This week I heard about Michael Novogratz on the Tim Ferriss podcast. He used to be a partner at Goldman Sachs before he left in disgrace. He went on to be president and partner at Fortress Investment Group some years later. He, like all of us, has had his rock bottoms. Job loss, rehab and more.
In a commencement speech he said, “As I have gotten older, I have realized that we have two missions on this earth: to know thyself — or as my wife would say, to sort our sh*t out — and to walk each other home. Most people I have met don’t start this journey until they have really screwed up. They’ve lost a job, ruined a marriage, abused drugs or alcohol, destroyed friendships, or just can’t get out of bed. I started my journey at 33 when I had done most of the above. I was a rising star at Goldman Sachs, I was a partner, a president, a respected man in the Wall Street community — and then I wasn’t. Right after I resigned from Goldman, I literally thought my life was over. I had ruined it.”
A lawyer he worked with at that time talked to him about his embarrassment and anxiety. The lawyer advised him to make a list of the people who would be at his funeral when he was 80. He said those are the people whose opinions he should care about. This idea was freeing for Michael and allowed him to start his climb back up the mountain.
As Marcus Aurelius wrote, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
We must remember that our own opinion is paramount. Do we feel our ladder towards success is leaning against the right wall? Are we living our life according to someone else’s idea of happiness? Are we doing something that makes us jump out of bed in the morning? Are we struggling just to make it through the day?
As Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling said while writing her book in coffee shops with her baby in tow as there was no heat in her apartment, “I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Author Mandy Hale said, “Sometimes it takes losing everything you thought you needed to gain everything you ever wanted.”
Twelve American presidents lost their fathers when they were young. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. This is a heartbreaking tragedy, but psychologists wonder whether this loss allowed them to see that they could make it through anything which in turn led to their success.
We all have our rock bottoms. And we all have it in us to rise again. Don’t believe everything you think. Re-write your story and never give up.