Swimming In the Deep End

 

I ask people every single day what their definition of success is.  There is no right answer to this question- what I’m looking for is to determine whether or not this person knows what they want.  So often, I am met with mediocre answers.  I want “security”.  “Stability”.  We have some dreamers who will tell me about their five-year-plan for their personal island and their Lambo.  My favorite answer I’ve ever received was a girl who looked me dead in the eyes and said “You know what?  I want to be a dog walker.  That’d make me really happy.  To make enough money where I can just retire and walk dogs all day”.  At least she knew what she wanted.

I have always considered my leadership style to be as a “visionary” leader.  I have big plans.  I want big things.  I want to help 10 people become millionaires before I’m 30.  I want to open Catalyst Headquarters as a resource and mentorship center for underprivileged teens.  I want to help as many people as possible become the very best version of themselves- or at least a better version from before they met me.  I want to make my father proud.  I want to help other parents make their children proud and vice versa.  I want to inspire.  I want to create. And, most of all, I want to catalyze change.  I want to be the spark; I want to make the difference.

However, up until recently, I had a different idea for how I’d accomplish these plans.  I thought “I’ll make a lot of money and then buy my dreams”.  “I’ll network hard and have all the connections and when the time is right, things will just happen”.  NOPE.  It occurred to me recently, when I was asked what I actually need, right now, to get to where I want to be in the future, that there is not a dollar amount that can get me there.  There’s not a mentor I can find or a book I can read or mark I can hit with my company where I will suddenly be “qualified” to help more people.  I am starting to realize that, to accomplish my goals, I have to become the right person.  And that person cannot just “get lucky”.  I think this is why I am so attracted to chaos.  Man, do I love it when everything goes wrong.  Screw the lifevest, I want to learn how to swim with the undertow.  Throw me in the fire, watch the way that I spit back.  I find peace in the knowledge that, when the storm subsides, I’ll be better off because it hit.  I’ll be stronger, smart, and I’ll be more prepared.

I got lucky in my first few business ventures.  I designed a clothing line and it ended up on MTV.  I created a Twitter account at just the right time to hit 80k followers in 4 months.  I worked harder than any 17-year-old I’ve ever met, but I got lucky too.  And what happened was, when I turned 20 and had a business that was exploding underneath me, I had no idea what to do with it because I wasn’t the right person to take it to the next level- and I took that personally.  Because it was personal.  I wasn’t good enough yet.  I didn’t know enough.  I had spent the last three years trying to hide that, and now it was becoming more and more clear.  I was underqualified and for that reason, my success was limited.

I suppose that, now, this is what I fear.  I hate the quote about how “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” because I’m definitely not scared to win- but am I scared to win too soon?  Yeah, I suppose I am.  For that reason, I have continued to hold myself back.  I swim laps in the shallow end.  I build up my muscles and my endurance but I never test them out.  I still play safe. How will I know when I’m ready for the deep end?  I suppose when I decide to try it.

So this is my proclamation: deep end, Here. I. Come.  If I sink, I will not drown and if I swim, it will not be on the back of someone else.  I used to be so scared to swim too close to the edge because I thought that that is where the sharks hide, so instead, I will become the shark.