In 2020, after leading retreats for 3 years, I believed the next step for me was to open an 11,000 sq/ft multi-purpose gym in Scottsdale, Arizona. Everything was falling in to place - the contracts, the space, the investment, the designers, the instructors, you name it. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, the events of that year had 'other' plans for all of us.
Looking back and remembering the headspace I was in; a naive twenty-something, yet I had an unshakeable confidence in myself. As I reflect, this is a pattern I've come to know well in my life - one that has led me into some very interesting rooms and to living what appears to be many lives... all turning out better than I could have imagined.
When the gym fell through and the world shut down I didn't know what to do. My income was being subsidized by our government stimulus, my rent payment in Scottsdale was dismal (compared to what it is now in Los Angeles), and I had no responsibilities. A initial dream come true quickly turned into a nightmare after I let multiple months of hard partying shift me into a depressed state. I wasn't working towards anything, merely floating aimlessly.
The lack of purpose hit me hard.
Two things happened over the next few months that led to a third, all of which altered the trajectory of my life forever.
First, I was contacted out of the blue by my now friend Erik Aiple of Fit4Travel. Erik runs a wellness travel agency, and, seeing how successful my retreats had been, asked if I could create a course on how to facilitate profitable retreats to better train his clients. I did, we launched, and I sold 1 in the first 90 days. Problem was, borders were closed and nobody was proactively thinking about post-pandemic travel, or future business plans - they were in survival mode.
Second, I committed to doing Andy Frisella's *75-Hard challenge. It was the first time in my adult life I had gone a prolonged period without drinking alcohol. The level of clarity it brought me felt as if I had discovered a superpower.
*I continued this for just over 18 months and completely reinvented myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. This deep dive into my development and my monomaniacal focus also led to the ending of my first serious relationship.
The Retreat Leaders Handbook failed, but the perception amongst my community was that it was selling. I saw that info products were on the rise and the most common question I was getting asked was "How are you marketing your course?" which sparked a new thought. If I could learn direct response marketing, I could help others do the same.
I put my head down, maxed a credit card investing in courses and coaches, and worked 12 hours per day for 9 months straight. This gave birth to a new course The Mindful Method (How To Make, Market & Monetize Online Courses).
18 months, 12 remote colleagues, and a few million in revenue generated for us and our clients later, I thought I had it all figured out. When the world opened back up I took my team to a Tony Robbins seminar in Palm Beach, Florida. On day 3 of the event I become a Platinum Partner. In conversation with other Plats at that event, some of which who were doing $50M - $500M in ARR, I quickly realized 10 of my 12 colleagues were only there to stroke my ego.
Two weeks after that event I had a team of three.
Two months after it was just my assistant and I.
Four months after that, it was just me... keeping only the clients I aligned with on retainer (dropped 65%).
Uncertain what I wanted to do next I went back to the drawing board. This time I had newfound self-awareness, business acumen, and a crystal clear vision of my future... not of my business, but of the life I wanted to create.
For the last decade I wanted success disguised as significance...
... now success for me looks like creating spaces in which people can come to find home.
Here are 5 things I've learned finding my lane as an entrepreneur:
1: LIFE IS seasonal, enjoy the ride
I used to have, and still often do, a zero sum mindset. A belief that if I'm not operating at 100% of my total capacity, I'm not doing anything at all. I've recently discovered that is a nothing more than a limiting belief, and the space between bursts of 100% are often the most productive and aligned.
This belief made it so that anytime I was sick, injured, or exhausted I felt worthless... because I couldn't operate at 100%, I instead chose not to show up at all - when I could have done the best with what I had that day. At the end of the day, it's a belief that society perpetuates with the "sleep when you're dead" mentality. The shift came when I stopped feeling the need to earn my rest, and instead needed to earn the right to work hard.
If you prioritize rest, your body will show up for you in ways you never imagined possible... and in doing so, you'll enjoy the ebbs and flows of life in a much fuller, more complex, and fulfilling way.
