An Open Letter To Myself

open letter http://pestcemetery.com/ox·y·mo·ron

ˌäksəˈmôrˌän/

noun

1. a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g.,faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).

I’m writing this article with a supreme confidence. However,  I don’t mind saying the words come with some trepidation as well. Thus I thought it necessary to put the definition of the word oxymoron….. I’m just hoping the “moron” portion of the word is what you DON’T think of me by the time you’re done reading this.

On the one hand, I have many followers and exposing a vulnerable side is not what a true leader makes a habit of. But I also understand a true leader seldom swims with the stream and a true follower is just a leader in waiting.

Just how do you tell 1400 raving Facebook followers, over 1000 Twitterites, 80,000 plus monthly blog reader and all the readers from the largest state industry association magazine in the country that hey, you’re maybe not all you’re cracked up to be…….that you’re human and that on many, many restless nights you too, worry, over the future and just how you’re gonna muster the strength to face another day? 

Perhaps for some the “moron” part is starting to sound like it fits right about now, or maybe you’ve inserted your own word….braggadocios.   I understand.

Recently I’ve had a few direction changing events happen in my life that have helped me tremendously. Sharing them here I can only hope they either help or nudge someone into a better direction, as they did for me.  It is with a profound humility that I offer this article and with a heart full of gratitude I write these words. So if you’re interested….please read on.

Six months ago I sent myself a letter. Just a quickly scribbled out stream of thoughts in a plain, self- addressed stamped envelope with no return address. It came today…….. more on this later.

Where to start?

How do you tell the thousands of friends who look at you as a rock and a stalwart that you get scared too? That there are days you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or, just any damn tunnel at all? That the same darkness they are in is what your hands are groping through now!

What do you say to that guy who messages you on Facebook that says your writings are what spurred him on to fight another day and that he’s finally broken through to the other side? Where do you draw an answer to help someone who clearly has achieved more than you but is looking to you as a beacon of hope to solve a dilemma that now faces them?

Am I a lie?  A fake? A fraud, or someone who has inserted himself to a higher place because he’s gotten more “likes” and “friends?” 

Or, am I just what the doctor ordered and I have a place? Perhaps I am that small ray of hope that has helped many many small firms muddle through just one more day, and in doing so, that was the day their goal came to pass? Or at worst, they were just one day closer and the new strength they found gave them the momentum to push ever closer…. (you can insert your choice of the above words here 😉  )

Happy New Year

Six months ago I was a struggling business. Well, to be honest, for the past four or five years  I’ve been struggling. I just had such minimal growth it wasn’t even funny. In fact, it was worrisome. Ok ok, not struggling in the sense as when I first started 25 years ago but struggling nonetheless. I could pay all my bills and afford some nice trips, but hardly the Fortune 500 some thought me to be. Fat and happy may be a good description here, but lately as I looked around, I could see I was losing “the fat” at a pretty good rate.

It pains me to say this because I write many articles about growing your business and indeed I read everything I can get my hands on how to expand. But I wasn’t doing any of that.  I had been riding a couple of great scores that propelled my business. I kinda thought I was set for life and truth, be told..it was a nice 10 year wave. But eventually if you don’t keep looking for the next great swell you’re going to hit the beach sometime. I crashed there five years ago and basically sat to view the horizon and watch the rising seas from the shore. It was a beautiful place I must say— but a company’s death isn’t pretty no matter where it happens.

Then came the day I wrote the letter….. more on that in a minute.

The Under Tow

Recently on my blog www.pestcemetery.com, I held a promotional contest asking for articles. I can now admit, it was my selfish way to get content while not having to write so much. I had GREAT responses and the articles were well received by my readers. But one stood out to me far above the rest. Resonated in a way that made me think back many years to when I had those same exact frustrations, doubts and fears. It was as if I wrote some of the lines myself.

“The customers were supposed to come in droves. My community was supposed to see my flashy new truck lettering or my beautiful mobile responsive website and instantly choose my brand over the ones they had known for years.

‘How foolish are these people?’, I’ve often asked myself.

‘I’m better!’

