“Babe, we’re about to lose it all.” 

I sat head down, hands clasped, unable to look my wife in the eye when I told her I screwed up. Six months earlier I’d walked away from one of the best jobs of my career.

It all happened pretty quickly. I was out to dinner with my then business partner and we were celebrating another great year. Profits were up, customers were happy, and we were just beginning to talk succession-planning, ie; selling the business to me.

As we sipped our rum my business partner looked at me and said, “Donnie, thank you for being my retirement plan.”

I paused as the words rambled around in my head. I couldn’t comprehend what he’d just said. I’m sure I mumbled something about how proud I was, or that it had been a hell of a ride.

I walked to my truck and couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. I literally ran it over and over again like a song forever stuck on repeat. “Thank you for being my retirement plan.”

It bothered me so damn much. But I couldn’t figure out why. It was a compliment, right? I thought.

Then it hit me like a cold piece of hard steel straight across my face.

Holy Hell Donnie, you’re somebody else’s retirement plan, I thought. And then, Oh my Gawd, I’m living someone else’s dream.

Here I was…successful, driven, and on track to make the biggest mistake of my life all because I had never bet on me.

I put the key in the ignition and I knew I was about to risk it all. 15 days later I walked away from that partnership and started my own company. 20 years of career-building hard work and I said, “The Hell with it!” This also happened to be the same day I decided to tell my wife what I was doing. Yeah, I was that jackass.

I knew she would have my back, but I wasn’t sure I had my back. Up until that point, we had our dream farm and house and I built a second house on the property for my in-laws. We were enjoying living “the life.”

But now I realized I had no clue who I was. For 40 years I’d lived other people’s dreams and really lived someone’s else life.

I’d always taken the path in front of me instead of choosing a career or job out of passion.

Every move I’d made was because a door was opened but not because I was looking for it or creating something for myself.

And now I was a new business owner who’d never run a business and that was supposed to be my answer to chasing my own dream.

I set up a website, got legal stuff, the bank account…ooh and don’t forget the business cards. I was off to the races. Look out world, Donnie has arrived. I think the world just kind of shrugged and said, “Here comes another one.”

I found some success early on but I was quickly realizing I had no idea what the Hell I was doing. I had no idea how to be a business owner. I had no idea how to make money for myself.

So, when I looked at my wife and said, “Babe, we are about to lose it all,” she said the one thing that would help me turn the ship around. “Baby, get off your ass and go sell something.”

And that’s what I did. I starting selling anything I could think of; graphic designs, websites,  you name it; anything I could to try and build a business. But it just wasn’t working.

I was calling in favors, including one from my last business partner who bailed me out of a particularly sticky situation. I was scrambling and began to tell myself, this is that moment, this is that time you’ve read about, this is what all the books say. I didn’t quit.

And slowly but surely the business started to turn. I was learning what I was good at and what I sucked at. The coolest thing was I was learning about me. I was learning what made me tick and what drove me. I was learning what pushed me forward and what held me back.

I started doing the things I loved and finding others to do the things I didn’t, and the business grew. Now I look back, two years later, and I have a successful international business that continues to grow.

I realized if I hadn’t risked it all I wouldn’t have discovered me. I wouldn’t have found myself because I had no reason to look.

It’s when your back is against the wall and there’s no one left to blame; that is the moment. You have no choice but to get to work. I literally bet my farm. And in doing so, I finally met myself; the me I’d been looking for my whole life, the one who was born to make a difference in the world.

5 Tips for Badasses

  1. Don’t be afraid to risk everything. By risking it all we find ourselves; we find our strengths and we find our passions. When your world is on you, then you have no choice but to fight for it and that’s when the magic happens.
  2. Learn how to dream your own dream. Spend time with yourself doing things. I spent a lot of time daydreaming but not doing. It’s the action-taking that opens the mind to new possibilities.
  3. Surround yourself with badasses who are going big. I can’t emphasize this one enough. When you get around people who are going big you can’t help but level up. Their energy will feed your energy and you will go bigger.
  4. Shock the system. Do the thing you fear, it’s not about beating the fear but who you become along the way. When you step into that fear you begin to evolve and it’s this evolving that ultimately leads to success. Who you are now is not who you need to be to get where you want to go. You must level up.
  5. Raise your energy by focusing more on who you are vs what you do. What you do does not define you as a person. Who you are does. Learn what makes you, you. Spend time tasting life and trying new things,