I found the perfect spot to lie back and reflect. Lying there, overlooking the harbour and looking down on a glacier, there is nowhere else I would have rather been. With only the sound of wind and distant avalanches in the background, I was alone with my thoughts as I reflected on Antarctica.
Many thoughts and memories rushed through my mind. Several times, I replayed in my mind, all the great times I’d had over the past week. During this reflection, a question came up that made me pause. “How did I end up here?”
I started thinking about how everything that had happened in my life up to this point somehow led me to sitting here, looking down on the 7th continent of the world. I started really delving into the idea that, if even one thing had happened differently, I might not be where I am or who I am right now.
The Story Of My Life:
So you can understand the points I will be making in this post, I will share with you a short version of the story of my life.
I started reflecting on my life, starting back to when I was a child.
I grew up in a broken family. My parents got divorced when I was young. I feel that, as a child, I was subconsciously angry with my parents for this and so emotionally disconnected myself from them and from everyone else in the world. I think this played a big role in why I spent so many years emotionally closed off, and surface level. And why I never learned how to open up or be vulnerable.
All the way through high school, I was very shy and had a lot of social anxiety. I lacked social skills. I didn’t believe in myself and I didn’t believe that others believed in me or trusted me. I didn’t speak out because I didn’t believe that what I said had any value. When I would hang out with friends, I felt like it didn’t matter to them whether I was there or not. I felt invisible to the world and I spent most of my days, wishing I were someone else.
Living for so long with the belief that I was not worthy and the feeling that I was never good enough, led me to the next stage in my life.
At some point in my second year of University, I hit a tipping point, where I decided that enough is enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I made a decision that I would not live this way any longer and that something had to change.
Along with this burning desire to change came the desire to prove myself. To prove myself to all the people that didn’t respect me and didn’t believe in me. To prove to myself and to the world how great I could be. This desire to prove myself, as unhealthy as I know it is now, did led me to several opportunities that changed my life forever.
During University, I started taking on leadership roles that were way outside my comfort zone, as this was the only way I knew how to grow at the time. I started developing some social skills and gaining confidence in myself.
I traveled around the world for 9 months in my final year of University. This was my first time leaving North America and I had two reasons for wanting to travel. First, I wanted to use it as a tool for self-improvement. I wanted to come back as a completely different person. And secondly, I wanted people in my life to see me differently. I wanted people to see me as cool and interesting because I traveled the world. Both, reasons were motivated by my desire to prove myself.
Upon my return home, I was introduced to network marketing. I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to join, if I didn’t have such a burning desire to grow and change. All of the sudden, I had mentors in my life, who believed in me and pushed me to be better. I started learning how to think like an Entrepreneur.
Network marketing exposed me to personal development. For the next 2 years I read countless books, listened to audio tapes 2-10 hours a day, flew across North America for seminars and courses every couple months and started surrounding myself with people who I considered successful. I was on a mission to become successful in business.
The combination of travel and network marketing made me realize that I never want to work for someone else again. This in turn, led me to College Pro, which was promoted to me as one of the best entrepreneurial development programs in North America. This opportunity changed my life. I reflect on my first three years as an entrepreneur with College Pro, in a previous post.
My burning desire to prove myself, helped me to become very successful, while running my College Pro Franchise. I broke records, made good money, developed leaders and eventually learned how to do so while only working 20 hours a week. I developed complete belief in myself, in business at least. Where 3 years early, I had absolutely no belief in myself, I now believed I could do anything.
I attended a leadership course in the winter of 2013 and learned at an experiential level how my desire to prove myself was controlling my life and how it would not serve me long term. I discuss this at the end of a previous post.
Then last year, I had one of the hardest years of my life. I still did well and grew my business once again, but I struggled mentally throughout the year. Now that I was no longer motivated by competition and the need to prove myself, I struggled to maintain motivation.
I lacked clarity. I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing. I was constantly questioning whether I made the right decision to return to College Pro. I lacked humility. I realized that I had let the success get to my head. I had lost my burning desire to learn and grow.
I attended a leadership course in the fall of 2014 that humbled me and showed me just how much room for improvement I still have. One big realization, which I have not mentioned yet, is that I learned that I have been living a very self-centred life. My burning desire to grow and learn returned.
