I don't know about you, but I'm over it.
All of it. This administration. Racism. The rhetoric. The divisiveness. The hypersensitivity. The fingerpointing. All of it. Especially on this platform. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree that people suck, businesses suck, COVID sucks, and black liquorice is nasty. Yes, racial bias, gender inequality, apathy in business have created working environments that don't reflect the overall intention of BUSINESS and its constituents. Zoom calls are annoying. People really need to use backgrounds to hide their lack of interior design talent. Karens need to just put the mask on...if only to amuse us. And absolutely everyone on the planet should watch "The Social Dilemma," so that we can collectively agree we're kinda f*cked.
Diatribe over. For now.
Given the concentration of suck we're all swimming laps in right now, I can't help but wonder what others are doing to simply find the muscle coordination to smile. As a card-carrying idealist, I'm always looking for silver linings and opportunities for wins in the pile of twisted metal. Hell, I bought a company and re-launched another during the worst part of this pandemic just because it felt like I had no other choice. And I'm glad I did because it's allowed me to focus on something new, scary, and unfamiliar, figure out ways to make it viable, and nurture, morph, and re-imagine it in real-time with hopes that people will understand what I'm trying to do, love it, and plunk down their hard-earned cash without a single reservation.
The reality is we are only now seeing many of the issues plaguing this country (USA) for centuries. And, unfortunately, it's coming at a time when a global pandemic has sent us all into time out. It's devastated global economies. It's unearthed people's lack of self-awareness and coping mechanisms. It's emboldened those who never had a voice to shout from the rooftops, who really shouldn't. It's created a level of anxiety so high that every move we make has a calculation attached to it. This isn't living. Like, really living.
But let me say this and I really want you to get it:
The only person living your life is you.
For the past 6 months, we've been dictated to. Everyone has had an opinion about how you should do this, or how you should feel about that, or why you're this because you said this, or why you're part of the problem because you're not doing that. Keep in mind, many of these people are Wizards of Oz. Many have no f*cking clue what they're talking about. Many haven't lived long enough to sprout a pube, yet are claiming expertise and forcing their agendas down our throats. And I actually don't blame them. They've made a conscious decision to do SOMETHING and are doubling down on what they believe is right or what could potentially help them reach their goals the fastest. And therein lies a lesson I believe we can all gain from.
Social media has made us all complete wusses. We watch a story and immediately assume it's true because, well, it's on the socials. How many of you are guilty of commenting on something like a celebrity death or an "unbelievable story" only to have your friends remind you that celebrity died, like, a decade ago or that story was satirically published by "The Onion." Taking things at face value is a default we must extricate ourselves from if we hope to survive as a society. But that still begins with you.
Many of you know I'm planning to leave the United States. Yes, it's partially due to my newfound "wokeness" and developing a deep understanding of the underlying political, socio-economic, judicial, and punitive constructs rooted in racism in the US that will never allow me true, unequivocal equality in this nation. Sure, I have tons of opportunity to make money, buy nice things, work hard, and essentially the same access as others. But when you peel back the layers, I will always be seen as lesser than simply because of the color of my skin. My wise business mentor reminded me that my diatribes of late aren't necessarily valid in other parts of the world and that the US is a "special case." Sure forms of racism exist everywhere, but to a lesser degree around the globe. So I'm grabbing my mama and a few valuables and we're heading to Portugal. That's a conscious choice. That's me taking personal responsibility for my and my mother's safety and peace-of-mind at a time when civility is on the decline.
You alone can't fix racism. You alone won't fix sexism. You alone can't fix government. However, you alone can figure yourself out and take the actions necessary to set your life up in a way that it perfectly represents WHO you are. If your actions, speech, and the way you live your life aren't steeped in self-awareness and self-actualization then you, by definition, are a fraud. And trust me, the socials are filled with them. In fact, many of them are your "friends."
Personal accountability is a process now. It used to be a default but is no longer. Social media has created an environment for people to hide behind emojis, "whack"cronyms, and faceless profiles to say or be anything they choose. Companies have largely created the same environments by stripping employees of their voice and uniqueness in favor of manufactured, homogenized culture via the lure of the sweetest perks in history. And it kinda worked...until COVID.
Having an informed, confident point of view is pretty much the sexiest thing on earth right now. Having a strong sense of self. Being able to debate intelligently without devolving into emotional hubris. Analyzing your situation and boldly making the changes that align with your ethos. Perfoming to a standard you set for yourself and disregarding what others set for you. Those are the cornerstones of living a great life during these times. Not getting into senseless debates with people who are clearly not self-aware. Not accepting the general norm and staying somewhere you know doesn't align with your personal ethos. Not jumping on bandwagons headed in the opposite direction of what you believe and where you're going.
It starts and ends with you. No one else. Sure, others can influence. But every decision you make in your life has one person at the helm who ultimately pulls the trigger. Breathing is a physical choice you make every couple of seconds. Let that sink in. And never let me hear another living person on this earth say they have no power.
As I mentioned before, starting two businesses during COVID has been my saving grace. I'm the worst bored person on the planet. I eat whole Family Size bags of chips. I drink way more than the daily recommended allowance of champagne. I stare at my socials non-stop for hours secretly wanting to create a troll account just so I can call stupid people stupid publicly but without the retribution. Basically, I'm just like many of you. Where we may differ, however, is in self-awareness. I know with perfect clarity what my triggers are. I know when I'm going down a rabbit hole and can extract myself in a blink. I know how to redirect my focus and can throw myself headlong into something that produces some real ROI vs. wasting my time on something that robs me of precious moments of my life.
