Back in the last downturn from 2001-2003 I had incredible back pain. I couldn’t sit for very long, and my legs were going numb. Doctors told me I had sciatica, a pinched nerve down my spine that spread to the tips of my toes. Even the process of driving wore me out so I decided to stop driving altogether. One day, my colleague and I were walking towards a restaurant to meet a client and he collapsed. Apparently, he was suffering from the same symptoms I was going through. However, in his case, he had a family to take care of with his newborn child, and he was losing much more than me in the downturn.
I was the junior guy. When rumors came along that our compensation was going to be slashed in half, I hoped out loud that I would outperform since I didn’t make much in the first place. Half of nothing is still nothing I reasoned. When my bonus was slashed in half like everybody else, I was not a happy camper and asked my mentor how pitiful was I? I didn’t complain too loudly due to the rounds of layoffs, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.
He explained to me in a funny way I will never forget. He said, “Sam don’t worry. You don’t make much so it doesn’t matter anyways!” He went on to say, “Look at me. I have a big mortgage, a new family to support, got cut in half too and I make A LOT more than you do!” Gee thanks! At the time, I didn’t really appreciate his brutal honesty, but fast forward seven years later, I know exactly what he’s talking about. My mentor’s absolute income likely declined 10X my amount, and he was so stressed out with his newborn child that his fear and anger manifested itself into debilitating back pain.
About two months after his collapse, he told me he was entirely pain free. The markets still weren’t great, and I remember having to fork out $700 bucks for a brand new Herman Miller Aeron chair because I couldn’t sit. He gave me a copy of “Healing Back Pain,” by Dr. Sarno. There was NO WAY after seeing him crumble to the cement pavement that day, and limping around for weeks after that his back pain was healed. I was skeptical that an easy-to-read, 180-page paper back book could do wonders and get him to go out golfing with clients again. None of the massages or chiropractic visits did anything to help my pain so what’s a fluff book going to do for me?