How to bounce back when you’ve been knocked down so many times
We’ve all taken a ride on the solo roller coaster, but how does one know when it’s time to call it quits? When does strapping yourself in for another ride move from sound self-belief to ill-fated insanity?
Have you ever wondered whether you should just go and get a day job? Quit and join the ant trail on the highway that drives to and from work every day?
I know I have.
In fact, I once sat opposite a friend of mine – a fellow soloist – and was so ‘done’ I could barely utter a broken sentence as I cried into my flat white.
“What should I do?” I asked. “Should I get a day job? Or should I back myself and start all over again. Can I even do that? Do I have it in me to bounce back?”
"Could I go another round? Did I even have it in me? Was there any fight left? I felt broken, shattered, spent."
When Mother Nature strikes
You see, like many entrepreneurial types before me, I already had several former startups under my belt plus a couple of network marketing businesses.
And while one of those endeavours had been highly successful, an inland tsunami had also washed it away. I had literally gone to work on January 10, 2011 with a high six-figure business, only for it to be gone by nightfall.
When the waters receded and the living buried their loved ones – 38 perished in the Toowoomba floods with another nine still missing – I picked myself up to start from scratch.
A disaster of a different kind
Two years later, I found myself back at square one.
This time, however, the disaster was not from Mother Nature; rather of human nature with the abrupt end of a 10-year marriage.
Instead of waking up one morning with an almost seven-figure business and going to bed that night with nothing, I would drop my daughter off at school from one address and take her home to another.
It was ‘canal front home with a 40-foot boat parked out front’ at breakfast, and ‘rented townhouse’ – not even in my name – in the afternoon.
During the six hours in between, I would make my bid for freedom hoping that my car – also no longer in my name – would not be reported as stolen so that I could be at school pick-up.
It was terrifying. Every sound seemed magnified and every stranger a potential threat. From a joint bank account I’d taken six weeks rent to provide a modest buffer.
At night, while my daughter slept I would lay awake wondering how I would pay my bills and how I would feed her. I had no family, no backup plan, no life line.
Sometimes the fears and tears took over.
Which grated on me.
Tapping my inner strength
As the daughter of a British Special Air Services officer, I’d been raised in challenging environments (like the Middle East) and taught to ‘show no signs of weakness’.
And while I didn’t follow my dad into the military, I had chased ‘bad guys’ as an investigative journalist, uncovering terrorist training camps, exposing paedophile priests and chasing axe murderers around golf courses. I’d received many death threats in the pursuit of a good story and in my down time, I dabbled with adrenalin sports like full contact amateur boxing, abseiling, rap jumping and kite surfing.
Bad ass right?
But this was different. Now I had a nine-year-old to feed and that was terrifying.
Back to that lunch with my friend.
I asked her to make the decision for me. Was it time to admit defeat or dig deeper than ever before and ‘face-up’ again.
“Are you kidding me?” she said. “Of course you have to go again. You have so much to offer.”
To be honest, it wasn’t really what I wanted to hear.
The thought of fighting on was exhausting and if I’m honest, what I was looking for was her permission to quit and get a day job.
But then I thought about what my days as a salaried employee would look like: me exhausted, stressed and short-tempered because my daughter would have been in before and after school care; with fixed hours and fixed income.
So, I made the decision to ‘go again.’
I started with the end in mind
As a single mother, the end goal had always been the freedom of an online business to work wherever and whenever – swimming carnival sidelines and school holidays.
I knew one formula for doing this was:
- Build a proven physical product
- Build a strong personal profile to sit alongside that product
- Use those things as a springboard to go fully online.
So, that’s what I did.
Within the first 12 months I’d built a six-figure income for myself and my daughter and had expanded my service-based business into four cities.
In two-and-a-half years I delivered 90 workshops and over 100 keynote talks to various sized workshops and networking groups around Australia, testing and perfecting my craft and building profile. I was anywhere and everywhere.
Then, in March of this year, while sitting on a yet another plane to yet another city, exhausted from my grueling schedule, I realised it was time to make the final pivot.
The physical product had been tested and proven.
My profile was solid.
It was time to cut the ‘safety net’ of live training and go fully online.
The result? This year – the third year since making that ‘go again’ decision – I launched a global product, with sales in four countries on three continents.
What helps you to bounce back when you’ve been knocked down?
I used to be an amateur boxer so I know just how many parallels there are between full contact boxing and soloism. In business and in boxing the person who comes out on top is not necessarily the most talented, but the one who fails to give up, despite fatigue, exhaustion or setbacks.
The soloist who fights harder and punches faster when others want to throw in the towel is the one most able to get up go another round because s/he knows victory is just on the other side of the bell.
How do you bounce back in the face of adversity?