Whenever I’m speaking to entrepreneurs—whether they are around the country or around the world—I’m always asked to share my now famous “ATM Story”. It’s one I kept close to the vest for years, because I was too embarrassed to reveal it. But today, I know it’s important to share. And why.
You see, we always look at successful people and think their rise to the top must have happened overnight. They must have had the big vision, the perfect plan, and lined-up circumstances. But that is NEVER the truth!
I quit my last job in 1999 and launched my first little venture offering business-writing services in New York City. I literally worked from my 600-square-foot pre-war apartment in the West Village, using an old computer that sat on my folding kitchen table.
My first few years were rocky for sure. I had no clue what I was doing. I got a few clients here and there, but my new income wasn’t cutting it.
I still remember that horrible afternoon I went to the Village ATM on Sixth Avenue to get some cash before meeting my girlfriends out for drinks. I was denied. And I was only asking for $20. My balance was $18.56. I’ll never forget that number.
I walked back up my five flights of stairs to my apartment and called my friends, telling them I wouldn’t be able to make it.
For years, I didn’t share this story with anyone because I was too embarrassed to reveal how much I struggled in the beginning of my journey. Now, I understand why people NEED to hear it.
Many of us look at others’ success from the outside, and think that it happened to them overnight, almost as if by luck or magic. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Success is NEVER a straight line.
Obstacles and detours are a normal, natural part of your success and creating growth in your life.
And once I came to understand this, it became clear to me that I HAD to share my ATM story because people needed to hear the truth.
So when people ask me if I had a big vision for myself when I started out, I share NO, absolutely not! I couldn’t imagine that I’d be living on the beach in California, running a multi-million dollar business, and being blessed enough to work with women entrepreneurs worldwide. Could not even conceive of it. Far from it!
Back then, my only “vision” was to be self-sufficient. To pay my rent on time and in full every month. To not have to ever go back to a 9-to-5 job ever again. And, to not have to answer to anyone else. I didn’t know anything beyond that. So, every day, I’d wake up and take the ONE clear step that made sense for me that day. And day by day, step by step, I found my way.
I used to be mad that I was not shown a big vision. But then I realized, my only job at the time was to make decisions in my highest good each day. I was being tested.
Plus I like to joke, I’m sure God was watching, and even if he wanted to show me the big vision, he was thinking, “Jeez this poor girl can’t even take out a $20 bill! Let’s see what she can do here first.”
And I did everything I could… from where I was… with all I had.
And that’s all you have to do too.
See your next step—the one that moves you in the right direction—and take it. Now.
I promise if you keep doing that, a grand vision for you will be revealed when you least expect it. A vision to not only help you achieve your best in this lifetime, but one that will help countless others at the same time.
And wouldn’t that be amazing?
It’s worth it.© Copyright 2012 Ali Brown