As a kid, I daydreamed about the person I would become at different points in my life. What would I be doing when I got out of college? Who am I going to marry and when? Where will I be living?
Because it’s my favorite number, I thought being 23 years old would be the pinnacle of life. I’d be out of college and on my own with the world in my pocket!
It was all a dream. At 23, I had no answers and some terribly wrong predictions. Note to self: Being 23 years old with no idea what I wanted to be or who I was kind of sucked (readers nod along). It took a decade of work for me to find my footing.
Positivity > Negativity
Which brings me to the blank canvas that BrightLights was in its ideation form in 2016: the daydreams of what BrightLight could do began anew. I envisioned successfully changing an industry. I saw the impact my services would have for athletes and entertainers, and the good that flowed from that. I pictured sitting down with Kendrick Lamar to talk about his money challenges, joining LeBron on a podcast to talk about the financial rollercoaster he’s been on and witnessed others ride. I saw change.
Seeing these goals was important, but it was impossible to know what the future would be for BrightLights.
While my visions conjured change, the start to BrightLights in 2017 was tackled by doubt and indecision as I stumbled over roadblocks of rejection. I felt the weight of trying to build a palace alone. I was prohibitively pessimistic and worried about failing, but buoyed by hope when I met prospects, partners, and connections. My exuberance and passion to educate and sell came alive in those meetings, but fear and doubt crept in when while I was alone, dwelling with my psyche, pessimism seeping in like a sponge. BrightLights’ first year was an up and down battle.
My second year of BrightLights was an awakening that began with a resolution to change. I am too negative. It’s affecting my business and my ability to succeed (and my life!). Help me, brain!
The solution to my negativity was pretty simple: Reprogram my brain. All actions come from a thought. All negativity comes from a thought. EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A THOUGHT. So start thinking positively and question your negativity constantly.
How did I start thinking positively? I began each morning by handwriting three specific things that I was grateful for and why. I did this every day and remembered these things throughout the day. Guess what? We have a limitless amount of things we should be grateful for. I also wrote down all of my thoughts each morning with no judgment or overthinking, I just let it out.
How did I confront my negativity? Well, it was a bit ridiculous. Whenever I had a negative thought about business or life, I closed my eyes. My negative thought became encased in a thought bubble, and out of nowhere, Chuck Norris (a la Walker, Texas Ranger) roundhouse kicked the shit out of that negative thought, exploding it into fragments of letters, floating into the abyss. Seriously. It felt great.
Another, maybe more professional, way that I worked through questioning negative thoughts (accompanied by my usual answers)?
- Is there substantial evidence for my thought? No, they were almost always based on fears that I had no substantive evidence would occur.
- Is there evidence contrary to my thought? Yes, I’m developed partnerships, had clients and helped them, made a ton of connections in the industry. There’s plenty of contrary evidence.
- Am I attempting to interpret this situation without all the evidence? Yes. Always.
- What would a friend think about this situation? He/she would look at the positive side of things and try to find solutions instead of sulking.
- If I look at this situation positively, how is it different? My company is succeeding, generating clients, changing an industry, helping the financial lives of many.
- Will this matter a year from now? How about five years from now? This will always matter to me, but regardless of how it all ends, the only thing I’d regret is if I didn’t give it everything I have, which means I have to be more positive.
I was getting wrapped up in all these negative thoughts, and there was NO substantive evidence for these negativities; in fact, there was MUCH more evidence to the contrary! It’s wild what our minds can do and amazing how we have to manipulate them to be more positive and clear headed.
A Coincidental Call?
While I was in the midst of reprogramming my brain, I got a call from one of my dad’s best friends, a guy who is the CEO of a very large private company. He’s likely a billionaire, but he still cares about the little guys like me. He loves that I’m an entrepreneur and calls often to check in on me.
This call, he asked me if I’d read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. I’d never heard of it. He tells me there is no other book he hears referenced more by extremely successful businessmen and women. He loves the book and references it constantly.
So I read it. And guess what it’s about? REPROGRAMMING YOUR BRAIN. Shutting out the negativity (the seven negative emotions: fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, and anger) and thinking positively (the seven positive emotions: desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance, and hope) while setting very specific goals (for example, I have a goal set for July 10, 2021), envisioning success, and having a belief and purpose in what you’re doing with a sincere faith it will succeed.
It all felt too coincidental that this book came to me at the same time I was teaching my brain the same things. But as they say, some things are meant to happen.
I recommend all to read “Think and Grow Rich,” but there is a caveat. I don’t think I would have liked this book in my 20s. I would have thought the message of the book was based too much on “thoughts” and not enough on hard evidence. With information all around me, I felt like I deserved concrete answers to my problems, and I’ve realized it’s not that simple. After going through the mental buzzsaw of solo entrepreneurship, I understand how important your everyday thoughts are to not only your job but your entire life.
Our psychological frailties, rationalizations, and shortcomings are obvious and addressable. Our biases and egos get in the way of our success and enjoyment of life. But we have the power to change, we really do. It’s ironic that all the change I wanted to make with BrightLights also had to involve a hell of a lot of change in me.
Is it a coincidence that a ton of great things have happened for BrightLights since my mindset changed? My network has exponentially grown, more revenue is coming in, more partnerships and media exposure has occurred, and there are so many things in the air right now. It feels good.
What was the point of me being so negative about my business in my first year? It only created lows in my life and made my job harder to do. It did not make me work harder, it made me more confused and less efficient. Battling each day with the weight of failure is heavy. Living each day with the hope and optimism that BrightLights will succeed is pretty cool.
Onwards and upwards. Year 3.