One of the Best in the World; Really? Come On Bro, What Does That Even Mean?

This topic is one I’m passionate about because I truly aim to be one of the best in the world at what I do. What now? Am I serious? 

I had to overcome a lot of challenges as a kid. Those challenges stayed with me into my 30’s. My childhood was riddled with physical and mental abuse from other kids at school. To be clear, I don’t mean getting teased about my shoes or a hand-me-down shirt.

It was the kind of torture I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve been jumped, thrown to the ground, left with bruises, bloodstains, broken glasses, and so on. That’s just the physical part. Today we understand that mental abuse can be just as damaging. 

Take note of the technical and artistic focus I had in 5th grade.

This context is necessary for me to share because the story creates some of the meaning that I’ll share later. 

When I was about 8 years old I almost drowned in a pool. I hated swim class. I jumped from the diving board …. Well, it was more like a flop than a jump. I immediately went into shock when I hit the water. I sunk to the bottom and I stayed there. As seconds passed I started to choke. Nobody seemed to even notice or care.

I remember looking up at the sun. At 8 years old I understood that if I didn’t take matters into my own hands, I would die here and now. I walked across the bottom of the pool. Still choking, I grabbed a vent along the side of a wall and pulled myself up. I screamed for help and that’s all I remember. For all I know, I could have actually drowned. My parents were never informed. They first learned of my experience about 5 years ago. 

More context because I think it’s important. My point is around the corner, I promise.

Through my life experience as a child, I understood that taking chances and being seen equaled a threat to my existence. I spent most of my life in the shadows, hiding from hatefulness, agism, and homophobic aggressors. I grew a substantial fear with regards to working with assertive white men. 

This demo wasn’t my family. I saw my external family as a diverse group of people. My best friend was Vietnamese, my other best friend was black and my other other best friend was Hawaiian ?. All of my friends were non-white.

Let’s fast forward a bit.

When I was 10 I was drawing comics. I have hundreds of pages of TMNT and Batman drawings. I didn’t know how to draw, but I wanted to learn.

Drawing myself in 4th grade vs playing around with illustration tools for the first time last year since I was about 12 years old.

My environment forced me to believe that art wasn’t for men. I kept fighting back. At one time I was told that “design is a woman’s job.” And later in my career, I was told I would, “never have the skills to do great creative work.”

People are flawed, that’s okay, but I’ve never backed down. When I was around 17 years old I diverted my attention to an area more grandiose, film. I spent decades producing short films, writing stories, and making movies with friends and I peaked after the production of The Brave Few.

Every single project though, saw me pushing myself to the absolute limits. These days I do a bit of everything including operations, photography, video, illustration (learning), branding, and a whole lot of Web design. I jump around a lot, I know, but I really am good at a lot of things.

I’m like Marty McFly when people keep calling him “chicken”. Tell me “no”, and I’m gonna act up.

As I moved into my 20’s and 30’s I realized that I had something most people around me didn’t. That was my drive to push past barriers and circumvent the “system” to reach whatever goal I had in mind. While I still struggled in my 20s with the trauma of the past, my 30s have been a different story altogether.

I’m no longer burdened with people telling me what I can and cannot be. How I can and cannot act. I know what I want. I want to be out of the shadows that I’ve hidden in successfully for so long and I want to show every single naysayer from my past, that you cannot contain me.

I will be one of the best in the world. You should too if you wanna.

In a lot of ways “best in the world” to me, means, you will remember my name. Now you’re probably thinking about power, accolades, titles, awards, etc as the path, and to that I say, those things are pretty cool, but I’m driven by something far more important. 

I want to change people’s lives. And, that can be done through kindness, giving without expectation, and elevating other people to greater levels of personal success. Maybe that “change” is through art, a coffee chat, a presentation, or volunteering with a foundation (more to come in the future).

I’ve helped team members and businesses grow exponentially across my 15-year career. I’ve seen businesses grow from 3 people to 50. I’ve seen team members at their lowest point rise up and buy homes, build families or just improve the quality of their life. Many of them modeled their actions against those they saw around them. 

It’s well known that a business is a reflection of the people who manage it. There’s an unspoken duty to be the best representative you can be for an organization. To do that, you must understand that your words have meaning. They have power. They have an impact.

Being your best can inspire others. Positive energy is contagious.

According to a Stanford study, the path to success is comprised of 88% attitude and only 12 percent education (source). Having the right attitude can carve a path towards more success. Many in our culture currently suffer from a negativity bias. I for one, continue to improve in this area. My environment as a child felt like a dark cloud hanging over my head. I took that into adulthood and have been remedying this behavior for the last 10 years.

A positive attitude is critical to having a happy and healthy life. Positivity has dramatic health benefits too. Positive people were 13% less likely to suffer from traumatic health events than their negative counterparts (source). Toxic positivity isn’t what we’re talking about here by the way. A positive attitude can change everything.

Being my best means the following (for me):

  • I’m healthy and fit (because I want to be around for a long time and watch everyone grow). I wanna see my colleagues like Drew, Michael, Grace … well everyone … I wanna see people grow. It’s already happening and we’re manifesting our futures, together.
  • I’m continually pushing myself to be better, do better and act better. Always.
  • I’m staying positive and fighting off my negative bias.
  • I’m growing skills. Even ones I may never use. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is language. Language is required for effective communication.
  • I’m coming from a calm and nurturing place. 
  • I’m giving back as much as I take and I never take more than what’s necessary.
  • I’m helping other people be better than I could ever hope to be.
  • I’m achieving (and yes Drew, I’m going to leave this one open-ended). 

Connecting all the dots together.

From a little boy to a larger man-child who loves Legos and video games I am unapologetically who I am. Someone who works with others to do great things. Someone who wants to be the best and who sees the best in all people.

While the trauma of my past is unforgettable, it’s not my future. I’ll be making an unforgettable impact too. I will do my part to help others to be stronger, more skilled, more capable, more empowered, and more successful than ever before. 

I know some of the nomenclatures can sound a bit arrogant, especially in something like a blog post. But being the best in the world requires action. I’ve taken action my whole life and will continue to do so because actions speak louder than words.

We continue to change lives, create jobs, and support families in communities all across the country. Now in our 13th year, we’re here to stay.

If being the best you can be meant changing the lives of the people around you, would you do what was necessary to make that happen? 

As always, thanks for reading and I will see you again soon 🙂