the work to get out of the mess. This stuff can help you and anyone as well. Are you ready to do the work?
Quick Tips to Beat Hellabad Times
Yes, I am going to use a few memes to help you beat bad times. Bear with me. This thought from Lao Tzu is powerful. The good times come from learning to be present in this very moment. Let go of everything else.
We all need to understand this… you are not broken or weak, you may just be facing some legitimately hard shit. I am here to tell you there is a positive way out of hard times and/or a way to cope with whatever life throws at you.
It is true that “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Keep your eyes open or you will miss the opportunity. My opportunity was moving into this space to help other people learn these lessons and how we both could learn to live a more fulfilling life. Your opportunities are in front of you. Be open to them.
Here is an amazing concept but one never or rarely spoke about much in everyday society – Neurologists claim that every time you resist acting on your anger, you’re actually rewiring your brain to be calmer and more loving. I can tell you since I started my own mindfulness journey, I have become a thousand times more calmer and more loving. It is hard to put into words what this feels like as “love” is such a misunderstood word in our times.
Find joy by letting go and exploring what you have right now in this moment.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”
Want to try adding mindfulness and meditation to your self-care routine? Click below to get details about the Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation mini-course.