As soon as our family arrived to the US from Pakistan as immigrants, life was always filled with uncertainty. Citizenship wasn't granted until my 20th birthday, and for those initial 19 years, my family and I were the embodiment of struggle – no property to our name, no sense of stability. This was the backdrop of my childhood, a canvas painted with shades of unreliability and fear.
What happens when you grow up in such an environment? You develop a mentality that's always braced for the next disaster, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a perpetual state of apprehension, a belief that every good fortune is merely the precursor to a downfall. "Don't get comfortable," life seemed to whisper. "This won’t last."
Strangely, I found solace in this fear, I am very comfortable in it. When things were going too well, my anxiety spiked, and a sense of unworthiness crept in. What made me deserving of all this good? This was a question that plagued me, a riddle I couldn't solve. I was not comfortable in good, it was and still is foreign to me.
During a heart-to-heart with my best friend Rudy, he offered a perspective that struck a chord in me. "Maybe," he suggested, "the life you lived wasn't normal, and what you're experiencing now with fulfillment and happiness with your family is what's normal." This simple yet profound statement catapulted me into a year of deep introspection. Why was my mind hardwired to expect the worst and not relish the good?
One of my most profound fears is losing everything – my family, my businesses, the comfort and health we've achieved. I find myself over-hedging every bet, ensuring that even in the worst-case scenario, my family is secure. Living out of a car, subsisting on Ramen – I can handle that. But I'd never want such a life for my loved ones.
I'm a risk-taker at heart, betting big on myself and my ventures. My portfolio and our expanding companies are testaments to the risks I’ve embraced. Yet, to soothe my psyche, I sought reassurance from those closest to me. I asked my friends a blunt question: If I lose it all, would you hire me? What role? What salary? This wasn’t about ego; it was about understanding my worth and knowing that even in ruin, I could provide for my family.
Their responses were enlightening (screenshots below) and here is what I took away:
- I'm blessed with incredible friends, some who’d go to great lengths to support me.
- My entrepreneurial journey has equipped me with skills of immense value to others.
- Even in my worst-case scenario, I’m looking at a base salary of $250k, scaling up to $1m with bonuses.
- This revelation means that "crashing and burning" isn’t really a possibility – I’m leading a truly blessed life.
- Oh and, I would definitely first go to the friends who offer me $1m salary before the ones that want me in sales 😅.
Overcoming this ingrained immigrant mentality won't happen overnight. It's a process, one of many that I’m undertaking to shift my mindset. I’ll share more strategies in future posts, but for now, I leave you with 2 questions to ponder:
- Imagine you're starting over: What's the minimum financial safety net you'd need? Begin planning how to create this today.
- What are some skills could you start improving today that would significantly boost your value in the marketplace? Start now.