We are about to embark on our 20th anniversary of my little now not so little company.  I’ve been ruminating about how to honor the passing of time and mostly thinking of all the landmines I’ve somehow avoided, the shrapnel I’ve recovered from and the wildly awesome ride it’s been.

I can’t believe all the good we’ve done and all the good that’s been done to me.

This place is so beautiful I can’t even explain it.  But it wasn’t always this way.  I just came across a contract I made with myself back in August of 2000 when I was just 26 years old, TOTALLY broke, a newish dad and in the very early days of learning how to build a business.  I don’t think of those days too often now but when I do I can still taste the sweat of fear and still see the missing numbers in the checking account when payroll was due.

Back then I was listening to everyone else and not listening to myself at all.  We would start something, then something else.  I can’t remember what we actually finished.  I had codependent relationships with nearly everyone and my mood and spirit each day was entirely dependent on how others felt about me, and our company.  I cared so much about what others thought that I didn’t lead anything.  A business needs a leader with his or her own convictions, no matter what.  We didn’t have any of that.

The day before I wrote the contract with myself I sat on the floor of my crappy office and decided it was over, time to close and run and hide.  I just couldn’t take it.  My mouth tasted like salt.  The walls were grey, like me.  I didn’t want to go home and didn’t want to stay.

I wish I could tell you how I stood back up that day but I don’t remember.  All I know is what I can gather and surmise from the contract I made with myself the next day and hung on my wall for the next 16 years.

100 Day Contract

It’s ok to give up but only after this 100 day commitment

· No talking about anyone else unless directly to them, and even then, not in text or email or in a hurry.

· Request no opinions from others about yourself. Find your own core and measurement for who you are.

· Offer no opinion of anyone else unless it’s directly related to your leadership role and the WORK.

· Friendships are outside these walls. Stop being confused and intermingling this.  This is work, they don’t need to like you all the time.

· Know what you know- and go to any lengths to find, remember and honor it.

Last, read this everyday: To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.

Signed, August 24, 2000