This week’s post is deeply personal. I spent the first three decades of my life without any regrets. I was (and am) a true believer that every experience makes us who we are today, and therefore even the painful memories build us up…eventually.
When I was 32, I contracted shingles. It’s pretty much the chicken pox virus, but as an adult, it looks like extreme pain along a nerve bundle* with zombie-like sores forming. I was in year nine of running my own MSP (HiQ Networking, Inc). Being my first business, I had been through plenty of ups and downs figuring out how to be a successful entrepreneur. Those downs were pretty down. Missed paychecks, stacked bills, rogue employees, lawsuits, and the rest of the works, including a kitchen sink. The highs were great, Small Business of the Year, midday breaks to hang out with the kids. I had probably had to “reset” my business, e.g. change business models, etc, four times in nine years. But when I contracted shingles, I was unable to work for 1 month straight. On the plus side, my staff carried on admirably. On the negative side, shingles, like most illnesses, usually take hold when your body is weakened by stress.
This meant I needed another reset. The thought of doing that again, while still getting my strength back, and digging out from being a month behind, seemed impossible, and even-more-stress-inducing. I contacted a few co-petitors and let them know what was up. I asked for a fast sale, as the longer it took, the more likely I would be feeling up to tackling the challenge again. I sold my business. I became an employee. Now, there is nothing wrong with selling your business, if you are thinking of doing it. Everything so far is good, except what I see now.
With 20/20 vision* in hindsight, what actually happened is: I quit out of fear. The mountain looked too high, and I turned my back on it. While I still went on to do some amazing things as an employee, my life was in shambles. I had accepted the concept of “quit”. Quitting is my one regret. I found myself shortly after divorced with all the damage that divorce does to your kids, family, and self.
Even with my eternal optimism, knowing that I now have a successful business with Eureka Process, and another great team with me. All of which is only possible because i went on to manage two other MSPs after HiQ Networking, with great success, I look back at the scars on my kids, and for the first time in my life, realize that there is a regret there. I would give up what I have now to go back and not be a quitter. I wonder if I would find myself even more successful with an 18 year old MSP and a strong family unit. I will never know, but I will continue learn from my one regret.
So when myself, or someone from our team, is coaching you on something hard. Don’t quit. It takes time, it takes planning, and it’s hard. Don’t quit. When you are not feeling well, take a break, but don’t quit. If you need a life change, change, but don’t quit. Once you accept quit, it’s hard to get that life back.
*About my shingles. For those of you that may have experienced first or second-hand shingles before, I’d like to add that mine seemed to be severe. It affected the nerve bundle that runs from under my left eye to the back of my head. I still have a scar from a sore on my forehead, very Harry Potter-like. I lost just enough vision in my left eye, that I didn’t get glasses, but its much harder to see than it used to be. This was probably the first time this young punk realized he was mortal. Hell, the constipation alone from the prescribed narcotics may have been enough to make me realize that.