As I approached the bench to sit down across from my boss, I couldn’t tell if what I was feeling was the full-body-sweat-inducing Nashville humidity or the thick tension in the air from the news I was about to receive.
Maybe it was his anxious posture or the cryptic email that led to our meeting outside on a particularly hot May afternoon, but I couldn’t escape the sense I was about to get fired.
My monkey brain started racing with questions…
What would my co-workers think?
How could I tell my wife that I had failed our family?
How long could I put off moving into my in-laws’ basement?
But I didn’t get fired — I got demoted.
He said I was a great fit for the company, but I couldn’t measure up to the role I’d worked toward my whole career.
All I heard my boss say, however, was that I didn’t have what it takes. And those words would not stop ringing in my ears.
To me this was much worse than getting fired. If I’d been fired I could blame them for being out of a job. Instead, it was up to me to make the decision to leave, and it was one of the hardest of my life.
Thankfully, it was also one of my best decisions.
Fast forward to today and I’ve built a profitable digital agency, growing from zero to over six-figures in its first year in an industry where most agencies never make it off the ground.
More than that, I’ve helped people solve real problems in their businesses and make a bigger impact on the world.
And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved with Inigo in such a short time, that’s not actually how I measure success.
It took me a while to see it, but my boss was right when he said I didn’t have what it takes:
I was self-absorbed.
I was afraid to ask for help.
I had a victim mentality.
I avoided commitment and responsibility.
I worked from a place of scarcity, not abundance.
I wasn’t grateful.
Leaving my job was the best choice not because of what it led me to do, but because of who it led me to become.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from becoming an entrepreneur, it’s that your business is a direct reflection of who you are. So, if you want to grow your business you have to first grow yourself.
Removing the safety net of a bi-weekly paycheck forced me to start confronting all the unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors that had always felt way too uncomfortable to deal with before.
Over time I learned that success is simply an interpretation of an outcome. And interpretations come from who we are underneath the person we project ourselves to be.
Being successful is opening up, being vulnerable, and learning from the outcomes that don’t go the way you’d hoped.
Being successful is choosing every single day to be responsible for your life regardless of your circumstances.
Being successful is about who you are, not what you achieve.
I still have a long way to go on this journey, but one thing I know for sure is that I’m not the same person who sat down on that bench two years ago.
I call that success.