For those of you struggling, I offer this piece of advice...I just read it today and it prompted this article.
Create a goal so big and uncomfortable that it forces you to become the next version of yourself to reach it.
That's some heavy shit right there. And it's exactly what currently embarking on.
For the past 4 years, I have leveraged my almost 3 decades as a top C-suite Executive Assistant to build a brand. I have created a global community of some of the best EAs in the world who are now slaying the game in their roles and within the global EA community. Going from EA to business owner was me forcing myself into my next version. But, admittedly, I got bored. So I've now made the conscious decision to become a business mogul. My goal is to gross $1 million by the end of 2020 and $10 million by the end of 2021. Do I have a plan? Yes. Do I think I can do it? Yes. Will it suck? You bet. Because I'm still learning what it takes, all of the moving parts, all of the pitfalls, lack of a personal life, hours strategizing and re-strategizing, and aligning my intention with my actions. Not to mention all of the mentorship I'll need to seek out to do it wisely and in record time. But guess what? I've never been more excited about my life and more committed to reaching both of these goals, something I never really thought possible sitting in the desk right next to people who had done it my entire working career.
Co-opting this from my favourite millennials Yes Theory. Seek Discomfort. Throw yourself into situations that could potentially be a little ruinous. If you've read my book you already know I've cheated death twice, had a bankruptcy, had some gnarly breakups, but am still here and paying forward all of those lessons every day of my life. Discomfort only lasts for a finite amount of time. And isn't it funny...just when you thought your world was over eventually the sun came up and you were able to right your ship.
Discomfort creates resiliency. And resiliency is our most valuable life skill right now. Finding something to do or setting a goal that's completely uncomfortable and BIG subconsciously awakens a couple of critical psychosomatic responses: survival instinct and hope. Our survival instinct allows us to thrive in the face of discomfort. And hope allows us to believe in what could be even if the skies are filled with clouds.
It could be something as simple as having an uncomfortable conversation. It could be setting the goal of making $10 million and putting the plan into action. The vehicle doesn't matter. The journey is what matters most. So really audit your "3-year plan." And I'd suggest kicking it up 10x and making it uncomfortably big. Plan it down to the last detail and force yourself onto the treadmill. Sure, it will suck. Sure, you'll want to quit. But you'll also realize that you're finding a whole new level of focus, a whole new clarity, and a level of confidence you never knew existed, especially as the wins start to accumulate.
The lessons you learn in the suck allow you to cherry-pick the best-of and replicate it in the future. Ever wonder how entrepreneurs become serial entrepreneurs? It's because they've mastered the suck. They've mastered their very human emotions and fight-or-flight responses and allowed themselves the hope that "this just might work." And they've made it happen. Kinda poorly the first time. But better and better the next. You are no different. Where you may differ is you've never actually submerged yourself into the discomfort enough to usurp any of the lessons. Look at it this way. If you can spend hours and hours doing something you love or at least garners your undivided attention, why not turn that into something that makes you money or improves your or someone else's life in some conspicuous way? There are examples everywhere of people who have done exactly that. So what's stopping you? YOU. That's whom.
This is imperative! Especially now. There is so much distraction and so many opportunities to let excuses throw you off track. Finding someone who will kick your ass or at least hold you accountable and not-so-gently nudge you along is recipe for success. Like I always say: Get in the room with people who are smarter than you, more successful than you, hungrier than you, and more resourceful (connected) than you and so shall you be. Accountability works the same way. Being in a room with someone who is just as focused on a goal or who has already achieved it and can provide the right type of support will, in turn, help you achieve it as well.
I no longer believe in the whole coaching paradigm. I think it's been diluted by hacks and people who are overplaying their hand. Real coaches provide accountability. I believe people inherently know what they need to do. If they don't they educate themselves. Once they know their goals they simply need someone to keep them on track and offer a bit of their expertise based on real experience. Not a bunch of coaching...which is worthless if the goal isn't clear and a plan to get there isn't defined and adhered to. Accountability. Get into it.
Switch it up. I can't say that anymore clearly. Switch it up, BIG TIME. It's time to shake up your norm so hard that you surprise yourself. If you're struggling or just surviving you owe yourself a new version of yourself. Find a couple of friends also treading through the suck and hold one another accountable to some crazy dreams. I can't think of a better story to write than 4 friends getting together, matching up complementary skills, and starting a project that turns into a business that turns into a behemoth...when each of them had lost their jobs or were considering bankruptcy or had just been divorced. Don't fall victim to the numerous narratives from people who aren't living your life. Live your f*ckin' life! Like, really live it. Challenge yourself to be better. Get to know (or rediscover) what makes you tick. Get comfortable being uncomfortable knowing it will only be uncomfortable for a while. And find the accountability you need to stay on track and loop in others who are just as passionate as you are and provide some accountability of your own to their dreams.
It's time to be personally accountable for everything you do. And that starts with self-awareness, self-conviction, and self-actualization. Not excuses. Not conformity. Not tacitly accepting what is without vetting it for truth. It's bullshit. Call it out and banish it from your life.
We're in a world of suck. Got it. Now, do something about it.
See you at the top. I'll bring champagne.
Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.