I've known from early on that I made a terrible employee. If someone tells me to do something my immediate reaction is to immediately push back. I don't even know why that is.
I need to do my own thing. For me, having a regular job and working for someone else would be torture.
My name is Tim Stoddart. I am a recovered drug addict. I am naturally obsessive and driven and hard working. My addiction really is a bi-product of all the nervous energy that constantly buzzes inside of me. Luckily, I have found ways to channel that energy into something positive.
To make a long story short, after years of abusing drugs, I went to rehab in Philadelphia. On March 4th, I will have 7 years of continuous sobriety. It is and always will be my proudest achievement.
In a weird way, I am grateful for my struggle with addiction. It taught me some very valuable lessons about life and I have been able to translate those lessons into my business as well. My addiction gave me an unfair advantage over everyone else because it taught me lessons that prepared me for the tough and creative world of entrepreneurship.
I've used these lessons to help build my marketing agency, and I want to share my experience with you in hopes that you could learn these lessons the easy way.
Let's take a closer look...
Lesson 1 - Tough Times Don't Last, But Neither do the Good Times
I was an opiate addict. If you don't have experience with opiates, let me paraphrase what it is like. Opiates are heavenly. When you take opiates, all of your pain disappears. The world is soft and fluffy and everything feels great. All of your troubles disappear.
The problem is, they really don't. You are just putting on blinders.
I have found the same to be true in business.
In my early days, I loved to celebrate good news. I loved to buy new Chuck Taylors and eat at nice restaurants and buy plane tickets to see new places.
Money and sales had become my new drug. I was always chasing the intoxication I felt when I heard the word "yes." Every sale I closed was another pill that was bringing me closer to heaven. Ultimately, the good times came crashing down.
It is a tough lesson for anyone to learn. Preparing for the future and not getting too worked up is a vital personality trait in any successful entrepreneur. You can't let the high of temporary successful become blinders. The reality is that life goes up and down.
To be successful requires patience, practicality, and humility. Addiction was trying to teach me these lessons, but business put me in my place.
Lesson 2 - The Only Thing Holding You Back is Fear
Why do people use drugs? Why do people drink? Why does anyone behave in a self-destructive manner?
Simple... it's fear. Every time.
Look, I am not an addiction therapist. I don't know the details of addiction and brain chemistry and I don't have a pharmacology license.
What I can speak from is experience and my experience tells me that abusing drugs or alcohol or food or anything is always rooted in some type of fear.
Maybe you are afraid of failure. Maybe you are afraid of social situations or maybe you are afraid of feeling pain. Whatever the case, fear is always the common denominator.
We use because we want the fear to "go away." The funny thing is that sobriety never taught me how to remove fear, it just taught me how to manage it better.
Being a business owner fills you with fear, it fills you with doubt and it leaves you second guessing yourself. BUT, over time I have learned that my fears are mostly lies. They are self-defense mechanisms that are keeping me on my toes. To embrace fear, to really allow yourself to feel it and to continue forward in spite of fear is the only way you will build the courage to succeed.
Entrepreneurship is not a leap of faith. It is not a huge risk. It is the constant chipping away at fear and risk and if you maintain your composure, you will have a good chance of succeeding.
However, if you listen to that little demon inside of you telling you that you are not good enough, or that you are not worthy, then your chances are very slim. If you make your decisions based on fear, the only hope for you to succeed is to get lucky.
Lesson 3 - Embrace Pain
Addiction and recovery taught me so much about pain.
These days, there is a pill for every ill. My arm hurts, pop a pill. My heart hurts, I must have clinical depression, pop a pill.
When I stopped "popping pills" I was forced to feel. I couldn't deflect that pain anymore. This prepared me for the world of business. In business, there is no way to hide from the truth. If something is happening, you must address it and you must deal with it. There exists no margin of error for you to depend on. When you make a mistake, it really hurts.
But that is okay. Pain does not kill you. Pain strengthens you and ultimately, pain is the greatest motivator there is.
When we deflect pain away and when we refuse to let ourselves feel it, we are depriving ourselves from very valuable lessons that will help us in the future. Every time I make a mistake or life punches me in the gut, I do my best to soak it in and allow myself to feel it.
I remind myself that everything will be okay. That this moment is just temporary and that in the long run, this is only helping me become a stronger person.
Sobriety Is Your Greatest Gift
You may not believe it right away, but it's true.
It is my opinion that recovered addicts make the best entrepreneurs. Life has already given you all you need. You have a high pain tolerance, you have experience with hardship and you have great problem solving abilities.
The rest you can be taught, but the most important lessons come from life.
Help people. Provide value. Work hard and you will have a fulfilling life.
You have the keys to the kingdom.
If you are in recovery and are ready to start your entrepreneurial journey or need support in your career or education, check out our mentorship programs.