Basically, I’ve always been in business for myself.
I deposited my last paycheck ( signed by someone other than me ) when I was 17 years old so I know in a deep and personal way what doing your own thing and creating both thriving success and epic failure looks and feels like.
When you are super young and in business for yourself people LOVE to mentor you. I was smart enough to take all the help I could get but wasn’t mature enough to know how to filter it with perspective or core values… I absolutely had no idea how to take what I need and leave the rest.
I opened a restaurant early in my journey and this guy would always come in and hang out with me. He told me that the strength and health of any organization could be determined by simply looking behind the curtain, into the kitchen and back room… into the places where customers and clients don’t go.
He meant it literally. He even came in once and helped us clean up our back rooms and behind the scenes stuff and got me organized and efficient. I thought I really understood and believed this.. no doubt sometimes the physical surroundings and appearance can reflect the inner workings and integrity of a place.
I spent a long time running businesses with his wisdom… basing choices on the appearance of things, making sure it looked just right.. that it was organized and efficient and that our back rooms were in absolute order, that our process and systems were impeccable and that we represented success as I understood it at the time.
This really worked for a long time and it built some strong foundational principles for me to operate from, many I still stand upon today.
I’ve grown significantly from this limited perspective… now I know that success is determined by the integrity of a place when nobody’s looking– what you stand for in the darkness, who you are when this shit hits the fan. I know that always getting ready and making sure things are right often leads to nothing getting done.
I do think what the place looks like matters… but only when what you offer is substantial and real and awesome regardless of packaging.
The models and systems and order of things.. it seriously matters.. it’s a much harder road to just wing it and hope everything works out.
What it takes to succeed changes constantly, there is no one way, as soon as you find the way, you better already be down the road to the next.
For me, success hasn’t looked like I intended it to.. the dreams and aspirations and noble ideals I began with often don’t even come close to what actually happens and in the moment it doesn’t feel as good, often is 400 times harder than I expected and regularly doesn’t work out at all, leaving me in this new and awkward place that wasn’t where I wanted to be but somehow has left me better anyway.
What I’m sure of now; Success is messy.
The only thing messier is not going for it anyway.