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Month: August 2020

Crippled CEO Blog #046: I Almost Killed Myself

Crippled CEO Blog #046:

I made sure the seatbelt to my wheelchair was buckled, firmly holding me in, and I was poised on the edge of my kidney shaped pool.

I had just, very carefully, pushed the smaller front two tires of my chair up over the lip of the brick colored tile coping, toward the edge, and paused. 

I imagined pushing hard on the joystick, zooming forward, smashing into the water… and sinking. 

This was the plan.

I was in constant, terrible, unrelenting chronic pain.

One of my closest “friends“ had convinced me that I was socially awkward, annoying, clingy, a chore to be around, completely unlovable, and physically disgusting.

I knew I was going to be alone for the rest of my life.

A girl who I had a small crush on, who had come over to hang out with me, was locked in my roommate’s bedroom. I was pretty sure they were having sex.

I inhaled deeply through my nose and pushed my chair slowly forward. The edge of my pool curved in, and my front left tire was barely on the edge of the coping.

I was running my company. I was the boss. But I knew that people only pretended to respect me. I was a fraud. I was really just a loser who had inherited daddy’s business. And it was only a matter of time before I screwed it all up. I knew that I was going to ruin the company. I was eventually going to put us out of business. I didn’t know what I was doing. Everyone was going to lose their job, I was going to thrust my parents into poverty for the last chapter of their lives, my dad was going to hate me, and I was going to live in a nursing home.

I pushed slightly forward on the joystick. My chair rolled forward. The front left tire hung in the air, nothing beneath it besides the water in the pool. The other front tire was right on the edge of the coping. I wondered if I would flip over forward or if I could go fast enough that I remained sort of upright as I sank. 

My wallet was in a pouch on the side of my chair. It suddenly occurred to me that there was cash in there and it would be a waste if it went in with me. I reach down and eventually pulled it out, dropping it onto the pool deck. It didn’t make sense that I was worried about the $227 in my wallet, but not destroying the $10,000 wheelchair that I was preparing to plunge into the pool. But very little of my thinking was making sense at the moment.

There was an open Word document on my computer that contained my two sentence note. I wanted the people who thought this might be because of them to feel guilty about it. I wanted to allow them to believe that. But I didn’t want to be a jerk and point them out directly. It was better if they wondered. But there was one person who I knew would blame himself, and I wanted to absolve him.

The words that filled my giant computer monitor read:

“I’m sorry, Dad. This wasn’t your fault.”

I knew things were going to get so much better without me. All of the lives I burdened by needing help with all of the trivial crap I need help with would be improved. I would never have to wake somebody up to put me in bed again, or need help going to the bathroom at 3 AM. 

They would sell my house, split up what little money I had, and that would be more beneficial than me sticking around.

Someone competent and qualified would take over running Life Saver. Free of my incompetence, it would flourish.

And I had to do it now, because as bad as things were, I knew this was as good as it was going to get. Things were only going to get worse. I had to go now before everything I knew came true and it all fell apart.

I put my hand on my joystick, closed my eyes, and took another deep breath.

The sound of the door to the backyard unsticking and being forced open startled me. I yanked my hand back from the chair joystick, my legs spasming violently.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,“ my roommate said. Maybe he knew? Was he checking on me? Maybe he cared enough to notice?

“I’m going to bed. Do you want me to let you back in the house?”

Nope. He didn’t.

“… yeah. Sure.”

I carefully backed up. My left tire got caught a bit on the coping as I reversed, and I gave it a bit more juice to get it back onto solid ground.

I drove quickly past him to my computer. I’m sure he said good night or something and wandered back into his room. Shaking, I closed the two sentence suicide note in size 36 font on my screen. I clicked “Don’t Save”. 

Objectively, my life wasn’t that much worse then than it is right now. And my life is phenomenal right now. It was pretty great then as well. The difference was I let other people define who I was, what was wrong with me, and what my future was. The story I told myself was hopeless.

The only real things different between then, when I almost killed myself by driving into my pool with my seatbelt on, and now, were the people I chose to allow into my life and care about, and the narrative loop inside my head. I was telling myself the wrong story about myself. And the reason it was so difficult and so effective, was that the words I was telling myself were true because I was thinking them. I was not lying to myself. It was all 100% accurate.

But when I changed my thinking, my reality changed with it. My belief that my life is incredible and only getting better is now just as accurate and just as true. I’m still in a wheelchair. I’m still running the same business. But now I’m happy, hopeful, and excited. This took a long time. It wasn’t easy. But it happened.

If I can do it, you can, too. At least you can (probably) wipe yourself and cut up your own chicken — you’ve got a huge head start. 

