In the summer of 2009, I moved to the Arctic, by choice. I was on a mission for a fresh start. What I discovered was a shocking truth that would forever change the way I would approach life and business.

Arriving in a new environment can be exhilarating – just like starting a new project or even a new relationship. For us entrepreneurs, the risk and challenge involved with starting over is addictive. I was up for the challenge, and my first days were filled with long, sunny days and an UNstoppable spirit.

On day four, everything changed. I liken it to the rush of going on a third date, after the first two have been spectacular, and all of a sudden it’s like someone has put on the reality glasses and you have the proverbial, ‘I think I’ve made a mistake’ moment. 

I felt like a fool. And yet, I journeyed on. I had made my choice, and I was going to make it right, even in the face of things going from bad to worse. (Entrepreneurship 101, right?)

I was, for all intents and purposes homeless while I would house-sit for absentee homeowners that I’d find on the local grocery store’s announcement board.

That’s when I met Toby the Pomeranian. He was left in my care for 10 days, had an ulcer and would nearly give me an ulcer!

We did not get along. Day after day, Toby played tricks on me, locked me out, even bit me! 

I decided to have a come to Jesus talk with my k-9 nemesis. “Toby, this can’t continue – something’s got to change! Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and love you like you’ve never been loved!’’

The next morning, I greeted Toby with a big smile and I continued to speak and demonstrate kindness and love all day long, no matter what. 

Toby responded with love. By 3:30pm he was curled up in my lap, even giving me doggy kisses.

And in that moment I learned my biggest life lesson to date. It hit me like an iceberg! 

I was the problem! The problem in my entire life was me…and I began to celebrate because I realized that if I was the problem, I could also be the solution.

Photo Credit: Alexander Legaree | Coal Photography

As I looked back on my life, all the successes and failures, I identified countless moments where I could have transformed outcomes by simply changing my perspective and approach.

Immediately, I got on the phone and started to mend relationships. Life was no longer happening to me, I was creating it.

I arrived a blind fool, met my foe, and I left the Arctic with a deep understanding that is so beautifully expressed in these two quotes from Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist:

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure…Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

You are only a fool when you choose to be your own biggest foe.