I want to take a moment and share a personal story. I recall when I sold my last company, PacificHost.
I can still remember that moment vividly. There I was in the boardroom of the company getting ready to acquire everything I had worked so hard to build over the past few years. It was full of their company directors and executive staff and I was intimidated by all these people here to buy something I had created only a few years prior.
They put the final acquisition papers on the table and I signed them along with a big applause after I signed the last one. The lawyer was on the phone with the bank and authorized them to send the money to my account. Then the CEO walked in, shook my hand, and asked me how it felt. I answered something along the lines of “It feels good, thank you!” In my head though, I wasn’t thinking about how good it felt; I was thinking about all the work that lay ahead of me, of having to spend the next two days wasting my time giving them all the technical info they needed to take over the operations.
Looking back at that those few days, I can oddly remember what I was thinking, but not what I felt. I was day-dreaming about everything I was going to buy later on that I thought would give me happiness. My awareness was solely focused on what I will do to be happy in the future without considering the idea that I could be happy in that very moment.
At the time, the act of selling was the functional equivalent of checking off a task, but in fact, it meant so much more. It gave me the freedom to explore my interests, to ask myself existential questions, like “what am I here to do?” It gave me the confidence to step outside my shell and pick up new skills like photography, aviation, and scuba diving. It gave me the time to explore my interests and discover who “Cody” really is, not the Cody who only ever thought about his company. The experience gave me a glimpse at understanding what it means to live a happy, productive, and meaningful life.
One thing I learned a year later was the importance of celebrating wins because we’re seemingly programmed as a species to focus more on the negative than the positive. Looking back at when I was building that company, I never once told myself “good job” for getting my 100th customer, or when I started to make enough money to pay my rent or afford my own car, because those were just things on the way to what I really desired. What I realized then was that every achievement was once a desire, but we don’t celebrate the wins we do have because by then, we already have new desires that replaced them.
I remember when I read about the importance of celebrating wins. One suggestion was to use a Gratitude jar where you write down a sticky note of something positive and stick it in the jar. The idea is to train your brain to celebrate the small wins, and sometimes even the big wins.
Last week, my company became an Inc 5,000 company and earned a top rank of #86
. It’s a bucket list item that every entrepreneur has and it’s definitely one of those wins worth celebrating. The thing is though, everybody asks me how it feels and I say “It feels good, thank you!
” but inside, it doesn’t feel like much.
For the past week, I’ve had a task in my Todo program to remind myself to spend a few moments thinking about how much of a win it really is. 10 years ago I thought this is one of those achievements that exceeded every amount of technical ability, talent, or intelligence I had.
When I think about what it means to get on the list, let alone make it in the top 100, I remember all the people who told me I wouldn’t be successful along with all the shame and self-loathing in feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Just last week I had an entrepreneur friend tell me he never even applied for the Inc. 5,000 because he’s ashamed of his $1m+ business.
I want to remind you that every successful person in history, every visionary inventor, tycoon billionaire, or really every person on earth, have all felt the same shame and self-loathing that we all feel from time to time. The difference between the “Haves” and the “Have nots” is not just garnering the most grit and discipline to find success in life. It’s always taking the time to celebrate the small wins, develop the confidence to look back with pride, and remember every win they’ve ever had and every challenge they conquered to become the person they are. Really, that is where all of the grit and confidence comes from.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you to shoot for the moon or any of that bull-shit. I’m going to let you make a choice as to which person you want to become. Right now, at this very moment, as you read this text, I want you to think about a win that you had this year, this month, or hell, maybe even today. Think about it for a few seconds, then think about all the shit you had to get through in life to become the person you are in this very moment. Let that serve as your source for motivation, courage, and the confidence that you are way more capable than you give yourself credit for. Now harness those feelings and ask yourself, who will I become?
🍺 to a great week ahead!