Reaching Cloud 9 Doesn’t Require Clouds 1-8

My first ever audio interview went live yesterday which was quite exciting for me. I sent the link round to some of my friends to get some feedback and I took notes about how I could improve in this area for when future opportunities arise. One friend, who is a regular reader of this site, sent me an email saying “You know, I’ve heard your story so many times now that I know it off-by-heart.” My reply was simply “Yeah, me too.” In the last few months I have been receiving quite a large number of interview requests and the questions generally start out by asking me to explain a little about me and my story. I get to give people a small taste of my background and where I am now, but there’s much more to it than that… You see, the more I have been talking about the journey to where I am now, the more I realise how messy that journey actually was. I noticed that every time I took my life in a new direction, there was always a good chance that things wouldn’t work out. There was never a time when the next step for me was easy, perfect, obvious, or any other word that describes some form of easy living. Some examples of this rough terrain include:
  • Leaving my ‘group’ of around 20 close friends and moving to a different college to do programming
  • Having to start my first year of college again due to poor attendance because I was working on online projects
  • Quitting college at 18 and moving across the world to South Africa where I didn’t know one single person
  • Leaving my job and hoping to sustain my income month after month online
I only moved to a different college because the path my friends were taking didn’t allow me to take my desired course. It turned out that I really disliked programming and certainly couldn’t see myself doing it as a career. I had 50% attendance in college because I was spending all of my spare time on my DJ website, MyDJSpace. At the time, the site was becoming fairly successful and quickly grew to over 10,000 members. It was even featured in a book. Now? I haven’t logged into the site in over a year and I’m sure the traffic has dropped substantially. I ‘lost’ a year in college for something that doesn’t even fit on my radar anymore. My second year in college was a dramatic improvement over the first and I actually ended up getting an A in Law. I decided to throw all that away when I moved to South Africa where I didn’t know one single person (not even my employer). For the first few weeks there I lived directly above a popular bar and I couldn’t stand it. That might sound like a dream to some people, but trust me, getting woken up by car alarms and street fights at 3am gets boring after a while. Finally, when I arrived back in England in February, I had planned to be leaving by April or May at the latest so that I could start travelling the world. Some projects that I was putting my time into didn’t work out as expected and I have finally set my departing date for December 2nd. My situation right now might look great from an outsider’s perspective but the path to get here wasn’t some perfect logical sequence. It was messy, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is…

Taking Steps, Regardless of Whether They Look Perfect

It bugs me a little when people only get to read a 30-second run down of my situation or see what I’m promoting in a book and send me an email like “You’re so lucky” or “Things won’t keep working in your favour.” Hopefully I’ve shown here that nothing was handed to me on a plate and this wasn’t an easy path. In fact, from what I’ve written here, it could easily be interpreted that I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way. And that’s what they were right, mistakes? Steps I shouldn’t have taken? Surely if I could go back in time I would go to the same college as my friends because I know I hate programming? Actually, no. I wouldn’t. The important thing about my journey is that I took steps that looked right to me at the time. It’s irrelevant as to whether they seemed to work out perfectly when looking back. If I hadn’t taken the steps that I took, I certainly wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in right now…
  • If I didn’t go to the college I did, I might not have honed the skills of making new friends that worked so well for me in South Africa
  • If I didn’t work on my DJ website so much when I was 16/17, I wouldn’t have the technical skills I do now to build websites which make me thousands of dollars each month
  • If I did not go to South Africa, I certainly wouldn’t have created PluginID and now own the 11th most popular personal development blog.
Your own story might not be pretty at times either, and that’s OK. Success in any field is unlikely to come from some perfect path or process that you have devised. Instead, simply take the next step that looks right to you and follow it through. Don’t worry about Clouds 1-8. You might see them on the way, but they’re not that important. Follow your own path (and it must be yours – not one to impress your friends, parents, or anyone else) as if you’re stuck to it with super glue, and I’ll see you on Cloud 9.

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