Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
As I near my sixth anniversary of becoming an entrepreneur, I decided to take a moment to look back and reflect on the changes those years brought me.
I’ve had many ups — and many more downs — all serving as excellent lessons. I watched my personal bank account balloon and then slowly taper away during slow times. I have met great people who believed in me and my vision, and who motivated me to continue.
I would have not made it without the support of a lovely woman who is tolerant of the late nights, long days and occasional instability. Never once has my wife wavered in believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.
Most importantly, last year, she blessed me with the greatest gift, the perfect motivation to want more and to push myself even harder: our son.
That’s when the fear set in.
When I found out I was going to be a father, my first feelings were shock and hysteric surprise. On that Tuesday morning, my smile — which people tell me is already Cheshire Cat-like — felt as though it grew even wider. Everything was going to change, and I couldn’t be more excited.
As that first emotional high made room for my day-to-day reality, I realized that professional success and stability now mattered so much more than ever before.
“Not being able to quickly find a more stable paycheck pushed the fear out of my stomach and into an infinitely more dangerous place: my heart.”
– Louis Byrd
As excited as I was about fatherhood, deep down in the pit of my stomach there now resided a dull and numbing fear. It was no longer going to be me fending for myself and my lady; we now had to ensure the safety and well being of this new little person.
Fear became my motivation.
Owning my own business no longer seemed like an exciting adventure — the occasional slowdown, after all, could impact my child’s wellbeing. As soon as that thought took hold, I hit LinkedIn and started applying for jobs for the first time in years.
I updated my resume, created unique cover letters in the form of cinematic videos showing my creative prowess, and applied for top-tier positions at major companies knowing I could kick ass if given the opportunity.
I notified my team and told them that I may have to pare the company down to more of a freelance endeavor. It was tough, but they were understanding.
Two weeks later I landed a round of interviews with a major company. I just knew I had the job in the bag. I was more than qualified, had the experience they were looking for plus some, and felt like I had a great interview day.
But they didn’t hire me.
In fact, all the other jobs I applied for over the course of that first month and all the LinkedIn messages I sent remained void of response. To be honest, I was crushed — I felt I had so much to give to these companies and potential roles. Why didn’t they want me?
The insecurity of not being able to quickly find a more stable paycheck — while at the same time listening to all the stories of how expensive kids are — pushed the fear out of my stomach and into an infinitely more dangerous place: my heart.
My son brought me back.
“My son reignited the fire I have for being the master of my own fate.”
– Louis Byrd
I started a journal for the child I had just discovered would be a son. My first entry to him was about how important it is to find purpose in life and embrace the inevitable fear along the way. Writing to my son let me finally get a handle on my own fear of uncertainty.
After I finished that journal entry, my phone rang. On the other end was a recruiter from the first — and only — company with which I had landed an interview.
The recruiter explained that they didn’t offer me the job because they felt that I was overqualified for the role. They instead wanted to contract with my company for some video work they needed.
That deal was a turning point in my journey.
Since becoming a father, the day-to-day business has begun to make more sense. My focus, purpose and priorities have changed. I’m no longer an entrepreneur because it’s something exciting to do (although it is). I’m building a legacy, something my son would be proud of.
I think that change in mindset has helped me gain confidence and in turn become a better businessman. I’ve taken more advantage of the game-changing opportunities that have come my way. I now have the confidence to shake hands and speak my mind to local business leaders and expand my reach as a thought leader in branding and cultural competence. This past year I’ve never been more focused in my business and confident in my ability to be a successful entrepreneur.
Your family should not stall or hinder you from pursuing your purpose. Don’t let fear take you over, instead let your love for them motivate you to push harder and succeed. My son has not only motivated me to want more for his sake, he reignited the fire I have for being the master of my own fate. Everyday I thank him for it.
Louis Byrd is the founder of Mellie Blue Branding, a cross-cultural branding agency that helps companies elevate their brands through strategy, creativity and the fundamental idea of being more human. Follow Byrd on Twitter @.