Build confidence by embracing the struggles

Embrace the struggle

“Life is struggle.” I believe that within that quote lies the most important lesson in entrepreneurship: Embrace the struggle.”
― Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I read this book while I was backpacking through Southeast Asia in the scorching heat, mosquitoes poking me in all directions, trying to figure out the next steps in my career.

Up until this point, I had been working through my career in Corporate Finance, not entirely sure where I was aiming to go.

Did I want to become a CFO? No…. Did I want to run financial reports and analysis for the next 20 years? Nope….. So what was it?

The hardest things about these things is we don’t know until we try things and take those first steps. Simple, right?

But after nearly a decade in this field, I wanted to try something different. When I woke up, I wasn’t feeling excited like I did when I went to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) or listen to “How I built this” podcasts. Then I discovered entrepreneurship.

In 2018, I decided to strike out on my own. I didn’t have much experience (if any) and wasn’t sure where to even begin. But I knew I was good at research, so away I went in reading everything. I mean…everything. Blogs, content, attending meetups, books, you name it.

Slowly, but surely, I was feeling more confident, that maybe this was possible. Don’t get me wrong, there were (and still are) days where I think, “This is just too hard.” But I remember that such a small percentage will ever take their hand at entrepreneurship, and even smaller who persevere and stay persistent.

As someone who wrestled, does BJJ and even competed in mixed martial arts, the hardest part is just taking those first steps. We’re ingrained to be afraid of the unknown. I know I was.

But this journey has taught me more than in my 10 years have in Corporate Finance. Its taught me to truly bootstrap, take on my challenges head on, and control my destiny. Because being afraid won’t take us far. Just like my first MMA competition, I was scared of what could happen physically to me — but I feared not competing at all even more.

Building confidence is a long, arduous process. It literally sometimes takes blood, sweat and tears. I’ve seen friends and family struggle through the process, questioning themselves whether the fight is worth it.

But in the end, I see them succeed in their goals. They embraced the struggle.

There are no shortcuts. Hard work is hard work, and confidence stems from that.

Embrace the struggle, and we’ll build confidence from there.

One day I woke up…and 10 years passed by

Ever get that feeling?

One day you wake up in the morning (or at night) prior to sunrise, peak around and notice everything is exactly the same. The bed, the desk, those socks you’ve worn for a week straight lying on the floor…all the same.

This was me.

The wake up call

In 2012, I had somewhat of a mental breakdown yet at the same time an epiphany. I realized it was 2012, and I had graduated from college in 2009. Up until this point, my life revolved around the same things: wake up, go to work, leave work, maybe workout, and then chill outside the porch deck in the apartment I was renting. Day by day, week by week.

Although I was in my mid-20’s, I thought my life was this. That I had hit my ceiling. Everything I dreamed of accomplishing I hadn’t. First, the MMA career, then the potential MBA that I so long dreamed for back in college, and, of course, maybe one day having a family.

It just felt like I was doing nothing. And guess what,  I was doing nothing.

So I decided in December of 2012, I would get my proverbial sh*t together.

Time to start fresh

I decided 2013 would be a new year, a new start, and no more excuses for myself. I made a decision that I would take great care of myself, make the hard choices, and actually take action. I decided, it was up to me.

On January 4th, 2013, I joined an MMA gym (finally). I couldn’t believe–I actually joined. It was happening. And know what? I never looked back. It was the best decision because that laid the groundwork for all decisions to come.

Thereafter, I started traveling more with my now-wife throughout Asia and Europe. And eventually in 2014, I decided to propose. I realized that she was the one, that she stood by me through my worst moments and yet never left me. It actually teared me up inside because I didn’t believe I deserved it. I didn’t believe I deserved anyone’s love. But here was this wonderful person who took me in and gave me heart.

Making a decision to change yourself

Ever since that frigid December night on that bare porch desk, things have changed so dramatically–and for the better.

I’ll be a father this year. I ended up realizing my dream of fighting inside the cage. I found my love for martial arts. I founded my own business. And I’m volunteering and giving back to the community.

It hasn’t been easy–it never will be. But I believe in this wholeheartedly, that we are all responsible for our own actions and future. If we choose to want something (a goal, a purpose), we need to act and execute. No excuses, no crying.

Make a choice today

For all those out there who are contemplating next steps and are constantly worried about change, know that these feelings are normal. I still endure these today. But understand that for every day that goes by with no action is another day with no change.

So I challenge you to make a change today. Make a choice, and follow that path. Stick to the path, no matter how difficult things get. Because you will be better for it.