Two years ago

It was the end of february two years ago, we’d just bought a new house, my sole client at the time (note to self: never have one of anything in business) had ditched me and outsourced my work to India, it was freezing cold, we were out of oil, so the house was cold, and I was all alone because the family had gone to Tenerife.

I was frustrated about my life and where I was at, so I sat down, newly completed coach training completed, and designed a process to help me discover what I should do with my life.

It’s a question that’s been on my mind for a very long time, and one that I rarely saw discussed in the web 2.0 circles I hung out in. I was very happy to see Po Bronson publish a book with that title, but it didn’t really offer much to help answer the question.

So I sat down and designed a process myself. Thought long and hard, read through all the books, and came up with a series of questions for me to answer.

Then I sat down and answered all those questions, and what was clear to me was this:

In almost all areas of my life - friends, family, my marriage, health, travels - I was doing great.

But in business I was struggling.

And in all the areas where I was succeeding, I wasn’t trying too hard. I acted out af faith, knowing that things would work out. I trusted my instincts and my gut. I didn’t stress over things. I found it easy to find out what I wanted and go after it.

But in business I felt like I had something to prove. I felt like I had to be a success in order to feel okay about myself. I was afraid that things would never get better, that I wasn’t doing the right thing. I was too afraid of not making it, not being a success, to risk anything.

And all of this - the strong desire to be a success - meant that I had no idea what I really wanted to do. What I want? Doesn’t matter so long as it’ll make me succesful, and will bring me the acceptance and recognition of others.

I have to admit, I’m not really over all of these things. I’m not sure they’ll ever go away. It’s part of who I am and how I was brought up - “programmed”, if you will - so much so that it might be unfixable. But that’s not as important as being aware that this is what’s going on.

What I’ve discovered is that there seems to be two “rooms” inside of me, that I can choose to step into.

One room is where I get stressed up about not having made it yet. I look at other folks who’ve really made it, and compare myself to them, and my heart starts pumping and I imagine all the things I’d have to do to get to where they are, and I feel sad and lonely. I feel like I’m behind, like I’m a terrible loser. I got nothin’. And let me tell you - it’s not a great place to be.

The other room is where I just say “Fuck it!”. Fuck it that I’m not there. Fuck it that they’re so great and I’m not. Who fucking cares? I’m here. I’m me. That’s the only thing that really is. Everything else is just ideas in my head. Thoughts that say things should be different. And that’s all they are. Thoughts. They’re not the truth, and they’re not helpful.

And you know what? The fact that I haven’t “made it” doesn’t mean I don’t have shit to contribute.

Oh, and by the way, there’s plenty of people who look up to me where I am today. In fact, me of two years ago would kill to be in the spot that I’m in today. That’s something else that’s interesting about how the human mind works - these voices that say “you shold be more X” don’t really have anything to do with the content, with the absolute level of X. Double your X, and you’ll hear the exact same voice in your head saying the exact same thing.

So there are two rooms. Two ways of looking at things. Two ways of being.

You could call the first room the room of the mind, and the second room the room of the heart. Or you could say the first one is rooted in fear, and the other one is rooted in love and faith - not in a religious sense, but just as in faith that things are going to work out.

And I’ve found that it’s a lot more fun to be in the room of love. And I’ve also found that I’m a lot more productive, happy, creative, inspired, fun, charming, energized, decisive, courageous, convincing, and powerful in the room of love.

So it doesn’t really matter whether or not the voices that say I should be more successful are speaking the truth or not. I mean, they’re not, but even if they were, they still wouldn’t be worth listening to, because when I do, I’m less capable of doing something about it! Funny, that, isn’t it?

So what I ended up saying to myself was: What if I did business and entrepreneurship from this place of love and faith, and ONLY from this place?

What if I said “fuck it” to the room of fear, and just stopped going there?

Okay, I actually don’t know how to NOT go to the room of fear - I wish I did, but I end up going there time and time again. So what I need to do instead is be able to spot pretty quickly when I’ve entered that room, and then leave it and go to that other room as quickly as possible.

So that’s what I’ve set out to do, and it’s been a lot better. It hasn’t been perfect, and I have to say the room of fear can be real sneaky. It’ll dress up as the room of love and trick you into going and staying there. It’s happened to me many times - sometimes even for weeks or months at a time, without me noticing.

But it’s still been my guiding post, and whenever I’ve managed to stay out of the room of fear and stick with the room of love, things have actually been pretty good. They’ve at least been a helluva lot more fun than they were, and even though I’m no Tony Hsieh or Steve Jobs just yet, I’m in a much much better position now than I were two years ago as I was sitting in that empty and unheated house with all the packed moving boxes all around me.

So think about what that means for you. How do you know your two rooms. And please share with me your own experiences of what it feels like and what happens when you’re in the room of fear vs the room of love.

1 comment

Mark Aufflick

Hey Lars, This is great. It's exactly what I struggle with too (as you know!) I also think of a phrase a pastor and friend of mine often says, "work from a place of rest". Mark.
Read more
Read less

Leave a comment