This leads us to the present. I am now traveling the world, with the intention of using this trip as a tool for personal growth. Many of my intentions for this trip are a result of the course I took last fall. You can see a full description of these intentions here.
Reflecting On My Flaws And Misfortunes:
There is a point to why I just told you my life story and here it is…
I used to feel sorry for myself because my parents got divorced when I was young, and I had to deal with so much emotional pain as a child. However, because this happened, they are both now married to the people that they are truly meant to be with. Our entire family is better off because of this.
I used to be so hard on myself when I realized I had no idea how to develop deep meaningful relationships or open up emotionally. Now I see that it is because of this past flaw that I am now so motivated to become the most loving, caring, open, vulnerable and honest person I can possibly be.
I used to be ashamed of how I used to be shy and socially awkward. However, if I didn’t experience this pain, then I would not have developed my burning desire to change like I did.
Without this desire to change, I may have never been introduced to three of my greatest current passions. World travel, Entrepreneurship and self-development.
When I first realized that the need to prove myself was controlling my life, it really bothered me. Now I believe that it played an important role in helping me change my life and I am grateful for this. It led me to want to be successful in business. This led me to attending countless courses and seminars.
The thing is though, that the majority of the business courses I have attended are not just about business. What the courses really taught me is that business is not the most important thing in the world.
They taught me to become the best person I can possibly be in every area of my life. That I don’t need to focus on business because my business is just a reflection of the rest of my life. That if I achieve my goals in health, relationships and spirituality, by default, I will achieve my business goals. That we all have our own unique gifts and it is our duty to share them with the world.
I would not have discovered this if I didn’t first have the desire to be successful in business and I would not be currently working on all areas of my life, as I currently am.
I thought that the idea of living a self centred life was a bad thing, but it has now led me to focus on developing a selfless, outward focused attitude and truly wanting to make a positive difference in the world.
Having one of the toughest years of my life in 2014 and then being humbled at MLS resulted in the return of my burning desire to grow, change and find clarity.
This in turn, led me to South America on a journey of self discovery. During this trip, I made a spontaneous decision in Ushuaia, which is why I ended up sitting on that rock, overlooking that glacier in Antarctica.
The Moral Of This Story:
My flaws and struggles of my past shaped me into who I am today. And now my flaws and struggles of the present are shaping me into who I want to be in the future. I am grateful for both the positive and negative experiences of my life, as both have led me to where I am and who I am right now.
You don’t have to be in Antarctica to reflect and find gratitude in your flaws. Take some quiet time alone and really think about the hardest times you’ve had in life and try to see them as blessings in disguise.
If you are still angry with someone for something that happened in the past, maybe it is time to forgive. Forgive, not for their sake, but for yours. Anger and blame is a poison that is hurting you, not them.
If you are still angry with yourself, it might be time to finally forgive yourself. Understand that you did the best you could at the time, with the knowledge and abilities you had, otherwise you would have done something different. Accept the past, so you can finally move past it.
If you are experiencing tough times right now, realize that you can use today’s struggles to propel you to become the person who you want to be tomorrow. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, while moving in the direction that you want to go, and eventually you will arrive where you want to be.
“Life is like a dark tunnel. Sometimes you can’t see the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving forward, you will come to a better place.” – Iroh
There are really two choices that all of us have. We can either use our misfortunes to make us better, or we can use them as an excuse for why we are not where we want to be.
There is a story about two brothers. Growing up, their father was a scoundrel and a drunk. Later in life, both of the brothers were interviewed. The first man had become a scoundrel and a drunk, just like his father. He was asked, “Why did you end up this way?” The man answered, “What do you expect? My father was a scoundrel and a drunk. Why would you expect me to be any different.”
The second brother had become a successful professional. He was asked the same question, “How did you end up this way? Your father was a scoundrel and a drunk, but you’ve become a successful professional.” The second brother answered, “Because I didn’t want to be like my father.”
We have two brothers here with the same situation, but two totally different results. One used his past misfortunes as an excuse and the other used it as a reason to succeed.
We all have this same choice.
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