Choose the form of your destroyer.
Wait, I get it. All we have to do is not choose the form and no monster will come to destroy us!
The choice has been made!
Wait, no one here made a choice.
The choice has been made.
I didn’t choose, neither did I, neither did I.
I couldn’t help it. It just popped in my head. The Stay Puff marshamallow man.
~My memory of the epic scene from Ghost Busters…
Accepting help in the form it arrives
This took a few days to write, then I waited a week to publish it. I learned a ton of important lessons but only feel like I captured the story of the things that happened.
Flash forward or backward
Per my new usual, I live a whole lot of life out of just a few days. A lifetime back, maybe two weeks ago, I invited my mother to come visit. I asked for help in any form even if it was just moral support and an extra set of eyes to keep my kids busy, while I worked to right my ship and build up momentum and steam in my search for work. I was looking for jobs and more business, either as long as it was something.
Multiple times this summer, I have reached the end of my rope. Sometime in June, I spent ‘my last’ $40 on giant post it notes the size of flip boards and proceeded to brainstorm a reset for my business. I covered the walls of my apartment. It covered my dining room walls mostly.
My kids might have thought me a bit crazy, but there was method to my madness. I have used similar tools (paper that sticks to walls) to build or rebuild many businesses for other people throughout the years. I had never done the same thing for myself.
I do have and use a number of whiteboards. It is not the same.
There is a tangible feeling of progress that creating maps and lists and diagrams with permanent marker on paper. Whiteboards have their amazing purpose as well. But with paper there is a feeling of realness to the idea that is captured. A whiteboard can be erased too easily.
Allowing my children to see me work my way out of a dead end was also one of my motivations. There are lots of good comic book hero type quotes about picking ourselves back up again. I did want my kids to see me do this. Too many times children do not see or feel or experience the work their parents do. It happens in an office or board room or on a computer screen or even on a construction site or locked behind a door or a gate.
We can take our kids to work and let them observe mundane things. We do not always get a chance to let our kids observe us just after getting knocked down. How we pick ourselves up off the ground… It is an important thing to observe. I have seen my own parents do it several times when I was young. I have seen other family members do the same. This was a good learning opportunity for my kids.
Plus, I knew that I would eventually achieve results.
Rewriting our Story
I am an optimist. I have always been an optimist. This applies ten fold to my trust in my own abilities. There may be a touch of hubris in there or maybe I am just confidant.
Recently I have studied the concept of ‘framing’ or ‘reframing’ a narrative. There is an amazing little lesson created about Muhammad Ali’s ability to reframe any situation. He had confidence. He had the ability to back it up. He was a master at not allowing anyone, especially reporters, to reframe him in a negative light.
More specifically, he was brilliant at not allowing the optimistic vision he had for his own future be dimmed by naysaying questions.
He didn’t ignore reality. He made reality.
He had a story to tell about who he was and where he was going and he did not let anyone else edit or rewrite his story.
Savoring Plot Twists
In fiction, a writer creates a character and then they throw difficult situations at that character. Then they throw even more and more and more until the character is reeling and fighting and working to overcome a situation. It is the essence of the Heroes Journey.
A few days ago, I had a conversation about this with my daughter Zoe. She was studying this concept in an AP class that she is taking before school starts. I had been noodling over how to write up an article for my business blog. A heroes journey is one method for a business to share their story. In the modern era, we have also created something called the ‘American Idol Effect’.
The consumers of story like to see a hero evolve. They do not want to witness a perfect superman swat every problem away with super powers. They want to witness the evolution of an ordinary person into a hero. On the show American Idol, it was often the ugly ducklings who would win it all. Singers that were ‘too good’ from go, had very little evolution to demonstrate. They were the ones the under dogs had to beat even. Fans would rally to the under dog, the evolving hero and vote them up more often than not.
Businesses, especially new ones can do the same thing. Zoe and I talked about the concept and I share it here because I saw myself as a hero all of my life.
As a hero, I savored the challenges and plot twists thrown at me. I would marvel at them. I knew I would overcome them.
I spent way too much time talking about these things.