I’ve never told this story before. I’m rather nervous to post it, but maybe it helps someone. And what’s the worst that could happen (see Blog #31)? 

(If you know someone that could use this, please, please share with them. And if you would like to make sure that you never miss a post, send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848. I will send you a link to the latest blog post every Sunday, as soon as it’s out.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #045: All Failure is Psychological

Crippled CEO Blog #045:

If you’ve read my prior posts, you know that my dad served in Vietnam in the army. His father fought in World War II. In the World War II army field manual, they state that unless you are dead, all failure is psychological. As long as you are breathing, failure is only in your head. It’s mental. 

That doesn’t mean that you’re going to immediately succeed at everything you do, that you’re not going to lose some battles. Because you will. You are going to screw up.

If you haven’t died, and if you don’t quit, you can still make a tactical retreat, regroup, reassess, and continue the path towards success.

If you are a starting actor who has never had a paid roll, and you get picked to be in a toothpaste commercial, you are going to be ecstatic. If you are Tom Cruise and the best work you can get is a toothpaste commercial, you might consider that a failure. The circumstances are identical. The failure is purely mental. It is entirely psychological.

If you haven’t decided to quit, then you have learned. You have gained experience. You are better now than you were before. Referring to his many attempts at inventing the lightbulb, Thomas Edison famously said,  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Your ability to choose the story you tell yourself about your situation is tremendously powerful. You’re not a failure unless you decide you are. And I’ve decided that I’m not a failure until I’m dead. You can, too. 

(Do you have a friend who has stumbled and might find this helpful? Please share it with him. And if you want to make sure you never miss the next one, send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #044: Fish Love

Crippled CEO Blog #044:

“Why are you eating that fish?” 

“Because I love fish!”

“You love fish. That is why you pulled it out of the ocean, killed it, filleted it, and ate it. You don’t love the fish. You love what it can do for you. You love yourself.“

The man meets a woman and she’s perfect. She is beautiful. She is kind. She is funny. And after some time, he decides that he loves her. She fulfills his physical and emotional needs. She makes him so happy. He loves her. And she feels the same way.

This is the same as the fish. This is, as Abraham Twerski calls it, Fish Love. 

He doesn’t love her. He loves himself. And he loves the way that she improves his life. He loves the enjoyment, gratification, and laughter she provides. 

Real love isn’t receiving and liking it. There’s no love in that. That’s just run-of-the-mill selfishness. It’s Fish Love. 

Real love is giving. Real love is when we take away from ourselves for somebody else.

There’s an important nuance to this, though.

Our instinct is to think that we give to the people we love. But that’s not entirely true.

We love the people to whom we give. Giving to somebody is investing part of us into them. And, as we know, we love ourselves. So, when we invest ourself into somebody else, when we invest our time, our resources, our energy, and so on, when that other person is imbued with this part of us that we love, now we can love this part of us that’s in them. 

My friends know that generosity is a way of life for me. At my funeral, I want people to remember me as someone who always gave with abundance. But this lifestyle of generosity has also allowed me to care about people in a much more authentic way. 

Don’t confuse real love with Fish Love. Real love is giving. Fish Love is receiving. 

(Could this help somebody? Share it with them — loving is giving! If you want to make sure you never miss a blog post, send a text message to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. I’ll send you a link to the latest blog every Sunday as soon as it is up.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #043: My Successful Dad was a Heroin Addict

My dad was a heroin addict for many years. After that, he was a methadone addict. He was also a successful business owner, an amazing father, and a great husband.

My dad started doing heroin while serving in Vietnam. He was in a combat position, serving as the leader of a long range patrol group that would go deep into the enemy jungle, alone, and try to find things that they could destroy, or that they could call in air support to destroy.

It was the kind of role you might see in a movie about soldiers in Vietnam — with all of the atrocities that went with it.

Most members of his squad died shortly after joining. The turnover rate was extremely high. He told the story of one soldier who tried to injure himself to get sent home, but the attempt went horribly wrong, and ended with a bullet coming out of his chest, killing him instantly. 

Given these conditions, it almost makes sense that someone would turn to something like heroin as an escape, and many others in his position did the same thing.

The majority of soldiers who did drugs like heroin in Vietnam left their drug use in Asia, no longer needing the coping mechanism upon returning to normal life.

My dad did not. His life back home wasn’t that great either, and his addiction to heroin continued on for years.

He eventually sought treatment, which meant methadone in the 70s and 80s. Methadone is another opiate narcotic very similar to heroin. It is essentially like giving someone addicted to wine beer instead. It’s not a whole lot better, but it’s legal, and regulated, so the thinking at the time was that it was an improvement.

