Are you truly living from a place of complete awareness of who you really are? I thought I was and after doing a LAF #1** session today I realized I wasn't. This session, however, helped me to awaken my awareness...
And, wow, if feels great!
Fear and Lack of Confidence. These are feelings I discovered were within me. This was surprising as those are not characteristics I would have ever associated with myself. However this reflective, meditative process allowed me to see that they were buried deep, latent, and were still having an effect on my behavior without me even knowing.
I realized I was holding onto emotions from a significant event that happened in my life back in 2007. It was life changing, both business and personal. It was dream shattering and it was something that I had thought I had already overcome. I guess I pretended to fully be happy, and even tricked myself. I was going through daily life without fully living. Something inside was robbing me of my Truth and potential.
In June 2007 my company, led together with my best friend, partner and wife - Mindy - withstood a tremendous blow. It came at a time when I was feeling on top of the world: optimistic, confident, excited, triumphant and fearless. Why? Our physique event series for naturally trained athletes, the FAME World Tour was at the top of its game! It was the first of its kind in Canada and in international locations. 2007 was the year, it was to celebrate its 10th Year Anniversary, and the excitement was mounting. With an article coming out in our FAME Magazine recounting our corporation's decade history, I lived each day bursting with pride! We did it - 10 years in an industry that we influenced and helped create! To me, it felt like we were planning more than an event. It was a party! A celebration with our friends, partners, peers, athletes and family. Yes, the event-- FAME: Fitness And Model Expo along with the FAME World Championships -- was our business, AND our passion AND, it was something for which I felt a personal achievement. And after a 3 year hiatus as event emcee, I was going to step back on stage to do something else I love doing: emceeing the main show! Mindy and I were so excited that we went shopping for clothes months before and I often visualized how much fun the event was going to be.
We had also recently moved into our new office in Toronto. We went to work each day in an area that exuded energy, fashion, entertainment and excitement. Yorkville, recognized as one of Canada's most exclusive shopping districts, was also a place where the celebrities, movie stars, athletes and media roamed. It was amazing! Our office walls were lined with posters from events we hosted and produced throughout the years. Event posters were covered with signatures of the athletes. One wall was even dedicated to our WNSO Pro Athletes who signed the wall! We were so proud of the office and our accomplishments that we decided to hold the event registration there. We wanted the competitors to feel excited as they walked through the halls seeing over models and/or endorsed athletes they recognized whose roots were with FAME. We knew this would add mounting excitement that they too could be amongst the next ones to get discovered!
The entire event preparation and planning process is exhausting. So, I was looking forward to relaxing after the event too. I planned to spend the summer enjoying the city, weekends at the cottage and was looking forward to a vacation. We had gone practically none stop for 10 years and some down time was calling us!
BUT then something happened that set us on a downward spiral. Everything --- Life, business, personal -- changed. By way of background: The event of that magnitude was a major investment - a $500,000 - $700,000 venture. That's right, more money than all the shows in the annual worldwide tour was being invested into this one weekend. The 2007 FAME: Fitness And Model Expo featured over 60,000 square feet of expo space, event stages, a separate event theater, seminars, workshops, photo-shoot areas, top notch photographers, celebrities and close to 500 athletes from amateur to pro and from all backgrounds and ages. It was a weekend where athletes traveled internationally to experience and get discovered!
It was also a weekend where we were unveiling projects that had been in development for the previous two years, including: FAME Magazine expansions, launch of ShopFAME.com, A Personal Trainer Certification, A New Series of Performance Shows, and brand-building shows for some of our Pro Athletes.
This show was forecast as being able to finally recoup the major investments that we personally made in the company that supported its expansion, continual annual growth, and new staff complement. It was also acting as the launching pad to further expand our brands, while extending opportunities to the athletes, sponsors and the overall industry.
So what happened? If you recall, this was the start of the recession, and two main sponsors were no longer able to honor their financial commitments. $250,000 that we expected, that was agreed to, and that was to be used for the final phase of the event was no longer coming in. That's a quarter of a million dollars! And to top it off, this news came less than a month before the show! We were devastated, shocked, yet optimistic, and feeling lost. The "wind was knocked out of our sail", as the expression goes. We didn't know what to do, yet we still felt our initial excitement and maintained that optimism, both for us, and for the athletes who had been in training for months previously. We had always been successful in the past and believed in ourselves that we could pull this off. Surely, some of the other sponsors would help. After all it was a tight industry, so we thought. And, as the other saying goes ... "The show must go on!". And so it did.
