2 years ago, September 2012, my company won its biggest client in the then four-year history of the company. A client so big that it required us to double our overheads to deal with the impending workload. The workload never came. The client laid off most of its internal team and my company went from a profitable enterprise to a company in debt and close to bankruptcy.
What followed became to date the hardest but most enlightening experiences of my life. Those I thought were friends at the time tried to make things worse or disappeared. Legal letters and court cases started piling up. Unable to pay staff, suppliers or myself saw not just my professional life deteriorate but also my personal life. I hit rock bottom.
Martial Arts saved me!
Every crisis and “bad patch” you go through is an opportunity to learn and to grow
I have been a life long proponent for Martial Arts though the deeper meaning and impact on my life had until then eluded me. I decided to start everyday at 6am with 2 hours of training and a 5km run. During which I separated all outside influences and voices from my internal influences and voices. It refreshed my mind and I focused on developing my unbreakable warrior spirit. I also started reading books to help me feel less isolated and get perspective. One of the books was “The Dip” by Seth Godin.
The book opens with: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” He follows this with, “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
Don’t be crushed by the fear and perceived shame.
I decided that my company was something worth saving. I started making a plan and instead of trying to solve all the problems at the same time, I started breaking down each day into 2 or 3 tasks I could tackle immediately. I started to feel better with each small accomplishment and I set out to make each day better at the end than when it started. My focus was to improve 1% a day personally and professionally. Something I had learned from Chatri Sityodtong, an entrepreneur and martial artist from Thailand.
I coined a message that I scheduled to pop up on my phone every single morning so it will be the first thing I see when I woke up. The message went like this.
“Be Positive. Be Strong. Keep Fighting”
… instead of trying to solve all the problems at the same time, I started breaking down each day into 2 or 3 tasks…
It took many months, blood, sweat and many tears but I managed to get over the crisis. I believed that practicing martial arts was a huge part of it. Martial Arts teaches you confidence, humility, determination and perseverance among many other positive attributes. These all lead to an unbreakable warrior spirit and that allows you to face even the most severe crisis with strength and resolve.
This crisis also made me appreciate who my friends were. People I called friends disappeared at the first signs of trouble and some of whom I didn’t think I was close to actually stepped up and stood by me.
Every crisis and “bad patch” you go through is an opportunity to learn and to grow. If you are hit with a bad hand, remember the warrior spirit. Don’t be crushed by the fear and perceived shame. With persistence and careful planning, you can overcome and build anything.
Chief Executive Officer