Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. One of my biggest failures in business came from confusing momentum with actual prosperity.
I started my first business when I was 10 years old. By 18, I had no perspective. I was all mouth; less impact. Most 18-year-olds think they know everything, but I was worse because I had experienced success, and had a wad of cash to show. Soon, I made one too many business mistakes, based on my ego; not common sense, and ended up homeless, living in my blackMitsubishi Montero for six months.
Being homeless proved to be my greatest teacher. It was early in my career, so I repaired my life and moved forward, but I’ve had a few equally defining periods in my journey since then. Here are some of the life lessons I learned from those experiences that I continue to leverage to this day.
1. Wisdom is power.
Knowledge comes from books and learning, but wisdom comes from experience and failure, and listening to those who have had experiences and failures. Pay attention!
2. ‘Busyness’ and business are not the same.
I thought that because I was always going to meetings (or ‘taking meetings,’ as we called it in Los Angeles), always hanging with beautiful and successful people, always showing up where things were ‘happening,’ and driving a nice car I could not afford, that this all meant something. It did not, other than I was going broke slowly.
3. Let the past empower you.
My dad—an amazing man that I am proud to be the son of today—made money and created a business, but could not keep a dime nor sustain an enterprise. The more money he made, the broker we got. I am passionate about teaching the language of money today in large part due to the pain of living through the turmoil of financial instability.
4. Get over yourself.
I used to take myself way too seriously. I actually thought I was ‘somebody.’ Worse, because none of my antics were rooted in real confidence, real success, or real self-esteem, I treated other people like crap. When you are truly successful, you have no reason to be a jerk. My best friend, Rod McGrew, says that when you have the power you don’t need to use it. When you are truly successful, you learn to decrease you and increase others. Being nice must be your default. My most successful friends are the nicest. They are ‘heavy’ enough to be light, free, and easy.
Read the complete piece on Black Enterprise here.