Even though I was optimistic inside. The words coming out of my mouth described the challenges that might have sounded insurmountable.
I was framing my challenge with impossible odds.
It is this same tendency that will always prevent me from being a decent pool shark. I have played pool since I was old enough to stand next to a pool table and let my belly button reach the top edge.
My grandfather would not let any of us play until we reached that height or size. There is a lot of practicality to this rule. It is at about this height when a person can start to lean over and reach for shots on the table. There is a reason why pool tables are not built at shoulder height for an average adult.
I practiced playing pool a great deal when I was young. When I went into the military, I practiced even more. I took a liking for the impossible shots.
These were the challenging shots. These were also the shots that I loved to watch ‘happen’.
It was the same with my self narrative. I loved rising to the challenge in many ways.
I didn’t want to just work full time and take a 21 hour credit load at college, I wanted to start my own contracting business at the same time too!
I didn’t want to just start my first job as an entry level executive, I wanted to get my master’s degree and get it from a law school too!
There have been many times in my life, where I stretched for something very difficult and attained it.
In retrospect, this no longer serves me.
Part of why it does not serve me is that when I describe the impossible shot that I am faced with, too many people do not understand that there is a but coming.
‘I was sick as a dog and had a fever of 103 and I was outside in the rain with the temperature at about 50 degrees dropping towards freezing and I was digging in a wet muddy hole lying on my belly to fix a water leak, BUT I did it.’
I would go on and on about the challenges.
This is not the vibe that I want to transmit any longer. I will still do the thing. I do not need to spend too much time on the negatives.
I do not need to write a narrative for myself as hero where the challenges get harder and harder.
Just the opposite.
This summer things got super hard. I spent my last $40 on paper to save my business. A few weeks later after getting by, I spent my last bit of money on a discounted package for yoga to save my spirit and emotional well being and focus.
My plans and actions required time though. We can build the perfect fishing lure. We can trek up to the perfect mountain stream and we can cast all day long, however if the ice from the stream has not thawed out yet, the lure will never be seen.
We have to wait for the right time to cast.
This summer I was casting like crazy. It eventually started to pay off.
Days before my parents arrived my momentum started to shift.
I received a $39 affiliate commission payment. Then the next day about three times that amount. Then the next day another amount for about three times that. By the end of the week, I had received a thousand dollars in payments. I also received help.
I was able to pay my rent. I was able to pay bills too!
It was a good week, and it got better when my parents showed up.
By the time my Mom and Dad arrived, my positive momentum was accelerating. My first inclination was to fall back into old patterns. I wanted to re-establish my independence because ‘I’ was getting along better.
My parents arrived and we went shopping for food. We picked up some of the food I shop for and some of the food they shop for. After coming back home, my place was full up with food too. It had been pretty barren before. I had told myself that I was cleansing the pantry and the refrigerator. The freezer was still pretty full.
We filled everything up and then some. That felt good too.
My father likes junk food a bit (vegetables too), but he added a few things of cookies, hostess cupcake things and cup cakes wrapped in marshmallow stuff and marshmallow cookies.
He like peeps too, but this was not easter.
I’m not judging, just offering up a flavor of things. We bought chips, including Pringles which my daughter loves as well.
My kids trickled in one by one over the weekend. My daughter Zoe had gone to the beach with a friend and arrived a couple days into the new week.
I share all this detail because it felt good to let my kids have some junk food for a change. It made the week feel a bit more like a vacation.
Come Monday, I had to get my Suburu into the shop. It had some suspect issues with it. They might have been little or not.
The car had about 158k miles on it. I had put over 20k miles on it myself in the previous 12 months.
My father has been a mechanic for most of his life. He has worked on everything from cars to trucks to diesel engines to boat motors. He has been professionally trained and self trained. He has received many certifications and more.
My dad is not always the best with words. He drops words and substitutes them from time to time. If you have ever seen the Goofy Movie, you might get a sense of what this is like. He does not ‘yuck, yuck yuck’ like Goofy but there is a word thing. I too do this when I’m speaking a bit. I notice it far more when I am trying to remember the names of people I know.
