Why I Needed To Fail Myself
When I was a kid, and even into my early 20’s, money wasn’t something I ever thought about. Sure, maybe it’s easy for me to say because I came from a well-to-do family, and I never missed out on anything. I didn’t have to pay for my car or rent, I just had to show up to work on time and finish school, and try not to be too much of a disgrace along the way. But at the same time, my dad was old school, and I’m grateful he kept me on a very tight leash, so I never really knew what it was like to have a lot of money in my pocket; I usually just had enough to go nuts on Friday nights and pace myself until the next pay day!
But it didn’t change the fact that I didn’t measure my dreams in dollars. I had no responsibility, no worries and I was going to be a rockstar, so I had that going for me.
Things only changed when my dad passed away in 2012; I just turned 25. For the first time in my life I had to deal with the reality of responsibility. I was hesitant to take his place at first because I wanted to do other things, and my brother was doing an unbelievable job (he was 22), but when he and my mother asked me to get out of la la land, I did. So I put down the guitar and my new mission was to run the family business.
Everyone’s biggest fear was if something happened to the company, we wouldn’t be able to live the lifestyle we were born into. Big house, fancy cars and expensive dinners. It’s human nature to fear what you don’t know, so we needed more of what we did know. My dad was our idol, everybody loved him. My brother and I knew if we wanted to live like he did, then naturally we’d have to at least double the business to do so. Sales, growth, numbers, deals, dinners, scotch, travelling, entertaining… that became my life.
Years of this resulted in me living in a world where I only saw efficiency and growth potential, like a robot. Sure the company grew, and I learned a shit load about running a business, but to what end? Nothing was ever good enough, we reinvested so heavily in the company to accelerate evolution, like Montreal in the summer, we were always under construction, it was always chaotic, tensions were always high; it was joyless.
Every move was done with the right intent, and sobriety actually accelerated the pace because I was now operating on hyper drive; it was all just too much, too soon. I put so much stress on myself, and those around me, things had to get pretty bad before I could see a little clearer.
Getting so close to the edge gave me no choice but to envision a possible future where I lost everything. And surprisingly, it was one of the most blissful feelings I’ve ever experienced. Because attached to everything I owned was stress, and the more I owned, the more I stressed. This temporary world had none of it, just freedom.
The vision allowed me to step back and question why I was working so hard on transforming my dad’s garage door opener company into an interstellar battleship. It allowed me to ask why I needed material things that brought me more headache than joy. It allowed me to ask whether I enjoyed what I was doing today and if it was getting me any closer to where I wanted to be tomorrow.
Turns out I didn’t even know why I was doing anything; I had no clear reasoning other than an insane need for evolution. But one thing’s for sure, if I stayed on this path I’d probably end up an exponentially worse version of myself.
What do I need to do today to reach my destination? If I wanted to become the greatest garage door opener CEO this side of Jupiter, then I was well on my way. But my ultimate goal was always to eventually go back to my roots, make music and write about my experiences. Was being a hard ass in the boardroom or stressing about deadlines getting me closer to songwriting? No. Was sabotaging my bank account for cheap thrills going to get me closer to songwriting? No. What would get me closer to songwriting? Probably writing songs.
So that’s what I did, I’d mess around on my guitar after work, scribble down things on the weekends, and slowly eased my way into a new routine; I felt more relaxed. I planned studio sessions, spent Sundays brainstorming with friends. By consequence I was less hellbent on radically changing the company around because I found purpose elsewhere, and that’s all I needed. The company was able to breathe and the changes were actually taking effect, rather than drowning in my never ending chaos.
Today, I’m 30 and working to make my childhood passion one that can sustain me independently of the business, I know what I need to be happy and it isn’t millions in assets or a lavish lifestyle, so I’m confident that goal isn’t a lifetime away.
I know it might be easy for me to say because I own a company, and I understand, but like everyone else, a company is exactly like a job, if you don’t show up, you’ll get fired, or go bankrupt, there are people depending on us and we have bills to pay. But if I want to turn my hobby into my job one day, I’ve got to be wise with the greatest gift I have, time. I realized it’s what we do with our free time that gets us closer to our goals.
A friend of mine once told me there are 168 hours in a week, 40 at work, 56 asleep and 72 to make dreams come true.
Maybe my childhood self wasn’t so naive, maybe this 5 year journey has taught me what I need to bring my dreams to reality. Regardless of why, I’m thankful for every second of it.