Strike Out on Your Own and Prove Yourself


The other night I found myself sitting at the back table of a surprisingly-good-for-a-small-city Irish pub sharing a couple of Murphy’s and some good conversation with one of my old friends from grad school.

As a bit of background, “Big N” and I met while working a summer job where we both played the black sheep and bonded over the obvious fact that we were the two guys who were known for taking action and getting things done rather than simply “playing the game”. We see eye to eye on a lot of life philosophies and he’s one my favorite people to bounce ideas off of as, while he can be somewhat unorthodox in his approach, he has an uncanny ability to see through problems and reach a solution.

Throughout the course of the rambling type of back and forth that old friends often engage in we found ourselves on the topics of life and success, which are not strangers in our discourses. We were commenting on the path to success and how most people just seem to have no clue on how to be successful. In fact, given that this really is about the easiest country in the world to be advance yourself in, most people don’t even come close to achieving their dreams. Even if they find those dreams all but dropped in their lap many people almost run screaming from the very idea of being successful or disrupting the status quo. This saddens a lot of people but actually pisses both Big N and I off and usually puts us into a generally unproductive but decidedly satisfying rant.

In the middle of such a rant and commenting on various states of our lives and the difference between playing to win and just staying in the game (Big N and I talk a lot of sports and use sports metaphors perhaps to excess), he stops and says:

“You know, man, I know that you’re always going to be all right because you’ve DONE it”.

He went on to explain that as I (and he did as well) had packed up my life a few years ago and moved to a totally different area of the country, hardly knowing anyone, and restarted my life I’d accomplished more than the vast majority of people. Sure, I’d had my ups and downs in the process and faced my struggles, but I’d eventually come out on top. (Read more about my story here, life and business succeeded, relationships and the heart, not so much) With that experience, he went on, as I’d done it once, I knew what it took to carve results out of nothing and it would not only work another time but it would also come faster.

I agreed with him and as he was talking I realized that he’d hit on something that I feel is missing in a lot of guys’ lives: Most never get out there and experiencing the world on their own, succeeding or failing based on their own mettle.

The act of traveling, in today’s modern technological world, has become a much more accessible and palatable experience than ever before. Most guys take vacations, at some point in their lives, in foreign countries and locals. For most people, this is their big adventure and their location-based challenge.

It’s one thing to do a lot of traveling, and I support that. You can definitely get a much greater appreciation of the world and your place in it by visiting other locations and cultures. However, I think that if you just spend a few days or weeks in a different place you don’t really learn as much as you could about yourself or life.

Now, if you’re perfectly happy in the place where you grew up, have never really ventured out of it, and have no desire to, I’m certainly not going to knock your life. That’s your choice and as long as you’re happy, who am I to question it? (You know, as long as you don’t end up like Barry from Road Trip and spend your entire life in Ithaca, NY. There’s some issues there.)

However, I think you’re missing out on a great test of your own strength, skills, and balls.

There’s something about finding yourself immersed in a different area and culture (even if it’s within the same country) without a great support structure behind you propping you up, and making it work. It’s hard to explain the difference, but you learn another level of self-sufficiency that goes beyond having to just find a job and a place to live. You learn to look at things through new eyes.

Rather than going to the same old restaurant that you grew up going to with your parents or that your high school buddy tends bar at you now have a wide variety of choices all with their own unique pulls. Instead of always having someone to hang out with or a group of friends wherever you go there are times where you’ll be sitting in a quiet apartment, profoundly lonely. How are you going to manage that? There’s only one way to find out.

If you’ve always wanted to live somewhere else, even for a while, then what’s holding you back? If it’s a legitimate obligation then deal with it and give it a try. If it’s just fear, then it’s time to man up and put yourself to the test. There’s a whole wide world out there for you to do it in!

Comment below! Especially any of you guys who’ve MADE a major move: What’s the biggest thing you learned through the process? And for those waiting to make your move, what are your biggest questions or concerns?

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March 14, 2011

If I don’t comment you will probably punch me in the throat we I see you in the good ol’ USA.

I don’t know if there are any big giant glaring lessons that stand on the shoulders of all the others, but there are some significant ones that I will share.

Short story: Met amazing girl, got married, moved to Norway (amazing girl is Norwegian),waited for five months for visa, went back home to deal with massive family crisis, came back to Norway, started working at a gym, hated it, starting my own training business.

If you have to have patience, your success comes in time, if you aren’t patient then you spend way to much time being dissatisfied with your environment. That dissatisfaction can turn into remorse and poison. if you allow that to happen then you will fail in your new home

Appreciate your area:
you are in a new place, learn about it, understand who the people are, what drives them, what is important to them. Become invested in the people and their culture. You should not sacrifice your values, but you should appreciate the society that you have entered into.

Make connections:
As Isaac said without the support network you have to make it work. I knew almost no one when I moved to Sandnes (I know, it is six hours from Hell Norway), I had a hard time adjusting to how the people are, and are not. My wife found a power lifting and strongman gym for us to go to. Those guys, and that environment mean a lot to me. Lifting and hanging out with them has really helped my acclimation to the culture.

Flow like Water:
This is the most important thing you can do. You can only resist your surroundings so much before you start breaking down. If a social convention doesn’t allow you to do what you want the way you know how you have to find a way around. Go under, around, over, doesn’t matter, there is always a way to your goal. Flow around the culture and environment and you will be successful, trying to smash your way through is a guaranteed ticket home.

Have fun, understand where you are, make friends, build a home through your hard work, and if anyone tells you that what your doing is impossible they are full of shit.

March 15, 2011

SteveP @ 5:57 pm #

Big N always lives his philosophy.

Isaac @ 6:23 pm #

Trev: Yes, you were definitely one I thought of that should contribute to the discussion here. And I’m still thinking about throat punching you, I just need to come up with another reason.

I really like a couple of your points, especially about finding people that are interested in the same activities that you are and getting to know them. Once you have something common to bond over they’ll be likely to help you out a lot in making the adjustment. I found a good crew of lifters and fellow trainers when I moved that really helped me get used to the area.

Steve: That he does, that he does. Good to see you here!

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