In April 2007, my brother Mark (CEO), accompanied by my dad (Founder) filed bankruptcy papers for our family business of 42 years Ouray Sportswear. It was the culmination to a long and very difficult journey that started in August of 2006 and lasted about 9 months from start to finish. There are few things more humbling in the human experience than losing a business, and no matter the circumstances, suffering is the one common denominator in the process.
Over the course of those nine months I spent a lot of time with Mark. We talked about so many things, but invariably our discussions would turn to the fate of the company. At first we were resolute, we would fight our way out of our situation. And fight we did. Unfortunately, our bank didn’t have the appetite to partner with us in a recovery effort, and without a willing partner things became more dire by the day.
By January, it became obvious that we would not be able to claw our way back without some outside help. So, Mark and I began to reach out to various entities who might be willing to assist us in getting things back on track. I think we contacted roughly 20 such entities, ultimately without success. The more no’s we got, the more disheartened we became. We made “no” mean something about us personally….that we weren’t good enough…. instead of seeing each “no” for what it really was, just one step closer to getting a yes. We forgot the math, or as my mentor Steve Chandler says so well, we forgot that “yes, lives in the land of no”. What he means is, in order to get to a yes it may require hearing “no” many times. But hearing “no” was just too much for our battered egos to bear so instead of pressing on and continuing the search for a business solution we essentially gave up, succumbing to the fear of failure.
We replaced taking action with the victim behavior of wishing and hoping that someone, or something would magically show up and make it all go away. The someone we were hoping for is called an Angel investor. But wishing and hoping are failed strategies and though we wished and hoped with everything we had the Angel investor never came to rescue us. In fact, no one came at all and as a result we lost our business and everything that comes with that shame, guilt, anger, resentment, blame all those really fun emotions that produce nothing but suffering and self judgement.
Have you done this, replace taking action with wishing and hoping? What has been the result of that choice?
One of my favorite authors Byron Katie says, “you can have anything you want in your life if you’re willing to ask 1,000 people”. While I can’t say for sure if that’s true, I can certainly see the logic in the premise. We stopped at just over 20. Looking back, our process is a great reminder of what oftentimes gets in the way of creating an amazing life stopping. In-completion is one of the subtle killers of the human spirit. With everything left incomplete in your life there is a cost.
Take a moment and do a brief inventory of all the things that are incomplete for you. Now notice the effect they have on your spirit. Can you hear the sucking sound to your energy, your vitality and your productivity? Are you psyched? Do you say, yes, I love having all this shit I haven’t quite completed cluttering up my consciousness. I don’t think so.
Why are they incomplete? Somewhere along the way you have stopped. Why? What fear (couched as an excuse) is showing up such that you can’t quite push it over the goal line? Is hearing “no” one more time just too much to take? Is asking for assistance from someone just too embarrassing because you think you might look weak or incompetent? Is persevering too much effort, requiring too much time or emotional capital? Or is incompletion a convenient way to avoid failure?
That’s certainly been the case in my life. You see, I’ve gotten close to accomplishing a lot of pretty cool things (athletically, musically, professionally), right up to the point where I stopped, just short of the goal line, sometimes a mere inches away. If I’m being really honest with myself I have to admit the reason I stopped was – if I didn’t take it all the way to completion, I could say I didn’t fail (how awesome is that?). I used stopping as a means to avoid getting to a conclusive yes or no, was I good enough or not. This behavior is a form of self sabotage and it’s a behavior that is so subtle and so destructive that you can miss it if you’re not looking closely. Unfortunately, it becomes a barrier to living a life that is amazing.
Do you do this, sabotage your success by stopping? If so, would you be willing to try something?
My friend and colleague Dusan Djukich coined a phrase that I have turned into a personal mantra. I have found that acting on this mantra has improved my life, sometimes dramatically so. The mantra is so simple it’s almost embarrassing to say and yet it is often times the difference between being dissatisfied or being fulfilled. Or said a bit differently, it’s the difference between having a life that is “fine” versus one that is amazing
What is this mantra that could potentially improve the quality of your life?
Here it is in all it’s simplistic glory…..