All I wanted in the world was six wontons.
In a Chinese Takeout spot, under the train tracks in Brooklyn, I ordered the only meal I could afford. I gave the lady my debit card and prayed it would go through.
I was sad, angry, and frustrated.
Two years earlier I had left my last “real job” to become an entrepreneur in the personal development space. That had always been my passion, my dream. I listened to the advice of so many self-help books to follow your passion and the money will follow.
After taking various courses and going on life-altering adventures I was now $35,000 in debt. I had accumulated all this knowledge, but couldn’t figure out how to turn it into a life-sustaining business.
I didn’t know what to do.
I tried all the rational productivity hacks… didn’t work. I tried following my moment to moment impulses… didn’t work.
I was more than stuck. I was plagued by writer’s block every day. I kept getting rejected from bartending jobs. I resolved to stop using my credit card, but now was down to my last dollars.
“You’re short by 25 cents,” the takeout cashier said. “But it’s okay, just take it.”
I thanked her and walked out with my head down. I ate the wontons in the cold, feeling humiliation in every bite. I was still chewing the last one when I looked up and saw someone who would change my life forever...
She was just a kid, a teenager, cold and shivering in jacket that definitely didn’t belong to her. I’ve passed many people just like her in New York while rushing to this or that. But today I couldn’t ignore such a person.
“Could you spare a dollar?” she asked.
My heart sank. I felt embarrassed at all the lamenting I just did. Here was a human in way worse shape than me. How dare I ever think “woe is me”?
I told her I couldn’t spare a dollar because I didn’t have any. But I could buy her food...
I pulled out the credit card that I resolved to stop using on myself and bought her a full meal at a Mexican spot: burrito, nachos, and guacamole. Yes, even though it cost extra.
Between voracious bites she told me her story. It was way worse than mine. Through a series of unfortunate events, she was in a women’s shelter and probably wouldn’t get a chance to complete high school.
Something opened in me in that moment.
I didn’t know what it was at time, but it was the final piece I needed. It was the missing keystone between Intention and Instinct...
I opened my Heart.
When I went home to my windowless room, everything had changed. I understood the final demon of Stuckness: Myopia, “short-sightedness”.
I already knew how to set goals and look ahead, in terms of time. I had goal charts and vision boards and all that stuff. But I didn’t yet get how to look beyond my self.
The form of Myopia that I see plaguing many creative entrepreneurs is the perception that their work is all about them. This doesn’t happen because such people are “selfish” or “bad”. It happens because they perceive themselves as separate.
Over the last few pages we’ve been working on “Releasing Stuckness.” Another way to put it, is we’ve been weakening your Perception of Separation.
Whoa, hold on a minute…. We’re not going to start talking some New Age vaguery about “we all are Oneness”, are we?
No, we’re not (but that’s fine if that’s what you believe). Regardless of your spirituality or non-spirituality, the following undoubtedly applies:
What you think, feel, and do has the potential to IMPACT the world, and vice versa.
In that way, you’re connected to what (and who) you’re experiencing…
It’s easy to forget how impactful your existence is on your environment, community, and the free market. Apparent scarcity and competition mask the reality of interconnectedness. So instead, we often perceive ourselves as separate.
But we’re not. Your actions matter. Your voice matters...
And the more you serve the world, the more the world will serve you.
When a certain tree provides food and shelter to many other forest creatures, Nature ensures that tree continues to thrive-- otherwise many dependent beings will suffer.
Likewise, if you are immensely serving others with your creative work, the free market will ensure that you thrive-- when it comes to money, fulfillment, and opportunities.
But you need to remember who else you’re doing it for.
Selfish acquisition is rarely a good enough motivator to really push through the dark stuff.
It took me getting down to my last dollar and a humbling encounter with another human to finally get over myself and move things forward…
That night I decided to go to war. I would finally defeat my old enemy: STUCKNESS.
I had fought some minor battles with Stuckness up to this point. But that night it hit me:
I had never committed myself to Winning.
...so up until that point, I had been spinning my wheels in the same place.
But I realized that if I stayed stuck, I wouldn’t be the only what that suffered. There were people out in the world who needed what I wanted to give.
THAT was the day I became a real entrepreneur.
THAT was the day I connected to the Muse.
THAT was the day I started actively creating my life.
But I still had a mound of debt and nothing to work with.
I needed a SYSTEM to help me materialize my vision; one that could accommodate for my erratic nature and personal shortcomings. It had to be FOOL-proof (because I often play the Fool.)
I went to my desk, whipped out my notebook, and drew up a system that helped me beat the demons.
I’ll show you how on the next page: