“Nobody is going to hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That is how winning is done.” —From the movie Rocky Balboa
I think the human brain is made for solving problems. What solving problems is to the brain is what working out is to the muscles. The more problems the brain solves the stronger and healthier it gets. When we avoid problems or let problems get the better of us, the brain gets weaker. Enough years of this process and dementia and other brain degenerative diseases are sure to follow. Sure there are most definitely other factors involved with brain health. However more studies are coming out linking high stress levels and poor brain health. The high stress does not come from problems per se. No it comes from not meeting the problems head on and ascertaining the solution.
In the know Docs often recommend that people play chess and do crossword puzzles to keep their brains healthy. While both can be useful, why not make your life the chess game. Take on new challenges and do not quit until you succeed. Pick up a martial art, learn a musical instrument, or learn a new language. Or do what I did and start a business. Running your own business is a daily process of problems and solutions. Everyday is a new adventure in this process. If you want your business to continue to grow, you have to take on new challenges which always results in new problems. Once you solve the problems you are rewarded with more money, recognition, or whatever your goals may be. As a side note, men are often motivated by making more money and women are often motivated by achieving more recognition and a pat on the back. Nothing wrong with either. Just be aware of what your motivations are and use them to your advantage.
When I started my kettlebell training business back in 2002 I was the first trainer to attempt to make a living as a kettlebell focused instructor. While I was not the first person to go through Pavel’s certification course, I was the first person to go home and develop a full time kettlebell training business. There were probably one-hundred people total in the US who trained with kettlebells at the time. Thus, I clearly had to attract new people to kettlebell training and not rely on the people that were already in. I decided to focus my business around workshops and online training.
I had five people at my very first kettlebell workshop in McLean, Va and made a whopping $300.00! I charge more than that now for one person to attend one of my kettlebell workshops. At my second kettlebell workshop again in McLean, VA, I made $480.00. I was ecstatic! Not by the money made, but by the fact that there were people that were actually interested in attending my workshops. They were very raw back then and not polished like they are now (doing over 70 helps!).
After doing a few workshops in VA, I was ready for a change of pace and moved to Los Angeles. I thought that my business would really take off in LA. Somehow, people often feel that just showing up in LA is enough to be successful. As if the forces of nature will bring success to your front door just for showing up there. No wonder there are so many losers out there, ha ha. Well, long story short, my business did not blow up initially in LA. In fact I only had three people at my first workshop in LA and made less than $300.00 total. My second workshop in LA was not much better. By the time I did my third workshop in LA, I was fighting a horrible case of pneumonia. I was living in Santa Monica and in addition to financial stress, I had a great deal of personal life stress and tried to handle it all by working out more. I ended up with one lung completely filled with bacteria and the other one 75% full. I had four liters of filth pulled out of my lungs and then another two liters the next day. I lost thirty pounds and a great deal of my strength with it. In addition to having poor strength, my business was barely above water and I had $7.00 left in my bank account.
I decided that it was time to throw in the towel, get a regular job and make some money and try the training business again down the road. I took my dog Mona for a walk around Santa Monica to clear my head. I walked by some office buildings and saw people sitting behind their desks pretending to work. There was no way I could go back to that world. I picked up Mona ran back home and starting working. I decided to kick complacency in the ass and finish what I started. Once I made the decision, I immediately got to work. Just deciding that you are going to do something is not enough. After you make the decision, the sooner you take action the more likely you are to be successful. the longer it takes to take action, the less likely you are to succeed. Once I started working, I was too busy making things happen to stress out. I got my strength and size back in two months, started doing workshops again, and started making a decent income. I started getting more online clients, getting more articles published, and eventually went on to make information videos. I hit a great stride in 2004 and in 2005 I exceeded all expectations and hit a great six figure income. To make the pot even sweeter I had a great personal life as well with my now fiancé Carol. Training was going well and everything was locked and loaded.
In 2006 I started getting bored with the business. However, I soon realized that it was not the business I was bored with. No I was bored with my place at Dragondoor. While I did not work for them, I was heavily associated with them and that came with a lot of restrictions. While my income was great (Money that I earned through my own efforts, not what I made through DD directly), I did not like having my growth restricted. I rather make less and be in charge of my life then make more and play a secondary role. Basically, being at DD was like being a supporting actor in a movie. Sure it is great to have a role, but I wanted more. The only choice was to leave the organization.
There was no logical reason for me to leave when I did. My income was great. However, other problems surfaced such as lack of growth potential and frankly I did not care for the way the organization was run. Again, if you do not meet problems head on, your brain gets weaker. When you get complacent, you lose the game and your brain gets weaker. You have to challenge yourself constantly. Being at DD was no longer challenging and frankly no longer exciting. Moreover, if I do not like the way an organization is managed, then I do not want to be a part of that organization. It is as simple as that. I left on good terms to continue my kettlebell business on my terms and pursue other interests.
I now had a new challenge of taking full ownership of my success and not leveraging the website traffic that I used to get from Dragondoor. I had to get better at customer acquisition. I revamped my website to have better website search placement. More recently, a fan of my work Kyle Provost completely revamped my website and as a result my online store is doing better than ever. My website traffic had nearly doubled since last year and business is great. I partnered with Lifeline USA which is one of the most well known creators of quality fitness products. They got in the KB market and their kettlebells have been selling like crazy on my site. While we are currently dealing with some customer service issues, this is common for any new venture and it will be ironed out.
Things are going great now. My income is better than ever and my passive income has gone up dramatically. As a result I will be doing a limited amount of traveling to do workshops. In 2008 I will only be doing KB workshops in Las Vegas and NYC. My focus will be on other things. I am currently examining an exciting opportunity that will involve me being part of a new reality TV show on the topic of mental toughness and physical training. If the show happens and I accept the opportunity, it will happen very soon. New opportunities are always loaded with new problems and I look forward to the new problems.
Challenge yourself. Attempt the impossible and reap the rewards. You will never enjoy life by being complacent. You will never know what you are made of by taking the easy road. Once you achieve one goal, regroup and go after a tougher challenge. Who you become in the process is worth the inevitable problems and hard times.
I just checked my email and my good friend Dylan Thomas just informed me that our good friend Jim Tirey died while on a business trip. Jim was one of my biggest supporters when I first started my business and remained a great friend through the years. In fact Jim was the one who sent Dylan Thomas and another good friend Warren to my second KB workshop. Dylan went on to become an incredible instructor and teaches in the DC area. Jim was a great man and was a career Military man. He was in Rwanda during the “Black Hawk Down” situation. To say that Jim was tough mentally and physically is the greatest understatement of all time. My prayers go to him and his family. I will miss him immensely. Thanks for all your support and friendship Jim!