My ‘Perfect Storm’

storms-brew-thunder-lightning

 

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

Norman Vincent Peale

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared my journey to this point in my life. Much has changed and evolved since the last time I shared this story so I thought it was time for an update.

But first, a question for you: Do you believe in yourself?

Life is a crazy journey of unlikely twists and turns and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I need to believe in myself before others will.

My beginning (literally)

Maybe it’s my natural tendency to be curious, but I like to understand where people are coming from and what makes them who they are. Everyone has a story and our story is what helps us connect to each other. Here’s mine.

My story starts in rural Eastern Oregon. That’s where I grew up. Back then, my idea of fun was seeing how many ‘city kids’ I could convince (dare) to touch the electric fence. It always brought me a twisted sense of pleasure to see the surprise on someone’s face after receiving an unexpected jolt of energy enter their body. And don’t worry. Karma got me back plenty of times. This is just the crazy shit young boys do.

My parents both worked full time and we lived on a horse ranch. Which sounds fun to most people until I describe the sheer volume of horse crap that I moved (manually) from one place to another.

I had a pretty standard small town upbringing, complete with grandpa’s fighting over who would take me fishing and getting reprimanded for making weird bodily noises in church.

By the time I was 18, I had spent my entire life in one single small town and I couldn’t wait to charge off to college and begin my own life. This was before parents thought it was normal to pay for their kids’ college tuition so I worked my way through college in pursuit of a better life. I was done with small towns and shoveling horse manure!

The brainwashing begins

I graduated from college and made my way to the big city and started working my way up the ladder in the fast paced world of technology. I worked hard, got married, bought a house in the suburbs, leased new cars, passed up vacations in order to work even harder, and thought that I was on a path to “success.” I had all the trappings of a good life and I was working hard but looking forward to the day that I would quit my job and be happy.

I was living what I thought was the life I wanted. I mean, everyone was telling me what a great career I had and what a great job I was doing so I must be doing it all right!

Umm…no! I was only following the lead of everyone else around me. I was allowing my friends, the culture and my work environment brainwash me. I was so busy being busy that I couldn’t see another way.

The storm hits

Back in the early 2000‘s, technology was the place to be and I was right smack in the middle of it working for a software startup in Portland. Everything was purring along nicely and then – BAM – the stock market crashed and within months, technology companies began firing people. The inconceivable was happening. And I got laid off. And then I did what seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. I started investing all of my money into real estate. And then the real estate market crashed. And then I lost everything I had worked so hard for.

A low point

I found myself newly divorced, out of work, nearly broke and looking for answers. If it had not been for what I now call my ‘Perfect Storm’, I might still be comfortably numb, spiritually bankrupt and feeling financially indestructible.

And as if things weren’t bad enough, my dog suddenly died and I lost my investment properties to foreclosure because I couldn’t sell them or pay for them. To say that all hell broke loose would be a massive understatement.

My ‘Perfect Storm’ shook me out of my complacency and plunged me into uncertainty, in which everything I held as important and true fell apart. Old beliefs began to to dissolve but nothing rushed in to take their place. I felt like I was just floating, ungrounded, desperate and hopelessly lost.

I had followed a path that was out of alignment for so many years and I was silently suffering. I remembered when I was a kid in school, how much I loved to draw, and paint, and create, and move, and play. What had happened? How did I get so off course? I still loved these things but I gave them up for what? For money? For security? For doing what others expected of me?

I found my way back into a technology job, leveraging my contacts and experience to do what I knew best. I drastically simplified my life, selling almost everything that I didn’t absolutely need or love. I started saving large chunks of my salary and I had zero debt for the first time in a long while. I started going to yoga and living a more healthy life. I felt as if I had wiped the slate clean and I was being re-born.

And then I began to dream again

I started getting glimpses of a new calling, but these glimpses would only come in flashes that were often undefined and fuzzy. But I knew something was coming. I felt an urge to be more creative but in a way that allowed me to work with people and earn some extra income on the side. I purposely mention income here because so many creative people tend discount it. Wake up! If you’re not making a good income, then you’re not serving your most important client – YOU!