Yes, it was a great experience from the competition side of things and for the athletes. Competitors came in from all around the world to step onto the FAME Stage and to visit the hundreds of exhibitors. Media came out to capture the talent and launch careers of the newest stars.Thousands of people attended both the expo and stage events. Photographers lined the stage. And the competitions and athletes, as usual, made it magical. This was actually my favorite event by far, as I was acting as Head Judge, and had such a great time.
However, being a business, it must be profitable in order to sustain itself and its footprint. With the absence of the sponsor's payment, the business end was tremendously impacted, and in the end we personally were as well.
Because of the position we abruptly found ourselves in, we were not able to properly focus on the business, not able to make rational, calm decisions and did not have the finances to market the event to the public as had been the plan. Even our FAME Magazine, which was one of the main marketing vehicles and featured our own story (which we were so proud of), was late and didn't come out until a few days before the show. Why? How? We don't know. I guess we were in crises mode and just couldn't think straight. The final event poster was also only completed and given out to local gyms 3 days before the event. We did not even have enough time to mail to our database. And with the lack of funds the company was not able to engage TV, radio, newspaper and billboard advertising as it typically did. In other words, all our plans were thwarted.
Yet, we tried to remain optimistic, hoping our online presence, word of mouth, and earlier marketing would pull through. However, as you can imagine, attendance was much lower than it should have been. Yes, a lot of athletes brought their friends, family and fans to watch, but many of the competitors were from out of town and had traveled alone. In the end, FAME 2007 attracted a significant number of people, thousands, however it only reached about 10% of its targeted budget. That just didn't cut it.
Even though Mindy and I put on a happy face and acted as hosts to ensure our athletes and guests were having a good time, inside I was crushed. My visions of the weekend were shattered and I felt like a failure. I felt like I failed our industry, our athletes, our sponsors, our supporters, our family, Mindy and...myself.
In the process we lost our house, car, investments and a most of our savings. And, as I learned today, I also lost confidence and moved into a shadow of fear.
What were we to do next? How were we going to pay for some of the bills; both business and personal? How were we going to sustain ourselves ? How were we going to pay for our living expenses? And how were we going to keep our company and event series going? These are the questions that echoed in my mind, and eventually impacted my entire demeanor, lust for life, overall happiness and self-worth.
Subsequently, my confidence was shot. It felt horrible. It iimpacted my ability to make intelligent decisions. It kept me from being who I really am: from leading, directing, managing, networking. It restricted me from sharing the passion I had for my business. I avoided sponsors, media, athletes and suppliers. I stopped holding business meetings, and stopped interacting with athletes, something I really used to enjoy. It extended to how I interacted with colleagues, friends, family, Mindy and myself. It controlled my life and I didn't even realize it.
I realize now, thanks to LAF #1, that it's also fear that held me back. I became a prisoner to it, fearing facing people as a failure. It was this fear that kept us from explaining what happened. So our athletes, sponsors, fans, community, media, and supporters never knew the truth from behind-the-scenes, our perspective. As a result, it made room for rumors, murmurings, UN-truths and malicious stories, which spread wildly.
This fear and shattered confidence, is what changed my life. Not the actual incident.
Flash forward. More than 4 years later ... and I am happy with where I am today personally, in my relationship with Mindy, and with our business. Along the way we overcame many challenges and obstacles, and have grown immensely. Over the last few years, and more markedly within the last year, I have made a great transformation. I have embodied our vision of being Body PROUD. I have changed in body, mind, heart and spirit. And although I know I have made great strides, it was today that I realized that confidence and by extension, fear, has really been at the base of it.
If only I knew how to release the lack of confidence and fear earlier, my journey to get here may have been shorter and surely more enjoyable. Well, as of today I have released that. I have become aware of it. And now I can fully let it go! I AM FREE! And I am stepping into who I am meant to be. ME!
Thank you so much for reading about my journey to self-discovery. Thanks also to Amy for your LAF session and taking me on this journey.
** LAF = (Live Alive Frequency)