This message was posted by a Foundation Student. Congrats On Your Success Chris.
Take it away Chris…
The most vivid memory from my childhood was the exact moment that I learned to read…
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and I’d spent the day fighting with a big Dr. Seuss book trying to make sense of words that would not budge. They sat on the page like a secret code, cryptic symbols jumbled to keep their secrets hidden from ME.
But then it happened. I sounded out one word, a single word, and in an instant the letters began to re-align like characters flipping on an old train station departure board, transforming into clear words and sentences that presented themselves to me and said, “Hi Chris, I can tell that we are gonna be friends.”
I started reading that day and never stopped. I would read for hours, for days on end, it’s all I ever wanted to do.
I read books about wild horses, sailboats, how to build robots, how to count cards to win at Blackjack, about cowboys, about Mexican drug lords, about war, about Europe, about how to win at Nintendo, how to get stronger – fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles – it didn’t matter. I even read “novelizations” of my favorite movies where a “novel” was written based on the movie (instead of the movie being made based on a novel, there is a big difference!).
Learning to read was clearly an important moment in my life, but I would not realize that it was the single most important event in my life until almost 30 years later, until after I joined The Foundation.
Obsessed With Money
I grew up in Missouri in a poor family where I was force-fed an important lesson over and over…
Get a job, any job you can, and hold on to it for dear life, because you never know when that job will be taken away from you.
I was also taught that if you want to earn more you just have to work more, either through overtime or through getting a second, third, or even fourth job. Everyone around me – my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors all lived this way.
I followed in their footsteps when I turned fifteen and had a sudden and urgent need for cash. I would soon need a car and would have several new expenses – gas, insurance, money for all the hot dates I thought I would be going on in my sweet new ride (which turned out to be an old Chevy Celebrity that was three different colors from all the replacement parts).
So I started working, part-time during the school year and full on full-time during the summers. One summer I worked six days a week as a data entry clerk in the evening, as a security guard at a fireworks tent overnight (you’d be surprised how many people try to buy bottle rockets at 3 AM on a Tuesday), and as a gas station clerk during the day.
My sole purpose became to work and earn, and the amount I could make began to comfort me, to define me..
This pattern continued all through college until I hit the earnings motherload a few years after graduating.
I started my own company as an independent IT consultant and the money started rolling in, bigtime. I earned well over six figures a year for a decade. The work excited me, not because of the work itself, but because of the large amounts I knew I could bill for it. I could essentially work several high paying jobs at the same time (as projects), taking the “Missouri Earning Lessons” of my youth to the extreme.
I was a success, or should have considered myself one, the only problem is that I didn’t…
Disaster and Despair
After a decade of “success”, I woke up one day and felt that I had a thousand pound weight sitting on my shoulders.
I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t shake it. Every part of my life became more difficult with this new burden and required extra energy that I just didn’t seem to have anymore. The consulting work I had been so good at was now sucking the life out of me, leaving me feeling hopeless. My days grew cumbersome and difficult, I was treading water trying not to drown, and I felt that my life’s work so far had been a complete waste.
My consulting had grown stale and had plateaued long ago. I had not picked up a new client in years and I was still doing pretty much the same type of work, and for the same clients, that I had been doing when I first started.
But what could I do? At 36, with a wife and two small boys depending on me, what choices did I have?
I felt stuck. I was desperate. I felt I had absolutely no options. I felt I had no choice but to start over. I felt there were absolutely no opportunities for me, that I was doomed to grinding out IT projects until the day I died; my wife getting the final check for my last project a few days after they put me in the ground.
The simple and painful truth was that the money was just not enough to get me out of bed anymore, but after 36 years of chasing money, what the hell was I supposed to do?
Out of desperation, I joined The Foundation, my plan was to use it to force me to build a profitable SaaS product in six months so I could drop my consulting practice off a cliff, and then kick back and do nothing.
Instead, I discovered 17 words about myself that would lift my burden and change my life…
Why, Why, WHY
I began The Foundation by asking myself “why?”. Why did I have this thousand pound burden on my shoulders? Why was I stuck? Why was the money simply not enough anymore?
