Guys – I got it wrong.
I don’t say this from a place of embarrassment or shame – it’s not even hard to admit in hindsight. But it does need to be said.
The conclusion I came to in the last newsletter – that growing my business currently trumps spending time with friends and on experiences – was wrong.
There had been a few signs since starting to write the newsletter weeks ago that made me question my hardline stance. But none were as powerful as this brief text exchange I had on Friday.
I’d just gotten back from a trip to Austin and texted a friend about hanging out, since we’d talked about catching up once I was back in town.
“I’m back! Let’s say hi to each other’s faces.” (yes, I text like I talk)
“Hi!! Welcome back. How was Austin?
To be honest, I read your email earlier this week and figured I shouldn’t bug you… But I’d love to hang out at some point if you have the time :)”
Fuck. So that’s how it came across. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After re-reading it with this additional context, here’s what I heard myself saying:
“Hey guys – I am prioritizing business over friends and life right now, so please just be “on hold” until I decide I’m ready to pick back up our relationships at a time that’s convenient for me.”
That’s definitely not the person I want to come across as, or be.
That being said, things are rarely black and white. Even though I now see that I went overboard, I feel like it was the right conclusion for me at the time. Let me explain.
Based on what I believed and was feeling at the time of writing, I thought a heavy work balance with an intense short term focus on ‘getting shit done’ in my business was the right approach.
I had the right idea – the hustle mindset and focus on getting shit done needs to be there – but it’s only part of the equation. The other side of the coin – play, friendship, adventure, connection – is equally as important. The presence of the second won’t limit or extinguish the first.
My dear friend Dale Vaughn has a quote: “The goal is not the goal”. I’d totally forgotten that. What good is laser focus on a goal without taking time to look around and relish the journey? What’s the point of working my ass off if when I arrive and say “I have my ideal number of clients, time and money, let’s play!”, nobody is there to celebrate it with?
While the text exchange was the straw that broke the proverbial Dromedary’s back, what else made me change my outlook seemingly overnight? Three things:
1. My recent trip to Austin
It was, simply, awesome. I got back last Tuesday from a six day trip where I was fortunate enough to meet some incredibly thoughtful, inspiring and giving people.
Coincidentally, most have also achieved a high level (in my eyes) of financial success. While they all hustle and bust their asses, they also create more time for play and fun and friends than I do.
The best example of this is Kendra Wright, a badass location independent digital marketer who I got to stay with. Turns out from her mid to late twenties she worked pretty much all the time and made little time for play.
But she told me that after doing that for 5 years she realized that when she looked back on what she’d done during that time, very little stood out. And that scared the shit out of her.
So, she decided to do a Year of Fear. Every day she chose to do something outside of her comfort zone – riding in a hot air balloon, saying “you’re hot!” to strangers on the street, going to a nursing home and asking to chat to the loneliest person – and did it consistently.
I learned two incredibly important things from her:
- Having fun doesn’t detract from your business, it grows it– I have this fear that if I don’t focus solely on my business that it won’t grow as fast as I want it to. It turns out that by focusing on living and getting out into the world, she was able to meet more people who loved who she was, her story, and wanted to support what she did. People she never would have met had she always been working. This sounds obvious in hindsight but I’d never thought of it that way. Turns out that living helped her grow her business 60+ percent that year too.
- She remembered her life! No longer was it a blur of days on weeks on months spent working. This “blur” and the fear of it is something I totally relate to. Hearing her talk about how she started to remember the awesome moments in her life, and how time no longer flew by because there were worthwhile experiences to break it up – that shit resonated.
2. Incredibly thoughtful responses from friends
After I hit send on the work/life balance newsletter, responses started hitting my inbox – that’s par for the course. But the responses you all came back with were not.
Many of you have gone through similar experiences and shared what it was like for you. But while you sympathized and related to what I was going through, you disagreed with my conclusion. And I love that.
I got reminded that the reason many people subscribed to this newsletter in the first place is that they were my friends – people who liked me because I’m goofy, awkward, sarcastic and spontaneous. Not because I’m was some boorish bastard who keeps his head down, blindly working towards “business and financial success”.
To drive that point home was a word of caution from one of my oldest friends:
“Remember that relationships don’t nurture themselves. I’m all about us digging into career mode right now. That’s what we’re supposed to do. No children. No mortgages. We’re laying the foundation of the lives we want for ourselves. No doubt.
But one thing I’ve found with people who cast their work/life balance to the wind is sometimes an unrealistic expectation of what will be left waiting for them when they return.”
3. The purpose of this newsletter
I’ll be honest – I’d been struggling to get motivated to write the newsletter recently. I felt lost, unsure of what its purpose was and what I was doing it for.
But after getting your guys’ responses, I realized something – it’s not just about me sharing my experiences in the hopes that you can learn something and find them useful. It’s a way for me to learn from your collective brains. It’s a two way street.
This newsletter is the perfect way for us to have a conversation. Yes, I often pick the subject and start the dialogue. But as soon as I hit ‘send’ I get feedback and learnings and insights from all of you, and that’s where the conversation begins. And it wasn’t until now that I fully realized how awesome, incredible and valuable that is.
It’s interesting – I feel like my perspective, outlook and what I believe to be true changes so quickly nowadays. What I believed three weeks ago isn’t what I believe today.
Is that a bad thing? Am I wrong for changing my opinions more than a love child between John Kerry and Donald Trump would?
I don’t think so, if the change has come from a place of growth and learning.
Earlier this month I believed something to be true. So I wrote about it, I put it out into the world, and soon realized it was incongruent with my new experiences and what my very smart, caring and thoughtful friends were telling me.
Yes, my ego has the slightest bruise. But the fact that I won’t be writing a book three years from now entitled “How To Ignore Friends and Alienate People” is more than worth it.
Thank you all for your support, friendship and thoughtful responses – not just this past time, but for each and every time.
And lastly – if you have ever had an experience like this, or simply have some thoughts to share – write back and let’s get a conversation started 🙂