Momentum Podcast: 567
Everything Happens for a Reason
by Alex Charfen
When I was a kid, my mom had this saying when something challenging happened – everything happens for a reason, let’s find the reason. When I was younger, I fought it. But as an adult, this saying has proven true.
Regardless of what’s happened in my life, everything has happened for a reason. In this episode, I share with you a few examples of challenges I’ve faced and what reasons I’ve found for them. We talk about everything from my bankruptcy to a panic attack at an old job. I also share a recent story that brought me to tears talking about it again.
No matter the size of the challenge, there’s an underlying reason or lesson in there somewhere. Sometimes we know the reason right away, and sometimes we won’t realize it until years later. But trust me, there’s always one there. It’s up to find the reason or accept that it’s true. Tune in – this episode is a good one.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum Podcast. As a kid, my mom had this saying that she would use all the time when something challenging would happen or where there would be a problem or where we would be frustrated or upset. She would say, "Everything happens for a reason. Let's find the reason." And as a kid, I would fight it, argue with it, and thought that it really wasn't true. And as an adult, it's been proven to me over and over again that no matter what has happened in my life, everything happens for a reason.
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
I was an argumentative kid. When somebody would make a statement, my first thought would be, "Can I argue against that statement? Is there something wrong with that statement? Is there vulnerability in that statement that I can attack?" As a kid, when my mom used to say, everything happens for a reason, I would challenge that in my head. I would think, "Did I get bullied today for a reason? Was I picked on today for a reason? The bad things that are happening to me today for a reason." And in a child's perspective, I would always think, "No, this doesn't make sense. This isn't real." But as I got older, I started realizing over and over again that regardless how hard something was in my life, how difficult it was, that within a period of time passing, I started recognizing how that was something that happened for a reason that modified my life, that changed the outcome of my life.
As an example, when Katie and I went bankrupt, that happened for a reason. That changed our relationship with money. It changed our relationship with each other. But when I was younger, I fought this. In fact, I can remember a specific time when I felt like how could this be happening for a reason? I was in my late teens. I was either 18 or 19 somewhere around there. I was working at an executive recruiting in Orange County called Craig Miller Associates, CMA. And at first, I was supposed to be an assistant, not a real recruiter, but I did really well like gathering information and doing research, so they started me recruiting. And at 18 or 19 years old, I was talking to adults who had careers and convincing them to look it over their opportunities and see what else they could do. And it was a incredibly pressure filled job.
Recruiting is so intense because the company who wants the person is telling you that they need it with urgency. And then you're out looking for people to perhaps and potentially take a job, but then there's all of their lives and what's going on and relocations and moving people around. And when you're moving somebody from one job to another and it doesn't work, it's so stressful. And I remember being in the office one day, and I didn't know that this is what was happening, but I had my first full-blown panic attack that physiologically affected me. And for those of you who have had one, I had that first full-blown feeling like I was going to die.
I don't remember exactly how it felt. I was sitting at my desk, I had an office at CMA and my door was closed. I was doing research and making phone calls and I paused for a minute because I just felt overwhelmed. I felt like there was too much pressure. I had gotten into an argument with Craig that morning when I was on my way into the office. Craig Miller was the guy who I reported to directly. I reported to the CEO. I was having trouble with the job that I was recruiting for because I wasn't finding good candidates. Read between the lines, I was told I needed to embellish the position to get more people interested, which made me really uncomfortable. And I felt like I was working against my own ethics and I was frustrated. I remember I was sitting at my desk and I had paused working and I was thinking through all of the issues, and Craig opened my door but violently. Jammed it open and said, "Hey, what are you working on? There's some stuff I need you to do." And like yelled a whole bunch of directions and then walked down and kind of slammed the door. I think he was still frustrated with what had happened has morning, gosh, I can't believe I'm actually having a physical reaction. Just trying to explain this to you.
