A portion of this article was originally posted in The Business Journals under the title How To Bounce Back From Anything. I wrote both the original and the updated piece you see here.
Are you working really hard to build the small business and life of your dreams? If so, maybe you’ve fallen down, failed and found a way to bounce back, and be happy. If so, congratulations. We can relate well.
If not, read about how I crashed and bounced back to build the small business and life of my dreams … Conversion Marketing Experts, LLC.
I have never shared much on the CME blog about my personal or small business life as younger man. But now that I am approaching the “half time of life” by most measures, I’m starting to be way more comfortable sharing the stories about the toughest times I ever faced as a small business owner.
Here’s the rest of the story about how I fell down, hard, and bounced back. Forgive me if there’s too much in this article about me. But I hope in sharing my story with you, it will help you build the small business and life of your dreams. It sure did for me.
How I Fell Down
If you’re like me and millions of other entrepreneurs, business builders, risk takers, misfits, and outlier bulldogs, chances are you’ve taken a lot of risks in your business or career. And chances are you’ve hit some tough times in life because of who you are and what you do.
After all, you’re human.
But how can you be more resilient, tougher, more energetic, clear and confident achieving your goals when you run out of ideas, money or hope?
Here’s what happened to me and how learning to practice mindfulness and meditation changed my business and my life. Maybe some of it will work for you.
Surviving Dark Times
Dark times serve a useful purpose. It was almost 15 years ago that I had lost all of our savings and investments, my small business at the time, faith, confidence, trust and worst of all, my health. My lower back injuries and the stress of business and life took me out of the game for almost two years.
At times it seemed I was going to lose my mind. But I bounced back.
Looking back now, those lessons and dark times were the best teachers when I finally started to listen, to change my ways. It’s only within the last year or so that I can write or talk openly about this. Please, don’t fear making mistakes. Just do your best to learn from other people’s blunders, like mine. That’s why I’m telling you my story.
I made a series of poor decisions in business and it lead to serious personal and financial consequences even though I had enjoyed much success building my small wealth management practice and selling it. After that, when it was gone, and when I was really lost, my wife begged me to “get a real job.” It was more of a demand than request and I understood her point.
This was in late 2002 and I went on a few interviews. I knew I needed to start another business.
Searching for Direction
In order to turn things around, I needed to get quiet and search for a new source of clarity and direction. I needed to learn new habits to replace some of the old.
Soon, in 2003, I started another business to sell sales training, coaching and management development. This led to digital marketing taking over the scene. I adapted and transformed my work into the small business I own today, Conversion Marketing Experts, LLC. All the failure, darkness and despair paid off because now I’m able to help people better than ever before and it all started by learning to be more “mindful.”
Mindfulness is being more aware of what we’re thinking. My brain races a million miles per hour. I live a massive, creative, energetic flow every day solving other people’s biggest sales, marketing, team and technology issues. I love my work and life today.
And my still brain moves too fast at times, in too many directions at once and I often leave people behind. Then I end up alone, lonely, suffering the consequences of my entrepreneurial mistakes. Then it’s time to learn and adapt. I am making progress.
A Turning Point
The low points serve as the turning point. My emotional low happened while standing in line at a local Walgreens. My wife was propping me up as we looked for the walking aids; you know, the four-wheeled jobber that old people get around with.
Yeah, that was me, legend in my own mind, college athlete, humbly seeking advice from the drug store salesman about which walker to buy. I picked the blue one. I love blue even though I hated the thought of being seen walking on a walker. (I was the guy in the back of the church on his walker. Dark. Really dark.)
Here’s what I learned about the power of mindfulness, prayer and meditation to help me win my life and small business back; it saved me! I’m surely not the first to find mindfulness useful, even transformational in ways for me. It seems all the rage today. But I didn’t tune in to mindfulness until later in life. I had a taste in my sports days finding flow. Just not like this. Learning mindfulness taught me I can bounce back from anything.
How about you? If you’re ready to transform from being stuck, or you just want to break through to a new level of success, consider practicing mindfulness and meditation if you can. Meditation is a concentrated way to train yourself. Research both if you seek a shift at work or in life. Because this is about defending your mind, heart and soul from the pressures and stresses that take you and me out of the game. It’s about learning new skills and living a healthy, joyful life.
The Power of Mindfulness
When I learned to meditate, practice yoga, qigong and mindfulness, when I got counseling, took tons of classes, bought every book I could find and practiced a ton of new exercises for self-healing and relaxation by watching YouTube videos, things began to change. I stuck with it.
I stopped watching television, drinking alcohol and pounding my body with sports that created pain and lasting injury. All of this started over a decade ago. Sometimes it takes years to manifest the flow I experience today. Maybe you’ll find yours sooner.
I’ll be 55 soon and I’m just getting warmed up. I have more energy than ever. I get to wake up every day and learn whatever it is I want to learn. I am more grateful and giving, patient. I learned new ways of breathing, being and approaching everything and this changed my entire life.
What are you after when it comes to work and life? How about being happy, healthy and finding joy? That’s what it’s about for me and the people I train and coach to build teams, small businesses and companies that take on a life of their own providing jobs, opportunity, wealth at work. Joy, being happy at work, being healthy, and creating wealth is important to each person. Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. (It’s not worth it. Trust me. I am a Jones.)
Observing and Seeking
You can learn to practice simple ways to reduce and manage stress, to clear your head, to decompress from the pressures you feel at work and home. This is the key — mindfulness itself is observing what is and seeking to find what you seek.
The first step to being more mindful is simply to observe your thoughts. Don’t judge. Over time, given the willingness to learn new habits and practice, you will experience change from within. You will feel a shift. Trust. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not getting it right away. There is no right or one way. Find your way. Keep practicing.
You need not hit the dark times to learn mindfulness and meditation. Learning this is never as complicated as many people make it seem. Just think in terms of deep breathing through your belly, filling yourself with fresh oxygen and finding simple ways to get quiet in your mind and heart. There is great power to finding quiet, happy places to go in the world and in your mind. Observe your thoughts. There’s a reason we “talk” with ourselves. Read and learn more about this.
What are the short-term and long-term benefits of mindfulness and meditation? My experience is I have more flow in my work and life than ever before. I feel something shift almost every time I make time to meditate and practice being mindful.
Over time, I got more clarity, deeper purpose and meaning in my work and life. I have more patience. I sleep better every night. This is in stark contrast to where I was over a decade ago, and a few times since, but not nearly as bad. Now, I find ways to keep peace with myself more. My goal is to make incremental progress living a life full of joy.
Learning to Bounce Back
Professional sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks make mindfulness their business. So do many other top athletes, artists, entertainers, business leaders and more mortal agents of change like you and me. It’s no secret that mindfulness practice has great power.
Mindfulness and meditation practice is how you can learn to bounce back from anything and be the most resilient you can be, no matter how tough life or work gets. When you build your awareness and discipline to practice mindfulness and meditation in a way that works for you, and you give it enough time, not judging yourself and seeking to compete to win anything, you will change the way you feel, think, talk and act if you have an experience similar to mine.
You will become far more resilient. What used to stress you will no longer stress you. As a result, amazingly great things, people and opportunities may start showing up and you will feel an inexplicable flow. This is you changing you from the inside out!
Keep doing the work, because there is no finish line when it comes to learning to live life and work to the fullest. It’s called wisdom for a reason. Wise people ask better questions, make better decisions, find more flow if they have learned their lessons in life. Work and life seem less bumpy.
Be more mindful, resilient and learn to bounce back from anything in business or life.
What is your best story about bouncing back?