Be an inspiration to the world. People need it. They are starving for hope and encouragement, looking for lighthouses who can shine a light on the path ahead, bright enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In this article, I’m going to share with you my “life happens” stuff and if you’ve known me at all online, you will probably be surprised. I promise you, you didn’t have a clue. I share because I desire to inspire and encourage. I want you to see that if I can do it, so can you.
You know, we live in a society jammed packed with pain and struggle and it doesn’t matter where on this planet you live, what neighborhood you’re from, what cars are parked in your garage or even the balance in your bank account, it seems people everywhere are hurting from various elements of life.
Many of these hurts are keeping people in pits they can’t get out of and are holding them back from achieving all that they dreamed of. In fact, they have forgotten how to dream. Or worse yet, they’ve just given up.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a mess of some kind going on right now, OR a mess they’ve gone through in the past and have come out the other end to a better life. And if you look at someone and say to yourself, “gosh, that person seems to always have it going on… they must not have messes”, think again. We are humans and in live in a broken, dysfunctional world and a whole lot of imperfections. Life happens to everyone, but each of us handle it differently. It’s the attitude that keeps the joy and steady in our steps when the road gets rocky.
Life happens doesn’t it? It happens to the best of us.
We all know money doesn’t buy happiness. Money can make life easier and provide for pleasurable things, but “things” don’t provide happiness. Nor, can money buy a “No Life Happens” ticket. Life is going to happen regardless of the money in your bank account and regardless of who you are or where you’re from.
Nobody is immune to “life happens” yet most of us go through life and pretend it’s a bowl of cherries for the most part. We don’t want others to know we have struggles because society is looking for perfection and we sure don’t want to be rejected or thought less of.
Many people are ashamed and in a closet about their past issues and struggles. I’m hoping this article will inspire someone who has overcome to step out and share their story to touch the lives of others.
Do you love hearing stories and watching movies or reading books about people who fought the good fight to overcome something and won in the end?
Are you moved by stories about people who were always happy and brought joy to others in the midst of their struggle to survive?
Do you appreciate hearing stories about people who had addictions, who were in prison, or were homeless, or were told they had a few months to live, yet through it all they experienced life changing moments and who’s lives became an inspiration for those yet to go through those struggles, battles or are in the midst of those now?
OR, how about stories specific to our industry, business. Do you know of people who struggled to achieve success in their business? I know many. In fact, most everyone I know who are successful today, struggled anywhere from 1 to 8 years before they began to realize the income in a significant way in their business. Not only that, some of their lives were in complete shambles, a mess, a real mess. And I’ve met many of these individuals who are very public about their struggles. The challenges are similar and different all at the same time.
I love these stories! Why? A few reasons:
- It puts my problems in perspective and I realize someone else has it worse than I do. For that, I’m grateful.
- It reminds me that I’m not the only one with problems, issues and struggles and we as a human race are in this together. For that, I take comfort. I don’t feel like the lone ranger.
- It encourages me that no matter what I face, if “they” can do it and fight through what they fought through to get to the other side which is victory, I can too. I’m inspired and encouraged to press onward and upward all the way.
These stories inspire and move me. They give me things to ponder about. They bring me to a place of feeling grateful, not only for my life but for each of those individuals for sharing their story. I’m grateful they were willing to lay it all out so that I can be encouraged.
I believe with all my heart that God will take our messes and use it for good. He will take what the enemy meant to hurt and destroy and turn it into blessings untold. Speaking of God, my story is also a story of faith in Christ Jesus. Ultimately, He was the one who delivered me. My ultimate strength came from Him. He was always faithful, always showed up for me, never left my side.
I believe that there is a place in our small businesses where we can share our “struggle to success story” to be authentic and transparent. I believe that when we are not ashamed to let others see that at one time we struggled, we had challenges, we had things we were not proud of but have overcome and are victorious today, that they will gain strength and draw from that to keep going, to keep moving forward. Not everyone is comfortable sharing, I understand that. I didn’t for several months after the worst was over. It has to be the right time and for everyone that’s different.
Sharing our story allows people to see our true character. People can see what we’re made up of.