Pondering how I could keep the parts of being in a technology career while ditching what sucked out my soul led me to realize that I wanted to help people learn to live unapologetically, in alignment with the truth of who they really are.

I never could have anticipated what happened next in my life. The more aligned I became with my inner desires, the more life seemed to return to me! I was getting raises and bonuses at work, I met and married the most amazing woman in the world, I started a little blog which led to a few coaching clients which led to getting paid for work that I love.

Who’da thunk I could have all this? Well that’s exactly the point! I started to believe that I deserved to have good things happen to me. My ‘Perfect Storm’ allowed me to see that unless I was brave enough to trust and believe in myself, that life would be a series of endless storms, slamming me around.

This didn’t happen overnight, but I decided to start trusting my inner desires and slowly pursue the people, activities and places that interested me the most. And by doing so, I began to listen to my own inner wisdom instead of what everyone else was saying.

In hindsight, I realize that I couldn’t have written a story better than this. And everything continues to emerge, like an onion, as I peel back the layers and become increasingly clear on what I’m here on earth to do.

One more #*% surprise

The Universe, having the sense of humor that it does, had one more big surprise in store for me. I was notified earlier this year that the software division at my company would be dissolved and that I was going to be losing my six-figure corporate job in August. Now the good news is that I had already started building something on the side to bring in a little extra income but this did nothing to dampen the shock of my day job disappearing.

So now I’m on this journey full time. I’m coaching people, I’m starting a new web show (to be released next week), I’m in the early stages of co-developing a new course with one of my mentors and I’m giving everything I’ve got to this new adventure.

While this process hasn’t been easy, it has been the most rewarding magical, enlightening journey I’ve ever experienced. In retrospect, I can honestly say that my ‘Perfect Storm’, as gut-wrenching as it was – was the best thing that ever happened to me. And if you’re in the midst of a Perfect Storm, embrace the change (even though it feels like hell) and use it as an opportunity to discover your purpose for being alive.

Best,

Michael

P.S. How have your ‘Perfect Storms’ shaped your life? Please share if you feel compelled to do so. You never know how your story may liberate someone else.

 

12 thoughts on “My ‘Perfect Storm’

  1. Sean Lowery

    Mike,

    This is a great email and very inspiring. It would be an honor to catch up sometime and discuss life. Thanks for making me stop long enough to read this entire blog and think for a moment. I know so many people trapped in the wheel of life as well.
    Sean

    Reply
  2. Daisy
    Twitter:

    What inspiring words and kudos for embracing that storm! Thank you for sharing your story, you’re right, you don’t know how you may liberate someone else…you have. I find myself in my own version of a perfect storm and am riding it as best as I can with a whole lot of uncertainty. Things definitely are given a different perception and it’s up to us to want to make that shift. My storms have prepared me for the next and I truly believe we’re not put in a place we’re unable to manage.
    Daisy recently posted…Coca-Cola’s Honest TruthMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Daisy – thanks for sharing your thoughts. The great thing about storms is that they pass. And some storms are more fierce than others. I remember feeling so much uncertainty when I was in the middle of my storm. The best advice that I can give is to listen for what’s next for you and be open to receiving it. The other big thing for me was to just ‘let go’ of everything that was no longer working in my life. When storms come along they can actually help with the letting go. The very nature of a storm is to stir things up and initiate change…to blow the leaves from the trees and almost force a ‘letting go.’ I have no doubt that your storm will launch you into new and exciting opportunities.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…When adventure calls, do you listen?My Profile

      Reply
  3. erica
    Twitter:

    Michael, thanks for sharing your touching story… it’s so interesting how most of us literally have to hit rock bottom or be FORCED into making changes that are far too intimidating when everything is ‘comfortable’. It’s admirable that you realized you could take your darkest moments as opportunity to change your life for the better; you took serious risks doing so, and it’s empowering to see it pay off! Thanks for the inspiration… we need to be reminded of stories like yours regularly to help shift our focus on what we truly want out of our lives. Keep up the great work!
    erica recently posted…does your sweetener cause weight gain?My Profile

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Erica – You are so right that many of us have to go down with the ship, kicking and screaming all the way, before we realize we need to make some big changes in our life. It would have been so much easier for me to just let go instead of hanging on so tight. But that’s the way some of us more stubborn minded souls have to experience things I guess! :-) Thanks for leaving your comments. I appreciate it.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…When adventure calls, do you listen?My Profile

      Reply
  4. Wendy

    Wow Michael what an inspiring story!

