Early on in 2006/2007 I found myself in the middle of the economic boom. Literally in the right place at the right time with the right set of skills. Money came quick and easy and for a 24 year old who grew up in a lower middle class Pastor’s family – I had no clue how to handle it. Everyone was so focused on themselves – buying stuff and having a good time. ( I cringe looking back at what a waste of life that chapter was).
I decided to build my own business in the same niche I was doing well in. So I Invested a ton of money on credit, but I ignored basic business principles and went at it completely over leveraged. As they say, I “bet the farm”. I also had an untouchable ego to boot.
Then the economy tanked and the recession hit.
From there everything just got worse and worse. Business died, payments mounted up, debt collectors started calling, had 2 cars repossessed. On top of that I had no income coming as I wouldn’t even consider getting a job because I couldn’t make what I was making before (stupid). The IRS audited me and I owed a grip of cash with interest that was compounding daily. I was a rock bottom and it felt like when it couldn’t get worse, it did. That year I had married the love of my life and I felt guilty as she was a part of all this struggle even though they were my bad decisions. It was a painful, hopeless and dark season of my life but looking back it was the most valuable thing that has ever happened to me.
Here are the 4 life lessons I learned through all this:
Going from having everything you want to not having what you need is a very humbling experience. It makes you realize that everyone is an inch away from losing it all. I had gone from what I felt was the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley- very fast. It completely put my character and ego in check. In fact, my first job after I finally humbled myself to go find any work I could find ( we were so desperate) was making $7 an hour doing construction and I drove 80 miles roundtrip to get to the jobsite each way in a new car with expired registration that was behind on payments.
I love this quote – “From humble beginnings come great things.”
When you truly have nothing you are thankful for anything. There was a night my wife and I didn’t even have food and no money to buy any. I felt so trapped with no options. As we sat there with no idea what we were going to do, there was a knock on the door. A lady from where my wife was working had just randomly decided to bring us a bag of canned goods and food. This was such a miracle for us. I’ve never been so thankful for a can of salmon in my life! If you are thankful for the little things, your life will be rewarded with constant positive perspective and joy.
It Gave Me A Heart For Those Who Are Struggling
Those who have gone through something identify with those going through that same thing. You can feel the same emotions and understand the same thoughts and struggles. My heart now just breaks for those who are struggling and I’m committed to making a difference. That was not the case before all this happened.
It Taught Me More Than Any Measure Of Success Could
Pain is a great teacher. When we touch a hot stove and get burned, we learn not to not do it again. Successfulness unchecked can falsely prop up our expectations, egos and blind our perspective. The lessons I learned from losing everything has made me a better person, husband, father, businessman, friend and more. Still it took me 8 years to correct all that happened in this season and it was painful for a long time.
In the end I wouldn’t change anything. I’m better today because of it AND I won’t make those mistakes again:)