"You will always grow through-what you go through." -Tyrese Gibson
Adversity hits us in many forms from emotional to physical. How we react to these traumas determines the trajectory of our future. We can either sit in depression for longer than need be or you can take productive and progressive steps to use your pain to propel you to a better place in your life...the life you were meant to live. Adversity will teach you about your own self worth, resilience, and intestinal fortitude as long as you seize the opportunity for good instead of letting it lead you down a dark path.
These are the stories of the people that have overcome and persevered through dark times and came out of the other side better individuals.
Shannon’s story is basically the epitome of failing forward. Yet, he not only survived; he now thrives. He achieved greatness despite his overwhelming challenges and, seemingly constant, struggles. He has learned to overcome his adversities and has become a great leader and an inspiring example to others.
How does he Fail Forward?
Shannon writes, “I was born and raised in Jefferson City, Missouri. My home was what most would classify as a “poor home”. My father struggled to make ends meet, working for a door to door company selling cleaning equipment at 18 years old. With no hourly pay, two children, and a wife at home, he was working 7 days a week from nine in the morning to midnight. Nothing was ever given to him or my mother as handouts. Everything we had was worked hard for but it always seemed like it was never enough.
At times I would overhear arguments between my mother and father about how they didn’t have enough money to pay the bills or keep food on the table. They argued about how they could never fix our home when something went wrong. I was always scared of the rattling tin roof of the old broken down trailer we lived in because it never stopped creaking. It’s strange how much those things from childhood can impact your mind and haunt you even in adulthood.
I didn’t want to live like this. I had a father I rarely saw who was overworked but barely providing, it was impossible to try and drown out the arguments between my parents, and then they finally went through a divorce when I was 12. I lived in a constant state of anger, resentment, fear, and bitterness.
My mother and I moved into our new home while my father remarried. He had many business ideas that failed, but he kept pushing forward with the money he accumulated and saved through selling cleaning equipment. His hard work and determination finally paid off and he became very successful. He wasn’t scared to fail forward and push through the ups and downs. Sometimes you need to keep throwing objects at the wall until they stick. That’s life.
In middle school I was living with the anger and trauma from my childhood. I didn’t pay attention in class, I always cheated, and I never studied. The only thing I did care about was the wrestling team but that was just my outlet to take my anger out. Wrestling was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me and taught me discipline. It remolded my mindset to become better.
A couple years later, while still in school, I met a girl that I fell in love with. Things were still rocky in my personal life but I was hoping to create something special out of this new relationship. I didn’t want to end up like my parents. I graduated high school and I was excited to live a life on my own and do what I wanted to do.
In my early 20s I began taking drugs with some friends of mine, clearly not thinking about the consequences. I thought I was invincible.
To make a long story very short, I ended up in a 30 minute police chase. I ran red lights, drove in ditches, hit a police car, and it ended with me flipping my car upside down in a ditch and I ran like a bat out of hell! Police were shouting and chasing me through a creek, backyards, and even a highway. I thought I was getting away. Fifteen minutes went by and I was tackled and put under arrest. I sat in jail for three days. After what felt like eternity, a family friend paid my bond and I was let go. From that day forward I decided it was time to get right with God, myself, and my life.
My girlfriend and I decided that we should get a place together. We got married at the courthouse since we didn’t have any money, and I was excited to have the life I always wanted. Unfortunately, it felt like life was punching me in the face again. My wife was unfaithful, I became extremely depressed, and we got a divorce.
Two years later I decided to work for the company that changed my father’s life. Now I was the one knocking on doors seven days a week selling equipment for a commission with no guarantee of success. I was resilient to pressure and being told “no” didn’t bother me. For eight years I worked long hours, seven days a week. I opened my own company where I was not working for people, but having them work for me. I had finally reached what I considered success.
Once again, I felt like I lost it all after the girl I was dating at the time got pregnant. I became lazy and stopped working as much. I didn’t want a child to have to grow up with a father that wouldn’t be there because he had to work. Months went by and I found out that the child wasn’t mine. Deeply disturbed and hurt, I went back to the grind of working for that same company I hated. It was my outlet so that I could live the life I wanted.
I met Ally, my life partner, and she also had the same determination as me and she had worked for the same company since she was 16. She taught me many things like how rhinos can’t walk backwards, they can only charge forward. This felt a lot like my journey. I opened my own company this time with her, knowing that we could do great things if we worked together and set our minds on our goals and persevere together.
Ally has been with me through thick and thin. We didn’t manage to make our business as successful as we envisioned and sadly, we lost it all. We spent everything we had to keep it going but we ended up falling short. We pushed through, reevaluated, and moved forward. No matter how life has hit me, I do my best to smile and stay focused. I’ve learned that my mind can play tricks on me. It has told me that I am a liar, a loser, that I will never amount to anything, that I cannot have the things I desire. Ultimately, I know that the enemy, the devil, has always been after my mind and wants to see me fail.
Now, Ally and I have 3 incredible children together. They have taught us even more about life. We now run a successful CBD company, a multi-billion dollar industry, that has been thriving for two years and with three locations. I know that I have all of this because of God and because of Ally. All I can say is fail forward! Don’t quit. There is always hope.
Look forward, not back. Smile, hang around people that will build you up and not knock you down. If you don’t have a good role model you can read books on things like how to think positively or how to accomplish the things that you’re wanting to do.
It’s always time to step up and don’t let your past define who you are today. There will always be trials in life, but we can always Fail Forward because failing is learning.”