Many years ago, I was telling a crowded room of complete strangers about the strained relationship I had with my father. At the time I had been in Italy for a little over 11 years and he hadn’t called me once. Admittedly, this was before everyone had smartphones in their pockets but that’s hardly an excuse, is it? Not once.
As I dived into the pain this sense of abandonment had caused me, I could see I had the audience in the palm of my hand. They were moved by the story of a young foreigner in his late twenties facing his demons in public, but I couldn’t care less because I was about to hit them with the punchline:
I hadn’t called him either.
I think there comes a time in everyone’s professional life when you have to look in the mirror and give yourself credit for everything you’ve accomplished, including the bad things.
On far too many occasions, I have allowed the market to crush me, the latest of these episodes just one year ago as my dream of expanding a business beyond my known boundaries was dashed by the enormous ego of yet another pseudo-entrepreneur in search of a quick buck at the expense of creating long-term value.
By all accounts, 2018 was the third time in 6 years I’ve been forced to mop up the total chaos left behind by broken promises, disregarded contracts and unpaid invoices. Each bump along the way making me become simultaneously stronger and weaker.
Which brings us to 2019 and that mirror.
Because as tempting as it is to blame the outside world for this rollercoaster ride, just as I didn’t call my father, I must accept responsibility for not creating the conditions necessary to succeed.
All the talent in the world won’t help you if you jump into a pool of sharks without a cage.
There’s a bizarrely illuminating feeling to hitting the deck. The sensation that you’ve lost control over practically everything in your life and have to reinvent – not from zero, but from many numbers into the negative – is both momentarily terrifying and profoundly clarifying.
I won’t lie. It took two months just to get my bearings back, but I spent the time wisely, looking into the mirror not in self-pity, but in search of a way back.
And I found it.
The first thing I decided that it was time to choose myself. If you want something to happen, the onus is on you to put yourself in the position to allow it to come to fruition. And hence the @copywritermadrelingua spinoff activity came to light.
Copywriting is nothing new – I’ve been doing it for 20+ years but not like this. This time I choose to do it. I’m grateful for it. I respect it.
Choosing yourself doesn’t make you immune to the whims of the market. A few weeks after setting up all my various accounts for this project I applied to provide my services at the highly-recommended Upwork website.
And got rejected.
But it didn’t matter because in the same month I quadrupled my client base.
With choice comes power. The power to choose. The power to share. The power to be ethical. The power to decide where you want to be 5 years from now. The power to accept your mistakes and learn from them.
The moral of the story?
- Choose yourself. Put a cross on the calendar 5 years from now and start working.
- Be grateful for and generous with your colleagues and clients. Those who get it will get you too.
- Make sure you’re not blinded by self-sealing logic that separates you from reality.
- Share as much of yourself as you can free of charge. There is no limit to the value and goodwill this will provide.
- Always call your father back.