My point is to talk to him about mechanics is not to fully understand his gift. He has an intuition for car repairs that he cannot always put to words. To follow just his words, is to miss the wisdom and skill and gift that he has for this type of thing.
As a person who has dabbled in car repair since I was fifteen or so, it is not always easy for me to keep this in mind. I do not imagine that I know nearly as much as he does. I do like to self-teach myself and learn. So as I am doing independent research or testing some of that on my own vehicles it becomes challenging to explain in my uneducated terms the issues to my father and then hear and understand his sense of the issue.
Sometimes Car Expenses Can Wipe You Out
My Suburu was a pretty awesome car. It was built very well with super high quality stuff. It had 158k and can probably go 300k. It will do so looking great and feeling like a great ride.
However, it probably needs some fundamental things replaced at this stage and given the high quality and unique aspect of this particular model, it is not going to be inexpensive. The book value of the vehicle compared to some of those potential repairs did not balance out well.
My father sensed this faster than I did and I’m the accountant. 🙂
I was emotionally invested in the car both in terms of money and sweat equity and greta memories over the last year.
I took my children for a vacation in that car alone without their mother for the first time.
I travelled to see Peter Hook and the Light and cleanse some demons in the process one night last fall.
I went to a night run and met some terrific new friends in Huntersville in that car.
I drove for Uber a few weekends and discovered that I can enjoy driving again.
I went on vacation back to Illinois for Christmas.
I met Sharon and had a perfect first date by means of that car.
I drove through crazy snowy conditions in the mountains with the car and it could not be stopped.
I took a working trip to Florida with Sharon and had a great time while shedding demons and rebuilding myself and the starts of my life.
I bought the car as a statement and expression of who I wanted to be and I became that person.
Hottest July World Wide in Recorded History with no AC
The other day I read a story about our new world record. This last July in 2016 was the hottest July ever recorded in history.
The AC in my car didn’t work throughout the entire month of July.
About three or four weeks ago, I got the AC fixed. It was such a relief. It did not cost thousands, only $98.
I was extremely relieved about that.
Around the same time, I had finished exterminating the fleas in my place. That required a combination of fumigating combined with running the AC. As it turns out, leaving the AC off while I was out of town, fueled the humidity inside the apartment, literally incubating more fleas.
I About two weeks ago, I borrowed a dehumidifier from my girlfriend Sharon. This helped wipe the last of them out. For about 4-6 days, I found a single flea each day. I generally vacuumed the entire place right after that, and every day after I stopped seeing them all together as well.
I was so grateful to be able to live again with no fleas at home and to get around in my car with AC running.
I have to mention that I was very very happy with the service that the local Tindol Suburu provided in troubleshooting the problems with my car and fixing the AC. They were effective and were very careful not to run up a large repair bill, checking with me regularly and giving me the options to proceed.
Goodbye Old Car – Time to Car Shop
As I mentioned before, my father ultimately helped me see the light. As this conversation started, it could have easily fostered an argument between the two of us.
We were operating with competing perspectives.
I approached things from a perspective of how do I survive on what I have. That was not much.
My father was looking at things from the perspective of what will it take to grow out of this trap.
What’s more, he added to that the wisdom of knowing that eliminating the potential for problems with a newer car and even better one with a warranty would buy me time.
I have lived from his perspective before. It has served me well in the past. About ten years ago when I started my business and then suddenly moved from Atlanta to North Carolina for some reasons that I agreed with and others that I gave in to, I started learning how to live on less. I learned how to get by. I learned how to run a car until it dropped to avoid car payments.
Back then, I didn’t have to drive much. Car payments were not useful for me and were a distraction of my capital and resources. I was also learning how to do this from my father-in-law. There was nothing wrong with this way of life or perspective.
I was growing outside of my comfort zone and I view doing this as useful.
Still there is a time and place for every approach to life, and currently that old strategy does not work for me. My dad helped me make some of the final leaps back to a different strategy that had worked well for me when I was younger and in a new life building phase.
