5 Things I Learned Meditating this Weekend

For those of you who know me, you might think of me as a success; for those of you who don’t know me, here’s why. I’m a 30 year old small business owner who’s helped more than 300 people advance their careers through our services in the past 18 months. Four out of five of our clients are bachelor degree holders and more than half hold masters or professional degrees. I have a beautiful family. My kids are well-mannered, smart, outgoing, and all-around enjoyable. James II scored within the 75th percentile in the nation on his kindergarten exam and doubled his math scores since the beginning of the school year. My youngest is a rising basketball star. My wife could easily be a super model. I’ve traveled the world, 30 countries to be exact. I won a Big Ten championship as a football player at the University of Michigan my freshman year. I’m a mentor, I care about people, especially our youth. In the past year, I’ve won a number of community and leadership awards for my efforts.

But lately, I’ve been feeling like a failure. I’ve been wanting to quit. I’m strong AF, but I’ve been more emotional lately. Maybe it’s because I’m stressed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been getting any sleep or sun. Maybe it’s because I feel like I can’t take care of my family like a man should. I really don’t know why, but it’s been bothering me. It’s been affecting all of my relationships. Running my business has become more burdensome than fulfilling. At first, I wrote these feelings off as the challenges every entrepreneur faces and I ignored them. But I realized it was a problem when I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to work. As extroverted as I am, I wanted to be alone. I felt like God wasn’t hearing my prayers and had forsaken me. I was confused because He’s the one who told me to quit my job and step out on faith in the first place.

Although I incorporated my business in 2013, it’s my 18th month running my business full-time and saying that it’s been rough is a huge understatement. Financially, emotionally, and physically, it’s been rough. If this is what it means to be a young black entrepreneur, I don’t wish it on my worst enemy. I’ve been behind on rent for the first time in my life, and it’s by the grace of God that my car isn’t repossessed. It’s not that I’m not making money, I am. I’m making more than I ever have. It’s just that when you get behind, it’s hard to catch up. As an entrepreneur your burn rate, the rate in which you get cash then have to spend it, is 100%. And it’s not just unique to start ups, I know people who have been in business for years, who make more than a quarter million dollars per year, going through the same thing. I now realize what P. Diddy meant when he said “more money more problems.”

For the past month or so I’ve been in a slump. My batting average is like .100 and I can’t seem to shake it. So this weekend, I locked myself in my home office and meditated. I needed to figure it all out. I read the Bible more this weekend than I ever have in my life. I’ve prayed in the spirit so much my tongue hurts. I’ve been fasting. All in search of answers, all in search of direction. As the Lord promised, seek and ye shall find, knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.

So here’s what I learned after deep meditation this weekend.

  1. I’m the f***** man. Excuse the language, but profanity adds the proper emphasis at times. When doubt creeps into your mind, you have to change the narrative you’re telling yourself. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t worthy; as if I don’t have anything to be proud of. I have tons to be proud of. But I can’t rest on what I did. Most people don’t have the intestinal fortitude to take the kind of risks I’ve taken given what I have to lose. I’m a genius, and I have the ability to figure things out. I can make a way out of no way. My character and abilities have gotten me this far and it’s all I need to go even farther. The irony in all this is that I help people communicate more effectively, and the first step is to communicate effectively to yourself. For some reason, I got away from practicing what I’ve been preaching.
  2. I’m already successful. I love Earl Nightingale’s definition of success which is, the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Although I’m not where I want to be, I’m working toward this worthy ideal of helping young professionals land their dream jobs and advance their careers, which means I’m already successful. Success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey, it’s a process; and I must fall in love with the path to get there as much as I’ve fallen in love with what the ultimate destination looks like.
  3. We need a support group. If it weren’t for my brother, I don’t know where I would be. He lets me ‘hold something’ every now and then when I’m between payments. As he was listening to me sing the blues, he said something profound. He said, “look man, either you gonna get over it, or you gonna kill yourself. Which one?” Wow! He laid out my options simply and clearly. I thought I at least had a third option. But he let me know that I couldn’t sit there and complain about my situation. I had to take action, getting over it was my only option. He reminded me, how as men, we have to learn how to take losses, and this was just another loss. It’s all about how you bounce back.
  4. You’re on your own. Although we need support systems, we are still on our own. No matter how much my brother, wife, mom, or friends support me, it’s ultimately up to me to take action and pull myself out of this rut. When the dust settles and the smoke clears, no one can truly hold you accountable but yourself.
  5. We have to work our way through the tough times. If there’s one thing I know how to do it’s to work hard. After being in a slump, I wasn’t nearly as productive as I should have been, so I fell behind. I was too caught up in my emotions. After this intense period of self-reflection, I realized that I needed to get better at executing. So, Saturday morning, I read the 12 Week Year, a book about execution, then I got busy. I did more this weekend than I’ve done in weeks, and it felt great.

This blog post is a part of my healing process. This is what you call keeping it real. It’s liberating to no longer feel the need to act like everything is okay, when inside you’re really falling apart. It’s important that we share our story and testimony as we’re going through it, not when it’s over. I know I’m opening myself up to ridicule and judgement, but quite frankly, I don’t give a damn, my dear. There’s significance in sharing your journey with the world in real time so others can benefit from your experiences, now, not once you’ve figured it all out. We romanticize entrepreneurship too much and fail to talk about the downside. I’m sharing this because I’m sure people covet the lifestyle of entrepreneurs, but it ain’t all good all the time. I appreciate this process because it taught me a lot about myself. It forced me outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow as a small business owner and entrepreneur, but more importantly as a man. One of my mentors posted this quote to her Facebook and is most fitting to my current situation.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli

But believe you me, I’m not self-destructing, I’m growing into perfect completion. I’m a work in progress who is just getting started. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.