I’d always considered to be a bit different (to this day I don’t know if that actually true or just a case of adolescent arrogance). But I cared too much about what others thought of me to do anything about it. I always wanted to stand out through exceptional performance but rarely did the work to realise my (undoubted) potential.
I didn’t have the balls to stand up for what I believed in.
I was lucky to have a healthy mind, body and environment, an above average academic intellect, and pretty good sporting ability. But I only took the potential so far before stepping back. It took me 20+ years to figure out why. And it was only a heated argument and a few home truths thrown my way did the penny finally drop….
I FEAR(ED) REJECTION. In a big way.
I grew up in Bolton…. a large town in the north west of the UK. It was a stable up-bringing. We never moved house. Great schools. OK holidays. My father left home when I was 13. Never to be seen again (by me anyway).
From an early age I was conditioned to conform to what society expected….
– go to school
– get good grades
– head off to college, and then university
– find a job
– start at the bottom and work my way up the corporate ladder
– earn an average wage, but an average house, drive an average car
but above all else….
– avoid RISK at all costs
And I conformed so very well. I was a pro. I was an expert at being the star pupil…. at school, at sport, and at work. I was your stereo-typical conformist. The best in the business.
But it didn’t sit well with me. It never felt right…. Despite what most would consider a successful and happy childhood, I was a bit of a floater. I never really new what I wanted OR where I wanted to take my life. Football was my only real passion, and I successfully screwed that up (see below).
Everything else that I was aware of on the employment front looked pretty dull… and at that point in my life, I didn’t have a clue about the possibilities that entrepreneurship might bring.
I started to ask the right questions.
Why should we all be destined to a life a life of mediocrity and ‘average-ness’. Surely there had to be something more?
All around me…. on the TV, in the papers, and on my trips into town, I’d see a few people who appeared to be crushing it.
They were driving the flash cars, sporting designer clothes, and living in big, fancy pants houses. But it wasn’t really the monetary side of things that appealed to me. Rather it was the fact that these guys were living their lives exactly how they wanted to. Life on their terms. Autonomy. Ability to do what they want, when they want, and with the people they want. Isn’t that what we all want?
Isn’t that the ultimate freedom? It was for me.
They weren’t rebels in the typical sense of the word….. they weren’t causing trouble, they weren’t wreaking havoc or breaking the law. They were rebelling against the system. Everything they appeared to do was counter-intuitive. To me that was cool.
Despite that inner desire to be a new-age rebel, I somehow managed to end up doing stuff that I had absolutely no desire to do. No-one else’s doing. My fault entirely.
Things started well…. I was a talented footballer, and signed as a schoolboy with Bolton Wanderers when I was only 14 (and to this day still remains one of my proudest moments).
I played football 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and would probably have played every minute of every single day had a I not needed those ‘essentials’ like sleep and food.
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t doing what people expected of me, or wanted from me. It was my first taste of rebellion and I liked it.
The folks at school didn’t like it.
“A talented academic shouldn’t be wasting his time on a football field. It wasn’t going to lead to anything useful!”
With those kind of comments constantly being drilled into me, it was hardly surprising that they ended up being damn right…. especially with my incredible desire to seek validation from others.
Then it went to shit…. literally.
I got complacent. And that, combined with a pretty serious back injury suffered at age 15, meant that I never got past the semi-pro level in my 20s. That single action of signing at 14 was me believing that I’d achieved.
Little did I realise that point should have been where the work really started….
– look after my health and fitness
– attend every single training session (can you believe I hardly ever went!)
– listen to the advice of the pro’s that I was surrounded by
It was the first of many missed opportunities. I was afraid of doing the work. I was afraid of putting myself out there…. afraid of putting my reputation on the line…. afraid of someone telling me I wasn’t quite good enough to make it as a professional footballer. No-one ever wants to hear that. So I made sure I never did!
And instead of finding another passion, or putting my talents into something I love doing, I did what most other guys do….. I became remarkably average.
Disillusioned with my flirtations as a sportsman, I enrolled at university. The academic stuff was always a little easy for me….
I did okay for the six years it took me to get a PhD. I ended up actually enjoying the research side. The ‘technical geek’ in me enjoyed nothing more than pouring over technical papers for hours on end in the university library. Shame I didn’t connect the dots back then and take my technical research skills and apply it to a subject I enjoy, e.g. health, fitness, human performance, etc. Dumb! So easy in retrospect.
Ah…. those missed opportunities….
Instead, I took the easy option. The low-risk route. I took a corporate job. My old teachers and family were happy anyway.
What a dick!
I went in with high expectations of men and women striving to reach the top, pushing themselves, and making the world a better place.
What I got was a group of chumps waiting for their monthly pay cheque, counting down the hours until 5:00pm every day, and basing their worth on how wasted they got on a Friday night down the local.
