A fable that is far too true for many male entrepreneurs. This one has a happy ending.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a man. He was a working man on a path to entrepreneurship, but he was set back by his own self expectations, almost permanently.
He had worked in the professional field for 30 years, seeing career highs and lows. Over the last few years, having faced some traumatic events such as flooding from a hurricane and homelessness, the pressure of keeping it together for his family, and finding himself in the ER thinking he was having a heart attack (luckily it was only the symptoms of stress) he decided to make a change. Working both in the corporate world and on his own entrepreneurial passions, he set some really high benchmarks. But failing to hit them put him on a dark path of depression, and self-discovery.
The man had been through a lot, personally and professionally. He decided he wasn’t leaving a mark in his own book, he was leaving a mark in someone’s else. He decided that he needed to have his message shared with the world, and in turn create a business that would support his family. The man read, listened and learned, and just like so many others, he began emulating behaviors and copying the best practices of the people he was studying.
He asked one of the gurus, “What should I do?”
The guru replied, “You can blog, or write an e-book, or do a YouTube channel, or do a podcast, from there you will find profit!” The man knew that he liked to talk, so he said, “Podcasting it is.” Over the next few months he learned, spending time and energy on getting everything ready for his show. The man was very happy. It took three months of hard work, but here was his final product, this podcast, this totem of his desires, his self-expectations, his legacy.
Over the coming months he continued doing his podcast and began branching out into other areas, going to conventions, speaking, writing and various new and wonderful things that he had never experienced before. He met new and interesting people, all the while looking around him and saying, “This is good, I am creating something.”
About six months into his journey he was not seeing monetary returns, other than a couple of customers here or there. But he continued persevering. As he looked around at the gurus and experts he began questioning himself, “Am I good enough? Should I be here? Should I continue doing what I’m doing as far as this podcast, by creating something or anything that is actually of any value?”
Those seeds of doubt began manifesting in a dirt of self-expectation, and those seeds were in very, very fertile soil.
The self-expectation the man had placed on himself was that in six months he would be a superstar, in six months he would be making six figures a year, in six months he could leave his job and do what he loves.
Bullshit. He kept searching, kept looking around. All the while depression was setting in, spreading into all the things that the man had achieved. Looking at what he was accomplishing and saying, “Not good enough,” he began to have some very, very negative thoughts.
About nine months into his journey he was looking at his value and thinking to himself, “If I am no longer here my wife and children will be cared for with my insurance money.” He thought about losing his life, giving up his fight. This was a very difficult decision for the man to come to. In our entrepreneurial world we’re told we have to “take massive action” and he came close to taking action on this just as he had taken action on every other decision he had made.
Our hero called a friend and opened up about his concern, he called the 800 help line for suicide for himself. He sat down with his wife, cried , and opened up to her as well. She was understanding, obviously concerned, but she knew that her husband was fighting to try to be the best he could, to be able to provide, to be able to leave a legacy, to do something important in his life.
With that support our hero began to tell others about his journey and why those feelings of self-expectation are really not the focus. He tells people YOU are the focus. We can’t allow our lives to be ruled by the perceived hopes and dreams of others, we must find our own happiness or it will absolutely kill you and the ones you love.
Today this man is doing his podcast, writing, speaking and spreading his message, and has found his true meaning in life, after coming so close to the edge. He has found that though he has a lot to offer to the world, his real hope is making sure that people understand that they can do anything in life, and to have realistic expectations about how they can do it. To make sure that we’re putting our own oxygen mask on first, that we are not taking care of everyone else before ourselves.
This is my story. I am that man. I am alive today because I finally put my oxygen mask on. I have many new friends and experiences. I have a family that cares for me. I finally consider myself rich and successful.
If you, or someone you know, is facing depression and need help, have them contact the suicide prevention line at: (800) 273-TALK (8255) and visit there website for more information http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/