December 13, 2018

Endurance Chronicles: The Power of Devastation

Endurance Chronicles are guest posts from readers that have endured hardships and struggles on their road to success. I’ll post them periodically so that we can all be inspired. If you have an endurance chronicle you would like to share, please send it on to jarie at enduranceleader dot com.

This endurance chronicle is by Stacy Hess of positivePR.

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. ~ William Barclay

Before I decided to go into business with my two partners, I asked myself, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen?” Never did I imagine that the answer to that question would come to fruition.

But it did.

On a breezy LA night, I had a gut feeling that I should go to the office and when my friend and I arrived, we found that everything was in boxes and my two business partners were headed out.

The moment was surreal. I felt dizzy and nauseous. My head spun, my heart raced and everything happened in slow motion.

I had put everything I had, financially and emotionally, into the business. I felt my world crashing down around me – all stability gone. My friend took me home where I sat with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands in utter fear and disbelief. Eventually, she put me to bed and I sobbed until, mercifully, I fell into a troubled sleep.

Against my will, morning came. I pulled the covers over my head and pressed my body as far down into the mattress as I could, hoping it would swallow me. I couldn’t even imagine getting out of bed as the events of the previous night came flooding back into my brain and my heart once again raced. I thought that if I could just go back to sleep, if I could just sink back into the bliss of unconsciousness, possibly for eternity, somehow things would be better.

But I have a dog. And dogs have to go outside to pee regardless of how utterly devastated their human may be. So I credit Oliver with forcing me to get out of bed that first day. I credit Oliver with forcing me to take the first crucial step.

That day, and every day for several months to come, I simply began with getting out of bed and taking Oliver outside. Next, I fed him. Then I made coffee. That got me through the first 30 minutes of the day and the way I saw it, I only had another 14 or 15 hours to go – 28 or 30 half hours to get through one at a time with each one being an accomplishment that encouraged me to make it through the next one.

I was no stranger to endurance, having competed in triathlons and 100-mile bike races for the past several years. Every triathlon was just a quick swim, a nice bike ride and a little run – no big deal. Every 100-mile bike race was just five 20-mile training rides in a row. My athletic endeavors had taught me to break seemingly insurmountable activities into bite-sized pieces that felt manageable rather than intimidating. Instinctively, I fell into this pattern with getting through each day, and it worked.

When it all began, I had no idea where I was going to get money to pay my rent or to buy food. So I went to a friend’s restaurant and offered to do their PR for them in exchange for meals. I called my parents and told them what happened. They began to send me care packages of powdered mashed potatoes and Kraft macaroni and cheese every week. Food problem solved!

But I had to find work because I had to be able to pay my rent, so I called up a filmmaker I’d met at Sundance earlier that month. When we met, he told me he only had $500, which was nowhere near the firm’s standard monthly fee, so we amicably parted ways. But now, $500 was a whole lot closer to keeping a roof over my head (and Oliver’s head) than I presently was, so I rang him up and he became my first client. We met the next day, and with checkbook in hand, he said, “What’s your company’s name? To whom shall I make out the check?”

I stared at him blankly because I didn’t actually HAVE a company, much less a company name.

Uh…” I began.

How about Positive PR?” he asked. “I think that is the perfect name for your firm because you are such a positive person and it’s reflected in the PR work you do.”

And that is how positivePR came to be, nearly four years ago – exactly one week after I walked in on my business partners walking out on me.

Since then, my company has worked on award-winning films, grown to be a team of six amazing people, and turns a profit. It hasn’t been easy. And it was a test of endurance and a testament to the strength of the human spirit every step of the way.

I’m really proud of what we’ve built at positivePR and I shall be eternally grateful to those business partners of mine for thrusting me unexpectedly into what was the most awful experience of my life because it led me to find the courage to endure and ultimately create something amazing and rewarding.

If it weren’t for my world crashing down around me, I never would have known my own mettle and I certainly wouldn’t be doing work today that has the power to help others endure and change the world in their own way.