I remember when Craig slammed the door, I realized that I wasn't breathing. I was sitting in my desk. I was in an executive chair. My hands were on the table. The world was not doing anything to attack me, but I felt like I was completely under attack. I remember my peripheral vision felt like it wasn't working. My eyes felt like they weren't working. I felt like the world was shutting in on me. My heart was pounding like crazy. I was actively having heart palpitations. I felt like I couldn't breathe and I sat at my desk thinking I was going to die. I remember sitting there at 19 or 18 years old, however old I wasn't thinking, I can't believe I'm going to have a heart attack this young.
And then as panic attacks sometimes do, thank God Craig didn't come back in the office. I wasn't interrupted again. It started to subside. It started to go away and I remember sitting there at my desk and thinking, "Everything happens for a reason. Well, I'd love to know that one." Because it felt so vulnerable and so threatening. I had no idea what it was, and I didn't even tell anybody about it for years until I was 26. I thought I was broken. I was afraid to tell anybody. I was afraid to acknowledge that it even happened because I felt like it would make it more real.
Well, this week there was a very clear, very poignant example of how everything happens for a reason. And it struck me so strongly that I wanted to just share this on a podcast. And I know this has very little... We did it with growing your business and scaling a company. But the more we learn about ourselves as entrepreneurs, the more we acknowledge about ourselves as entrepreneurs, and the more we understand the world around us, I feel like the better we do and the more momentum we can create.
And this week, I had an opportunity, a friend of mine, [inaudible 00:06:56] Darsa invited me to go out to COTA to go on Thursday night to see the F1 cars in their pits. There's a huge F1 race in Austin right now, so he had some VIP passes, and we went over to the race track and it was really cool. We were able to walk on pit row. We were able to see some of the cars, see some of the drivers, see them practicing some pit stops and we were having a really great time. And we were standing in front of the Mercedes pits watching some of the activity there.
And as [inaudible 00:07:24] and I were watching the pit row, which was really kind of like looking at the back of a lot of people's heads. There was a lot of human beings there. I saw a couple walking with probably a 15-year old girl between them and it was clear her knees were weak, she was having trouble walking, she was shaking, she was crying, and immediately I felt that it was an anxiety or panic attack. And they walked by me and they walked her over to a curb and put her down on a curb on pit row, and her father got up and went over and found somebody from the race track who immediately got on a walkie-talkie and started calling and frantically trying to get help and really making the situation more chaotic. And I turned back to the Mercedes pit. I told myself, "You know what? You're not an EMS. You're not licensed to do this. Nobody's ever told you you can do this. You just leave it alone. They're going to help that girl."
But something compelled me to keep looking over my shoulder. And I looked over my shoulder about 30 seconds after she had sat down and things were getting worse. Her mouth was wide open, her body was convulsing, her hands were shaking. I knew that she was going into a place in a panic attack where you can pass out, blackout, have all kinds of things happen to you that make you feel even more vulnerable. And there was this feeling I add that it was her first time. And here's the problem with the first panic attack you ever have, you feel so fundamentally broken. You feel so threatened and so vulnerable and so broken. You so separated from the rest of humanity, because here you are in this place, where for no reason other than you're standing in a crowd or sitting at a desk and somebody walks in, you have this overwhelming panic that tells you you are going to die and it feels like you can't stop it.
And as I looked over my shoulder, I could see it getting worse and worse. And the first time I looked, I turned away and I said that thing to myself again, "You're not an EMS, you're not a paramedic, you don't belong there. Just let it get taken care of by professionals." Then I looked over my shoulder again and it was getting even worse and I could see her parents were starting to get concerned. Her dad was on one knee sitting in front of her. I could see him starting to shake. And then I looked back at the Mercedes pit and I told myself, "Hey, you have no responsibility to go over there. There's no reason you should go over there. You're not the person who is designated to do these things."
