Imagine my surprise when I found myself being labeled as “a drug addict.” It is a label that I admit to be true. Over the years I have learned to embrace it, but I am getting ahead of myself.
My name is Tim.
This is my first article I am writing on Sober Nation in quite some time. As always, I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to network and share my thoughts with other like minded people. I am in a fortunate position in my life, but it wasn’t always this way. I used to be a full blown drug addict. I’m not talking about smoking a few joints on the weekends. I am talking about the real drugs. Let me tell you, it didn’t end well.
Eventually I got my act together. I am happy and proud to say that I haven’t touched a drug or a drink in nearly nine years. March 4th 2010 was the last time a mood altering substance went into my body.
If I told you that I regret it, I would be lying. I learned a lot about myself through the terrors of addiction, living below the poverty line and suffering through withdrawals. I have had the opportunity to look back at these life experiences from an objective standpoint. I see how valuable some of the lessons I learned have been.
I would like to share some of my experience with you.
Lesson Number 1 – Nothing Is Forever
Bad times don’t last, but neither do the good times. Everything changes.
I was an opiate addict. I don’t feel the need to explain the details to you, so use your imagination. What is important is to understand how they make you feel. Opiates are heavenly. As soon as that magic enters your blood stream, all of your troubles melt away. For those few hours you are a god, you are the ruler of your domain. The trouble is that your problems don’t actually disappear, you are just wearing blinders.
I have found the same to be true when trying to grow a business.
In my early days, I loved to celebrate good news. I loved to eat at nice restaurants after I closed a deal, I loved to buy five pairs of new Chuck Taylors and I loved buying plane tickets to see new places. The problem becomes that when you get back from the weekend vacation only to realize that the money you made is all spent and you still have bills to pay.
It was all part of the chase. I would chase the high of a “yes” and the intoxication left me always wanting more.
It is a tough lesson for anyone to learn, but in my experience only the ones who learn these lessons ever become successful in the long run.
It’s so easy to let the high of temporary success become blinders.
It’s so difficult to know that with every upswing comes a down swing, and you are better suited to stash your money for a rainy day.
Don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket. Nothing lasts forever, and the race is long.
Lesson Number 2 – Fear is the Only Foe
People do drugs because they are afraid, myself included.
Every addiction is rooted in some kind of fear. It is a complex issue but fear is at the center point for any addict. It’s the biggest motivator for why drug addicts do what they do.
Maybe some of us are afraid of feeling pain, maybe we’re afraid of cleaning up issues from their past. Maybe we’re afraid of what other people think of us or maybe we’re afraid of being alone with our thoughts. The list of potential fears is endless. The same is true in entrepreneurship.
For every one of me, for every guy or girl who escapes death by addiction, there are thousands of others who don’t. We all see it, we all have family members and friends who can’t escape the death grip. It is fear that holds them back.
The ratio is the same in business and entrepreneurship.
For every guy like me, who didn’t let the fear of failure keep him from “giving it a shot,” there are 1000 others who drive home from work and dream about the day when they could “live life by their own rules.”
What I learned, and what I wish more people understood is that the fear never actually goes away. Right this second, I am sitting in a Starbucks writing this article and I am in fear of what people may think of me when they read this. I have doubts and I second guess myself. Will it be well received? Maybe I should write about something else. Maybe I should try to be something I am not.
The truth is that this is who I am and I refuse to let my fears be my failures. Everyone has fears. Everyone gets stage fright. The only difference between the people who have accomplished their goals is that those people didn’t let fear dictate their actions.
When they failed, they got up and tried again.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to work through it.”
It’s so true.
Lesson Number 3 – Pain is the Greatest Motivator
I feel as if I have an unfair advantage over anyone I meet. I have suffered.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of how awful that life was. Every day I remain grateful that I am sober and that I am no longer living that nightmare. Everyone has problems and I am no victim. However, I feel comfortable saying that addiction is a special kind of pain. Only people who have suffered the way I have suffered could possibly understand.
The funny thing is, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I embrace the suffering.
Anytime I come up against a new challenge, I know that I can overcome it. No matter what the challenge is, there is no way it could be harder than being a drug addict. There is no way it can be harder than that first year of my sobriety. Nothing could be harder than the withdrawals and the detox and being hungry and depressed and broke and scared. Once you have been to the bottom, everything else seems easier.
If you want to see what someone is made of, see them through pain. Pain will do one of two things, it will either break people or it will strengthen people. Unfortunately, most people break. Our world is now full of safe spaces and second place trophies. Everyone is so easily offended and hurting someones feelings now makes you a bad person. People are afraid of pain.
I am not. I do not fear it. My tolerance for pain is the single great attribute I have.
I may not be the smartest or the fastest. I never had a trust fund and I don’t have a degree, but you will not out work me. You will quit before I quit.
Use Your Failures to Fuel You
Every person on this planet has value. We all have some experience that can help someone else.
The greatest gift my sobriety has given me has been the willingness and the ability to help other people. Helping other people get what they want is the best way to get what you want.
I have learned more about myself from helping other people then I have from anything else.
Help people. Provide value. Think about someone other than yourself and I promise you will live a fulfilling life.
You have the keys to the kingdom.