2: There's failure... and there is falling forward
Failure does not come from your inability to obtain a goal, it comes from removing yourself from the game entirely. Our minds trick us into believing our lives exists linearly, yet all roads point to an exponential existence.
The next time you find yourself feeling like a failure, ask yourself the following:
Is this a setback, or simply a setup?
Take the assist every time.
3: Your work must work on you more than you work on it
Time and again I find the problem not to be the problem but instead the problem is my relationship to it. This being so, and as cliche as it sounds, entrepreneurship isn't about creating a thing, but in who you become in the process.
Life exists as a mirror for the self, and the self awareness gained by going into business for yourself, or creating something from nothing, is unlike anything I've so graciously been able to experienced in my life. That being said, the only reason you're not where you want to be is because you lack the knowledge to get to wherever that may be.
Become a student of life, open yourself to new experiences, and focus on the inputs as you allow life to unfold for you.
"Ninety percent of success can be boiled down to consistently doing the obvious thing for an uncommonly long period of time without convincing yourself that you're smarter than you are."
﹣Shane A. Parrish
4: The Opportunity Cost of Unaligned action is Incalculable
Starting out I tried to do everything, everywhere, all at once... and no, I'm not referring to omnichannel marketing. What I'm referring to is failing to pick a lane and stick to it long enough to see the outcome you desire. The secret exists not in doing everything and hoping to get lucky, but in trying what interests you and following what feels right.
A common misconception I once believe to be true was that success is defined by the observers of it - similar to how businesses compete on economics. It may seem obvious from the outside looking in that this is not the case, yet we all unanimously subscribe to this ideal. Now my focus is on remaining in alignment with what I value most, choosing work that provides meaning, and working with people whom light my soul on fire.
Alignment exists when you find your life's work... but, finding it may take a lot of work.
"Success without fulfillment is the greatest failure.
5: URL Meetings SHOULD Have a G.A.P., IRL Meetings shouldn't
We were never adequately prepared for the unexpected shift to a 'virtual-only' world... yet we all did the best with what we were given - some learned to thrive. When a change to our fundamental societal interactions occurs, so to must an equivalent change in our systems and processes.
Instead, what we did was translate what worked IRL in to a URL only domain - causing a lot of harm.
Interpersonal interactions are a requirement of our human experience. So much so that humans can live without ever being loved, but they cannot exist without some form of significance created through connection (hence why the loneliness epidemic has grown tenfold over the last few years).
In-person meetings without a clear agenda often turn into the most profound brainstorming sessions, yet the same cannot always be said for their online counterpart. Because of this, I made it a point to ensure every online meeting in which I'm concerned contain a G.A.P.
Who I learned this from is escaping me, but a G.A.P. is nothing more than a Goal, an Agenda, and a Preparation plan.
- Goal: What is to be accomplished by this meeting.
- Agenda: What is the timetable we will follow in this meeting.
- Preparation: What must be completed or consumed by all participants prior to this meeting.
I add this into the description in Google Calendar and address it at the start of the call. If someone is unprepared once, we reschedule the call. A second time, I advise them of the reasoning for the system. A third time and I will no longer work with them.
Pro Tip: End meetings when they are complete. Never sit in a call just because it was set for a specific length of time.
Quote On My Mind:
"Don't aim to be the best, aim to be the only."
It's very easy to get caught up in comparison.
Yet it's always better to be in a category of one.
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world yet it is the richest country in the world.
According to their per capita GDP of $128,820 USD in 2023. Ireland 2nd at $106,988 & Switzerland 3rd at $94,835.
It is also the only Grand Duchy is the world, a state or territory rules by a a grand duke or duchess.
In CASE YOU MISSED IT
In last weeks edition, I wrote about what I've learned facilitating over 30+ retreats on 5 continents:
- Your positioning creates the value, not the experience itself.
- You MUST set expectations day one or the retreat will implode.
- Don't feel the need to schedule something 24/7... people want to explore.
- Problems are opportunities and retreats shouldn't be butterflies and rainbows.
- Get out of your comfort zone, challenge participants, and do something new!
Want to lead retreats?
Start here and avoid the trial and error I went through.
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