‘I’m less expensive!’

‘I’m more trustworthy!’

(Sigh)’What am I doing wrong???’

I spent much of my days and sleepless nights searching for the answers.

And I FOUND answers: A new widget on the website, newspaper ads, Groupon, Angie’s List…

…but unfortunately, I just couldn’t find the RIGHT answers.

I have yet to learn that reputation takes time.

So in that moment, the period I now call the dark ages, I continued to struggle.

‘If I could just jump ONE spot on Google, the masses will come’

‘If I could only afford a billboard on Watson Blvd, my phone would ring off the hook’

Thoughts like these filled my head over and over again.

I check the time. It’s 3:04am.”

I read those lines and it was as if a very bright light went on in my head. Here was essentially a brand new entrepreneur struggling in the same way I was….albeit for me, it was 20 years later. And something else. Although this was so fresh in my mind and the struggle so real— these words were something I had put in my past- AGAIN-

It suddenly dawned on me that his struggles were my struggles twice in my career but at that moment….. I was looking at my past for the second time. 

One scene of my past was indeed back in 1993 where it was all I could do to scrape by, but the other past scene was just six, SIX months ago.

What this winning article writer doesn’t realize is that he was the pinnacle moment of a momentous year. No, I didn’t make the Top 100  list of PCT magazine but I’m damn sure back on my way. What dawned on me however is that even after years of a struggling and some great successes I again fell into to the trappings of those sleepless nights.. Logic tells me I should have been sitting pretty, but I felt alone, trapped and much the same EXACT way I did over two decades ago.  It was a humbling succession of thoughts.

The Mailman Makes His Delivery

So I’ve teased you about this letter and it’s time to explain. Six months ago I was asked if I wanted to attend a business course…specifically a Tony Robbins course. The commitment and price tag aren’t for the faint of heart but neither was the future I was slowly realizing I faced as a pest control company.

Suffice to say I learned so very much. Everything from how to look at accounting to what the REAL status of my business was and why I was failing….better yet…How I could succeed. Now if you’re not into Mr. Robbins that’s ok, in fact that’s great. In his own words…”Find SOMEBODY, ANYBODY or SOMEWHERE you can go to learn and be motivated so that you can enjoy all the great rewards of being an owner of a business and forgo the trappings that so easily take 95% of us. It’s that simple, get off your butt and make it happen and DO NOT depend on your past failures or in my case, successes– both can be a downfall.

So, in the middle of this conference we were asked to write a letter to ourselves that envisioned where we’d be in just six short months. Ok, partly hype or wishful thinking but if you truly applied the principles just where do you think you’ll be. Put that in writing! So I did!

I hadn’t given the letter any thought until it came. Instead, I came home from the conference, and just put some new found plans into action while at the same time was pleased that I was doing quite a few things right…those things, I continued to do albeit with much more fervor.

So in six…SIX…. extremely fast months I accomplished what I could not in the last five years. All but one goal in fact, and, the others I simply obliterated. OBLITERATED!!!!

So how did I do that? Way too much to write all in one sitting but your keys are just a few sentences above. Mainly — “find and apply the principles.”

But my success or failure is hardly the point of this article and if that’s what shines through, I truly apologize. What I had hoped to accomplish was for you (and me)  to realize that we’re NOT alone in our struggles to succeed but that only WE ALONE can change the outcome. Six months or six years, it doesn’t matter…… find the principles, get the drive and push Open Letter http://pestcemetery.com/
forward despite the obstacles in your way.

Your goals are only one decision away, only one thought and acting on your resolve is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling. This, my friend is all that stands between you and your dream.  It’s that simple.

Perhaps you won’t write yourself a letter like I did but maybe you will. If so, please feel free to send me a copy as well……. I’d be overjoyed to celebrate your grand success with you. I’ll even pay for the postage. 

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Richard Riley

    Terrific Jerry!

  • Thank you Richard

  • Josh Rzepka

    Loved this, as I am going though a rough. Patch it is good to hear others do to. And to hear the is light at the end of the tunnel

  • Thank you Josh…..Glad it helped…..