Then I looked back over my shoulder and I saw this little girl convulsing and shaking and getting worse. And I saw the person from the track flailing around on his walkie-talkie and not really knowing what to do and I walked over to them. I asked her mom, "Is she having an anxiety attack?" She said, "I think so. We don't know." I said, "Is this her first time?" She said, "Yes." And I asked, "Can I help?" She said, "Please." So I got down face-to-face with this little girl and I said, "Hey, is it okay if I help you?" And she said, "Yes." I extended my hand. She was holding her mom's hand. She let go off her mom's hand and grabbed mine and I said, "Here's what we're going to do. You're going to breathe with me through your nose. Let's close your mouth and breathe through your nose. I want you to know something. What's going on right now is a panic attack and I have them and some of the most extraordinary people on the planet have them and there is nothing wrong with you. This is an anxiety prone situation being around a lot of people. You are okay, breathe with me."
And I said that because I wanted to validate her. I wanted to let her know she wasn't alone. I wanted to let her know it was normal, what was going on with her because I know what happens to people like us. That first attack, that first feeling of being vulnerable, that first time that it feels like your body is turning on, can make you feel like you are broken in this world and you need to pull back and pull in, and pull yourself back and hold yourself back, and stop being vulnerable and stop trying because it's so scary. I looked at her eyes and I said, "Breathe with me." And I closed my mouth and I breathed in slowly through my nose, and then out slowly. I asked her to do it with me and I continued breathing and I maintained eye contact with her.
Little by little, I could feel her hands stop shaking and I could feel her getting back into her body. And then I said, "I want you to keep breathing, but I want you didn't know something. This means you are extraordinary. I'm a public speaker. I've spoken in front of thousands of people and this happens to me. And the breathing I just showed you is how I learned how to stop it. I want you to know something. The most extraordinary people on the planet are sensitive and they have feelings like this just like you're having, and this means you are one of the most extraordinary people on the planet." And her dad said, "We've always known that's true." And I said, "My name's Alex, what's your name?" She said, "I'm Alexia." Her mom said, "I'm Alex." Her dad said, "I'm Axel." And I was like, "Well, then this is meant to be."
And we kept breathing and I maintained eye contact and slowly her body came back to normal. She stopped shaking, she stopped convulsing, and then she even looked up and smiled. And in that moment, I knew that that first panic attack I ever had and every one I've ever had since then happened for a reason because they put me in a situation where I could validate that little girl and I could help her. And I could let her know that there was nothing wrong with her and she was not alone. And I could validate what was happening for her and help her understand. Because for us as human beings, sometimes all it takes is for one of us to validate the other for everything in our worlds to improve.
And you know, here's my belief. When we say everything happens for a reason, here's what I believe. I think sometimes you know the reason and sometimes you don't. Maybe Alexia is met to go on and run this country someday. Maybe she's meant to go on and create a hospital or a charity or change the world with a business or have a family or have kids who go out and do something extraordinary. Who knows what her path or destiny is? But here's what I believe. I believe we were brought together on that day and I was compelled to go over to her to validate her, to share my life experience, and to help her because I believe the meaning of life is for us to use the experience and the pain and the trauma and the challenges we've had, to help those who are going through them move forward faster because we all go forward faster together.
There are billions of people on this planet and each one of us is uniquely gifted and uniquely challenged. And when we help each other, we accept those gifts and offset those challenges, and that is who we are. And I want you to know something no matter what you're going through right now, no matter how challenging it feels, no matter how steep the climb and how difficult the destination, everything happens for a reason and what you are going through now will help you and those around you, and I'm sure of it.
So as an entrepreneur, when things get tough, when the anxiety attacks come in, when you feel like things are out of control, when it feels like things are broken, we all need to accept that those are the times where we actually become who we are, where we learn to overcome, where we learn to move forward, where we learn to hang onto our momentum and create more. And when we learn to become the people that we have always known we should be. Like my mom said hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of times when we were growing up, "Everything happens for a reason. It's up to us to find the reason or just accept that it's true."
If you're ready to start growing your business and move forward quick, that's what we do. We help entrepreneurs build the business around them that they've always known that they should have. So if you've created a business and you'd like to create a real infrastructure and have a real business, become a CEO and be proud of what you've built, reach out to us. Go to billionairecode.com, fill out a quick application and jump on a call with a member of my team. We'd love to hear from you.