In the spring of 2001 I was sitting in a Toyota Corolla that my wife and I shared as our only car, parked in a Blockbuster Video parking lot in Burbank, CA. I was 26 years old, I had been married one year, we were living 3,000 miles from our families back in N.C., and I was fifteen months into a job with a young star-up business.
I was in sales, but I hadn’t sold much in those fifteen months. Not nearly the amount I would have expected to have sold by that point. And we were so broke that we had a speadsheet on our refrigerator that we used to write in every single dime we spent, including when one of us bought a Coke in the vending machine down the hall from our apartment. It was a humbling but necessary means of keeping us focused on spending only what we had to.
I got a call from yet another prospect telling me thanks for the presentation, but they were going to pass on our product for now. Another in a string of strikeouts for me. I put down my cell phone, and a wave of emotion came over me. Pent up stuff that I had been holding in for months. I began sobbing. Hard. For a long time. It seemed like my world was crashing down around me, like I had made mistake after mistake after mistake. Why had we moved across the country? Why had I left a good job at the bank to get involved with a start-up? Why coulnd’t I close any sales? Why? Why? Why?….
I was at my wit’s end. It was brutal. I don’t know if anybody saw me, but at the time I didn’t care. I had completely lost control of my emotions. But it was also one of the most important moments in my life so far. The perverbial skies cleared and I had a moment of clarity. I realized I wasn’t falling into the an abyss of failure, but I was merely at a crossroads.
I could either let myself follow a path leading to self-pity, blame, fear, anger (and every other negative emotion), or I could pick myself up off the ground, roll up my sleeves, and get busy working as hard as it took and doing whatever it took to conquer my self-doubts and follow the road to success. So therefore that moment is forever seared into my memory as the moment I laid claim to my future.
Why am I writing about this? Well, I’m not really sure. I just had a premonition or some kind of feeling that somebody needed to read this story today. Plus I feel like it’s important to reveal lessons you’ve learned in tough times along with ones you’ve learned in awesome times when you are endeavoring to build an audience through honesty and authenticity.
Success in business is fun, but it rarely comes without (often significant) bumps in the road, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and scars. Just remember, when you experience your equivalent of my crying-in-the-car episode, go ahead and get it out of your system. But don’t be fooled into believing you are a failure. You are merely at a crossroads.
Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and don’t let anybody stop you from following the road to fulfilling your dreams.
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