I was struck during a brief conversation with a colleague recently when we stumbled upon the topic that my professional track is viewed as a success by outsiders. Being immersed in my own moving and shaking every day, I’ve struggled to view successes versus failures or any broader perception as such, but rather just keep moving forward and attempting to make progress. Certainly, I’ve been beat up pretty good – 4, 5, or even 6 times now with various ventures gone bust for any variety of reasons; some within my control, and others not within my control. Taking that repeated beating, it can be very difficult to see this as a success, though on the other hand I suppose the fact that I’ve survived and still trek forward does speak to some success.
While this post’s title alludes to a low many business owner’s never want to face, “Chapter 13 Bankruptcy”, I can assure my fellow readers that I am not at that point, but would like to someday add a reminiscent ‘Chapter 13’ to my book, “Black Beans, Mean Business”, and share some additional survival tips when the tough gets seemingly tougher…survival.
It would go to the tune of…
Acute attention is paid to survival when diving, especially work diving, and most especially when down in the trenches – the blackest of the black – those survival instincts set in even more so…and so you craft an exit strategy. How to I ascend out from the trench, back to the safe haven presumably at the surface? This ascent is slow and methodical, following back your umbillical, unfouling it from rocks and debris as you move along, and picking up your own slack as needed. At this point, it’s an ascent you’ve made a thousand times before, and have literally done it blindfolded. Does this mean it’s ok to be complacent? Absolutely not – to the contrary; you draw on your own experiences, your education, and your instincts to take you back home – up towards the surface, and up the ladder. There at the surface, unlimited air and other basic fundamental needs are restored, so you can reassess, and then carry forward, and ideally upward still to the idealism that you have been in pursuit of for your entire working life.
That’s diving, and that’s also life. So, the take-home when the going gets tough and you are mucking up the trenches – what you have that no one can take away from you is your education. My grandfather said this to us routinely growing up, and early on I thought it was a push for higher education. Now, having spent 20 years surviving in a cut-throat trades community, I realize that life experiences are equally valuable, and its one thing to know how to ascend from the trench, but another to be able to do it blindfolded.
So, when the tough gets tougher – boil it down to what makes you, you. You got yourself here, and only you can take yourself where you want to go.
In the infamous words of the legendary Buster Moon, “When you’ve reached rock bottom, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up!”