He was on methadone for nearly another decade.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because of the third sentence of this blog. He was a great entrepreneur, a great dad, and a great husband. Those aren’t traits you normally associate with junkies.

He spent the first 3.5 decades of his life doing terrible things to himself, causing himself great harm, and not experiencing a whole lot of success.

But everyone I know who knows him thinks of him as nothing but successful. They know him as somebody who always did the correct thing, who was honest to a fault, who gave great guidance, who was meticulous and organized, and who was successful in every definition of the word, with his business and with his family.

How is this possible?

Because you can totally blow it, do nothing productive, and live an all around terrible life until you’re 40, and still turn things around and be successful, be someone that other people aspire to become.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to hit certain milestones by certain arbitrary times, and the reality is that it’s all BS. Students think they can’t take a year off between high school and college because they will then be behind and at a disadvantage, when the truth is, they could take 15 years off and still probably be fine.

What you’ve done before does not have to dictate who you’re going to be in the future. 

My dad at 20 was a junkie. 

My dad at 30 was a junkie. His parents wouldn’t talk to him.

My dad at 50 was running a national company that he started in his garage with over $1 million in revenue. I would take over this business a few years later when he retired at 53. 

My dad at 65 owned a Porsche and a 32 foot Catalina sailboat and was zip lining in Mexico wearing a Rolex. He was a father to adult sons who were all doing great and admired him. He was adored by everyone who knew him.

If other people have done it, you can too. If you’re not happy with where you’re at, there is no reason you can’t change. You just have to start.

(Did you like this? Please like it and share it with friends who you think might benefit. And if you want to make sure you never, ever miss a blog post from me, send a text to 484848 with the word CRIP to get a message from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog post.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #042: Unfollow Everyone

LOTS of people right now think Facebook is damaging them, making them crazier, or impacting them in a negative way. I’ve heard lots of people talk about deleting the app, or actually going ahead and doing it.

And this makes perfect sense. If something is bringing you more harm than good, get rid of it.

But WHY are people hating their time on Facebook? It’s not Facebook itself. The app works rather well. 

It’s the people. 

But more specifically, it’s the people you don’t want to hear from — the conversations you don’t want to see or be tempted to engage in. Conversations you were exposed to randomly that were never intended for you to see. 

But how did they end up there? You probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends on Facebook. But you only see posts regularly from maybe 50 of them. You didn’t pick those 50. Facebook did. It did its best based on what you engaged with, but it still chose on your behalf. Because it knows there’s no way you can keep up with a chronological stream of hundreds or thousands of people posting every day. 

But, ultimately, you’re in control of what you see on Facebook. More importantly, you are in control of who you see it from.

Many have improved their experience by unfollowing select bad offenders, and this is great, but Facebook is still deciding everything else you see.

I have a friend who unfollowed every single person besides his wife. His newsfeed is exclusively posts from her. Because that’s what he wanted to see. This is amazing.

He gave me the idea. Why don’t WE choose, consciously, who we care about enough to follow? Instead of letting Facebook choose, why not decide for ourselves?

If you are sick of Facebook, or you think it’s hurting your life, or you’re thinking about getting rid of it, or you just think you want a better experience, try this: without Facebook’s help, make a list of 5, 10, 20 or so people — the number is up to you, but try to pick a number to stick to — then go to Facebook, go to Settings, go to Newsfeed, and choose “See First” for that list. After that, whenever you see a post from somebody not on the list, unfollow them. And if you want, you can get a jump on it and unfollow a bunch of people right off the bat from the settings, but if you do it consistently from your newsfeed, it won’t be long until you’ll see the words, pictures, and videos only from the people you enjoy interacting with and spending time with. You will guarantee a positive Facebook experience. If someone from outside the list wants you to see something, they will have to send it to you directly. 

This works great, because most of the stuff you don’t want to see is posted by people you didn’t want to hear from, and they did not post it with you as the intended audience. So, if it wasn’t for you, why not cut it out?

If you are worried about people being offended that you didn’t notice whatever they posted, you could even make an announcement: 

“I have decided to Unfollow everyone except my mom, Eric, and cat memes. I don’t want to see anything not intended specifically for me randomly or by chance anymore. If you’d like me to see something you are sharing on Facebook, you will have to share it with me specifically, otherwise I won’t be able to see it.”

I’m currently trying this out, and I’ve been really surprised by the results. I think the impact might be larger than you think. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes for you.

(Was there anything useful in this? If so, please share it. If you want to make sure you catch every blog the moment it comes out, send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848 and you will get a link every Sunday to the latest post — and that’s it.)

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