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Zen and the Art of Furniture Making

By September 29, 2017About Us, Blog

Not long ago one of my siblings said they wish they were as smart as their other siblings so they could be successful like them. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but recently it clicked as I was reading a book titled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. For years I’ve been exploring why I’ve been doing well in this business, and my previous one. On my journey I discovered that I have Aspergers, a milder form of Autism. It causes me to do a lot of unusual things, like be anti-social and be compulsive, but it also makes me hyper-focused. The focused part has caused me to go overboard with hobbies and things in the past. And once I get good at them in a short time, I get bored and move on to another. I’ve gotten good at getting good at stuff you could say.

I also have a higher IQ than usual, like my Father. He was in the 160s, me in the 150s. Maybe that’s be the main cause of my success? If you’re thinking it, I’m not trying to brag here. My personality has caused me great struggles with depression, substance abuse, relationships, etc. My Father struggles with the same stuff and is getting close to death because of it.

So on my way home from my weekly visit to the float tank, I stopped at Rubios for a burrito. There was a high school girl working the counter. I noticed her watching a group of other high school kids goofing around in the restaurant. It brought me back to that time when I was working at 14 everyday after school. I was jealous of my friends, and a little mad at my Dad, for making me work and not just giving me money for stuff. For some reason, my Dad decided I was going to help in the family business, and my younger siblings didn’t have to.

When I hit 16, I was able to afford a car. I believe my parents bought my siblings cars. Maybe you can see where this is going? If you are successful in life, you probably do. It wasn’t until recently, that I realized my siblings have an entitled attitude. They seem to think the world, and my parents, owe them something.  My parents have tried to dangle the money carrot over my head, but about 15 years ago I decided to decline and went completely on my own.

I quit the family business and started a web business. It went quite well and I was semi-retired for about 5 years. That was in my early 30s. Then out of boredom, I started this business by accident. The timing was perfect with the design trend too. Within 2 years we had a 20,000 square foot shop. Within 3.5 years, the business was valued at a surprisingly high figure. 5 years in we had a 65,000 square foot shop with 25 people. Now did this happen because I was really smart, or because of my Aspergers hyper-focusing?

I’ve realized the answer to that is no. While that helped, none of this would have happened the way it did had I not been driven. It’s like having the fastest car with no gas. Without the thing that moves you, smarts will do you little good.

The first two years at Vintage Industrial I worked 80-120 hour weeks. I jumped in with 3 feet into the deep end of the ocean. 95% of my day was focused around making designs better, and showing it to the world. If you think you can be successful working 40 hours a week, just imagine what would happen with 100 or 120 hours of work? Much of my work was after I went to bed. If you include that, I worked even more. In bed I was either not sleeping as my mind continued to work, or I was dreaming about work.

That pace was a bit maddening though. If you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, you know that. Problem was it wasn’t balanced. As time went on, I realized that and made changes. My regimen now includes work on my mind, body and spirit. As we speak I am watching Feel Rich on Netflix. It’s about taking care of yourself and how minorities have high incidences of health problems do to poor diet and lack of exercise. Earlier today I went for a float which I mentioned before. It’s like meditation if you don’t know and it’s phenomenal what it does for you!! Read more about it HERE.

Other things I do is work out regularly. I sit so much now that I have to. I am on the computer all day long. Speaking of that, I came up with a new desk idea during the float. More about that later. I also go to therapy. Working with my wife in this business is trying at times. We go together sometimes to to therapy. It saved our marriage. One of my therapists does cranial sacral therapy which is absolutely amazing for releasing anxiety and fear. I read a lot too, or I am read to. I like audiobooks and listen to them in the car or while working out. I basically study interesting topics every chance I can get. Today I learned about making connections with people, something I am bad at compared to my wife.

Sim, my wife, and I try to take regular vacations to reset and be reinspired. A busy work life demands it. My yoga teacher Angie told us a story during a sessions a few years ago. She was teaching a TV production team yoga a couple times a week. At first all of them participated. But as time went on, fewer and fewer showed up for the session. At the end it was only a couple of the top people on the team, like the director, who showed up. We all get busy in life. And many of us think we’re too busy to do the things that refuel us. It’s when were too busy to do those things, that we need them the most! Things that refuel your mind, body, and spirit are not optional in my opinion. So I do some yoga everyday. It wasn’t until a year into this practice that my back pain mostly went away. It’s been hurting since I was 16.

As for diet, I am a meat eating vegan. What the hell is that you say? Well I made up the term, but basically I do my best to not eat meat or dairy anymore. But I do cheat from time to time, like today, and I don’t feel bad about it. The food we get at the store is mostly organic too. It’s more expensive, but cleaner food clears my mind, I have more energy, and I get sick less. We try to go to farmers markets when the season is right. Local is always preferred, and it tastes so much better.

We gone through great lengths to make our house a peaceful place with a good energy. While we don’t have much furniture or stuff anymore, the decluttering of the house matches the decluttering of our minds and spirit. Meditation is a regular practice, even if it’s just for a moment. A moment of being present with life pulls me out of anxiety and fear usually. Just a conscious breath in and out can do that.

Sim and I are brutally honest with each other now. It took me a while to understand it, but when I say what’s going through my head, or what my intuition is telling me, it releases it from my body. Otherwise that gets stuck and I feel stuck as that happens more. You can read Radical Candor for some great details on that.

All of this stuff adds up to the sum of my life. I am directly responsible for where I am and how I feel, now that I am an adult. Living this way releases me from being a victim to circumstances. I am in control. And working with goals and planning out my future will make it more possible that what I want comes true.

I don’t measure success by money or fame. Those can be by-products of it. The money can be nice, the fame not so much. But none of that matters without the deep connection and bonds I form with others. Not everybody is up for having a DEEP HONEST discussion. But when I do so, it often gives the other person the freedom to reciprocate. I am not interested in talking about the weather anymore. Small talk sucks.

So I am pretty obsessed with learning about myself. Some might call it selfish, but to know myself is to know others. And that is how I spend a lot of my time. It’s a quest that only ends when I die. Not sure if this makes any sense to you, but thank you for reading and please feel free to comment. Now back to music making…

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