I almost drown in the Caymans*

This has become a joke of sorts that I’ll never live down.  The truth is I love it.  It reminds me of a time when a group of friends saw me through a shitty time in my life.

You hear it said all the time “you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with” or something like that.  In layman’s terms it means if you want to be happy and more successful, surround yourself who will support your efforts and not tear you down.

There are benefits to surrounding yourself with remarkable people beyond the network, ideas and intellectual equity you get to tap into from time to time.  The biggest advantage is they understand.  They know where you are and where you’re going.  They understand and relate to the challenges, the set-backs and the effort it requires to build or rebuild.

It’s painful with no one to talk to or no one who can truly relate.  So many entrepreneurs, and people in general for that matter, suffer in silence.  I feel for them.  I’ve been there.

I built a strong seven figure business and was trying to position the company for growth while at the same time battling cash flow issues, my bank calling our line of credit after we made a huge cash payment to them, our biggest client losing the client that fueled their need for us (i.e. we lost our biggest client) and my struggles with my business partner.  Add to that the fact that I just lost all of my personal money when the real estate market crashed and I had a disastrous situation on my hands.  My grip was slipping and after almost two years of hanging on for dear life it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it.

It wasn’t until recently that I truly reflected on my business and have come to the realization that on some subconscious level I self-sabotaged it.  I wanted out for a long time – but not this way.

I hadn’t slept through the night in probably two years.  I was suffering severe anxiety and depression which spirals out of control when you don’t want to go to sleep at night because you don’t want to face the next day.

My “support group” was The Entrepreneurs Organization and my forum.  We were scheduled to go on our annual retreat which was set up to be an epic trip to the Cayman Islands for some scuba diving, deep sea fishing and remarkable mastermind sessions.  I was completely out of cash (literally), was mentally burned out and was facing the reality that I would have to file bankruptcy for the business and personally.  I will not go as far as to say I considered suicide.  It’s not in my DNA I don’t think.  But let’s say I was at a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  I simply didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I typed up an email to my guys saying I wasn’t going to make the trip, I was going to have to leave the group for awhile, my business wasn’t going to make it and neither was I.

Sick to my stomach, I hit send.

Within minutes my phone rang and I received a few emails telling me I needed to meet the next day.  Two of my forum mates met up with me the following day and walked me off the ledge.  They told me I was going on the trip and they would cover the cost.  These were two guys who are exceptionally successful who had both faced similar setbacks.  They understood where I was.  They let me know they had my back.

I left that meeting and broke down in my car.  When you’re lost, struggling to survive and someone comes along to pick you up and carry you for a bit – it’s a lot to take in.

I don’t think the guys will ever realize how much I appreciate them.  I will forever be grateful for them.  They know who they are.

Without this group of guys I honestly have no idea how I would have made it.  They walked me through the process, gave me advice on bankruptcy and support on how to recover and rebuild.  They’ve been there as I’ve rebuilt, started a new business and did what I had to do along the way just to survive.

There’s a few things surrounding yourself with remarkable people will do for your life.  They inspire you to be better as a person and a professional.  They continually raise the bar – giving you something to reach for, to continue to improve and never get lazy.  They have your back when you take it on the chin and they’ll be there to help you get back on your feet.  They let you know you’re not alone.  They motivate you to not only get back up, but fight to regain footing and begin building momentum.

My group continues to inspire me by what they’re doing in their lives and business.  I’m slowly rebuilding, but I have my eyes clearly set on catching back up and rejoining these guys for another amazing mastermind trip – only this time I’ll be treating them.

*As for my almost drowning in the Caymans, let’s just say if you’re swimming across the current and you find yourself struggling, DO NOT throw off your mask and snorkel and begin to doggy paddle at an epic pace.  Also, looking back and giving your buddy the thumbs up is not recommended.

**If you happen to be in the Caymens snorkeling or scuba diving and come across a black mask and snorkel – please mail it to me when you get a chance.