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Perry Marshall: A Cautionary Tale for Memorial Day


Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/

Rewind 20 years. I’m a senior in college. I’m 23 and I have that entrepreneurial ADHD can’t-sit-still burn to do EVERYTHING and conquer the world. I’ve been married a couple of years.

I’m taking a full load of courses in engineering school.

I have a part-time job tutoring students at a nearby public school.

I’m on the Engineering Executive Board at the university. I’m also editor of the college engineering magazine.

A guy comes over once a week, usually around 10-11 at night. He pays me seven bucks an hour to tutor him on his homework.

I manage an apartment complex for a discount on my rent. I’m collecting rent checks from tenants and fixing broken stuff.

My wife has a full time job.

I’m in Amway too. Evenings and weekends and between classes I’m “drawing circles.” Every month we go to a rally. Sometimes I go on road trips to help my downline recruit people and I’m gone many weekend. Often getting home at 3am from some meeting 3 hours from home, sleeping for awhile and heading back to school.

I’m incessantly checking my voice messages, making phone calls. Yammering to my wife constantly about ‘the business.’

I’ve also dabbled in MLM #2 and MLM #3.

ALL our money is getting spent and more. We’re spiraling deeper into debt. We discover that a baked potato makes for a REALLY CHEAP breakfast and lunch.

I’ve got my hand in a couple of things at church.

I’m surviving on about 5 hours of sleep every night.

Some people pay me money to refurbish their stereo equipment.

I’m building my senior project in the engineering lab.

I’m sending out resumes to companies, because I’m about to graduate with my EE degree. A few of those companies fly me in to interview.

Laura hears a program on the radio about taking Sundays off, not working on the “Sabbath.” She says “Perry I think you should take Sundays off.”

“Laura, that’s crazy! I’ll never get my homework done. I’ll get bad grades and that’ll hurt my GPA. Sorry, that’s just unrealistic.”

So that was the end of that conversation.

We NEVER take vacations. We only go to business seminars.

I’m discovering that if you work 100 hours per week, you can do a LOT of stuff. I mean a LOT. Everything I just rattled off, I was doing in 1992.

If working hard keeps you from being a “bad guy” then I am fairly sure I’m not one of the bad guys.

I’m discovering that if you’re boiling with dissatisfaction and self condemnation and feelings of inadequacy and failure, you can just BURY those feelings in constant BUSYNESS. Ear to the ground, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel.

Well guess what:

All that frenetic activity exacted a HEAVY price on my relationships, my marriage, my finances and my sanity.

In fact it all just made me feel worse, because when you’re striving and your needle is running 140% in the red, what you get is just more frustration that it’s not working.

Stephen DeSilva, at my Financial Head Trash seminar said: “You’re going to take that day off sooner or later. You’ll either take that day off every week like you’re supposed to. Or you’ll take that day off in a hospital somewhere when you get sick and your body shuts down.”

One of my customers chimed in: “Dude, that is SOOO true. My dad worked seven days a week for YEARS as a CPA. He was paddling like crazy. Then he got into some gray areas and did some questionable stuff and he went to white-collar jail for a year. He took his days off in a prison cell.”

Inspiration never comes when your fists are clenched.

It’s Memorial Day in the US, a holiday. This afternoon friends are coming over but like MANY entrepreneurs, like you, this morning I’m finishing up some stuff.

Suddenly this story came to mind.

So I’m going to finish working and enjoy the rest of the day.

Yesterday was Sunday and I was OFF.

You should do the same.

I offer my apologies to my long-suffering wife and all the other people who I barely saw for years.

The entrepreneurial life is going to be frenetic sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be insane.

If you are so bound by a sense of obligation, holding yourself to some impossible standard… if you for some reason believe that you are not allowed to enjoy life until you “become successful” … I must tell you right now that you’re making a big mistake.

YES it is fantastic to pursue a dream and to work hard for the future. YES hard work has its rewards.

But don’t make yourself and everyone else miserable on the way there.

It is not worth it.

Jeff Paul said, “You meet the same people on the way down as you met on the way up.”

If you’re on your way up – or if you’re just TRYING to move up – make sure you enjoy and appreciate the people who are around you.

Especially your family. You know, those people in your house who put up with you.

If you love working hard, you need to play hard.

You can’t play unless you STOP working hard every now and then. And enjoy yourself.

The WORST thing you can do on a holiday is make yourself miserable and stew about your failures because you haven’t attained some goal that you falsely believe will make you worthy.

A very wise person once said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Carpe Diem, seize the day… you can seize it tomorrow. Don’t seize today, cuz it’s a holiday. Stop and just enjoy it.

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