The past few months I’ve received tough love because, well, I’m tough to love! It was extremely tough for me because when the dust settled, I was left homeless.
This experienced forced me to reflect. It made me want to take all of the positives out of this challenge and be an example for others for what it means to learn from your obstacles. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a mentor a few years back.
“There are three types of people in life. Wise, smart and stupid”
Wise- these people have a huge advantage. They are the type of people who learn from other peoples mistakes.
Smart- these people tend to get ahead. They are the type of people who learn from their own mistakes.
Me- stupid people…well…. they just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again.
Why stupid? Well…
People say i’m charismatic, I’m supportive, that I’m a good person. Yet, there I was, kicked out! Homeless. Today, looking back, I now know where it all went wrong. I have always been on the receiving ends of a relationships. I have always been the taker. I have always asked for far more than I have ever given. It took me all of my 22 years and being kicked out of my grandparents house for me to finally understand a universal truth:
“The secret to living is giving!”
When I got my first sales job in downtown Toronto I panicked. Anyone who knows me knows I HATE sitting. Living in Bradford at the time, I wasn’t about to commute 3 hours a day to get from Bradford to Toronto….and back again. I just wasn’t going to do it!
Then it hit me!
3 years ago my sister lived in downtown Toronto with my Grandparents when she was going to school at Ryerson. So I thought, this is fucking perfect! I’ll just live with my Grandma and won’t have the harsh commute. I smiled as I thought, we’re family, they would feel obligated to help me out. And they did.
This is where, if I was wise, I would have quickly recognized my Grandparents had all the leverage. They opened up her home and gave me everything they had. If I was wise, I would have grilled my sister and found out about the things my Grandparents loved, their quirks, and anything that I may do to really piss them off (which turned out to be virtually everything I did)!
Instead, I took their generosity for granted . As I settled in, I got into a rhythm of leaving for work early, coming home at night to a dinner prepared by my Grandma, and packaging up the left overs preparing to do it all over again.
This repeated and very quickly 6 months had passed. One day, my Grandma and Aunt asked me what time I would be home the next day and that they wanted to meet with me. We sat down, and I couldn’t understand what they said next,
“Jonathan, you’ve been living here now for over 6 months. When we ask you to do something, or to stop doing something, we mean it. We opened up our home to you out of the goodness of our heart and if you want to stay here you’re going to need to start contributing like it’s your home too.”
That makes sense right? Their house, their rules. Well I didn’t get it.
If I was smart, I would have realized this is a learning opportunity. I’ve been messing up,
I’ve been focusing on what I can get rather than what I can give.
The relationship has been completely one sided, not even close to 50/50, and you can guess what happened next. Another few months passed, I didn’t change much. I came home one day, I walked over to say hello to my short, non english speaking Italian Grandpa and before I could say a word he yelled, “GET OUT!”
I thought he was joking. He wasn’t…. I sat there devastated. I felt confused, I felt angry, but most of all, I felt stupid. How did I not see this coming? As much as I wanted to argue about all the reasons as to why I should stay, there just weren’t any.
What a sobering experience being homeless was for me. A few nights of sleeping in my car in the cold of winter made me completely see the light. The secret to living is giving!
Life is not a zero sum game. If you give, in any capacity, give with you money, connect someone to the right person, help them become more successful, if you give, it doesn’t mean there’s less for you. But that’s how I saw life!
I thought if I gave, you win, and I lose.
That is just so stupid. The world doesn’t work that way that way. In fact, the world works the opposite. 5 months ago I damaged my vocal cords. It still hurts to speak. I now realize, the times my throat feels the best, is when I’m helping people. When I’m giving a speech to share my mistakes or when a friend calls me up in need of a boost. The secret to living is giving, and there is only an upside in it for you and for me.
Be wise, and learn from my mistakes. Because sleeping in a warm soft bed with the fireplace blazing, beats the shit out of huddling in the cold in the backseat of my 2000 Jetta EVERY Time!
Leave a comment and let me know how you plan on giving more in your life!
Till then, stay on offense. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change your direction”.