I Collect Labels

Published in Geek Health by

I read a lot of self help books.  Well, let me rephrase that, I buy a lot of self help books.  I have been a business owner off and on before in my life, leaving a job at Nintendo to work for myself, and again leaving my position with an environmental non-profit in California to again go it solo.  Time management is an absolute nightmare for me.

I think the biggest issue is the labels, as a child I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and so I think to a certain extent that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  I am diagnosed with lazy disease, so of course I must be lazy.  My school work suffered and I pretty much had a nice label to hide behind, I think more so than any diagnosis, I’m just spoiled.  Spoiled just rotten.

I come from a dysfunctional but fairly well off family and I didn’t want for a whole lot as a kid and when I wanted to buy that $4,000 video camera at 17 and start a video business, I really just needed a convincing reason and there I was owning video equipment worth more than my average classmates car.  Did I earn it?  No.  Did I deserve it?  Absolutely not.  I just never heard that four letter word “no”.

That didn’t change as I got older.

So I am either ridiculously spoiled, or I have a condition, again, both labels.  Potentially both true.  So I say to myself “I’m going to join the Air Force!” and off I go a few months after that, hoping that discipline will help overcome spoiled.  Well, that might have worked, but I got hurt.  After six months with the Air Force I was medically separated and continue to have pretty bad knee pain because of an infection the Air Force was never quite able to explain.  Lucky me.

The irony of living here in Alamo Ranch so close to the Lackland San Antonio base where I was injured isn’t lost on me.  I spent months just stuck in a bed there, and that was a fairly trying experience in my life.  What I didn’t earn in discipline, I think I did earn in determination.  Being in that medical hold realm, you’re not treated very well, see many of my peers were faking their pain and because mine was so hard to nail down and diagnose (again, I needed a label) they weren’t sure what to make of me.  Eventually they said I had Patella Femoral Syndrome (PFS) and that with PFS I wasn’t eligible to serve.

I’ve been home from my time with the Air Force for two years now, now with a third label that really didn’t add anything of value to my life.  The determination I developed while going through physical therapy and trying to get fit carried over however, and when I came to terms with the fact that I was home, without a job, with some frequent pain, and without a plan, I sure as hell needed one.

I am now divorced, but at the time I was husband and father to my now five year old son Ares.  So being without a plan as a husband, being without a plan as a father is a pretty dark place.  God bless the Men and Women who serve in our Military, but I don’t speak highly of the medical bureaucracy that sent me home the way they did.  A pat on the head and a “good luck to you!”

I started doing web sites again, much as I had before.  I’m fairly good at talking my way into just about anywhere and I landed some decent sized companies fairly quickly, I was “back on my feet” having worked briefly in retail just to keep the lights on.  Good times came, and good times went, getting divorced back in April of 09.  I was ready for something different, and oddly enough, so was Bill.

Bill was a good friend of mine, not a lifelong friend but definitely the kind of friend you’re lucky when you find.  He had recently moved to San Antonio and just kept making the phone ring.  Here I was, located in the San Francisco Bay Area doing ok for myself but understandably in a rut going through my divorce.  Here Bill was making it rain, finding work in the web design and SEO fields for a guy 1,500 miles away.

Believe me, I know.  I’m ridiculously blessed.

So one day, I cut my losses.  I sold all of my worldly possessions on Craigslist and put the things I couldn’t live without into my car, heading to San Antonio.  Image Freedom was founded shortly thereafter, business was doing well, clients seemed to come out of nowhere and what I was offering seemed unique.  Audience driven web development was a tag line, and not an actual product, and I am fortunate to be here and have been received as I have.

Again.  Blessed, I know.

So I’ve collected these labels over the years, the lazy disease, a knee disorder, and my own title of being spoiled rotten.  Finding that balance as a creative person, stopping the distractions, and shutting the world out so I can focus, and create, and BE creative.  It is a constant struggle.  So I read, or I skim at the very least, and everyone seems to have a plan that is sure to work.

It wasn’t until I met @AliciaSanera (who I realize I blog about way too often) that I really started making progress where my ToDo list would actually start getting done.  Alicia introduced me to Public Accountability, and much in the same way I am sharing in this blog, I have been sharing my struggles with others and setting the Ego aside to learn that I am not inflicted with the lazy disease, that there is nothing wrong with me that is unique or special, that everyone deals with dragging their feet, everyone struggles with perfectionist paralysis.  I was not alone.

When I stood up and announced very proudly that I was not proud of myself, that I knew I could do better that I knew there would be days where I’d accomplish more than I’d ever thought possible I was freed.  I didn’t expect that to develop overnight, but it almost feels like it did.  The eureka moment was being humbled by a room full of business owners just as paralyzed by fear of failure.

Seeing I was not alone freed me.  I have discarded my labels in favor of the search for new labels, positive labels.  Labels like “success” or “expert”.  Titles like “contributor” having recently been published in Entrepreneur, my first published work as a business owner.  I’m going to collect positive labels and badges of success with the same fervor I sought a rare comic book as a child.  They will take the place of these unread Self Help Books.

I feel like I can genuinely TESTIFY as a freed person.  Public accountability, sharing my fears with others, being accountable to my partners in life, in business.  I am not alone.  I will support them the way they support me.

I am not afraid of fear anymore.  All I can do is my best, and if I lay my head down at night with a completed To-Do list and a smile on my face, then I have nothing to fear.

Except for Zombies.  Zombies freak me out.