timo’s note: podcast version added January 24, 2017.
When I quit my corporate job to enter the startup world I knew that it would take grit. I knew that I would have to face myself in the valley of darkness in order to grow.
Choosing to the path of a creative is not easy. Entrepreneurship is overhyped and the realities of the lifestyle are dishonest. “Look at me posing with this helicopter. This could be you. Just follow these 6 steps to be a millionaire in 3 days.”
The easiest thing to do is get a job with a steady paycheck, but it feels like a dangerous decision these days.
What about the days, weeks and months that will challenge your identity, smash your ego, and leave you crawling on the floor searching for your last pennies?
Where is the help?
These are three questions I wrote on my white board written after distilling a podcast from the legendary Rob Bell.
Do I have enough for today?
It was a $5 bill. I thought it was all that I had left in life.
$5, when applied strategically, stretches a long way. The manager’s special section at the store had $1 deals on bags of 3 pieces of assorted fruits and veggies, often organic.
Steel cut oats are a national hero. The $10 cocktails I used to drink began to look like a rip off. They never fulfilled me. And I question anyone who holds the value of the bottle above themselves and others.
It was easy to focus on what I didn’t have and what I wasn’t doing.
But you have to practice what you preach.
This world is abundant. In a world of abundance, you have to choose to deny the world in order to truly have nothing. Getting there requires a lot of letting go.
Bills can wait. Credit scores might be affected. Relationships will come and go. You, however, will survive.
Going from a large income to no savings and virtually zero income gave me a different sense on the world.
I’d say the only difference between me and a person on the street is a mental switch. One decision.
Life at the edge requires balance. At the most desperate moment, a decision can turn you towards greatness, or cast you into oblivion.
Have I been here before?
My chest was tight with stress every single day. Taking an inhale was an exercise. Learning to accept and let go. I trusted that everything would work out.
On the outside I was stoic. On the inside I was rage.
People would contact me to explain their problems or ask for advice. I’d hear about relationship issues and how broke they were.
The next sentence was about going out for drinks and a show.
Everything is relative.
It took all of my energy to keep it cool. At my best I watch my breath walk inside my mind to a hot room where blues is jamming, then walks over to the window to let some of that summertime breeze inside.
I tried to follow my own advice: meditation every morning, writing, reading, exercise.
I applied to jobs with titles like the ones I had before to escape the pain, but I didn’t get them.
Employers can smell an artist. Cog seeking corporations want stale, colorless apples. A ripening fruit is a dangerous risk.
Rent was due. And I had been here before.
Did I make it?
I woke up and while at first it didn’t seem like I had anything, I certainly learned that I had enough. And more.
If I decided to feel defeated and lay down into depression I’d be on the streets. It was one decision away.
And I chose the opposite direction.
Resistance is a bitch, but I had been there before.
And you know what?
I made it.