Business 04 April 2018
Failing is one constant in life that even the most successful of people face. In fact, I have spent the majority of my 20s failing. But there is a simple three step process to overcome it.
Around the end of 2010, I received an eviction notice. This was after I had stopped paying my electricity bill for six months straight. I was microwaving my burritos from 7-11 in the hallway of the apartment complex because my fridge didn’t work and there were no lights at home. At that time, I had called my mother. I told her that I was going to spend the rest of my life under a bridge and wished her a wonderful life. She called my grandmother and next thing you know, my grandmother had picked me up and told me that I needed to live with her. I didn’t really have any other choice, except for hunting for a new place to live under a bridge somewhere in Los Angeles, so I obliged.
While living with my grandmother, I felt hopeless. I just lost my home. Everything I tried working on failed. My former girlfriend didn’t want anything to do with me. Most my friends turned their backs on me. And I really didn’t have a plan on how to get ahead. So I spent my time playing video games and watching TV.
This didn’t last long though, because my grandmother was tired of me staying at home and doing nothing. She started yelling at me and told me that I needed to find a job. If you have ever had an Asian grandmother yell at you, it is by far one of the scariest things in the world. I felt obligated to find any job I could so she would stop yelling. Then there it was, my first interview for a position at a startup doing marketing from a listing on Craigslist.
I went to work there for over six months, and within the timeframe I had worked there, I earned a whopping $2,300. Not $2,300 a month, but $2,300. That’s less than $400 a month, well below minimum wage and the federal poverty line. But the good news is that I was able to keep my grandmother off my back.
I came to a realization that I couldn’t be a burden to my grandmother, let alone live this way anymore, so I made a decision to move back to Los Angeles. Luckily, my friend gave me the opportunity to live on his sofa for $100 a month, while my other friend lent me a few hundred dollars to survive for a bit. When I arrived, it took me a little over a month to find a job, thanks to my friend Deinis Matos who was staffing for an entry level position at American Honda. But after being there for two years, I hadn’t seen a single raise.
By this time, I was able to live on my own while taking public transportation for an hour and a half to work and an hour and a half, sometimes two hours to get home. But taxes had increased $80 a month and I could no longer afford to eat the $1.60 quesadilla lunch I would buy from my work cafeteria.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, let alone hungry after not being able to afford to eat lunch any longer. So I decided to put my all into three things: finding a new job, going back to school and writing.
Finding a new job went nowhere. Going back to school was a long game. But my writing took off because I kept at it every single day. It was read 2 million times within six months and 10 million times 1.5 years in. Now, I’m recognized as a leading expert in my field by various publications and media outlets.
When examining my entire life, I realized that there was a reason that I constantly failed. And that same reason I constantly failed was the same reason that others fail as well. It was because instead of letting our fears guide us, we either freeze up or run away from our fears. At first, I had difficulty figuring out what exactly it was that I was afraid of.
As I have grown older, more mature and in tune with who I am, I have come to find that fear isn’t something that we should run from. Instead, fear is something we should embrace and let guide us. When you are scared, it means that you are onto something great, something that would connect with others and propel you ahead.
After a long period of self-reflection, I discovered that my biggest fear in life was being hurt by others. Since I was scared of being hurt, I refused to be open, vulnerable, or willing to help others.
So how do you go out there and let your fears guide you? You follow this simple three-step process that I explain in my TEDx talk at UC Irvine:[thb_image image="19555" img_size="full"]
1. Recognize it.
In order to let your fears guide you, you first have to identify what it is you are scared of. Sometimes, this can be difficult because you have to go layers deep to discover what it is that you are truly afraid of. For myself, I am scared of a lot of things that involve talking with new people. Your fear can be derived from many things, whether it be speaking up in a meeting, reaching out to a prospective mentor, or the thought of how others would judge you if you decide to share something that you have experienced in your own life. You need to recognize exactly what it is that you are afraid of.
2. Face it.
Facing your fear is easier said than done. When you begin to face your fears, it may feel as if you are looking the devil straight in their eyes. Most people, what they end up doing is either freezing up or running away. If you’re anything like me, you will want to run away. But you can’t.
3. DSA it.
You can’t freeze up and you can’t run away. The reason for that is because you have to DSA it. To DSA it means you have to do something about it. For me, how I was able to DSA it was by writing my story of failure and broken dreams with the world. For you, it can be writing. It can be taking action and reaching out to a mentor. It could be asking your employer for a raise or even starting your own business. Whatever it is, you just have to DSA it.
If you want to stop failing and begin to become successful, I implore you to write down these three steps and to refer back to them each time you feel fear. Or even better, do something about what you fear right now. Because the only way to achieve success is to move past freezing up or running from your fears and to begin taking action.
Mid December with the holiday season on the horizon and having read too many pieces about social media addiction, I was ready for a break. Every time I reached for my phone, I had a Pavlovian instinct to click on the Instagram icon and that's when I knew it was time.