One day, as I pulled into the garage of our townhouse in downtown Dallas, I saw our copper-colored garden hose staring at me like it did time and time again. It was a long hose and a mangled mess. I couldn’t remember the last time we had used it,but now it was winter — and very cold. That day happened to be 25 degrees.
Nevertheless, I had had enough. It was time to untangle the hose, weave it into a circle, and hang it orderly on the garage wall. It had been calling me for too long; today was the day.
As I pulled this stiff, nest-like monstrosity into the car-less slot in our garage, I realized how difficult this task would be. Despite wearing gloves, my fingers were cold, and water squirted onto the garage floor as I contorted it’s stiff limbs.
The battle raged on for more than 20 minutes — literally. I was actually, at times, forced to use my lower body for leverage, and had to stop multiple times to take a breath, activate self-affirmation speak, and take a holistic view of the situation.
Untangling the hose was not easy; strategy was needed. I would often have to weave the front-end of the hose through chaotic knots in order to loosen them and free up another 10 inches of the 30 foot beast.
I finally completed the ring, hung it up, wiped up the dirty floor with a garage towel, and said “hell yeah” to myself, but I believe the experience was a metaphor for what had just unfolded in my life.
You see, when I first decided to become an entrepreneur, I wasn’t ready. We, as a couple, weren’t ready. And while I believe that you will never be adequately prepared to become a Founder, have kids, or even get married, I am [now] a big believer in approaching these huge mountains with no injuries and a survival kit.
When we started my first business in Spring 2017, we had neither.
To encapsulate the prior three years that my wife and I had been through, here are some bullets:
- Got married
- Had our first child
- Moved three times — once cross-country, another halfway across
- Purchased and renovated two homes
- Shifted employer/employment four times
- Experienced immensely emotional and traumatic conflict with my family (one of the reasons we left Seattle)
During our transition to Dallas, I stood on the edge of an apartment swimming pool on the phone with a trusted mentor and entrepreneur as the blistering sun reached its peak in my new city. After patiently listening to me rattle off twenty business ideas to him in 21 seconds, he said simply “Chad, don’t start a business in the winter of your marriage. Wait for summer. Trust me.”
He knew me — brain, heart, and motives. He knew the pressure we had been through as a couple. He knew my strengths and weaknesses.
And I didn’t listen to him.
We limped up to the base of the mountain of entrepreneurship, and I boldly yet foolishly stated to my wife:
“I’m going to climb it; get on board.”
The road has been both beautiful and harsh. It’s been terrifying, motivating, discouraging and exhilarating. At times we’ve almost lost everything, including our minds, our money, our medical insurance, and the most important thing — our marriage.
Entrepreneurship has been good to me, but not in ways you’ll read about in Inc. magazine.
- Just like a championship fighter, his excellence was really earned in the gym at 5am every morning.
- Just like a Martin Luther, his game-changing speech was written in his quiet time with God.
My growth has been under the surface — more thoroughly and serendipitously felt than anything a stage or article could grant me.
- I’m resilient and know how to leverage failure.
- I’m smarter, more dynamic, and more strategic.
- I no longer rely on my resume for confidence.
- I know my unique gifts and my weaknesses.
- I finally have a clear vision for my life.
And as I unraveled that annoying hose, I realized that the lessons I’ve learned from entrepreneurship brought me through this grueling and time-intensive task.
Entrepreneurship has taught me to step back and think strategically when things seemed stiff and tangled.
It has taught me to encourage myself, to love myself, and to believe in myself when it felt like the world was against me.
It has taught me that answering your heart’s call — even if pursuing it the wrong way — will grow you in ways you never imagined.
But most importantly of all, it taught me that I don’t have to force things.
It taught me that while climbing a massive mountain in the dead of winter is ballsy, stopping half-way up to wait for better climbing conditions is smart — and essential to reach the summit.
What does that look like? Speak in terms we understand, Chad.
Trick! Only you can answer that question. The moment I try to answer it for you is one in which I assert myself as someone who knows you, your heart, your relationships, and your gifts intimately.
That said, speaking practically, do not start a new business venture while you’re in debt, and if you’re going through momentous transitions in one or more other areas of your life, I highly recommend you let those Winters pass before embarking on an entrepreneurial voyage; you’re already on an adventure, and some things in your life should be easy.
Courage is an entrepreneurial necessity, but not the only one. Be willing to answer the call of your heart, but don’t be a fool; don’t be hasty.
Don’t distrust your destiny by trying to rush it, insist upon it, and force it. It will happen; have the faith to wait until summer.
Enjoy unraveling a soft, flexible hose in the summer. Do it as you watch your adorable kids splash around in the sun, giggling in their freedom. And if you need a break from the five-minute task, jump inside to steal a sip of your beautiful bride’s jalapeño Margarita, along with a kiss and an “I love you.”
Be courageous, but be patient.
There will always be hoses to untangle and mountains to climb, but relationships are the most worthy of our efforts, and they’re equally challenging, rewarding, interesting, and life-giving in every season — even in Winter.
Chad Kanyer is the Founder and CEO of 4est. which transforms Athletes into Entrepreneurs through community, coaching, training, and creative integration into Startups.