Michel Fortin: People have egos and it's normal and it's natural and we all have things that are near and dear to every single person. People will fight for what their egos tell them that they need to fight for.
I'm a very humble person. I always like to take the low road. I do like the approval. I do like the limelight. But, if I feel that somebody else can take it for me, if I feel that if there is something that I can do, that it takes away from me, but it makes somebody else's life better, I will do that. That's a really hard lesson to learn in humility.
Whenever you look at, for example, some of the discussion boards that I'm participating in, sometimes you get these really fierce battles. And there was a couple of times when people actually were against some of the things that I've either actually said or had done.
And I will go into the board and I will say, “You know, I so understand how you feel.” I have to look at it from the perspective of the other person. And I humble myself by saying, “Listen, every single person in this world is a teacher.”
Everybody teaches you in some way, the people who are nasty to you as much as people who are good to you. They're all just teachers. They're not good. they're not bad. It's not black and white. Things that happen to you or things that people tell you, it's all teaching you something. Your consciousness is where you come to the realization that I am ready to learn, just like the old Confucian saying that, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
To me teachers are people or events or things that happen. And as a humbled person, my guiding principle is to always look at every single thing as some kind of a lesson. And that's the principle I would sacrifice for. Yes, absolutely!
Ralph Zuranski: Everybody has low points in their life. I know you've had a fair number of those events in your life. What was the lowest point in your life and how did you change your path to have victory over the obstacles at that time?
Michel Fortin: I recently wrote – that's actually not true. I wrote a book over ten years ago that I just recently put on the Internet for free. And it was a book that I'd written as a way to teach my self how to go through some of the hardships that I was going at that time. I was a go-getting, goal-achieving, goal-oriented, Type A personality, do as much as you possibly can-type person. And I realized that I was achieving a lot.
Michel Fortin: I was making a lot of money. I was a salesperson working on commission. And I was doing very well until I realized that I was neglecting and ignoring other things, especially my own self, the quality of my life. I was focusing too much on quantity of time rather than quality of life.
Well, “lo and behold,” in what seemed like a matter of hours I lost everything in my life… my home, my car, my furniture, my wife. I lost everything and then I went into bankruptcy. I even had to look at sleeping at the YMCA for shelter. And then I started writing that book. And I realized there are far more important things out there than material things. First of all, people are more important. Second is time.
Time is a commodity, a scarce commodity. And what you don't do in this moment is something you will never be able to do, in that moment anyways. When that moment's gone, it's gone.
Do you want to spend it working on your business? Sure, if it gives you some kind of feeling that I'm doing something that I absolutely love to do. Or do you want to work in a job dreading those years until you retire?
Or are you going to work so much that you neglect the people that you love or the people who love you? So the point, I'm saying, is that the low of the low that I have gone through was the most precious and beautiful gift that I have ever received. It was the biggest lesson that I had to learn. And that's what encompasses everything I just said up until this point.
Ralph Zuranski: People fear to do anything because they fear they're “gonna” fail. And when catastrophic events like that occur to some people, they never recover. Would you say that it's those events that change the course of our life for the better?
Michel Fortin: Those are events that do change your life. But you have to know there are things like death. There's a grieving process to go through. When you're in the thick of things, at that moment in your life, you'll probably be depressed. You'll probably have a hard time trying to see the lesson for what it is.
But when you have a chance to go through the grieving process, this pseudo-grieving process, you need to take a step back and look at your what is happening.
Michel Fortin: That's why I'm a big believer in writing in journals. In fact, the book that I just mentioned was a book that was actually a way to write to myself on how to deal with the things that I was going through in my life. But, it was like writing in my own journal because that way you can teach yourself to be better.
You can teach yourself to accept things better. You can teach yourself to get out of that rut. Jim Rohn said it best.
If you are in a low point in your life, go help out somebody else who's in a low point, the same low point as you. By teaching others or by helping others, you are actually helping your self. Because, then you can take a step back and say, “Well, gosh, I'm telling this person how to get out of this situation and I'm in the situation myself.”
And then you realize, because what happens is you let this intuition flow, this consciousness flow and you realize that you will get out of that rut by helping others. To answer your question, that's what I would do.
Actually, writing in a journal is good. But, most often when you have an opportunity to go through the grieving process, do, be depressed. Be sad. Those are things, if you're unhappy because something really bad happened to you, that is perfectly fine. When that's done take a step back. And then you'll learn. You'll see the lesson for what it is. And you'll grow from it.
Some people don't step back. They keep themselves in that depression mode. Some people have bad things happen to them in their lives and they stay there for a very, very long time simply because they want to stay there.
Wayne Dyer said it best. “Your body has a natural ability to heal itself.”
If you have a cut on your arm are you going to force it to stay open because you want the world to see, “Hey, look.!, I have an open wound here. I'm hurting. I'm hurting. Take care of me.”
It gives you some feeling of grandeur, the fact that you are hurting, that it means something to you. No, your body's natural process is to heal itself, the same way if something bad happens to you emotionally or psychically as well as physiologically.
Michel Fortin: Your body has a natural tendency to heal itself. Let the healing do its own job. It takes time. You don't heal overnight of a cut wound, just as you won't heal overnight of a bad situation or a bad event that happened in your life. But once you heal, now is the chance. That scar tissue is your body's process to strengthen that one area that was broken.
You know bones that are broken, when they heal become even stronger than they were before. That's the process of even a bad event that happens in your life. Something bad happens to you. Once you've healed, yes, you will have scars. But, you can turn your scars into stars! Because those scars are like shields that will protect you in case this stuff happens again. And it will make you stronger. And I believe in that totally.
Ralph Zuranski: It's funny that you talk about journaling. Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, who's another copywriter, suffered sexual abuse as a young person. She's now creating a course using journaling to help other women overcome the same trauma of that situation while growing up. So it's fascinating that you would talk about journaling. Did it really help you also?
Michel Fortin: Oh, absolutely. I hurt in my journals so much, especially in those, those dark times in my life. It's also a great reference tool because it makes you more resilient that next time something happens in the future. If it happens again, or whenever, you do have a chance to go back and reflect and review entries in your journal. You realize how far you've grown and that in itself it is a strengthening process. Because, then you can see, “Wow, I really went through that. I really felt that way? Oh my goodness, how far I've grown.” And that in itself makes you grow even more, even in good times.
Ralph Zuranski: What is the dream or vision that sets the course of your life?
Michel Fortin: I live by one motto and one motto alone. I don't believe in goals. I don't believe in an end result specifically in my life. You know, there is two types of people in this world.
There are the people who always will live in the future where they always have something that they want to look for, a vision or a dream or whatever. Like you just said. Then there are people who are in the rapture of the moment, people like artists. I think it was, I can't remember exactly who, but I believe it was Dr. Tony Alessandra who said, “You've got rowers and you've got drifters and then there's nothing bad with either one of them.”
Michel Fortin: People who row, going toward a destination, will row. People who drift will enjoy the scenery along the way as they drift in that river going towards the ocean. Me, that's what it is and the point is this. If you want me to say that I do have a dream or a vision it is this, to always do what I love. Joseph Campbell said it best, “Follow your bliss. Do what you love. The money will follow. The business will follow. The success will follow.”
Even if those things don't, the fact that once you go through your life and you end up looking back on your life and you say, “I really enjoyed my life. I've really done something that I totally love.” So do what you love or love what you do. That's the ultimate vision and it's my vision.
Ralph Zuranski: Well, in everybody's life, there is positive. There are setbacks. There are misfortunes and mistakes that we make. How important is it to be an optimist and take a positive view of things?
Michel Fortin: Well, optimism has a lot of sometimes bad connotations as much as good connotations.
Ralph Zuranski: Really?
Michel Fortin: Optimism is not motivation and people misinterpret that. Optimism is a positive mental attitude. The one thing that you need the most and that's beyond being an optimist is not just being a realist but being a student. If you have a bad situation, try to learn as much as you can. That's why journaling is so important. Try to learn as much as you can in terms of looking at the positive aspect of what happened.
There is a technique called the “best and better technique.” Look for what's the best you can pull from every situation and how you can be better next time, how you can better your own self from the event. Is that an optimist? Not necessarily. People will take optimism and look at it as some form of motivation.
Jim Rohn said it best. “If somebody's going down the wrong road, they don't need motivation to speed them up, they need education to turn them around” So being an optimist is not some “Pollyanna,” bang your head against the wall and hey it hurts but hey, I'm happy about it and I'll keep, you know, bumping myself against the way.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.