The lessons in the Mindset Module quickly led me to a more pressing and urgent question – “WHAT is your WHY?”…
I learned that a critical quality of High Achievers is that they always, always, always know their “WHY” before setting out to achieve something. When I asked myself this question, I could not fall back on the answer I had been giving myself for my entire life, I could not answer “for the money”.
I began to ask myself bigger questions – who am I, why am I here, what is my purpose, what should I be doing with my life? Was it possible for me to make a living AND do something that I enjoy?
This is when I arrived at the WHY Discovery lesson in The Foundation with Peter Axtell and Nicola Vetter, and when I knew what I was missing in my life.
They talked about how each and every one of us have a WHY, a core purpose, a quality that makes us unique and valuable to others. It exists in our minds, and once discovered is a constant source of energy and happiness.
I realized that somewhere along the line, in my obsessive drive to earn money, I had become separated from my WHY, and it had finally caught up with me. I needed to find it, and find it fast.
The WHY exercises included going back through childhood memories and trying to remember times where we were in a state of “flow”, where we could do an activity for pleasure alone and for hours and hours, the things we were naturally drawn to.
For me, that was easy – reading.
But how did that relate to my WHY? Was I supposed to read for a living? I didn’t think so. So I did what high-achievers do and I reached out for help and contacted Peter for WHY coaching.
I told him the story I told earlier, of the moment that I learned to read, and he was blown away. We looked at this moment from different angles until he made a comment that led to unlocking my WHY
He said “So wait a minute, there was an author, Dr. Seuss, who wrote this book, who put words on a page that made you want to read them so badly that you would not put the book down. In a way, he created this moment for you, he gave it to you as a gift.”
At that moment, I felt that I knew my WHY, even though I could not put it into words. I was seized by an uncontrollable need to cry, I couldn’t hold it back. The burden that had been sitting on my shoulders fell away in an instant, and a wave of calm rushed over me.
A week later, I put my WHY into words:
To transform confusion into clarity in order to bring joy and opportunity for others and for myself.
I now knew what I was supposed to do, but HOW was I supposed to do it?
WHY Combined With Identity Shift
My WHY discovery was a watershed moment for me, but I still had a place I wanted to get to, goals I wanted to achieve. I still had to figure out a way to earn money while staying true to my WHY, and in order to get there I had to understand what would limit me and hold me back.
Through The Foundation lessons I was able to identify a core limiting belief – I have no self-discipline and am not consistent.
From there I was able to identify and pattern a new identity that was the opposite of this:
I am a high-achieving entrepreneur.
The “high-achieving” portion shines a spotlight on my limiting beliefs about consistency, and forces me to make new choices about them, specifically:
The “Entrepreneur” portion of my new identity aligns with my WHY. As an entrepreneur I have the greatest opportunity to “find things people are confused about” and then to remove that confusion for them in a way that creates joy and opportunities for them in their lives and business – through SaaS solutions, through info products, through consulting – the ways are endless and abundant
So, as you can see, my identity is super-charged by combining limiting belief busters with my personal WHY, and the result?
Since discovering my WHY and combining it with my new identity, abundance and joy have come into my life. The funny thing is that, technically, I am still doing the same thing I was before The Foundation – IT Consulting – but everything, everything is different.
I joined The Foundation December 1, 2013, and seven short weeks later:
I uncovered a problem through Idea Extraction, found a solution, and made a pre-sale for $6,500 without an info pack.
I gained a new client worth $23k in business (they requested an additional $10k retainer that I did not ask for)
I even had someone offer to pay me after an idea extraction call because they felt I helped them so much
- I’ve pre-sold over $19,000 to date.
I accomplished all of these things by reaching out to others in the spirit of my WHY, with the hopes of transforming confusion into clarity in order to bring them joy and opportunity, just as The Foundation has done for me.
If you have questions for Chris, please post them in the comments and he will answer them below!