“I started my podcast by purchasing a URL and a microphone that I couldn’t afford. I recorded my first podcast in a kitchen with cheap groceries and in a house whose electricity was getting shut off in a few days if a minimum payment wasn’t made. I was going through my own life changing events and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it to the next day much less be a podcaster but I knew if there was ever going to be a point in my life to do this, it was now. I made a crazy decision by other people’s viewpoints but I knew in my gut that I was making the right call.”
One of the sayings that really annoys me is that one about “when life gives you lemons”. You know how it goes, your supposed to make lemonade. The truth is when life gives you lemons it sure doesn’t feel like lemons, but more like a few good punches to the face, and it’s hard to find the positive to that. Then there are points in life that feel like a straight up beating. Most of us have either been through it or are going through it now. It’s that moment in life when it feels like NOTHING is going right. You might find yourself losing money, friends, family, all the above even. It’s those moments that it’s hard to objectively find the silver lining to any of what’s happening.
It’s interesting that it’s in these moments that business owners and founders find the strength to start the pursuit of their passions. It very rare that I talk to anyone whose story goes, “everything was going really well when I decided, hey why not start that business I was thinking of…” The truth is there is something at the bottom of the barrel, when we think we’ve hit rock bottom that in that dark place there is a hidden strength in having nothing left to lose. The difference between the entrepreneur and everyone else is that the entrepreneur seizes that moment as their while the latter allows the moment to seize them.
The sad truth is so many of us are so happy to recover just a sliver of what we’ve lost in those worst of times that we find ourselves content to rebuild our lives in a way that looks remarkably the way it did before it all fell apart. This where the real growth can happen but often we’re so preoccupied with the rebuilding that we don’t stop to consider this an opportunity build something else, something closer to what we’ve dreamt about than what we built and fell apart before.
Those moments present an opportunity to be free of feeling the full weight of risk. The idea of “why not?” and “how much worse could it get?” can be liberating. We can find strength in the risk, the idea of not rebuilding but redesigning the life we want to live. That could mean spending your retirement money on your business idea or selling everything you own to make your idea come to life. Those are frightening things to think about when everything is still going well but when you’re feeling on your last leg, perspective has a way of changing that fear into motivation. But for many that fear won’t change and the desperation for comfort will compel them to play it safe and do what needs to be done not to survive to maintain.
Ask yourself, “if I had nothing to lose, how would I shape my life?” Then do that! You don’t have to wait till life is crumbling around you to make major changes towards your business or nonprofit idea. Don’t wait for the house to burn down to start remodeling, begin simply with buying a URL or writing your idea. Then slowly expand your idea by investing your own money into it. (I want to emphasize your own money because now you’re investing in yourself with hard earned 9–5 money and that will not only make the experience of building your idea more real but it will make it more valuable. The more you invest in it the more you’ll be interested in keeping it alive.) Every day pull a part of your old life down and put up a new piece around your idea.
You might be reading this and you are going through that life crumbling phase right now. Everything is bleak and the last thing you’re thinking about is building a business. I get it, I’ve been there, and I’m also going to let you in on something, I don’t care who you are or how bad things are getting or how bad they’ve become, you HAVE the strength to change all of it. It’s going to be a slow go and it’s probably going to suck…a lot. Sorry to be Debbie Downer but it’s the truth. Here’s the take away, NOW is the time to start envisioning your new life. It’s now when it hard to envision anything but survival that you HAVE to envision yourself thriving! Map it out on a piece of paper, figure out the road map not to where you were but to where you’re going! To hell with lemonade, build an empire!
Rod Rodriguez is a 13 year combat Veteran of the US Army. He holds a B.S. in US Intelligence Studies and an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling. Rod is also the host of The After Action Review (AAR) Podcast, a show dedicated to Veteran entrepreneurship. Visit the The AAR Podcast Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/theaarpodcast and at www.theaarpodcast.com