Barrett Ersek is a serial entrepreneur; he’s been founding and growing his own businesses since he was 17 years old. Through his entrepreneurial journey, Barrett has come to embrace and rely on a philosophy of gratitude.
In his Paper Napkin Wisdom Barrett shares how gratitude has shifted his perception and helped him find the opportunity in disaster.
Faith and Fear
There is a dichotomy of faith and fear in being an entrepreneur. Barrett believes that we start as entrepreneurs because we think we’re chasing freedom but once you get into business, life gets very complicated and the responsibility and burden of owning a company can make fear a prevalent part of life. “Fear is a prison,” says Barrett. Fear puts us into a place of anxiety and stress and it does nothing but stifle us. Barrett reminds us that we can choose to have faith. If we have faith that everything life brings us as a gift, fear dissipates and we regain our mental freedom.
Barrett talks about how he was introduced to this philosophy of faith and gratitude when he met Brother David Steindl-Rast at an EO event. Brother David talked about the difficulties of growing up in Austria during WWII. He was a quarter Jewish and though it was a brutal and difficult time, he got through it by looking for something to be grateful for every day. Brother David has a philosophy of gratitude; he believes that Faith is trust in life. If you trust that everything in life is a gift, it removes fear and anxiety from your heart and fills you with peace and creativity. Barrett took this philosophy to heart and a year later it served him well.
Applying the Lesson
Roughly a year after meeting Brother David, the lawn care company Barrett had been growing suffered a fire. One of the company’s warehouses, one that contained half a million dollars worth of fertilizer, burned to the ground. The fertilizer hadn’t been insured and the loss was one that the company wasn’t easily able to digest financially. No one had been harmed in the fire, so Barrett made the decision to have faith that somehow, someway, this event was necessary and going to bring him something good. We can’t control what happens, says Barrett. All we can control is our response. “What’s the good from this?” asks Barret “Always ask yourself that.”
“What’s the good from this?”
The fire drove him into looking at his company in a new way and in doing so, Barrett realized that he should be focusing on the product he was making rather than the distribution of it. He sold his company, took the money from the sale and invested it into further technology for improving his product. He re-launched his company in a different form and altered his vision into one that focused on connecting users and operators with his product. He calls this shift in his business vision the biggest realization of his professional life and says that it would never have happened without that fire. He now says that the fire was the greatest thing that ever happened to him, professionally.
Barrett’s story is an amazing one. He took a potentially devastating loss and determined to find the opportunity in it. He made the choice to have faith and in doing that, he found an opportunity that he may have completely missed otherwise. The message that Brother David shared with him a year before, became vital to him in that time. What might we each accomplish if we decide to have faith that everything that happens is going to somehow benefit us? What messages do I need to hear now to prepare me for the journey and the challenges in my future? What opportunities might I find if I make the choice to have faith instead of fear?
Listen to my conversation with Barrett here: