For the past 19 years, I have hustled and worked very hard to push my life forward. I overcame incredible odds like not being legally allowed to work, not understanding the language of the place I lived and still having to find work, not having the opportunity to go to school, and questioning if I would ever have a place to call home. Life and success looked so different for me when I was 14 versus when I turned 25, and even changed quite a bit before I reached 30.
It only makes sense that things looked different as I was getting my first job at 14-years-old, getting fired from a VP position earning 6 figures at 25, and then financially retired as an entrepreneur by 30. The reality is that my life, much like everyone else’s, is always filled with adversity, challenges, and disappointments; but it is also filled a with a tremendous level of success, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Something that I always pride myself in is having the ability to always push forward to get to the destination I want or create the outcomes I want.
While it can be argued that understanding Third Circle Theory on an intricate level gives me an advantage in being able to do so, it is certainly not the sole reason for my success. Instead, it’s FEAR that drives me to succeed. I often don’t talk about that fear in many of my videos on Youtube or in the interviews I conduct in the Secret Academy. I have learned to harness fear as a tool to push forward and by writing this article, I hope you all may be able to turn your fears into your strengths as well.
Steve Jobs said it best when he said: “If you live each day as it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
The context of that sentence is the real definition of “YOLO,” and the ideology that a life filled with fear and sorrow is a life not worth living. In his commencement speech, Steve Jobs also mentioned that he would ask himself every morning if what he was about to do that day was what he wanted to do knowing it was his last day. If he answered “NO” too many days in a row, he knew it was time to change his routine.
So here is a break down of my fears, and how I used such fears through my life to move forward rather than stay paralyzed.
Fear of Rejection: Who isn’t afraid of rejection in their teenage years? Being filled with a constant fear of not fitting in coupled with the fear of peer groups, women, or just about anyone whom we want to interact with rejecting us; it’s normal to be afraid of not getting what we want. Early on, I also felt the same way: I was in high school, I barely spoke English, and I certainly didn’t understand sports and how to be part of that crowd. I ultimately had nothing in common with anyone to fit in, which is why I decided to work very early on so that I could instead make money. I figured that if I worked every minute I could, I would eventually make enough money to matter to those around me.
Very early on I decided to outwork everyone in school and make more money. What better way to overcome the fear of rejection than going to work as a telemarketer where every single day I was forced to pick up the phone only to get hung up on over and over again?
The best way to fight rejection is to be rejected to the point where you become numb to the feeling and emotions we feel. You’ll find that what we are afraid of isn’t the rejection itself, but the pain that we feel emotionally when we are rejected. Being rejected a few times allows you to recognize that the pain itself isn’t that bad; therefore, allowing you to recover faster after each rejection which eventually leads to no longer needing time in between taking action even if rejection is a possibility.
Fear of Failure: Later in life, I was faced with having to give up my formal education in exchange for work, and the fear of failure became very real. I had a great job at a bank, but no longer had the possibility of furthering my abilities through a strong education and the leverage of having a diploma. I had to choose working, and like many people, the fear always existed that it would be possible that if I lost my job, I could lose any opportunities. The only way I practiced getting rid of this idea wasn’t by worrying about the opportunities that I might have missed or may not come, but instead focusing on doing the work itself.
I focused my efforts on the idea that I couldn’t control the outcome of things or what may later come in life, but I certainly could control my actions today. While this was taking a chance on me, as there are no guarantees in life, what better chance to take but the one that bets on you? I did well and advanced quickly, because this newfound work ethic pushed me forward much faster than others. The fear of failing pushed me to not only ensure I wouldn’t fail, but also push forward faster all the way to a VP level job before I was 25-years-old.
Fear of the Unknown: When I lost my job at the age of 25, I felt lost, betrayed, and didn’t know what was going to happen. At this point in my life, I started experiencing a high level of anxiety that was affecting my loved ones as well. The worst part was that I was financially stable, but I didn’t know what to do with myself. Someone had taken away everything that I believed mattered in my growth and business life, and had robbed me of my sense of purpose. I always believed that I was destined to be a banking CEO, and while my rise to the top gave me a false sense of security, it was now gone. The only bank in which I held a track record wouldn’t back me up, so that I could end up working for their competition.
