Update 04/19/2021: I wrote the original piece in 2014. In 2016 I applied for an SEO Specialist position, and they asked me about this very post. To some degree, it was expected. I feel anxious about re-posting here. (Vulnerability & my writing was so much worse back then.) But I’m afraid that if I don’t it will be lost forever. Feelings of judgement and shame. Now I know that a portion of the addiction cycle gets fed through a guilt-shame-repeat process. Almost 10 years later and I’m still walking towards recovery. You can come too, if you want. (P.S. I eventually got the job 😉
Addiction. It’s a word that most people try to avoid, but for me, it’s something that I’ve had to come face-to-face with over the last year. At this point, I’m not full prepared to divulge exactly what my personal addiction is, but what I am prepared to talk about is how my addiction ruined my business.
What Is Addiction?
We’ve all heard this line before, “What is addiction?” Truthfully, I’m not here to tell you about what addiction is, and pull in random quotes from Wikipedia about what addiction really means, because frankly, everyone knows what it is, but few people really understand how this dangerous disease can topple their family, their education, and their business. My perspective focuses mainly on the latter. I’m here to tell you about what addiction actually does to people and businesses. I’ve seen addicts become successful millionaires and billionaires, but only after they have gotten their addiction under control so it’s 100% possible for addicts to become successful people and some of the most brilliant minds were once addicts of all different types. (Just Google it if you don’t believe me.)
Prelude: I’ve been involved in the tech industry for almost 10 years now, and during that time, I’ve been involved with a variety of online technologies including: ISP’s, SMS software, WordPress application like Plugins, Theme production, Internet Marketing, UI Design, committees for start-ups, and countless other projects that I simply don’t have time to name here.
I grew up in a small town in Eastern North Carolina; my mother moved my siblings and I there after our parents divorced when I was four years old. A lot of things happened to me from the time I was a small child, until my adolescent period and I learned to deal with stress, and emotions the wrong way. My addition was already setting in and by the time I was 12, I was already an addict. As time went on, I became your typical American kid; I was heavily involved in sports and even to this day I can pick up any game and excel at it without putting in much effort (although some of my friends will probably call me after this and beg to differ), I went to a lot of parties, I did things that I wasn’t supposed to, I disobeyed my parents, I went to school reluctantly, and so on.
It wasn’t until I was a late teen that I started to see some negative effects that my addiction was having on me. I lost the first “love” of my life (it must be said here that I have only one true love and that is for my wife) and she was forced to recognize my addiction after she “caught” me and decided to leave me a few years later. During that time period, I remember walking out into old tobacco fields alone, and kneeling down in the dirt to pray, and ask God to help me overcome this terrible battle that I was waging.
Eventually, I went to live in a monastery and it was during this time, that I finally started to understand my addiction, and how deep-seeded it was. I spent two years there from 2002 – 2004. I learned a lot about myself, and I was able to completely be free from my addiction during those years. I knew I could do it. I left and some time later, I was married, had kids, and the rest is history. But what happened to me, and what really made me reach one of the lowest points in my life, was realizing how my addiction effected other people and how it effected my business. From the early days of my company, things went great. I was adding more and more higher paying Clients until eventually I felt like I was asking the correct prices for my services. Within about two years, things were becoming unraveled and I found myself working outrages hours just to pick up the pieces after I had been feeding my addiction rather than working.
No one likes to fail. I think addicts in particular don’t like to fail because part of the reason why they’re feeding their addition is because there’s something that they’re afraid of feeling, or of showing. And you can best believe that I was one of those. By the time I was into my third year of owning my own business, my addiction was in it’s full swing. I was dedicating hours and hours a week to it, and forgetting the most important things in my life, my spirituality and my family. I neglected them. For the sake of time, I’d like to bullet list how addiction ruined my business. Here’s the negative effects:
- I spent too much time feeding my addiction rather than spending extra time on growing my company
- I overloaded myself with obligations to others that I could never be obliged to finish because I was enslaved to my addiction
- Everyone knows that entrepreneurs work 80+ hours a week, and to waste a single hour of that is shocking, but I was doing it on a regular basis
- I lost an office because of my addition
- I became indebted to others both financially and emotionally because of my addiction
- My addiction affected my education
- My addiction caused me to not foster quality relationships with those that I loved because I was spending my free time feeding my addiction rather than attending to others
- I put aside learning new job skills because my addiction controlled my time
- I lost Clients
- I didn’t attend baptisms and funerals because of my addiction
- I let down those around me, and betrayed their trust because I was subjected to my addiction
The bottom line is this: Addicts should never be allowed to own a business. That’s not to say that addicts can’t become awesome people; that’s not what I’m saying here. But if you’re reading this and wondering how to start your own company, but you know you’ve already got something that you need to deal with first, stop right now and deal with it. Don’t delay. Put your business plans on hold and go get some help. I’m serious. Take it from me. It took me five years of owning a small company to realize that you’ll have to deal with it, sooner or later.
(Blog post inspired by HubSpot’s Blogging Hour.)