I have made some mistakes in the past year. I know, I know. Mistakes are a necessary part of the process. I do at least try to make new mistakes. To not repeat the same ones. But there are a couple different mistakes I’ve made repeatedly and that cycle ends now.
The first is “taking in strays” as my friends and family have lovingly chosen to call it. My pattern of empathizing with someone’s struggles because, having been on my own since I was 16, I wished that I had literally any friends or family before 23 to support me at all, in any fashion while I was struggling in deep level poverty. I’ve worked my ass off for 16 years to build connections, develop skill sets and to make enough money to support my family and I feel like if I can offer those connections, skill sets, or even just an opportunity to others who lack the same help I lacked, then they can pick themselves up like I did and do something with it. The problem is not in the helping, (that I know I will inevitably continue to do,) but I need to stop until I have my life in order enough that I have the means to. No, the main problem is ignoring the Invariable red flags that the person I’m trying to help isn’t taking responsibility for their situation or for bettering themselves. That they are blaming others. Because when I ignore that, I inevitably take on far more responsibility than I should and don’t hold them accountable nor cut them off nearly soon enough. This last time, I did see the signs and I did cut them off sooner than I have before, and I am proud of myself for that growth. I know I’ll do even better to avoid this situation escalating in the future if it arises again, because it likely will, let’s be honest here. These things show up as lessons repeatedly until you learn and I’m about ready to graduate.
The second repeat mistake I’ve made is somewhat connected, but is also distinct and specific on its own. I built up a company with almost no help, no outside funding, I did all the work and gave credit to my partners who didn’t even contribute by almost anything but name. I even went so far as to falsely inflate their contributions because they had convinced me I needed them, answering interview questions on their behalf or writing articles in their name because they couldn’t be bothered to actually put the work in. This flaw would become an even more critical mistake after I reached a measure of substantial success. Suddenly big companies wanted to work with me and instead of realizing that what I had built (and indeed, me,) myself and my company had value, I did not advocate in my own or my company’s own best interests because I felt like I was the little guy and they were the big guy and they knew better. I was also under a lot of pressure from certain business “mentors” & associates to lie. When rumors started going around about my company in September, all of which were false at the time, all I wanted to do was post receipts and do an AMA live video and address my customers openly and honestly. These mentors hounded me about how no one cares about the truth and that I have to lie and that customers don’t care about what really happened or the story even though the truth was we had done nothing wrong or nothing that we were being accused of and this felt wrong because I’ve always believed that honestly and ethics in business are not only extremely important but totally possible to have and still succeed. After all that’s how I grew my company so big in the first place. Alas, I had contracts with these people and they had been around a lot longer than me and I thought at the time that they had seen more success but months later I realize now that they were part of bigger machines and hadn’t ever built something up on their own like I did. I listened to them, went against my better judgement and got myself into situations with my business that I couldn’t get out of without being honest which is all I wanted to do in the first place. So finally, after months later and more soul searching, digging and doing more to hold the people on my team who I let stay on for way longer than I should have, when they weren’t putting in the work and were only costing me money, I started putting out the truth. After months of quietly falling back and just working so I can dig myself out of that mess and make things right, I started telling my story. I‘ve received hundreds of supportive messages and every day I receive several more from people thanking me for making posts like this, for posting inspirational memes and telling me they hope I bring my company back because I had created something special to them and asking how they can help me. I finally understand to the full extent exactly what I bring to the table. I know my worth. I know I can and will rebuild and I will do so with the support of such wonderful people. I won’t make that same mistake again, I already made it twice this past year, I don’t need to repeat it again. Lesson fully learned.