I ran the fraud that landed me in federal prison for two years like a business.
I tracked every transaction with such incredible detail that the FBI agent leading the investigation told me,
“Never in my career have I seen someone keep such meticulous records of their crime. Your spreadsheets are impeccable. You made my job very easy. Thank you.”
Not knowing how to respond, I muttered,
My fraud was exhausting. There were so many moving parts, and all of them were resting on a bed of lies.
But I loved running it like a business.
My wife at the time had launched a business; I helped her with whatever I could. It was amazing watching her step into her own and watching the revenues slowly creep up.
I loved it.
But here’s the thing, I loved both for the wrong reasons.
Sure I enjoyed helping her, but both helping her and running my fraud like a business was the easy way out.
Quite frankly, they were the coward’s way out.
The author Steven Pressfield coined the term “shadow career” in his book “Turning Pro.”
A shadow career is a metaphor for what you genuinely want to do but are just too damn afraid to do it.
Since I was a child, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and in fact, I was.
I mowed lawns, sold the golf balls I found to golfers, I pet sat, and house sat for my neighbors.
Another childhood dream was to write. I didn’t know what a screenplay was, so I would say,
“I want to write movies.”
The responsibilities and “shoulds” of the adult world slowly suffocated the dreams of youth.
My entrepreneurial desires and writing movies slowly faded into the background as merely a whisper.
But that whisper never faded; it called to me every single day. I was too damn afraid to answer its call.
I needed to drown that voice out, to run away from the very part of me that I so desperately wanted to be. The part of me that felt Jupiter’s gravitational pull to do something that matters.
The deepest part of me that craved meaning and purpose.
I needed to escape this feeling; I needed to run faster than my fear but was too blind to see I never could.
So I crafted a persona, a shadow life.
I crafted a life that ran parallel to the life I truly desired. Unfortunately, it was a life of consumption, addiction, and chasing.
It was a life of “almost” running my own businesses.
I was settling for breadcrumbs because I was too damn scared to go for the entire loaf.
I thought I had to give everything up to create the life I truly wanted to live. And there was no way in hell I was going to give it up.
I didn’t know who I was without it; how could I possibly take that risk?
Losing everything and going to prison taught me many things, but one of the critical elements that ripple out to every aspect of my life now:
Life isn’t meant to be lived in the shadows.
It’s meant to be lived basking in the light and love that flows when we connect deeply with ourselves and align our actions with what we’re meant to do and be.