If you’re not building your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs…
In late 2011, one of my best friends invited me to join a business. It was a start up based on a successful worldwide retail company that was turning direct marketing and it was the very, very beginning. The idea seemed simple enough but at that point I wanted to focus on my art/music, so I said no thanks.
A few months later my partner decided to try out this business, invested a grand on product and did a few demonstrations with little success. At some point she handed me one of the products to use for a skin condition and to my surprise it worked great, so I got really excited and thought: “…well, maybe I can make this work” —even though it didn’t excite me 10% of what art/music does.
So I decided to join in and I gave it my all; I went to every weekly meeting and did the presentations, even when all of that was way out of my comfort zone. I went on a road trip to a convention, got all pumped up… It was a great experience but after 8 months or so I wasn’t advancing at the same pace as the people with which I had started and they were all changing as people.
I knew what I had to do, I had to change in order to succeed in this. The thing is that I didn’t like who I had to become in order to succeed. I saw it clearly, I had to become something I didn’t want to be. I had to become a leader of people by using their system.
I had no problem in becoming a leader, the problem was that I had to become a leader of people based on someone else’s rules, in someone else’s reality construct. It wasn’t a bad place, there were good people and everyone was trying to do their best and many other things that I value. The problem was that I realized that being a leader meant complete commitment, complete surrender to the cause …it had to become mine first.
I realized that if you’re going to lead people, you have to believe with all your being in what you’re doing, you have to know that what you’re doing is the best for everyone and it was at this moment that it dawned on me: I didn’t know that.
The truth was that I didn’t really believe in this thing and that’s when it hit me: “I’m not going to succeed in this! I know what I want and it’s not this…”, this is when I knew I had to leave. I had to make my own way.
When I realized this, I got scared because I had talked to so many people about it. I had told them that this was it, this was the game changer… what would they think of me?, who would I be if I didn’t have this dream of freedom that I share with these people and all of those that support me?… but I stuck to my guns because I knew in my heart that a new door would open…
It took a while and I had to go through the darkest days of my life (read: How Creativity Saved My Life) but the door did open and here is the most important part of this whole experience, it’s something that I’m immensely grateful for:
Because of this experience, I realized that the good life, the one we all want, with all those nice things and experiences, meeting great people and everything… That life can only happen when we are truly devoted to living.
When we don’t just get up to make money to pay the bills, but when we are willing to live, to fully live life, and I’m not talking about sacrifice and all of that crap, because that is crap too: motivation, sacrifice, pain, struggle all of that is crap, they’re all illusions.
What I’m talking about here is the life that YOU want to live, your life, the real life… like when you see a child experience a ladybug for the first time, she takes her time, there’s no hurry, there isn’t anything else in the world at that moment, there is just the ladybug. It’s us who rush her to move at our pace because we’re in a hurry to get there —When we don’t understand life, we use others and trample them under our feet in our hurry because we want to get there fast, fast, fast… but it’s all an illusion.
This experience taught me that there is no one more qualified to lead my life than me. People will come and tell you they know the way and they’ll swear by it, but if at some point you feel something’s off, listen to your intuition, this is your truth, this is your way.
I’m not saying that it’s not Ok to follow those with more expertise than you. If you’re in the jungle, you do want a guide …and a machete… but always listen carefully, and only follow those aspects that resonate with you. I believe that we’re all leaders and followers at different times in different subjects as we all have and seek different answers; so we exchange information. This is healthy.
During my experience with this business I learned one of the most valuable lessons in my life —that I already knew what I wanted, what I didn’t know is what commitment means— I had to decide that I was going to give it my all, go the whole way in, only to realize -halfway there- that I didn’t really want that. I took a taste of the real life and I loved it, only I was living someone else’s real life… not mine.
This experience helped me to see that I could actually have the life I want, all I had to do is decide that it’s happening and then travel the whole road while figuring out all the bumps and growing the whole way, but now I’m doing it in my life, for my dream, not for someone else’s.
So really what I’m talking about here is that even though we are living, many of us have not committed to life; and what is this commitment?
Being committed to your life is to take responsibility for your own dreams. I’ve heard it so many times: “…but what if I don’t know what I want!”. The truth is that to say that you don’t’ know what you want, is really saying that you don’t want to take responsibility for your own dreams.
You do know what you want, you know what brings you joy, what makes sense, those moments when life makes sense. You might not know how to turn those moments into endeavors that make you money or that work with your life, family, values, time…etc, or you might not have the confidence to believe that it can happen for you, but all of those are the pieces of the puzzle, the bumps on the road, the battles that you have to conquer and the treasures that you’ll discover once you embark on the journey…
If you’re considering giving your true dreams a new shot, I want to share with you two little quotes that have made the world of difference in my life:
“The money isn’t the means to the happy life, the happy life is the means to the money.” -Abraham-Hicks
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” -Goethe
It might take you 20, 40, 60 years of slaving for a system that has never felt right just to wake up and realize that all the while, what you really wanted to do, was to sail the Mediterranean sea and write poetry. The truth is that it is impossible to fail if you take the time equation out of the picture… if your true goal is just to fully experience that ladybug…
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