My Deepest Darkest Secret
There’s one important fact that I’ve learned about shame.
And that is, shame when exposed to the light disappears. Almost instantly, like vampires in the sun. I’ve seen it happen with my one-on-one clients, in the sacred spaces of retreats and events, and in men’s groups that I’ve facilitated or been a part of.
Poof! Just like that.
By sharing the piece of us that we are most afraid to share, we find out that wasn’t really that scary after all. And most of the time, we aren’t the only one hiding that secret. In fact, most of the time half of the room is right there with you.
I’ve done a lot of scary stuff while running this little corner of the Internet. Olympic skeleton tryouts, a spontaneous marathon, and an in-depth analysis of the results of taking two months off of booze, sex, and masturbation.
For some reason though, this one felt the hardest to write. Because I felt completely out of control and I really didn’t know if I was going to pull out of it.
So my deepest darkest secret that I’ve been hiding (for most of my life) is…
I’m terrified of running out of money.
Which is funny, because I’m not really not that afraid of dying anymore. So running out of money is actually HIGHER on my scale of fear than dying. Bizarre right?
It makes sense though considering my beliefs.
I grew up in a family where we never had enough money. Even when I was young I knew that “things were always tight” and that my parents were transferring debt from one credit card to another. I knew the importance of a 0% APR credit card way earlier than I would have liked to.
The funny thing though, we weren’t poor.
I never went hungry, I always had a roof over my head, and I essentially got whatever I wanted when I was younger. Nintendo games, the sneakers I wanted, new clothes. We went out to eat relatively regularly too.
But there was “never enough money.” I heard my parents say it all the time, so that became my truth.
On top of that, I grew up in a God-fearing household where I learned from the Bible that I should “store up treasures in heaven, instead of on Earth” and that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
So making a lot money wasn’t only discouraged in my religion, it was downright looked down upon.
When I graduated college I went out into the real world with all of these fears and beliefs about money. So do you know what I did?
I made sure that I always made more money than I spent.
And I’ve been doing that for the past ten years straight.
Even when I was making $27,000 a year out of college renting cars for 50 hours a week at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, I always managed to make more than I spent. I just lived below my means.
This model continued working well when I was working my post-MBA corporate job. And it’s been working well as I’ve built my coaching practice this year.
Then I announced this little event called The Conference For Men.
And I entered into the darkest two months of my life.
Since announcing the conference at the end of September, I’ve been weighed down by the question: “What if no one comes to my conference?”
And this fear has been consuming everything that I do. And I mean everything.
It’s hard to describe the feeling, but it’s a little like a constant tightness in my chest and shoulders. My body has been way less springy and stretchy. And my heart has been hurting… all the time.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping because all I can think about is how no one is going to show up and I’m going to be out tens of thousands of dollars.
I considered canceling it several times. Two weeks ago I vented all over my core team telling them the stress was too much to bear.
One night last week as I was laying in bed with my thoughts racing in my head, I felt like I was having a heart attack. My chest was so tight from the anxiety of throwing this conference, that I started to have actual physical symptoms. Add “anxiety attack” to the list of experiences that I thought I’d never have.
I’ve been meeting with dozens of friends and mentors in person, over the phone, and on Skype in what I thought was “getting their input on the conference.” But really I was just complaining and venting all over them and taking on their fears as well.
I wrote no less than a dozen “I’m going to fucking kill someone and/or myself” emails to my closest friends. When I say dark, I mean really dark. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I was legitimately worried about my life.
I cried myself to sleep multiple times. Once was less than two weeks ago.
And a piece of me just wanted to pack everything up and hide. Shut down my website, turn off Facebook for a couple months and hit the road again. An ashram or monastery sounded like a great place to get away from it all. Eat, Pray, Meditate.
But sometime last week, things started to shift.
With the help of Laura, I’ve been getting back to my self-care practices like my life depends on it. Because it does.
Working out even when it’s below freezing here in New York. Going for walks in the morning. Meditating first thing in the morning. Dancing. Drinking tons of water. Doing things that energize me and saying no to everything else. And moving my body as much as possible.
And through the help of an army of supporters, I’ve been chipping away at this mountain of fear standing in front of me. You all know who you are, so thank you so much. I Love You friends.
We talked all about money and debt and bankruptcy and all the scary stuff behind money that no one talks about.
Kate admitted that when she was coaching, she felt a little like an impostor since she was $20,000 in debt at one point and she was coaching people on money. Ali shared that she was $500,000 in debt at one point and that she filed for bankruptcy. Jonathan and I shared our own fears and hangups around money.
We talked about the difference behind creator debt and consumer debt. We talked about how “all debt is bad” is a dangerous limiting belief for an entrepreneur.
And then towards the end of our conversation, Ali said something that took the weight off that I’ve been carrying around for the past two months.
“Whatever you’re most afraid of… do that. Whatever it is. For me, it was running out of money. So I needed to run out of money. Or come as close as I could to running out of money. Because that’s what I was most afraid of.”
And in that moment, I thought… “What if I DID run out of money?”
I really, really sat with it. I imagined my bank accounts going to zero. I imagined having to tell the world that I ran out of money. I imagined all of it.
And then I let go of it.
Today when I woke up I felt light and bright again. Because I know that the worst care scenario isn’t really all that bad.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to work my ass off getting 300 men to San Diego for a weekend experience that will send ripples through the world. I know that I have a good deal of work ahead of me.
But now Fear isn’t driving the bus anymore. Love is.
I could have quit last week when I really wanted to. But that wouldn’t be playing to my edge. I would go back to my comfortable schedule coaching a handful of amazing clients, socializing, dancing, reading, and traveling. It would certainly be the easier route. But a piece of me would feel like I cheated the world.
Because I would know that there were gifts that I didn’t give.
And I want to die empty. I want to give this life my all.
And honestly, this business isn’t about me anymore. It’s not about traveling all over the world, doing stuff that scares me, or writing books about how awesome my life is. I can really care less about any of that stuff anymore.
No, it’s about service.
It’s about serving men. And giving them access to the right people, resources, conversations, and communities to support them in their growth.
And right now the best way for me to serve is to flawlessly execute on this conference and bring together 300 men for a weekend of deeper connection. Deeper connection with women, deeper connection with other men, and deeper connection with themselves.
So yeah, that’s my deepest darkest secret.
I was terrified of running out money.
So much that I cried myself to sleep multiple times. So much that I was thinking some of the craziest, darkest thoughts of my life. So much that I wanted to call it quits and run away. So much that I was worried I was never going to crawl back out from this downward spiral. So much that it was literally killing me.
But now I’m better.
And I write this only because I know I’m probably not the only one with these thoughts. And hopefully something in here will inspire you to act in the face of fear.
Because if someone says they’re fearless, they are lying. No, what they are really saying is, “I am afraid, but I’m going to get it done anyway.”
And that’s what I intend to do. Because I really, really, really care.
Now excuse me, I have work to do.
PS – If you’ve ever had money fears or you still do, then watch this episode of The Raw Truth. It’s a good one.
PPS – Buy your ticket to The Conference For Men today. And yes, I’m going to keep inviting you.