So we promptly took my Suburu down to the local Carmax and got an appraisal. I have sold two cars to other Carmaxes. I had great experiences both times.
This time, I also started shopping for cars. This was a first for me at a Carmax.
We spent two days shopping for cars. It was about 96 degrees each day. We walked up and down the line of cars, opening doors to overly heated cars, sitting in the hot cars to get a feel for them and sometimes taking them for a test drive.
We took breaks every hour or so and went inside to drink water and cool off.
I was trying to figure out what type of car would serve me this go around.
I wanted to find something that had low mileage. I wanted to find something that got better than the 21 mpg that my Suburu could do. I drove over 20k last year mostly for the kids and needed good gas mileage.
I liked having all wheel drive and do drive in the mountains and the snow in Boone and off road a bit through the mountains to get to Sharon’s place.
It took two days, but I realized that I could not have it both ways with a car. All wheel drive meant lower gas mileage. It also meant more expensive future repairs.
The Suburu had taught me that I was a little bit ‘car poor’. I had a nice car, but couldn’t afford the repairs of a fancy all wheel drive vehicle.
Ultimately, I settled on a Ford. It was the second for I have ever owned. I had a Mustang II when I was 15. I rebuilt it to have a vehicle when I turned 16. That project never worked out and I never got a chance to drive the vehicle after it was finished.
The Ford Fusion I purchased will get up to 37 mpg. It only had 13.6k miles on it when I bought it. It was a 2014 and had one year of full warranty left on it. (three years of powertrain)
My father offered to cosign for the vehicle. Fortunately, my credit was good enough to get it without that option. He did provide some money to help me get past negative equity in the old car.
I was extremely grateful for his help and more so for showing me a way through my troubles.
I had received what I had learned to tolerate.
That was not good enough though. I needed to think bigger and think better and make bigger and better happen. I might not have even gone car shopping if he had not come. I might not have learned that I could get financing. I might still be trying to limp around town with a car that is a 2007 with 158k miles on it, instead of a 2014 with 13k.
I started noticing all of the money that I would save myself in the imminent future. It was a lot of money. It was a lot of time.
Like an electron, I had shifted into a higher level valence.
As the week went on, business continued to improve. I landed another deal and was suddenly scoping or working on projects that totaled about $6k.
I went from $0 – $6k in less than two weeks.
I have not landed all of these deals. I love the direction of the momentum though. I had gone months with slowing momentum or no momentum. I had spent that time to repair my fishing nets and create new lures and prepare for the better business that August always brings.
I had also done a lot to find and shift into a new career. I now have a vehicle that can get me there. I have working capital coming in from my business, which will help as well.
Two weeks ago, I could not even afford to print off resumes let alone by the stamps to mail them!
My parents children and parents left on Friday. I cleaned my place from top to bottom setting things straight after a week of having guests in town and the kids present.
I traveled 60 miles to see Sharon. We went out for dinner Saturday night and had some good food. We went to a potluck at her neighbors on Sunday and I met some awesome people.
It is now Monday morning. I have been dabbling with this article for 3-4 days. I’ve written pieces of it here and there. I have been busy with things and I have even been taking it easy at times too.
I needed to collect these scattered thoughts and feelings and get them out of my system. Last week was a positive whirlwind of change. It was nonstop and even manic at times. My parents helped me a lot. My mother took Mya swimming at the pool and helped get Zoe to cross country practice.
Zoe is a freshman and going to run Varsity! She’s been a natural runner since about the age of three or four.
Mom and Dad also took Corbin and Mya to the movies. We got to spend time together this summer, something I wasn’t sure was going to happen.
My parents came for a visit! My Mom had come about 6-7 years ago. My Dad had not made it here before. He is 66 and has been building his own successful business these last years to help take him through the retirement years.
He wasn’t able to come in years past. They made it here this year, when I needed the help the most!
I did some research for work earlier. I just had lunch and am finishing this now.
I’m ready to continue the momentum into my Monday afternoon. This is going to be a great day. I’m making it that way. It is going to be a great week too and I am going to make that happen as well!
I hope you find your own path and find your way to making a terrific Monday and week as well!