My name is Lee and I want to take a minute to share with you from my heart.
I’ve always dreamed big, wanted to make something of my life, and make a positive impact on other people. But throughout my life, I have struggled with failures and made many mistakes. As a kid, I was often disruptive in class at times a bully and didn’t have very good grades because of my seeming lack of focus, to the point where I was at times labelled by teachers and treated slightly different from the smarter kids in school. I was the class clown but deep down I struggled with my self-worth when it came to academics and I often felt as though I didn’t have much value to give. I did have one thing though that kept me motivated, I was always passionately curious. Even though I struggled with reading and was always worried I would be called on to read out loud, on my own I was always seeking as much knowledge and trying new things each day.
As I grew up this lack of confidence in school gave way to a driving passion to prove myself a success in business. And as young as 15 I was in a suit and tie starting small businesses here and there in an effort to show I had what it took. To prove I could be of value. In high school and beyond I started a photography business and I poured myself into listening to business and self-improvement audiobooks and sleeping for several years on as little as 2 or 3 hours a night I began to make significant progress and would see me making lots of money and living a life most in their early 20s would only hope to have. But as I became more “successful” I also became more unhappy, I didn’t understand I was living what I had dreamed of all those years ago and now when I was where I thought I wanted to be something was missing. I had the money, the success, but little to no passion for what I was doing.
Then a single event started to shape the course of the next few years of my life. One of the people who had been working with my company, a long time friend and right hand to the business, chose to take work in another city. For some reason, this small and insignificant event in the course of any business, made me question my value as a business owner, if I even had what it took to run a business that others could be passionate about or find long-term or secure work in. I began to question my skills as a business owner and the value that I could bring to the world. I started to question my very self-worth. I had my first glimpse of something that I still struggle with on and off to this day. Depression hit me hard, I thought I was going crazy.
I came to the conclusion that in order to restore my passion for what I was doing was to do more of it and to make more money. So I went on doing something that I began to dislike more and more I was no longer putting the same effort into it as I did before. I would do just enough to get the job done, but I lacked and desire to push myself to be better or do better work. Enough was good enough. And this started to lead down a road where the work would get done a little slower, I took more time off or I would say to myself that can wait. After a while, things finally caught up to me that thought process could only be sustained for so long, through a series of mistakes and oversights on my part I made some catastrophic business failures that would nearly destroy my business and me in the process. With a shattered identity feeling like I would no longer be able to do photography or even start another business. I didn’t know who I was without photography. Would anyone still want to hang out with me? Would anyone respect me? How will I make money? Who am I? What will I do now? Am I worth anything to anyone?
This time it hit me like a ton of bricks I fell into a deep depression, this time it would take me several years to fully start to believe in myself again, but at the time I was lost. I tried to start new and different businesses, always wanting to make a difference but now being totally terrified of failure and my own inadequacies. I became full of fear and insecurities in business but also in my relationships with others. Our mind and emotions play tricks on us when we feel we have no purpose or vision, community or contribution in life. I began to become selfish and self-centred to turn inward to protect myself while trying to show the world that I had it all together. I wasn’t happy with who I was or what I was doing in my life. Pretending but not really living life the way I knew I was meant to. Slowly but surely I began to lose all that I loved in my life by being selfish and stuck, trying to hold on too tight and scared of taking risks again, to be the person I knew deep down I wanted to be.
Broken inside, nearly broke, and clueless on where to turn on what to do, my obsession for learning about self-betterment, human behaviour, and adding value to people (when I had no value to give) began. And when I started seeking information and inspiration on how to create a better life for myself and others, that’s when things started to change. Seeing all my failures, not as things that have to define me but ways in which I can improve who I am. That even though I have made countless mistakes along the way I can still try and be better tomorrow. I am not an expert. I am learning and always will be. And, all that qualifies me to do this is that I have a passion for betterment and self-improvement and a desire to give back and help others. My goal is to take my shortcomings and failures in life and make them my strengths.
I’m a firm believer that living in a life of purpose and fulfilment, that the things you experience, your journey along the way, and the lives you impact is more important than what you do or what you have accumulated. Living my life in a way that is meaningful and filled with passion to impact others, even in a small way, is far more important to me than working on something I don’t fully love just to survive life and then die. I want to live a life of meaning and leave a positive and lasting legacy in this world. I am truly grateful for where life has taken me, the hard times the mistakes and failures, all have shown me that I have two options, to stay stuck or to make a choice to improve myself. To live each day trying to be a better version of myself. To play the infinite game.
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