I coulda been a contender. But I had to pay the mortgage

“I coulda been a contender”. But I had to pay the mortgage

In July 1966 when I was nine years old my Dad decided to pack up and move the family to Melbourne, Australia.

10,475 miles – which was nearly 10,475 miles further than I had ever been before in my life.

In those days moving to the other side of the world was a very big deal. He told me I would never see my friends, grandparents, cousins or Newcastle United ever again (yes, I am a Geordie).

He said we had to sell all our toys, we could only take one suitcase each (plus a couple of large packing cases for family stuff) and that was it.

So, with a wife and two young kids he risked everything in search of a new life, new opportunities and a dream. I can’t overstate how important his attitude was in influencing my own development as a person and lifelong entrepreneur.

He had courage by the bucket full and I would like to think that I inherited this courage and passion for life from him.

On arrival in Australia he took a series of odd jobs to feed the family including; second-hand car salesman, worker in an ice cream factory (my favourite), assistant accountant in said ice cream factory, builder and chauffeur to name but a few, before setting up his one man business.

He let nothing hold him back.


“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”  Lao Tzu


When he was fifteen he lied about his age and somehow managed to get a job driving a goods truck down to London. My Gran said he was so little he had a big cushion under the driving seat in order to see properly over the steering wheel. He got into big trouble for that one, but it never stopped him thinking big.

He was prepared to follow his dream whatever the cost and he did this until the day he died. It is that same courage and passion that makes an entrepreneur.


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  Anais Nin


Fast forward to last week, and a chat with a young friend of mine.

We were having coffee and he told me how he hated his job and desperately wanted to be his own boss and be in control of his own future.

As usual I got really enthusiastic on his behalf, I love helping budding entrepreneurs of any age and I relished the exciting journey he had it front of him.

I carefully explained in depth how to begin his new journey, how to plan it out and how to minimise the risk.

He then said something I have heard too many times over the years from clients and friends, both young and old.

“Arthur I hear what you’re saying about risk and reward and I really want to do this… but I have a mortgage to pay”.

Here was a healthy young guy, just turned thirty, his whole life ahead of him, with a great idea for a new business but already a hostage to his mortgage. The practicalities of everyday life had defeated him before he had even begun.

We all have rent, mortgages and responsibilities to family and friends, we can either hold this up as a reason not to follow our dreams or we can use it to inspire us to follow our dreams.

Sadly, no matter how much I tried to reassure my young friend, he could not make that leap of faith in himself and his abilities. He wanted the prize without the risk of pain. At his age I would and did bite arms off for the same opportunity.


“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”  George Eliot


Everything you want in life has a cost and you have to be willing to pay it.

“I would have been a great guitar player if only…..”

“I would have had my own successful business if only…….”

“I would have been an amazing (?) if only.”

I coulda been a contender if only”

Just like my Dad, if I fail (and I have many times) I will fail on my own terms; following my dream not someone else’s.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  Steve Jobs

How about you?

  • If you’ve got nothing in the bank?
  • And the bills are breaking your back?
  • But you still want to ‘break free’ from the old 9 to 5!

Take my FREE 12 Simple Rules – For starting out lean and mean course 🙂

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