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Leaving Banking, Becoming Broke, A Blessing In Disguise... A Lesson In Resilience

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

It was a hard time. I had gone from being the investment banker who had it all to have zero, zilch, nothing. From spending when and how I wanted, to thinking should I make this trip using my car because I needed to conserve petrol. In my last newsletter, I talked about impulsively quitting my job at Goldman Sachs. Becoming broke was a consequence of that decision, but I learnt a few lessons. Resilience lesson 1 Don’t be blindly optimistic. Unlike resilient people who are realistically optimistic, I was blindly optimistic. Within a few months, I was broke as I kept spending, assuming I would get a job or business break soon. I couldn’t pay my bills; I had to rent out my flat or lose it. Luckily, my friend allowed me to squat in his 2-year-old daughter’s room, sleeping on the floor on an airbed. She became my alarm clock for the next few months. His wife gave birth prematurely to their second child, so I had to leave to squat with another friend and then another. All this could have been avoided if I planned for the worst and spent my savings more wisely. Are you blindly optimistic in any area of your life? Being realistically optimistic means expecting the best and planning for the worst. Resilience lesson 2Find meaning. Resilient people find meaning in challenging situations; it is the bridge that helps them get from where they are to a better place. When I was lying on the floor in my friend’s daughter's room, scared about going to a networking event because I felt like nothing and couldn’t think of what I will say when asked what are you up to, I found meaning. I realised that basing my self-worth on what I did or had was no way to live. I worked on developing my self-esteem without having “success”. I was a son, a brother, a friend, a husband to be. I had talents that helped people. Who are you without it all? I remembered as my Pastor once demonstrated that if you take a £50 note, crumple it, spit on it and step on it. It remains £50. Its value is unchanged. I realised that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15. If all I took from that experience was developing the ability to stand tall and confident when I had nothing, it was worth it. Resilience lesson 3 Realise who is important / get support. One day at dinner, I looked around the table and realised that my family and friends didn’t care if I had a £1bn or £0. I wasn’t less in their eyes. When you have nothing, you learn to value the people who matter and realise that the people you try to impress are unimportant. Resilient people seek support. My fiancé (now my wife) was my rock; I couldn’t help but wonder if she was crazy in still wanting to get married to me. We met in university, and the vision she had bought into was a high flying investment banker. Here I was broke, squatting, getting pocket money from her and still sticking to my guns that banking was over, and I will start all over again. I had nothing to offer except me. Sweety, I don’t get tired of saying thank you for believing in me. Thank you, my love, you are the best. During this time, a fundamental life change happened. I no longer sought validation from everyone. I stopped trying to impress people, and I started prioritising the important people. I like to say, “success is being free from people’s opinions”, this liberating realisation that helps me live a purposeful life was birth during this period. Of course, there are many more lessons I learnt from this blessing in disguise, which I will share in future posts; for now, remember that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome it by finding meaning in your situation and getting the support you need. Memorable quote - “Life is meaningful, I learnt many more lessons, and we must learn to see life as meaningful despite our circumstances” Victor Frankl. Coaching tip - Answer the question - who are you without it all?. Leadership challenge - Apply lesson three and be a supportive leader. Ask the people you lead how you can improve in supporting them.

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