Man up. Put on a brave face. Just get on with it. We’ve all heard these phrases, but 2020 has been a real schooling in the damage they can do.
I’m no stranger to having to pick myself up and dust myself off. In 2019 I severely damaged my knee playing in goal for my local football team. But we were three matches away from winning the triple, so I played on, resulting in severe damage to my knee – although we did win all three trophies!
This time it felt more personal. It wasn’t a sporting injury that knocked me off my feet. It was four months of furlough followed by redundancy. And that took so many things from me that are critical to my identity.
So, I did the only thing I thought was viable, I started out on my own. I registered my new marketing company and set about winning work. Our first big contract was for betting company PaddyPower. Not bad for a start-up eh?
But here’s the tough bit. It’s not about the hustle. It’s not about how good you are at selling yourself. It’s not even about the brilliant ideas. Whether you win or lose in this current economy is about how many times you can go down, and then get back up again.
Four months on and I’ve learned:
- Asking for help isn’t weak, it’s actually the strongest thing you can do.
- There’s no shame in struggling with your mental health. We need to reject the idea that real men don’t cry, or that it’s weak to show emotion.
- People want to help. Talk to as many of your trusted network as possible. Think of yourself as a farmer, you’re sowing seeds and it might take some time before the harvest is ready.
- There are good days and bad days. It’s okay to have the odd day when you feel the only thing you can do is spend the day on the sofa watching Netflix! But if that continues and it becomes the only thing you can cope with doing, it’s time to ask for some proper help.
- Everyone has their own definition of success. It’s not about comparing yourself to others and deciding who wins, it’s about choosing your own success factors and focusing on those.
For me, long-term success is being able to provide for my mum who has spent all my life making sacrifices to provide for me. I want her to never have to worry about money, and I’ll do anything to turn that into reality. In the short-term it’s about paying the bills and building a team of trusted associates to work with me.
I’ll look back on 2020 as a defining year. One that taught me I had deeper reserves than I thought possible, that showed me who is really in my corner, and that opened up a million possibilities. I just need to keep getting back up again while I chase after them.