Hard Knocks, Faith, and Ficus Christmas Trees

|Hard Knocks, Faith, and Ficus Christmas Trees


There’s nothing worse in life than someone who stops growing. They finish their childhood education and remain stagnant like an old bucket of water. They drift through life and often perceive themselves as victims of their circumstances. Truly, it is a sad situation when people give up on their lives and dreams. On the other hand, there’s nothing I love more than seeing the underdog make it and win. The underdog is unassuming and definitely wasn’t picked the “most likely to succeed” by his classmates. Yet inside of him is the entrepreneurial spirit that refuses to quit. He keeps growing and learning and never gives up! In today’s post I’ll share why growth is the secret to success for every entrepreneur and business leader.

Let’s face it, life can deal some tough blows. About once a week, I’ll receive an email from someone who wants me to make an exception for them. Marketing prospects with struggling businesses also ask for discounts on their marketing campaigns. Would be consultants share tales of woe to get trained for free. The truth is, my heart does go out for them. There are legitimate sad stories of pain out there. Sometimes we make exceptions to monthly marketing clients minimum spend if I really like the business owner. With our training classes, we created a scholarship program for those who legitimately have faced hard times. Even though we have a system in place to help, you’d be amazed at how nasty people can turn when they don’t get their own way. It used to bother me when I’d get these rude emails, but not anymore. You see, there’s a trend I’ve seen with people who are in a constant state of turmoil. I understand more than anyone that hard times can come. In 2007, we lost everything and went through some dark days. I’m not talking about a season of hard times. We all have those. What I’m talking about is the victim mentality. This is the person that believes their current situation is a result of outside circumstances. To them, life is one sour lemon and they keep looking for others to give them their big break.


I am NOT as Good as You Think

My wife and I are going on a cruise next month. I told her that if people ask me what I do for a living, I’m going to joke with them and tell them I’m a marketing rain maker. It is an inside joke with her and I, but it is pretty close to the truth. I honestly can’t remember the last time I met someone who knew more about digital marketing than I do. My goal is NOT to be the best in the world, but rather to be the best I can be. So, I read, write, and study marketing and business all day long. Because of this, our clients are growing very quickly. This year, LMS will be up by more than 300%. Please don’t be impressed. You see, the reasons we are here today isn’t because we are naturally smart or gifted. It is largely because of the unbelievable hard work and pushing to learn, even when things were difficult. There is also the divine aspect. Some call it luck, but I believe we’ve had supernatural help causing us to move forward. When people see us now, they see success and think that it must have come easy for us. Really? Tell me what you think.

  • Age 3 – Broken Home Divorce
  • Age 6 – Held Back in 1st Grade
  • Age 7 – Special Vision Therapy for Reading
  • Age 7-9 – Three broken arms – Uncoordinated
  • Age 9 – Second Family Divorce
  • Age 10-12 – Baseball Bench Warmer
  • Age 10 – 13 – Raised by Single Mother
  • Age 15 – Started Smoking
  • Age 16 – 31 Days of In-School Suspension
  • Age 18 – Illegal Drugs and Alcohol
  • Age 19 – Miraculous High School Graduation

If you look at these stats, you probably think that the next bullet would likely be prison. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. The stats show an ADHD kid who struggled in school, but that isn’t the whole story. Stats don’t show my mother’s encouragement to dream and be the best I can be. They also don’t show my step dad’s amazing love for his sons and my mother. While I did have seasons in my childhood where I struggled, I was never a victim. Yes, my circumstances were often the end result of a bad decision. Thankfully, my mother taught us to make lemonade out of our lemons. I clearly remember one Christmas, when we were so poor we couldn’t afford a Christmas Tree. Mom decorated a Ficus plant and we had a great Christmas. I believe that so many people are crying over their past, their tears are blinding them from seeing the joy of the present and the hope for the future.


Don’t Keep Trying – Start Learning

I don’t have a college education. While I’m pretty quick at adding numbers, I’m at a loss when it comes to trigonometry. Sometimes people call my education the school of hard knocks. While I’ve had my butt kicked a few times, that isn’t how I learned. Hard knocks don’t teach you anything. They simply tell you you don’t measure up and you shouldn’t make the same mistake again. Some people have a hard knock in business and then give up. Others have a hard knock in marriage and file for divorce. As much as I hate facing hard knocks, I wouldn’t trade any of them. They forced me to look at my life and determine if I’m going to either give up or grow up. Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve tried to keep growing and learning.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s so true. If you’ve had failures in the past, do something different. But don’t do something different without learning first. It always cracks me up when business owners want to grow their companies but refuse a different marketing approach. Worse yet, people want to become entrepreneurs but aren’t willing to read? The truth is our lives are the result of who we hang out with, what we focus on, and what we believe about ourselves. When we are unwilling to improve any of those things, decay sets in and we start to die.


Fear Versus Educated Risks

The old t-shirts in the 90’s said “NO FEAR” and we’re often dramatized by doing something incredibly dangerous. If you’re uneducated about mountain climbing and are attempting to climb Everest alone, then you should be deathly afraid. Why? Because if you know nothing about mountain climbing and are doing this alone, you’re going to die! People ask me all the time if I’m afraid about the future of my business. What about competitors? What about technology? What about this or that? Matt, aren’t you afraid of ______________?

Wholeheartedly, I’m not afraid. In fact, the opposite is true. I’m pumped and excited about the future. Everyday, we’re getting better and better. We’re growing and learning. We’re innovating and planning for the future. I believe fear locks in when you stop growing and learning. Fear paralyzes most people so much that they stop moving forward and drift through life waiting to see what happens. They can’t love deeply, work passionately, or risk anything because of what might happen. The keyword is might. Life will never be easy and it surely isn’t certain. Only God knows the hard knocks we will face in the future. I am sure that we’ll have some challenges, but I can tell you that it is impossible to be fearful about the future when you’re excited to see what comes.