All those years of sacrifice, the lack of higher education, and the lack of direction all kicked in at the same time. I realized that the best way to get rid of the fear of the unknown is just to get familiar with the idea that the unknown hasn’t been discovered yet. I spent a year losing money trying to launch a company that I didn’t know anything about, only to be reminded that I had the opportunity to focus on a company that I did know well. I focused my efforts on the company I understood well and revamped VIP Motoring from being a tuning shop to a full concierge business.
Most importantly, I didn’t shy away from the unknown and instead focused my efforts on finding a guide that understood the direction I was taking. I looked for mentors and partners who understood the business landscape of the industry I wanted to break into and understood that despite their guidance, I would be forced to learn the ins and outs of that industry on my own. The more I learned, the less unknown it became, and my level of understanding of why things were taking so long became higher. The fear of the unknown pushed me to seek more information, which later gave birth to Secret Consulting.
Fear of Not Leaving a Legacy: In my later years as a CEO of two successful 7-figure companies, I started wondering what would happen if today was my last day, and if all I had to show for success was money. Would I be satisfied with my life? Back then I was only 27, and I certainly didn’t think that having a Lamborghini and a few cool cars was giving me a sense of fulfillment. I started understanding that perhaps money played a much smaller role in my life than I previously expected, and that perhaps my biggest fear of being poor was not longer a fear at all.
Instead, my only real fear was always to matter, and I think every human being at one point or another wants to know that they matter or have a purpose. It is impossible to justify our existence by acquiring things, so it made me realize that my biggest fear of ending up poor was also my biggest limitation and restriction I had.
In 2008, I decided to rethink my personal goals and how they aligned to my long term direction. Overnight, I retired from my two companies and realized that the reason I was not getting closer to fulfillment was that my focus was always on profits, and not so much becoming better at everything I did. I immediately appointed CEO’s to run my companies and focused all my efforts on creating a new company that was based on the fundamental idea that anyone who wants to succeed should have access to mentorship and support.
Thus Secret Entourage and Third Circle Theory were born. These two things would not only change the way people understand and interact with the idea of entrepreneurship, but also would force me to become the very best version of myself and push me to that place where passion, purpose, and talent come together. The fear of not leaving a legacy pushed me to find my very own purpose in life.
Now, I am facing the greatest challenge of my life.
Except this time it will not be solved by an injection of fear, but by the ability to be fearless. In 2015, I was diagnosed with a tumor, and like anyone else in my situation, the thought of death crossed my mind. If the time came for me to leave, would I be satisfied with everyone and everything around me as it is today? Would I go in peace or be filled with regret?
It suddenly hit me that for once in my life, I wasn’t afraid of anything. I was actually excited that I had the privilege of knowing that when faced with adversity, the first thing that manifested itself in my mind wasn’t fear, but a feeling of fulfillment. The feeling of accomplishment and the feeling that everything life threw at me, I overcame and I leveraged to improve my life. It also hit me that it was through entrepreneurship that I experienced the best years of my life, I became the person I am to date, and more importantly, I created a legacy.
Let me clarify that I am not going anywhere yet, but I have found a new level of satisfaction through this experience, and one that reminds me daily of why I do what I do. It is very important to understand that we all face adversities in our lives, some we can control and some we cannot. We are faced with illnesses, monetary losses, failure as a person or in business; but we certainly can control how we react and focus on what we can control, rather than the circumstances around us.
You must take action on the good days, so that even the bad days prevent you from falling further behind. We may not know what adversity comes next, or what fear will consume our thoughts tomorrow, but we can predict what actions we will take. Life may one day cut our journey short, but what will matter isn’t going to be if we reached our destination, but if we made the journey count.