A fight to the end to achieve something we really want reveals a lot about a person:
And these are all characteristics of great leaders.
Sharing our “inspirational” story allows others to connect with us emotionally. It establishes a great deal of trust with our prospects and let’s them see how “real” we are. We have nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, things happen in life that we have no control over, it’s just the way circumstances happened, or we get caught in situations we never thought we’d be in, or we make bad decisions thinking it would turn out differently, and millions of people are going through the same things. There’s great comfort in knowing that we all fall short and we all have life challenges that comes at us.
It’s how we handle “life” and the attitudes we take towards resolving those challenges that builds our character. Character building is necessary for growth. On days that don’t seem to go right, I call those my “character building days” and appreciate the growth that will come from what I’m experiencing.
<—- This is the face the internet knows and has seen for 3 years. People didn’t have a clue as they would comment on my smile, my friendly personality and send me notes of thanks for helping them, that I was experiencing some of the most difficult challenges I’ve personally ever gone through in my life. I wasn’t being phoney, I just don’t believe in bringing up the woes of my personal life into my business. Nobody should bring their personal problems into the work place. I always focused on the solution. I focused on my business partners and coaching students and found joy in making a difference.
I still did webinars, I met with coaching students, I attended events (The Hoverson Lifestyle Event in San Francisco, fall of 2008 I shouldn’t have gone….the energy it took for me to not let people see my struggle was overwhelming), I continued to learn and implement knowing that I will see this through. I will run the race and finish. I will have financial freedom. I will be in a position to have choices in my life.
And my purpose, my message, my mission, my passion was becoming more and more clear, that being, I will bring a message of hope, inspiration and encouragement to those whose lives I encounter. I knew a day would come that my story and victory would need to be told.
I was meeting too many broken, depressed and hurting people to not share my experiences. I was meeting people who were going through some of the same struggles, same situations, same fears, and not just a few people….. I’m talking MOST. The difference between myself and some of the others is I stayed in the game to the end. I finished the race…. actually life is race and so my journey continues. Many quit the race.
The secret to keeping myself moving forward was prayer, faith, determination and bathing in personal development, DAILY. In fact, there were days I would do nothing but personal development for hours… reading, affirmations, visualizations, journaling, over and over and over.
My “life happens challenges” were the most painful circumstances, some bringing great fear, sadness and darkness into my life. There were some days I wondered if I was ever going to see the light at the end of the tunnel and quite frankly, days where I woke up and said “not today” and the sheets would go back over my head. It was just too much to even get out of bed. Have you ever felt like that?
And, these challenges seemed to have come upon me all at once.
And, they came at the worst time of my life, just as I was starting my business.
What’s up with that?
I maintained an attitude however, that no matter what my circumstances, I WAS going to be victorious!
It started when the economy crashed which put my comfortable 6 figure a year business down the toilet in real estate. I began living on credit cards, robbing Peter to pay Paul, you know how that goes. I owned a couple investment properties and like everyone else, saw the values decline and tenants not paying and so I was trying to float several mortgages…. This was just the beginning.
I had turned to the internet to find solutions only to lose $35K in a bad decision, both in choice of company and doing the wrong marketing (buying leads and calling people). By this time I had accumulated $110K in credit card debt….
Life definitely happened, but it was just the beginning. As you read through my short list (yes, there was more) just ONE of these challenges is enough to put most people into excuse mode as to why they can’t continue their business, yet I had multiple “high end stressers” going on at once but was adamant about keeping moving forward. When I say at once, I’m talking about mid 2008-2009, a one year period.
My good friend Mark Hoverson, encouraged me all along the way and was there from the beginning (he was my confidant, my brother, my friend, as well as mentor) and would often say at events or on webinars when talking about staying in the game and being 110% focused, “You guys wouldn’t believe Debbie’s drama, it’s amazing, but she’s had success.”
He never revealed the details, only my character and commitment to a go after something I wanted. A friend like Mark, who continues to be your biggest cheerleader, never judging and always speaking life and success into you is priceless. He and his beautiful wife, Shannon, are amazing, beautiful individuals.
