Happy 10th Anniversary Coach Lain!
That’s it. Just like that! I happened…
They say you blink and your whole life has passed you by. For me, entering into my 40th year on this beautiful planet, supported by my gorgeous wife and daughter, I blinked and a decade is gone! Just like that, my company is 10 years old! Let me take you back and share with you what got me to this point in time…
So mine is a story that spans the past decade actually, a little over 13 years to be exact. I’ve never really been someone to follow the more conventional means of earning a paycheck, I always half-jokingly say that I’m “allergic” to working for anyone else. And this severe allergy or aversion to working for someone else is what lead me to quit the only “job” I’ve had in the past 13 years.
Back in 2009, I knew two things: I needed a job and I wanted to marry my girlfriend. So it was definitely one purpose being pursued to fulfill another. I had been working as a freelance graphic designer since 2007 with no major projects or prospects lined up. So I finally decided to bite the bullet and apply for a job as a designer in the workforce. Through some serendipitous circumstances, I was able to secure a job as a graphic designer in the creative “department” of a niche market greeting card company in Sacramento, CA, only about 15 minutes from where I was living at home with my folks at the time. I was apprehensive only because, with having but a finite of “life minutes” to spare, I didn’t want to ever get stuck in a corporate job (or any job for that matter). But by the same token, I was excited because it would hopefully be a means by which I’d be able to afford my own apartment and a ring for my now-wife, but then-girlfriend.
Fast forward one and a half tenuous years later – I’m sick and tired of this job! The owner doesn’t believe in the hype of his own products, shoots down my ideas after initiating “team meetings” every Monday to discuss new products, and then takes credit for the ideas he actually liked but openly denounced. This of course discourages me from really putting my heart into my work (as much as I could, I didn’t really like the products we sold but always put my earnest effort into making everything I designed top notch quality), and soon he’s also noticing the work I’m doing as a freelancer and commenting how none of my design work for the company quote “looks that good.” That’s when I’d had enough. I quit soon thereafter and decided to go full-time as a freelance graphic artist, illustrator, and brand consultant.
Leap ahead with me if you will again, this time to 2016. I’ve now spent the past 6 years toiling away at being a full-time freelance designer. Days and nights have blended together for most of this period, as I was burning the candle at both ends. I went all-in like Pete Rose on building my graphic design brand, but no matter how much I tried or worked at it, it always left me feeling unfulfilled. At my core, I’m a very social person – I love to edify, educate, and entertain people! I love seeing people smile and encouraging them to step into their purpose, pursue their dreams, and not believe they ever have to be “stuck” doing anything. And yet, here I was spending 16 hours a day on the computer, alone, miserable, unhealthy, and always feeling unfulfilled & “less than” my fellow designers I’d met through Instagram.
Around 2013, I was sitting alone at my computer in the middle of a gorgeous summer day here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was one of those days where you could just SMELL summer. I could hear the joyful echoes of children playing reverberating about the neighborhood. Then, I heard another sound – cheerleaders chanting. It was undoubtedly coming from the local high school, they must have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and were practicing outside in preparation for the upcoming football season. And that’s when it hit me – as a former cheerleading and tumbling coach (details available upon request 😂), I was sitting on this specialized knowledge and doing nothing with it. And yet, this was a discipline that would allow me to (1) socialize more, (2) travel, (3) get off the computer and get active again, and (4) do what I believe I was born to do – edify, educate, and entertain. That day was April 13, 2013, the day that I purchased the domain name for my mental performance & tumbling technique coaching business, Coach Lain LLC.
But even with this amazing new “side career”, I was still conflicted. There was a feeling of being unfulfilled that still lingered, even though I’d spent 3 years traveling for coaching. For the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016, my parents invited my siblings and myself & my now wife down to Mexico with them to just disconnect and relax. I decided to use this time to do some much need inflection. I left most of my devices at home, grabbed a book I’d been intending to read for ages, and turned all of my notifications OFF! I wanted to use this time to reflect, meditate, and pray on what it is I intended to do when I got back home, which career path I was going to choose. Straddling the fence of graphic designer and performance coach wasn’t doing it for me, I felt this dichotomous pull in opposite directions, serving two separate masters, and I couldn’t take the confusion any longer.
