If there’s one key lesson I’ve learned from jiu-jitsu, it’s this:
There is always a way out.
Jiu-jitsu has been great for me, both physically and mentally.
It has taught me that there is always a solution to a problem. You just have to find it.
No matter how big or strong your opponent may be, with just the slightest maneuver of your hip, push of your knee, or movement of your hands to a different position, you can find a way out.
This metaphor holds true to business and life.
No matter what you’re dealing with right now, you can get out of a bad situation.
I know this because I’ve been in plenty of bad situations.
What Goes Up Also Goes Down
When I first started my business with my wife, it grew quickly. However, the income wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, so we ended up partnering with a web design firm.
This partnership worked great. For several years, we generated income by developing content for the websites they created in the legal industry.
However, that same web design firm figured out our formula and process. They brought it in-house.
Suddenly, we had to start from scratch.
Luckily, we had built up a good name in our industry. However, we were no longer the only company out there doing what what we had been doing.
In fact, around this time one of our colleagues in the industry told me my company wouldn’t have a future unless we partnered with an SEO firm.
“You’re not going to survive on content alone,” my friend told me. “There’s no way you can do this.”
That hit me hard.
It broke me down. I won’t say I fell into depression, but I definitely wasn’t myself.
It felt like failure. It bothered me.
For a period of time, work consumed me.
I wasn’t coming home and devoting the time to family I should have.
How do I tell my wife we screwed this up and we need to start over, I wondered.
But once I fully processed the information, I came to appreciate it – and it ended up being the kick in the ass I needed.
I was nowhere near ready to quit.
I’ve always been a spiritual person, so I gave myself to the Lord and asked for help. While I knew that alone wasn’t going to change things, many times just putting something out into the universe has helped me later on.
But I know I always have to take action. I can’t just wait and hope for good things to happen.
Here are 10 things that helped me – and are still helping me to this day.
1. I Add Positive Habits to My Daily Life
I don’t want negative habits to have a chance of taking root in my life.
That’s why I try to add small things to my daily routines so that they become good, positive habits.
For instance, every day when I wake up I make sure to have a 32 ounce glass of water. I also take time to kneel and meditate or pray every day.
Then, I spend time with my family. I won’t even pick up my phone to check my email until after that time is over.
We make choices every day. Making the same choice enough times eventually makes it a habit.
That’s why I choose to wake up every day and be thankful.
2. I Always Keep Myself Informed
I read every day.
I want to stay on top of the latest developments in SEO and marketing, the legal industry, and the business world.
But I also read to educate and grow my internal self and become a better person – because there is much more to life than just business and hustling 24/7.
3. I Am Passionate About My Business
I had to look inside myself during the trying times to find out how passionate I was about my business.
My general rule is this:
- If my business is hurting me more than it’s helping me grow, then it’s time to move on.
- If my business is benefiting me more than it’s hurting me, then it’s time to figure out a way to keep it going without negatively impacting my health (mental and/or physical).
One thing I want to make clear: I’m not advising anyone to be stubborn for the sake of it or fight an unwinnable battle. I know that not every struggling business can be saved.
So if you’re struggling, perhaps you can figure out which of the two bullet points above sounds most like you right now.
4. I’ve Found Something I’m Passionate About Outside Business
It’s important to find something you’re passionate about outside of the world you’ve built for yourself.
I want something that brings me happiness and also challenges me.
For me, that’s jiu-jitsu.
Lately, I’ve had to deprioritize doing it, because my business is in a growth phase and I don’t have 90 minutes to devote to it every day. I would feel selfish.
My sensei keeps texting me, asking when I’m going to come back. And I truly appreciate that. He has even promised that he’ll keep bothering me until I tell him not to. (I won’t be telling him that any time soon!)
5. I’ve Pulled Away from Social Media
I don’t think it’s wrong for people to share negative things on social media. But for me, sometimes it’s just too much. All that negativity and fighting can be so time consuming.
When I do use social media, I choose to only post good things.
My overall approach now to social media is more of a scroll and jump than a deep dive.
It’s also good for business. I can stay top of mind with colleagues and clients.
Rather than spending too much time on Facebook, I choose to devote that time to being more productive.
6. I Work on Myself Every Day
I need to workout.
Every single day.
For 30 minutes of every day, this is how I work on myself.
This is what helps me be able to fight my struggles and insecurities.
7. I Don’t Freak Out Over Every Setback
I’ve come to accept that some days I will lose a client. Or a contract won’t go through.
When I fail, I have gotten scared. But I have learned to nip that feeling in the bud.
I only am bothered by setbacks when I allow myself to be bothered from them. It is a choice.
If I lose a client, there was a reason. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because every time I lose one client, it’s not long before I find another client that is a perfect match for our business.
8. I Avoid Complacency
When things got bad, I think it was because I had gotten complacent.
I wasn’t changing things. I was just continuing to do the things that had worked, such as grinding out blog post after blog post.
In fact, I was even doing consulting and marketing work for other companies at the time – because I had to bring in extra money somehow. But this meant I wasn’t concentrating on my own business.
The solution: going back to my roots and getting comfortable with my business again.
The content game had changed, so we started creating smarter, more targeted content and integrating content with SEO and link building (as my friend had advised).
9. I Build Relationships
Attending conferences and exhibiting, though tough at times, pays off.
Traveling is hard. Being away from your family is tough. And the actual networking can be completely exhausting.
Plus, you must have your game face on at all times. On the outside, I’ve had to pretend that I was super successful, when deep down inside I knew I needed this dude or that dude’s business – but I had to win it without overselling or trying to compete too hard.
That’s why building relationships became a necessity – especially when I decided to turn my business around. All of these relationships were also potential clients.
I built and deepened relationships. I had great conversations with as many people as I could.
I never tried to sell, though. Eventually, they would inevitably ask what I did, I’d tell them, and they’d suggest we work together.
10. I Trust in My Process
To me, process is everything.
I need structure.
My wife says that I’m a creature of habit. And it’s true.
A process is what helps keep me structured. Without one, I can easily get anxious.
But I know that, even when things go wrong, a process is what will help me turn any negative thoughts into positive strength.
Nobody Really Knows the Battles You Fight
Business isn’t easy. Neither is life.
Like everybody else, I’ve had to overcome multiple challenges along my journey.
But rather than putting my focus on the bad things that happened yesterday, I choose to focus on all the opportunities I have in front of me. Today.
There’s a simple reason why, in every vehicle, the rearview mirror is so much smaller than the windshield:
It’s because focusing on what’s ahead is far more important than focusing on what’s behind.