I can remember his deep voice and tone so clearly.
This was one of those moments that often replays in my head.
“Take yourself down to Fletcher Jones, and buy yourself a Mercedes.”
I was shocked at his words.
Recently, we had convinced a former CEO over a very successful and well know company to come on board and work for us in a company some business partners, and I were building in California.
Much of what I know about business, I can accredit to working with this man on a day to day basis.
My current Mercedes was on its final leg. I was looking at cars and had drove to a dealership and had stopped running in their parking lot. How convenient!
It was the first car I bought myself in 2008. I was young and dumb and bought it on an impulse after seeing it online for $14,000.
It was the rims that got me. And the leather. Okay, and the sunroof.
Why a Mercedes? Because that is what successful people do (or at least I thought).
Things were starting to move in my first business, and I finally had the funds to buy a car.
So when I was given this advice, I was dumbfounded.
He was running the finances for the company. He knew how much I was making. It wasn’t even Geo Metro money.
But, he knew me. He knew my motivators. He knew how deadly playing small ball could be.
These words he told me were a lesson in capacity. Over the previous two years, I had shrunk down to such a small level that had become my new norm. My new comfort zone.
Clearly, the material things we own do not define us.
However when our ceiling is so low, how can we ever raise it and expand out of it to break through without changing our mindset?
Will making more money change my mindset? Or do I need to change my mindset to make more money?
So, what did I do?
I marched my butt down to Capistrano Volkswagen (I felt a Mercedes would be over the top) and test drove a Volkswagon SUV. It had the leather, panoramic sunroof, navigation, roof rack, everything.
It was love at first sight.
I looked at the price tag of $32,000 and my stomach dropped.
“Should we sign the paperwork?” he asked.
Knowing I clearly could not afford it, I went through and leased the car anyways after negotiating only a $500 down payment.
Luckily my credit was good.
I was terrified and inspired at the same time. Dumb move going beyond my means? Probably.
But, how do we define our means anyways? Who is to say what my ceiling was?
Just two years ago my business partner and I had made $30,000 in one month selling real estate education. I knew what I was capable of.
Any financial genius would call me an idiot, but sometimes it takes drastic measures and big risks to get what we want.
Every year I try to stretch myself.
Uplevel my standard of living. Upleveling my education. Creating a whole new floor for myself that I am used to.
I always ask myself how I can uplevel certain things in my life.
“What can I do to stretch myself?”
“Am I playing small?”
“Am I shrinking to the level of others to feel better about myself?”
Working from home every day, I choose not to live in a place that doesn’t inspire me. I choose not to shrink down to a level just because this is what I think I can afford.
Recently, I signed a lease on a new apartment that was more than I wanted to spend. But, I absolutely loved the place. I’m proud of it as my home. It gives me the motivation to work even harder.
Not so that I can just acquire more things. But for the sake of growth.
Another thing I won’t settle on is food. I refuse to buy shitty food just because it’s cheaper. Somehow, clean eating has become atrociously expensive.
But, how can I put a price on my health? My body is the only home I really have.
Honestly, it is a constant dilemma for me.
I look around my apartment and ask, “Do I really need this?”
The answer is no. I could live in a 500 square foot studio apartment for $800/month.
But, I refuse to play small. I refuse to settle for less. I like granite counter tops. 😉
My home gives me an inspiring environment for my creativity. My car allows me to get around reliably and efficiently so I can spend time working on my vision. The healthy food I eat prevents me from getting sick and missing time away from my art.
It doesn’t have to be as extreme as going out and buying something expensive and putting yourself in tough financial position. But, sometimes we need to take risks for our vision.
In the words of Elon Musk…
“My proceeds from PayPal were $180m. I put $100m in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla & $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.”
Shrinking down to someone else’s level is a lose-lose-lose situation.
Always challenge yourself. Always stretch yourself. Stay uncomfortable.
And ask yourself, “Are there any areas my life that could use some upleving?