So it was time to get my shit together and move on, right? Not quite!
10 years later…. I’d accepted mediocrity.
I was still there, still with the same people, who were still waiting on their wages (now they were a little higher), still counting down to the end of the day (which was now a good hour later, as they’d traded time for money), and instead of weekends getting pissed, it was trips to Ikea and visits to the in-laws to look forward to.
What the f*@! was I doing with my life?
By my mid-thirties, I’d finally realised that there had to be something better…. I became interested in ways to generate additional income…. perhaps one day replacing my corporate salary so I could quit. That sounded cool, but didn’t have a clue how to do it.
I was good with numbers at school, so I figured that the financial markets and might be the perfect fit.
I thought wrong. I was useless.
I soon realised that trading the markets meant mastering my emotions. I couldn’t do it. When trades were going the wrong way, it was difficult to acknowledge that I was wrong. And when the trades were going my way (on the very few occasions), I always pulled the plug too soon. But hey, at least it was a winner (yes, ego takes over)! It was a difficult time.
It was difficult to acknowledge that I wasn’t cut out for the markets. And I didn’t have a bottomless bank balance either.
I reluctantly quit. Wise decision.
Like any desperate close-on-middle-aged guy, I decided that the internet was the way I was going to make my fortune and live my dream life.
I created an online language learning platform…. and started to make money.
I did pretty well. I built my own website. I got traffic through PPC and SEO. I made sales. I was even profitable. I had my very own profitable 5-figure business. The trouble was…. I HATED IT!
After months of spinning my wheels working more hours online than I was in the day job, yet making less money, I decided to quit. I pulled the plug. The business. The website. The language program ceased to exist.
Bottom line was that I felt like a fraud. I knew f*@! all about language learning, and here I was trying to teach others how to do it. Hardly authentic.
It wasn’t all bad, however. I learned quite a lot…. especially about this whole online business thing – sales copy, funnels, blogs, PPC, email autoresponders, social media, etc.
I just needed to find my niche.
I thought back to my early days….
And I realised that the younger version of me would look at the current me with a look of disdain, and give him a mouthful of abuse for conforming to mediocrity.
I thought about the opportunities I’d missed or let pass me by…. and what I’d do if I could go back to my early twenties and have my time again. Dangerous game I know. No regrets, right!
There’s no doubt I would have started my own business. Leave a legacy. I’d want to help people succeed, achieve more, transform themselves, break free from their current life of miserable mediocrity…. how to be a better in health, fitness, business, relationships and life. It would knock conventional wisdom on the head once and for all.
So that’s what I did…. and Limitless Lab was born.
To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what the future holds…. for Limitless Lab or myself. But in reality, it doesn’t matter. I just know that whatever direction it wants to take, I’m going to let it. I’m doing what turns me on – serving others in the domain that I’m passionate about and bloody good at.
I care about what I do. A lot. I care about helping others becoming the best version of themselves. Being counter-intuitive…. it’s the only way.
It feels right. There’s too many guys who have settled…. they’ve succumbed to a life dictated to by others. They’re not being true to themselves. They’re letting stereotypical conditioning rule them. It’s a one-way downward spiral.
There are too many people aimlessly wandering through life without clear direction but with a level of expectation…. and entitlement.
And I see middle-aged people who’ve literally given up on life. They’re slowly dying…. in their careers, health and their relationships. Life has just become one huge burden. Everything has become a chore.
If this is you, I dare you to stop being soft on yourself. Get real.
Differentiate or die. Live life on your terms. Set your own rules. Do magical things. Make stuff happen. No more missed opportunities….
You may have got to this point and thought “I’m OK being mediocre. I’m OK living by the rules. I don’t need anything more.” If so, good for you. You don’t need to carry on reading this post. Just click away from this browser. Let’s say our goodbyes. I wish you well.
For the select few, there’s something missing. You want more. I know I did. I just didn’t know where to turn. There was plenty of soul searching. I didn’t know if I had the confidence to stand-up for myself anymore. What seemed so simple years ago, seemed almost impossible years later.
Sixteen years. That’s how long it took for me. And I still fight it today. I have to work at it continuously. It’s easy to follow the herd. You know that yourself now. It’s difficult to set your own rules and follow them. It’s difficult to live life on your terms…..
- Where do you start?
- What will the herd think of you?
- How do you avoid becoming an outcast?
- How do you do the stuff you’re bloody good at?
That’s the purpose of Part TWO of this mini-series. I’m going to show you how you can finally differentiate yourself from the herd. And finally, yes finally live life on your terms.
I’ll be publishing the follow up in a few days. But before then, I’d really appreciate your thoughts… Have you been struggling with the herd mentality? Is it time YOU ‘dared to be different’?
Talk Soon — DG
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