If you’ve seen my TEDx talk (at the bottom of this article), you know I’ve had to deal with my own dose of adversity as a a cook, chef and entrepreneur. I had a conversation with my Dad recently who is incredibly supportive, and my biggest fan; probably now more than ever. We were talking about the restaurant that I was trying to get off the ground, and he was asking about the various roadblocks that have shown up, the inevitable challenges that make the process so trying, and he asked,
‘At what point do the obstacles and roadblocks become too much, to where it’s time to put it on the back burner, and try again later?’
This is coming from a successful business man in his own right, who just hates seeing his son frustrated, and having to deal with one issue after the next. I told him,
‘There is no back-burner, Dad. I’m not accepting no for an answer, I’m really not. Yeah, If I didn’t believe in myself, I’d have thrown the towel in some time ago, but now? Here? No chance in hell I’m giving in….’
Maybe you’ve had this conversation with someone, or perhaps yourself, and it’s something that I think we all have to struggle with at different points in our lives, in different capacities. We have to choose the battles worth fighting, while choosing to let go of others, but when you find that thing worth fighting for, you better give it all you’ve got. Going all in for a dream sounds perfect in theory, but out in the real world, it’s not quite so simple. Going for something implies the risk of failure, failure leads to bruised egos, and self-consciousness, and we convince ourselves that everyone is paying attention, as we stumble and fall.
The spotlight, the place where you unequivocally stand for something can be a scary place, but it doesn’t have to be. Come to terms with the fact that it’s supposed to be hard. People will criticize, ridicule, and maybe even lose faith in you. I think, for me, that’s an inherent part of what I’ve signed up for, however, in return and on the other side of adversity, lies success, a feeling of accomplishment from doing something meaningful, and a sense of pride at having stuck with it, when I could have just called it quits.
But, you have to keep going.
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So, I’m convinced, the first step in the journey, is finding that thing you’re ready to fight for, and willing to lose sleep over, because you can’t get it out of your head. The fact is, any project worth it’s salt is going to require a fight, a loss of sleep and a developed ability to say yes, when the world, the market, the girl, is saying no. It’s easy to accept no as the answer, most of us do, unless we’ve committed ourselves to saying “yes”. We watch people join the gym every New Year, only to see them quit six weeks later (gotta love once the gym starts clearing out again), and we watch couples commit to one another through marriage vows, only to watch it dissolve a few years later. But, it’s a lot harder to skip that early January workout when you’re committed to losing thirty pounds, and you’re much less likely to be file for divorce, if you wake up everyday with the commitment to making your marriage work. That’s hard though, and most of us simply don’t want to put in the work. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been conditioned to be okay with things not working out. Convenience, in our world, almost always wins, over short term sacrifice, which is almost always necessary for long term gain.
Sacrifices are necessary, in order to get what you want, and often those sacrifices show up as road blocks and hurdles that we must be willing to face, head on. Through dealing with them, we get closer to where we want to be, and it’s making progress, even if we haven’t gotten there yet. I can tell you that embracing this idea is the only way I’ve survived so long in the game. I’ve been able to use momentum as an advantage.Rejoice in small victories, and every now and then, look back and see how far you’ve come. I’ve gotten here by believing in something, and then making intentional, incremental steps towards it, knowing that each step in the right direction is moves me closer to where I want to be. As you stumble along the way, you’ll see that every non-lethal failure results in another at bat, a lesson to be learned, and another chance to get closer to what you want. So, get up there and find something to believe in, and make it happen. Step up and swing the bat.
I was having a conversation with my girlfriend recently who was living a few hundred miles away in Virginia. It had been hard on both of us, and I could hear it in her voice. She sat on the other end of the line for a minute, then said,
“Christopher, this is hard, really hard.”
I paused, trying to find the right words to say.
“I know it’s hard, it’s supposed to be hard…
That’s how you know it’s worth it.”
– CHRIS HILL