By the way, Mark tells his agonizing story of days he was living in a trailer with no food for the kids, they qualified for welfare, his wife and babies were in the only family car that was broken down in the middle of a fast paced highway and he had no way to get to them. He shares of days laying on the floor crying about his circumstances. Well, he had a choice to make and an attitude adjustment to make and he did. He got up off that floor and commited that things would be different and today he’s a multi-millionaire. His story has touched many lives. His challenges made him a strong leader today and he’s not ashamed to share it as he knows it helps others to see that if he can do it, so can you.
Another mentor and coach of mine, Jeffrey Combs, you can see his video here on sidebar of my blog, went from an extremely broken childhood and drug addict to an ultra successful life and business coach and is known throughout the world. He shares his story and to this day gets emotional about it. He shares it because it makes a difference in the lives of others.
So here’s a glimpse into some of my “life happens”… and it pales in comparison to Jeffrey’s and maybe even yours.
Circumstances in Personal Life:
* My Mom had 2 heart attacks, back to back. My Mom and Dad are my strongholds… I feared for her life.
* My brother suffered a stroke and went blind and was paralyzed on the left side. He’s a diabetic.
* My sister-in-law’s Dad passed away. I loved him a lot, we were great friends. He made he best peanut butter and chocolate fudge and loved to laugh.
* I went through a divorce after 28 years of marriage. (We’re great friends :))
* I went through a major relocation. Moved from the beach in SC to the Amish country in KY.
*I was learning to be a single Mom, that totally sucks, but my daughter is the light of my life.
* I was learning to do “typical guy” things (ladies, don’t get your panties in a uproar… I’m not looking to be politically correct here, just sharing my story)… change air filters, climbing ladders, changing oil, mowing the lawn, flipping breakers, and fixing garbage disposals and garage door openers.
*My car blew the transmission….. ever priced that?
* The tenants in my properties weren’t making the rent payments and I was facing foreclosure, over and over and over.
* My phone was ringing off the hook with creditors calling 7 days a week, starting at 7 am.
Circumstances In the physical:
* I had 2 teeth break and the fix was dental implants and bone marrow transplant… ever priced that or been through that fun?
* I was suffering from major “situational” depression and sought counseling and temporary medication for coping. By the way, I learned a lot about depression and many go undiagnosed… so maybe just this part of my story can help you or someone you love.
Situational depression is where there’s too many devastating things going on in your life at one time and your body goes into shutdown which really, you have no control over. It’s a protective mechanism within us.
What happens is when we are encountering circumstances that are traumatic or overwhelming for too long, our brain steps in and takes charge. The brain says to your body, “Hey, there’s no more room for ANY MORE stuff! I have a enough to process and figure out right now so to protect you, I’m just gonna shut down.”
As a result, you suffer from depression. You basically shut down, meaning you’re tired, you can’t focus, you’re sad, you’re either not sleeping at all or sleeping all the time, you’re eating habits change, you loose interest in the things you typically enjoy… it’s terrible, you’ve seen the commercials and well, that stuff is all very real.
* While I owned properties, I moved back home. I moved into the basement of my folks which was a God send. It was nicely furnished with a bedroom, a living area, a fireplace and a door to the outside, and I needed to be there. I was extremely depressed. It was a place I could begin to heal and rebuild my life. I stayed there a year. It was quiet, peaceful, and a home full of faith, prayer, long talks with my Dad who is so wise and many cups of tea with my Mom who always knew the right thing to say. Hugs were abundant. I’m grateful for loving, compassionate, Godly parents. So now you know why I’m in Kentucky. The picture on the right is Mom and Dad, Mike and Bonnie Wilcome.
* I lost a bunch of weight from not eating, I just wasn’t hungry from depression or food upset my stomach.
* Then as I got to feeling better, I gain a bunch of weight, started eating too many carbs and not enough energy to exercise. Bad combo.
* My hair started falling out in by the masses from stress.