While in Mexico, it finally hit me – I NEVER got into graphic design for other people. I LOVE design, I have my whole life! But I like designing what I want to see. Helping people take the ideas in their heads and translating them into tangible, visual designs was a lot of fun to me, and it would inform a FUTURE passion that I didn’t even realize I had until after the epiphany I’d have on this trip! But designing for other people was not my bag. This revelation made my decision SO MUCH EASIER to make – I was no longer going to be a freelance designer, because I never got into it for myself in the first place. I was going to drop everything that had to do with freelance design, EVERYTHING I hated about that time in my life, and step 1000% committed to my performance coaching brand! Like Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #50, I was “Lain Lee the Designer No More!”
So what was all of this to say? What’s the point?
Back in 2014/2015-ish, I saw a TED Talk by Emilie Wapnick. It was a fantastic talk on a topic that hit very close to home – “Why some of us don’t have one true calling.” In the talk, she uses the term “multipotentialite”, or “those of us with many interests, many jobs over a lifetime, and many interlocking potentials.” For the first time in my life, I had a label for that thing inside of me that I was always afraid was some sort of adult “defect”, a design flaw programmed into the DNA of us Millenials, in which I seemingly couldn’t land on that ONE THING I could call myself an expert at. It also explained how I was able to drop one passion for another at the drop of a hat, or drop one career for another. But it also gave me a frame of understanding of how I wanted to eventually structure my “dream job”, which I believe is the life I’m living now as a mental performance coach and tumbling technique specialist!
As Coach Lain, I’m able to employ ALL of my talents – I’m an author, podcaster, videographer & visual storyteller, designer, editor, technician, sports psychologist, deconstructionist, and world traveler! Designing what I wanted to be known for, who I am in my coaching “persona”, and how I plan to integrate all of my talents into this brand in order to scale, have been the greatest challenges of my life and I am SO GRATEFUL for them!
I took the time to write this extensive pitch for this single reason – I believe there’s someone out there who needs to hear this story! There’s someone struggling to find “their thing”, but has unfortunately already pursued either a dying dream or a career working for someone else and they feel stuck! I want people to know that there is STRENGTH, RELIEF, AND TRUE HAPPINESS in dropping one passion, pursuit, career, or dream for another! When we’re younger, we have SO MUCH RUNWAY ahead of us to allow us the time to “figure it all out”. And yet we live in a society that preaches conformity, for us to “settle” on a job, passion, pursuit, or career as soon as possible (preferably by the time you graduate high school, before you enter college though)! So the time we should be TRYING things that interest us, learning to get comfortable in our discomforts of failure, disappointment, rejection, and more failure, we instead pursuing conformity through a career that we chose but didn’t choose us. There’s someone out there, begging for a sign to push them forward into taking that leap of faith. I truly believe this story is their sign.
What did I find on the other side of quitting my job? I found the FAVOR and FREEDOM to pursue building, growing, and scaling this brand into the multi-million dollar brand it was created to be! I found an OPPORTUNITY to create my own job title & description that allows me to provide very specific value in the way I WANT to do it. NO longer do I have to do things because I’m stuck or because I didn’t realize I was pursuing a passion for the wrong reasons. I get to be me and spend every day encouraging others to embrace the discomfort of change & vulnerability to do the same!
I’m grateful, EVERY DAY, for these past ten years of excellence and value-based service. Above everything else, I CANNOT wait to see what the next ten years has in store for this amazing brand I’ve been blessed with favor and freedom to develop!
Coach Lain is a mental performance and tumbling technique coach from Northern California. Specializing in fear management & psychology, as well as deconstructed movement, he helps student-athletes and coaches better understand their fears in an effort to outperform them confidently and consistently. His podcast, The Fear Less University™, features special guests each episode who lend their wisdom and expertise to help discuss, dissect, and examine some of life’s greatest fears. His second and newest podcast, the Coach Lain Inspires™ Inspirecast, seeks to provide listeners with a daily dose of inspiration.
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