    Some areas of my life are at their worst and I do find that focusing on the future and bettering and securing other parts (like career options and helping others) helps me to get through it and deal with it all.

    And financial stress is such a huge detriment on out quality of life! That is great that you came out of the perfect storm on top and better off!

    I only hope to do the same!

    As for a previous perfect storm of mine… I can’t totally give details because it s still affecting my current life, but I am glad it happened because it has definitely made me realize who I am, made me stronger and more confident in myself (after the realization and healing process), and made me realize who really cares about me. And it’s critical to have that support system in place to rely on – yourself, loyal friends, and loyal family!
    Wendy recently posted…The Surprising Connection Between Journaling and HealthMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Hi Wendy. Thanks for leaving your comments. It sounds like you are experiencing some storms of your own. I would just say to let go of what’s no longer working for you and to know that things will get better. You are right that financial stress can be a huge weight that can feel overwhelming. With financial storms it’s often best to face them head-on with the raw truth and then get very practical about the next steps. Having a basic level of financial security in place is so important to being able to create something meaningful. I wish you all the best in navigating the current storm that you are facing. It sounds like you are already realizing some of the benefits. Storms always feel awful when you are in them but the peace that follows is worth it. Listen and let go. Things will be better.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…When adventure calls, do you listen?My Profile

      Reply
  5. Mary Beth Leisen
    Twitter:

    Oooohhhh… I’ve had a few storms, although none was quite as ‘perfect’ as what you experienced. Quite a few times, I’ve been tossed around by the waves, struggling with career change, divorce, and other life experiences. I often wonder if we’re capable of gaining such huge life insights without the painful part or if the pain is actually necessary. I do know I’ve learned huge amounts from the stormy times, but a part of me often wonders if other people have figured out how to grow without getting tossed on the rocks so much. Alas, I guess that answer to that doesn’t even matter because my journey is what it is, so there’s no sense comparing to someone else’s, and I’ll take it as it is. Thanks for sharing yours. :-)
    Mary Beth Leisen recently posted…‘Bad Apple’ Situations: How to Prevent Yourself and Others from SpoilingMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Hi Mary Beth. You ask a great question about whether the pain is necessary to gain big insights about our lives. I think it’s an individual thing. I now know that my big storm was years in the making. I remember thinking that I should confront certain things in my life sooner but I chose to put my head in the sand instead. I guess I just hoped that everything would get better. Well…that’s not a good strategy! That’s why I had to hit rock bottom. Had I faced my fears sooner, I’m quite certain that my storm wouldn’t have been quite as severe. Now I approach things much different in my life. Partly because I’ve learned some things and I don’t want to repeat those same patterns and partly because I don’t want to face another storm like the one I spoke of. And yes – I think you hit the nail on the head when you state that everyone has their own unique journey that’s ‘perfect’ for them.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…When adventure calls, do you listen?My Profile

      Reply
  6. Andrew Abrams

    Mr. Knouse, I was one of those kids you talked into “touching the electric fence” at your parent’s farm! Although not funny at time, it was a good life lesson…lol. Very happy to see that you overcame all of the negative and turned it into a possitive. Keep up the good work! By the way, I have an extreme fear of wire fences now, so thanks for that!

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Hahaha!!! You made me laugh this morning Andy! Hopefully there was no long term damage done by the electric fence. :-) Thanks for saying a few words here on my blog. I appreciate it, my friend. I hope that all is well. Do let me know if you’re ever planning a trip to Oregon. Would be great to see you.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…When adventure calls, do you listen?My Profile

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge