The need for external validation is what has become a major problem. We’ve allowed what we do to define who we are. You fought for that title. You needed that title, now you got laid off and have to look yourself in the mirror and ask, “Who am I?”
How you get over that is to accept that what you do does not define who you are. You have to separate your net worth from your self-worth. Your net worth is going to fluctuate—as it should. That’s what net worth does, but your self-worth should only appreciate. That’s where a lot of us got mixed up big time.
I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a friend who honestly said that he didn’t know if his wife loved him because he had lost his job. She had signed up for the house in Greenwich, summers in the Hamptons, and private flights to Aspen. Now he’s got to tell her she’s got to take the train. My advice to him was to get a new wife. Maya Angelou once said to me that a lot of us have been living for a long time in exile in a place called things. And now that the things are gone, we don’t know who we are or where we belong. The truth of the matter is you can begin anew. You can start where you are.
I am so tired of everybody crying. It’s your turn, player! I had my time, and nobody was crying for me. But I kept focused and kept working, through all the rough times, through homelessness. And I was doing something I was truly passionate about.
The beauty of this time is that it should be your awakening. Who are you going to be when [the market] does turn up? Are you going to be the same person you were, with the same values? Or are you going to use this time to say, “What’s really important to me? What’s non-negotiable? What do I really want to do with my life?”
Will you have to take some risks? Absolutely! But you can take some smart risks. I assess and manage risk. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What do I really care about?” What is your “Why” besides the money? I can walk away from money. It’s one of the most powerful things in the world to be able to say no thank you to money. Not everybody can do that. I’ve had to learn to be able to do that. Has it cost me money? Sure, but at the end of the day, I went home and went to sleep peacefully. If your goal is to get all the money you can, then you’re willing to do business with anybody.