I had been working 70-hour weeks and that’s all I had to my name.
I had credit cards for emergencies only, and emergencies came. I would scrap and scrape to pay them down and would have nothing left to live on – so back I went into plastic chains.
It never seemed to be enough. I wasn’t good at my job because I was stressed all the time because I wasn’t getting paid enough to live because I wasn’t good at my job. And I didn’t know how to break out.
There have been many times in my life when I felt hopeless. And this should have been one of them.
But it wasn’t.
I changed my perspective.
Others sat back and watched as I worked my ass off day after day with no relief, no skills, and no money. Others saw the vicious cycle that so many of us are caught in and can never seem to crack.
But in that moment, when I saw the 37 cents in my account, something inside me said “This is it.” I knew, from that point on, it would only get better from there.
How could I know that? How was that not just indulgent and wishful thinking?
Because while others saw the cycle, I saw the process. I knew what I had been doing when no one was around.
When others were drinking on Friday nights, I was reading books on my craft. When others were escaping the grind by binging on Netflix, I was binging on every interview I could find with people who had the skills I wanted to have. When others were talking about the latest in sports, I was bugging every person I thought might know more than me and, slowly, levelling myself up – knowledge, mindset, skills, attitude. While others watched me struggle, I knew what was being created in that struggle.
I didn’t see those 37 cents. I felt the power waiting to be unlocked by the person who had those 37 cents in their bank account.
It was not the first time I had been broke. I grew up broke. Poverty is all I knew. But in that moment, for the first time, I felt the pieces come together that no one else could see. I was certainly broke. But I was no longer broken.
The success didn’t start happening for a few months after that. But when I’m looking back on when everything changed, I don’t remember the first time a paycheck had a comma in it. I remember the morning when I had 37 cents in my bank account. I remember when eyes that had always despaired looked on something that should have caused even more despair, and instead saw hope. And hope became confidence. And confidence became action. And actions accumulated to become the first material sign of success I had ever seen.
That’s the potential power in poverty. To see hope when others see nothing. To act on a dream when others can’t see the point. To create when it doesn’t look like there is anything to create with.
Why is that powerful?
Because it means that you are building from materials no one can take away from you. You are ultimately free. The person who can build from “nothing” can build from anything.