01. Starting From Scratch

The last time I was in school as a full-time student, it was 2005 and I had just recently graduated high school. Back then, I was young and careless, with no responsibilities. I don’t remember what car I drove but I know I stayed away from home as much as possible. I lived in a very small town in South Georgia, with a population of around ten thousand. Much like now, I was going to a local technical college to pursue a degree in Computer Information Systems.

Graduation is supposed to be a release. It felt like a burden to me. @_entrejourney
Mom, my Grandmother (Dad’s Mom), my little brother (Matthew), me, and Dad.

I graduated high school in May 2005, allowing me to enter college that Fall and begin my degree program. At the time, East Central Technical College, now Wiregrass Technical College, was nearing the completion of the construction of their new Computer Information Systems building. Because of this, the school decided that they needed to start incoming freshmen in the old building in the more advanced courses within their degree program. This meant that I was starting my first semester in a Computer Hardware class, where we were required to complete hands-on lab assignments such as a complete teardown and rebuild of a desktop computer, competing with classmates for the fastest time. Needless to say, this was an exciting challenge and I jumped right on board and found myself excelling in these types of classes. By the end of this first semester, I had passed each of my classes and was fired up for what was to come.

For most nineteen-year-olds, it’s pretty easy to decelerate and get lazy when you realize you’ve done what you were supposed to do and are on the other side of a task. This is exactly what happened to me in December 2005, as Christmas and New Year’s approached. I took the literal sigh of relief and told myself not to panic that the next semester was just around the corner. Life was good around this time, because I was in complete control of my decisions and it made me feel good to know that I could go anywhere at any time with anyone. If you consider that the actual definition of enemy is “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone,” and a friend is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection,” I had only a few real friends, the rest of which I didn’t know really well, but weren’t considered an enemy. There was a person or two that put a lot of effort into disliking me, but leaving high school meant that I was outside their direct reach.

I say all of that to help paint a clearer picture of how these things crafted what was to become my mental state over the next two years. I both love and hate the saying, “hindsight is 20/20,” because it helps and hurts at the same time. Looking back now and recounting this season of my life, my hindsight says I have an incredible opportunity going forward to be more intentional in my decisions. It also tells me that I wasn’t always focused on much of anything except my own happiness. It is such a coincidence that just last week, our Pastor, Andy Stanley, said that we must be careful to not trade what we want now for something even better later. His book, “The Principle of The Path” is focused around the key point that your “direction, not intention, determines your destination.” My wife and I live our life together strictly by this philosophy and always keep that point at the forefront of our decisions. To add to that, he also points out that, as we think about the scope of our life, the question we should always ask ourselves is, “at the end of my life, what story do I want to tell?”

I will be completely transparent in saying that my family and I are followers of Jesus Christ. We don’t consider ourselves “religious” in the sense that we are bound to Old Testament-style laws and regulations. Given that our relationship with God is our primary focus in this life, we will not compromise our values for anything, nor will we deny that where we’ve come from is a life of mistakes and learning things the hard way. Because I spent this season of my life focused on my own happiness, I faced my share of hills and valleys. I also learned, not having yet absorbed, many valuable life lessons that would prove to be major catalysts in the years to come. Part of my desire in sharing my journey is because I struggled for many years thinking I was the “only one” who had a struggle, even though you always hear people tell you “you’re not the only one.” Even now, it’s not always easy to accept that there are others like me who have a difficult time navigating the complexities of being an entrepreneur.

It is truly my hope that I can make an impact with my story and help to carry the burden of not always knowing the next right thing to do. Therefore, it is so critical for us to share in our journey as entrepreneurs, because we don’t have all the answers on our own.

I want to close by saying that, as I tell my story, I will be sharing my worst mistakes and even the smallest victories. Everything I’ve accomplished thus far has been without debt, but also with limited self-funding, if any at all. I never received a big savings account from my parents or investments of any kind. I am looking forward to further sharing this journey with you.

What’s a failure in your journey that stood to be a catalyst for you?

Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” ~Richard Branson

See you soon,

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