You Cannot Successfully Reinvent Yourself Alone
It is impossible to reinvent yourself alone.
Steph Curry, one of the most underrated young players who went on to become a 4-time NBA World Champion, had this to say about pursuing his dreams to become an NBA player against all the odds:
“I think about what [my teammates at Davidson College] all meant to me and my confidence as a player. You don’t do anything in this life by yourself. And the confidence of the group is your superpower. And those guys unlocked that for me.”
Reinvention means making a radical shift in your life or career which requires innovation and creativity. Without people to challenge and push your ideas and support you, you’ll likely run out of time and resources.
How a Dear Friend Became My Reinvention Partner
When I began to write my book, The Journey to Reinvention: How to Build a Life Aligned With Your Values, Passion, and Purpose, I almost forgot how important one of my dear friends was early in my journey.
During a writing session, I needed to confirm something I couldn’t remember, and I went through an old email address from 2007. While searching, I found a set of emails between me and a dear friend, Fran. Fran and I worked for the same company, but in different business units, cities, and roles. We started at Ingersoll-Rand one year apart and quit within a couple of months of each other in 2008. In 2007, we both started talking about reinventing ourselves, possibly into entrepreneurs. We didn’t know what that would look like, but we spoke a great deal about it and helped each other develop our respective ideas.
Here is an exchange we had about an ideation technique I had just learned. This was useful because at the time, Fran and I were discussing and developing ideas we wanted to pursue.
Note to Fran about an ideation technique I had just discovered:
Hey Fran, check this out. i was reading a book on
Da Vinci and found a great technique for idea
I already started two exercises for the new
idea we discussed…
one on the idea itself the other on revenue model…
we can probably blow this up 20 times bigger if we worked on it
together. perhaps you can print this while you are traveling for work in Germany and
scribble some more ideas. here’s a scan of it…
Fran’s reply to me:
This tool will come in very handy throughout the course of this idea progression. Here was my approach. I went ahead and did mine from scratch. Attached is what I came up with. I haven’t even compared/contrasted yours to mine. It’s probably something we should do while talking over the phone just to make sure we’ve covered each other’s thoughts accurately and completely.
It’s funny because your ideation tool fits well into how I arrange my thoughts and how I think. I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty easy to adapt to the tool for this reason. How bout you?
Anyway, I did a quick 5 minute mind dump onto a blank piece of paper. Attached is what I came up with. Actually, I ran outta room, but I figure what I have is enough for now and plus it’s already pretty messy. Let me know what you think.
For now I’m going to get ready for bed since it’s almost 1am here. Man the time flies when you’re having fun! Good night and keep dreamin’ bro 🙂
Writing Our Resignation Letters Together
Reading these 2007-2008 emails, I was reminded how common these exchanges were. I only wish there had been a way to capture our phone calls. I recall we spoke quite regularly over the phone.
Fran and I were reinvention partners. We both knew there was something else out there for us, however, we didn’t know what to do next to make it happen. We ventured into the unknown together and supported each other as we developed our respective ideas. A couple of years later, we even joined forces and co-launched a couple of startups.
Without his partnership on this journey, my ideas would have gone unchecked. More importantly, it can be lonely on the journey to reinvention, especially when all our friends chased promotions and we pursued the possibility of quitting our corporate careers. It didn’t make sense to them that we wanted to leave corporate and go out on our own. Fran and I could lean on and support each other on the journey.
Fran was even there when I drafted my letter of resignation. He had resigned about a month earlier. Here is an exchange where I ask him for help revising my letter.
A message to Fran about writing my letter of resignation:
do you have a copy of your resignation letter?
i just wanna see it again…i thought i saved it but I couldn’t find it.
by the way…here’s a draft of mine…let me know what you think.
Fran’s reply to me:
Howdy, I attached my letter.
I also attached some revisions I made to your letter. Overall, your letter looks good. Feel free to use (or not use) the suggestions I’ve made.
Call me if you have any questions. I will be leaving shortly for Harrisburg.
Talk to you soon!
The Importance of Partnership and Community on The Journey to Reinvention
Here is another email written by Fran as part of another larger thread. I’ll spare you the entire thread because I think this note says it all. This email was written on April 15th, 2008, just before he quit his job and two months before I quit mine.
Thank you, Roger.
I’m glad we met, those years back in college. It’s funny how all of this is coming together. I thank God for the good times thus far; and I pray hard that they continue. I firmly believe that you and I have been inspired to do great things. I’m very excited to move on our ideas together.
You words below are powerful and I sincerely appreciate them. They mean a lot to me, my friend. I too love you like a brother.
We have some very exciting times ahead of us; I look forward to developing our ideas and ourselves. I know already that my life wouldn’t be the same without you, man. Case in point: I wouldn’t be here, at Ingersoll-Rand if you didn’t introduce me to the company back at Penn State. And if I wasn’t here, would we be about ready to take the leap that we are about to? I don’t know. But I do know everything happens for a reason.
I believe there was a reason we both ended up where we are now. Up until this point, we were where we needed to be. Now, it is time for the next step. Congratulations to both of us; we are about to complete another milestone of our careers. And good luck to both of us because a new chapter is starting for us. We will get there. We most certainly will get there.
Thank you again, bro,
Based on those emails, it became so clear to me that I never would have taken that first leap if not for his friendship and support. I even found an email exchange referring to a trip that Fran took to St. Louis (where I lived at the time) the week after my last Friday at my corporate job.
We spent that week working on our respective ideas to bring them to life. I had completely forgotten this!
And Fran wasn’t the only person who was there for me early on my journey. My girlfriend at the time was there too when I made the scary decision to quit. My former manager, who became like a second father to me was there as well.
It was this group of people, my team of sorts, that I drew confidence from during one of the boldest and scariest decisions of my life. They helped me tap into my own superpowers and make it.
It is this personal experience that drives me to find a way to recreate this for others. I want to be the reinvention partner I was lucky to have on my journey. And I want to take it one step further and be their coach, their thought partner, their motivation when they run into setbacks.
If you are ready to begin moving in a new direction, but you don’t know exactly what direction that is or what to do next, reach out to me via Linkedin, Instagram, or my website. I want to help you get clear on your next move and get you on your way!