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I've been on the road well traveled

J Russell

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Jan 28, 2018
Hi everyone! I’m Russell and I am new to this forum. I read TMF , which lead me to this forum - thanks MJ, and have started reading Unscripted with great enthusiasm. The thoughts that MJ has expressed in these books are almost parallel to my thoughts except for one difference - action. Fear of failure is strong in this one.

I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset since at least the 7th grade. I was constantly thinking of businesses to start. One that I remember was developing a parking garage in my city’s downtown because there wasn’t one and barely any parking. I would run numbers that I made up and daydreamed about all the things that I would do with my earned riches. I was well aware of the passive nature of a parking garage and pictured myself enjoying the good life while others financed my lifestyle. Ten years later a parking garage was built by someone else who took action.

I can only think of one time that I ever really took action. I was 19 and pursuing a degree in Accounting at my local university - following the “Script”. My classes were strategically arranged so that my school week ended at noon on Thursday. One day my friend and I were leaving campus and he offered to share some of his herbal relaxation. As we were riding down the street and getting lost in Led Zepplin’s Going to California, a loud repeating sound became louder and louder - whop whop whop whop. Then I saw it. A Marine Corp UH-1 helicopter flying slow just above the treetops on approach to land in this small field in front of us (let me remind you of the herbal essence). I said to my friend, “I’m gonna do that!” with my finger pointing to the helicopter. It was a life changing moment.

I was so in awe of that helicopter that nothing was gonna stop me. I assessed my situation and changed the things about me that needed to change to accomplish my new aspiration. Long story short, I achieved my goal. I became an Army aviator, a maintenance test pilot and maintenance officer. I was allocating 10% of my pay to a mutual fund (A front-loaded one, geez) at 23 years old. Things were great until they weren’t. I developed headaches and the Army discharged me 10 years later. My retirement plan got flushed. Another life changing moment. So, back to school I go. This time becoming a dual major in Finance and Accounting. After two years all I could think of was, “After I finish all I get is around 35k and total boredom? No thanks.” So what did I do? Well I wasn’t having the headaches that I was so I went to the doctor and got a medical certificate that said I could fly again. I dropped out and went back to flying helicopters. This time it would be civilian flying in the Gulf of Mexico in support of the oil and gas industry.

Fast forward to 2010. I wake in the morning at 3:00 am to get ready for work and see on the TV that a drilling rig was on fire in the Gulf of Mexico and they showed an approximate location. I knew what my first flight of the day was going to be and I knew that I would probably be passing by it. The name of the rig was Deepwater Horizon. Little did I know that this would be another life changing moment. By Novemberr of 2011, I was very sick with almost all the symptoms of benzene poisoning (all except unconsciousness and death).

So there I was, unable to work as a pilot and on disability. So what did I do? Well, back to school of course. This time I would finish with a degree in Information Systems but with only a memory of the classes I just took the previous semester. No one was going to hire me. So what do I do? Back to school of course and this time I was going to go into Civil Engineering because the pay was good enough as an entry level hire. One semester I took Calculus and got an A. The next semester, which was only 3 weeks later, I was taking Calc II. I didn’t remember Calc I that I had just taken!! I dropped the class and reassessed. So what did I do next? Back to school of course, but this time in Finance. Well, my body had other ideas and I had to get a hip replacement which I am not 100% healed.

So what am I going to do? Back to school of course - not. I’m thinking that MJ’s book might be another one of those “Going to California” moments. I have the time and the interest to start a business but I have to conquer that demon - fear.
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