Live, Learn and Let Go
Mark is a coach, speaker and Ironman tri-athlete who uses his experience with crises to educate business leaders around the world. He has won Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. You can reach Mark at[email protected]
Several years ago, I was building my business and starting to see my first flush of success. We were comfortably profitable, excited about our potential and heading for big things. Unfortunately, life threw me a few curveballs that threatened everything I had worked hard to cultivate. Here is what happened, and how I learned to simply live, learn and let go.
Mutiny at Work
My business partner and best man in my wedding, who I had hired when he desperately needed a job, quit our company to open a competing business two blocks away. Worst of all, he took 80 percent of our employees, leaving me with a shell of a business, empty offices, a marketing campaign I couldn’t support, huge financial losses and a family rift that would never heal.
Faced with the decision to fold or fight, I chose to fight. That decision, coupled with what I learned in the rebuilding process, taught me a lot about myself and how to survive a business catastrophe. The first thing I learned was that the sun will come up tomorrow. No matter how bleak things seem, life goes on. It’s what you choose to do about your circumstances that define the outcome. The second thing I learned was to trust my instincts. There were some red flags early on, but I never listened to myself. After all, he was my best friend, and best friends don’t betray you, right? Wrong. Business is business.
The third thing I learned was the importance of communication in the face of crisis. Communication with my remaining employees and in my key relationships was instrumental in the recovery of my company. When I created a plan to get us back on top, I made sure everyone knew what it was. I asked my advisors to question the assumptions in my plan to make sure it was airtight. I also made sure every employee knew where we were going and what we needed to do. Soon, the phones were ringing, the offices were full and business was moving forward again.
A Family Affair
I had fixed my struggling business. We were back on track, and we were stronger and more successful than ever. I shouldn’t have been surprised when life threw me another major setback. This time around, though, it was a personal catastrophe, and it hit hard. Our four-year-old son, Mason, was complaining of headaches. My wife and I thought it was visionrelated, so we had him tested. What we learned changed our lives forever.
Mason was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required emergency surgery. We were suddenly plunged into an unfamiliar world, and we felt far outside our comfort zone. What helped us win this battle? EO’s Member Exchange. I used this tool to its fullest extent, and within hours, I was in contact with members and doctors who could help us with the vital decisions that had to be made.
With their support, we were able to face the problem head on. I’m happy to say that Mason’s brain surgery was successful, and now he is happy and healthy as ever. Facing the Future While the business crisis was crushing, Mason’s health risk was what really put life in perspective for me. Since his recovery, I have sold my business and not looked back. Today, I spend my time engaged in activities that are deeply meaningful to me: spending time with my family, advocating for children’s fundraisers and speaking about my experiences around the world.
Having dealt with traumatic events on the personal and professional front, I’ve learned it’s best to live, learn and let go. Doing so will ensure you maintain a healthy and productive life. There will always be surprises, but it’s how you learn from the experience, accept it for what it is and apply it down the line that makes all the difference. Now, in everything I do, I have fun and strive to make a difference. That is the greatest form of success.