Running a Shop Leadership

Don’t Let Facts Define Your Truth

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Let’s start with a little story here: Once upon a time, way back in, say, the early 2000s, there was this guy with a backyard shop. Clad in the uniform of the stereotype—holes in his jeans, a grease-stained white T-shirt—he lived in a single-wide trailer in front of this “shop,” which, if we’re being honest, was just a barn. An old barn, at that.

With 750 square feet, he was pushing $20,000 through that shop each month, taking home a few thousand of that following expenses and overhead. He worked on Saabs. Self-taught, he started learning a bit about how a shop operates. Average ticket, profit margins, how some jobs are more profitable than other jobs—things were starting to click a bit. Things were picking up. Life was starting to look pretty darn good.

Then one night, looking through his tickets, bills and bank accounts, he turns to his wife sitting across from him in his trailer’s kitchen.

“You know,” he says, “if this keeps up, we could make $4,000 this month.”

Excited, he lets himself dream a bit.

“Maybe … we could afford a double-wide?”

Don’t laugh! He was dead serious. I know, because that was me.

I worked out of that barn from 1999 until 2004, and those were the facts of my life: I lived in a trailer, I worked in a rundown tobacco barn, we scraped by. And I believed that the facts of my life would remain the facts of my life the next day, the next year, the year after that; the same thing would happen over and over and over, and that would be my life.

Then something happened: I met some other people who had very different facts about their lives. I met a shop owner that did $60,000 each month in sales and made $14,000 each month before paying himself. I didn’t even think that was possible—until then. But with hearing that, I had a new baseline, a new level to reach. I moved into town, and I started meeting more and more people who were doing things better than I had imagined.

Finally, these other people convinced me of something: The facts that described the current state of my life were not the truth about me and my potential. They didn’t define me, and they couldn’t limit me. I could look at the facts of my life and believe them as truth, or I could see that I was in control of my own destiny. Once I realized that, I knew I could change tomorrow; if I put enough effort into today, I could be better the next day. I took the first step, which was to believe it, to believe in myself. Once I had that down, everything changed.

We all have facts that outline our current state in life. These aren’t who we are, though. The truth is that we have unlimited potential and we can be whatever we want to be. And this isn’t just a message for someone in a trailer, like I once was. This goes for every stop in your life. Facts can be a trap for us. They can be a snare that makes us believe the future won’t be different, even if the present is pretty darn good. We reach a goal or get to a level of success, it’s easy to think, “Wow, it can’t get any better than this.” After all, we’re already better off than we ever thought possible, right? But that’s when we need to start all over again. It can get better. It can always get better, and there’s always another level to achieve—if you choose to believe it.

I used to think taking home $4,000 per month for my family would be hitting the big time for me. I once thought that maybe, just maybe, we could upgrade our trailer. I used to look at the facts of my life and see that as truth. I didn’t know any better.

Now I do: The facts may be the facts, but the facts aren’t the truth about you.

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