Circumstances In my business:
* My YouTube channel was shut down for “who knows why” and lost hundreds of videos that I had done and never saved as a backup. (Bad Rookie Mistake)
* I was still learning how to do internet marketing.… I was failing forward as to how it all worked, yet I was able to make a significant income. (so that means you don’t have to know everything to make money online— take note)
Trying to learn while being extremely distracted with “life” and being depression doesn’t make for a clear focused mind. Talk about a learning curve!
* I was tired. Sometimes I was putting in 18-20 hour days between learning and studying and implementing my online marketing and picking up odd jobs in my hobby industry as a scrapbook designer to get this debt load off my back. Here’s the thing… I was making a great deal of income online, however, if you remember, I was $110K in credit card debt and had other liabilities like mortgages. My outgo was tremendous each month, do the math. I wanted to not just make minimums but rather, pay down this junk.
I was doing what I needed to do for me to move on and get past this. I was anxious to get past this as quickly as possible and so I OPTED to put in the hours so I could be on the fast track out of this mess.
The beautiful thing about home business entrepreneurship is I was able to take significant time off to travel, to enjoy life, to heal…. I took 6 vacations in 2009 and by fall of that year, I went to a 4 day work week with the public because of my online business. Now I had 3 days each week to be quite or do whatever I wanted.
I’m so grateful for entrepreneurship because many of the above “life happens” would have come whether I was in real estate or not and I would never have been able to spend the time with Mom while she was recovering, or taken the vacations that I did, or take a day off here and there when I just couldn’t get out of bed if I had to work at a job. That would be ultra tough.
I’ve been very successful online. But you know what?
Life still happens.
You see, it’s all about the attitude and whether or not you will allow these circumstances of life to be an excuse for your ultimate failure or whether they will make you fight harder for a better life. I’m a fighter. I made a decision to be successful come heck or high water and I made good on my commitment to myself. Was it worth it? For me, yes.
Again, just because you have money to pay the bills and vacation and all that great stuff, doesn’t mean life is always easy. It’s easier, but life can still be challenging.
Today, most days are awesome now and the longer I focus on the beautiful life I have, the freedoms I enjoy, the goodness of my children and the absolute joys that my parents bring to my life… along with my Christian faith – Jesus got me through ALL that and He continues to help me… the easier life becomes to deal with.
So how can we share our story and tie it to our business?
Write a book and inspire people. People are attracted to those who inspire them.
Share a post like this one.
Share on webinars as you teach.
Weave bits and pieces of your own life through lessons you teach about personal development.
These bits and pieces can come via your email follow up, your blog posts, articles you write, videos you do.
When someone wants to make excuses and says, “But Debbie, you just don’t understand”. Oh, but I do.
I know my story makes a difference when I get notes like this:
Just wanted to send you a quick note. You have no idea how much I appreciate your transparency.
You are who you are – no masks or illusions. This is a rare thing these days.
I know how hard you work at this. I just hope I can follow in your footsteps. I ALWAYS feel like
I’m over my head and can’t get anything accomplished. I know it will get a “little” easier as I
go along, but you are amazing! Your work output is over the top.
Thanks for your encouragement and mentorship!
Wow!! That takes courage to lay it all out there. You remind me of my sister. You are also my sister in Christ. Thanks for sharing this with us. I knew that when I met you in Portland that I would be part of your opportunity. Your leadership and transparency is much appreciated in online marketing world.
My Daughter Ashley says,
You know what I tell all my friends about you Mom? I tell them you are the most amazing person I know. Look at all you’ve been through and you have persevered. You have taught me that perseverance in business pays off. And another thing, you have taught me that I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to.
Loved the honesty. I’ve been following you for some time now and think the world of you even though we have never met. I think if we did meet we would be good friends.
Is there any part of your life challenges that you can share that will encourage and inspire another human being to keep pressing on? If so, I hope you’ll consider sharing. Not to air dirty laundry, that’s not what this is about, but I think you know that. Your life has such tremendous power and meaning.
I would really appreciate you comments, feedback and thoughts about this ‘touchy’ subject. If you found value in what I’ve said, I’d also appreciate you sharing it by tweeting and facbooking it. Thanks so much!
Always running in a way to finish the race