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How Divorce and coming out made me a successful entreprenuer

On the surface, if you google me, you’ll probably assume that my entrepreneurship grew out of my coming out story. True, true, true. That’s only one truth though. As you delve deeper, you might even assume once again, that my divorce caused me to become an entrepreneur. Yes, yes, and not quite yes.

The real story is, I came out, got a divorce, hung onto my job for about a year, then got laid off, took a year to find myself and a job, then stayed in that job for about 5 years before I got laid off again (ready that story here), and then said, “I’m done working for the man and going to work for my own man…me!”

If that last part of that paragraph were only as easy as I made it sound. I actually struggled to find a job in 2006. My industry – hospitality – was in the toilet, and no one was hiring, at least not a highly paid software executive. In fact, it was shades of 2001 when I found myself unemployed, right after 9/11. Nothing in the hospitality industry was thriving or making any big hiring moves, thus I was making no money moves.

Add to that situation that I was, 5 years post-divorce, settled into a loving relationship, used to a certain lifestyle, and suddenly the universe was nudging me, asking me, “Isn’t it time you did your own thing?”

Of course, my heart said “Yes,” and my logic said, “That’s to risky!” I began to realize I heard that sentence before. Back in 1999 when I knew it was time to come clean, stop my cheating ways of infidelity, and take a stand and own my life as a gay man, no more pretending to be someone I wasn’t.

That pretending piece hit me in my heart in 2006 about my next career move. In the same, gut wrenching, fear-based manner that I struggled to come out of the closet about my sexuality, I was struggling to come out of the closet to be my own boss, an entrepreneur, a small business owner. Dang that sounds like something I need to do, but crap that’s scary.

If I’d known then that 13 years later, I’d be running a thriving coaching practice, speaking on some darn big stages, hosting two podcasts, be a published author with another book on the way, I would have told Fear to Fuck off! But I couldn’t. Like most of you, my fears were holding me hostage. It was blinding me with a false sense that security was the only route for me.

What a joke! After all, I’d done one of the hardest things I’d ever done, gotten a divorce and come out of the closet. Well actually I came out of the closet that led to my divorce, but the order of events really isn’t what’s important. The focus should be on the crazy life lessons I learned that made me a successful entrepreneur and businessman.

The Learnings

For starters, nothing is forever. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but it’s true. Now that doesn’t mean, rush home, break up your relationship, come out of the closet, and start a business. What I’m getting at, is to value what you have right now, and if and when the time comes that it departs from you, realize the notion that it was yours, to be had forever, was just a contrived notion of false security. On the other side of the thought coin, don’t say screw it nothing lasts forever and become reckless with life. Embrace what is meant to be and appreciate it while you have it. In business that means to appreciate the clients, the ideas, the ingenuity, the team work, the loyalty, while it lasts, and be prepared to adjust when any of those things start to slip away, possibly forever.

Secondly, flexibility and compromise are key. If you’ve been through a divorce, wouldn’t wish it on anyone, there are two basic routes to go – cooperative or nasty. Both require flexibility and compromise to get to the end point. The sooner you can invoke either, the sooner you can begin to reduce the pain of a relationship gone awry. Same holds true when you make that decision to embark on your own business journey, whether in a partnership or solo – flexibility and compromise are required, required, required. Did you hear what I said? REQUIRED. Do not pass go, do not go get a small business loan, do not pick a business name or design a logo unless you are prepared to be flexible and compromise along the way. In a divorce, these two characteristics are fundamental to getting to the end result, even if that end result means you have no working relationship with your former partner. Same is true when you launch into your own business. You are divorcing yourself from what you knew to be true about your career path, and it may get ugly, you might feel betrayed, and people aren’t going to like you, but it’s up to you to be flexible and ready to compromise in the right way to make your business venture a success.

No business will thrive unless you create space for you. Many an entrepreneur and small business owner have watched their relationship with their livelihood become a co-dependent relationship that ends as a train wreck. The culprit? Themselves! Just like a marriage or relationship gone off the rails because co-dependency sucked the life out of the individuality, your business will suck the life out of your life, if you don’t give yourself room to breathe apart from your business. I know for a fact, other than I was gay at my core, that my marriage was a co-dependent, unhealthy relationship. The moment I started seeing that in my relationship with my business, I put a quick stop to that. Yes, my business needs me, but I need me in order to be good for my business. Just like my husband and children need me in order for me to be good for my family, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good to any of them if all I do is show up solely for them without time for me. The best business advice I can give, is give yourself space for you by remembering you are not your business and your business is not you. They are two equal partners that need to be able to thrive separately and together.

But That’s Not All!

I know, that sounds like one of those middle of the night, drunken stupor, watching anything on TV – ACT NOW – commercials to avoid falling on your face trying to get to the toilet to heave that large everything meat pizza you shouldn’t have ate to quell tsunami of alcohol in your stomach. Did you catch all that? In other words, “But That’s Not All,” sounds like a cheesy commercial.

Here’s my, “But that’s not all truth!” As if I’ve been lying to you about everything else, I just wrote to get you this far. Don’t worry, all the rest of the previous dribble I wrote was truth too. But I want you to pay special attention to the following, but remember, “The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author (Me) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of anyone else on the planet and are only reflective of my own personal experience!” Now that we have that cleared up, here’s three damn good things I learned from coming out of the closet and going through my divorce that made me a successful entrepreneur.
#1 – Your excuses fan the flames of fears. Every excuse you make for anything, only enables your fears to burn brightly and keep you from experiencing your real fire within.

#2 – Every fear you have, only allows you to make more excuses. Be honest. Think about a fear you have, and then see how quickly you can create an excuse to support why that fear has a hold on you. Ready, set, go! Yes, it happens that quickly so stop it already.

#3 – Fears are only as alive as you give them life. If you don’t give the fear the oxygen mask it can’t breathe, so put that oxygen mask on yourself to douse out the fears.

How do I know these three things to be true?

I had every excuse in the world for why I couldn’t come out of the closet, which fed my fear of coming out of the closet, which then made it easier for me to make excuses and kept my fears alive. Sure, some of the fears were possibilities. Most of them never happened. I ended up having plenty of money to get through the divorce and lived a decent life – thought I’d be living in my car; found real love – something every one convinced me gay men could never find; and I continued to have an amazing relationship with my daughters – even though I believed everyone was going to try to take them away from me.

Fears do not equal reality; a majority of time so stop giving them life!

In 2006 when I finally realized I was going to give it a go as my own boss, those excuses started fanning the flames of fear, which in turn pumped up the volume on the excuses, that only then brought my fears to life, I realize it was time to stop that craziness.

I started asking myself these three questions…

      1. Why won’t I give myself permission to go into business for myself?
      2. Which of my beliefs need an overhaul to make me a solid business guy?
      3. What will it take for me to choose to build this business my way?

The Final Three!

Call it the trifecta, or the perfect trio, doesn’t really matter. The icing on the cake, so to speak from coming out of the closet and getting divorced was that I learned…

      1. Every day is another opportunity to give yourself permission to go do what you’re meant to do.
      2. Beliefs are meant to be changed as you become more informed.
      3. Everyone has the right to choose to do things their way based on their values

PB&C – Permission, Beliefs, and Choose – not to be confused with PB& J, even though both are pretty damn delicious.

If it’s time for you to put on your PB&C dancing shoes, to and get started today giving yourself permission to change your beliefs and choose to do things your way.

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