In March 2005 I quit my well-paying job in Japan and stepped into the unknown. I’d never really been there before. Trekking in the jungles of Papua New Guinea was the closest, perhaps. I believed I could make a go of an ESL materials website and support my family. I wholeheartedly, and even wholer-naively, believed there to be gold in them there online lessons. All I had to do was make lots of them and tell thousands of people. Easy!
Making and taking the decision to risk the family life savings, the house and the little blue scooter on a bright idea was the craziest and most irresponsible thing I’ve ever done. By far.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Robert F. Kennedy
He who dares, wins.
You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.
You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go.
I woke up on the first morning of my new life as a budding webtrepreneur feeling exhilarated. I had followed my heart. My head was fuelled by motivational quotes that became mantras for my bold voyage into cyber-success.
The fuel ran out pretty quickly. Life soon spluttered into a hope-guzzling nightmare. Within a few short months I was to clutch ever more desperately at these inspiring words, willing them with all my all to be truer.
Real life crashed on top of me with a harsh and horrible reality. No… harsh and horrible would have been very nice in comparison to the crushing, soul-terrifying realization that I had steered my family into a horror story
Our savings were vanishing fast, even though we were redefining austerity to new thrift-defying levels. My site was earning us 26 cents a day.
The horror. The horror.
Joseph Conrad – ‘The Heart of Darkness’
That’s where I arrived six months after quitting my job. Chilling anxiety hounded my every waking thought. Nightmares of my children’s future destroyed because Daddy couldn’t pay the school fees tormented my sleep. Every day. Every night. No respite. I couldn’t question why life was being so cruel because it had been my decision to risk everything we had.
You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.
Will Smith in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’
With enough to survive on for another few months, I wondered how I would pay for my $180,000 housing loan, the kids’ education, food. I became haunted by self-recrimination. Years later, I saw the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. Will Smith’s character so reminded me of the horrors, my horrors, of 2005.
I desperately went in search of work. A daunting task in a Japanese valley with no language schools or universities. Particularly difficult in a biting recession. My options and my future looked bleak.
Then suddenly, perhaps while on my little blue scooter trundling along through the rice fields (not quite sure), another bright idea popped up. It was another risky one. Again, I prepared myself to break my new plan to my wife. Again, she trusted and supported me.
And this time the two risks together proved to be worth taking and will be elaborated on in the final part of my introductory posts.
Moral of this story – Two big risks are better than one if you have a bee in your bonnet and a bright idea under it.