How blogging saved my life

blogging saved my life

By Mark Schaefer

At the recent INBOUND conference, I gave a “Bold Talk,” a short, TED-like speech meant to challenge and inspire people and get us out of our comfort zones.

I gave a talk unlike any I have ever given and it is a talk I do not plan to give again. But I did have a purpose in doing this.

My message was deeply personal. One person who attended the event said afterward, “It all makes sense now. I understand you and your writing better now.”

This is what I had hoped for. My goal was to expose a dark side of my life to you (yes, you!) because there is this research about social media that haunts me: “Jealousy is the overwhelming feeling of 30% of the people who view their Facebook news feed.”

The reason is obvious. We only show our shiny best selves in public. If all you see is a steady stream of perfectly beautiful children, exotic vacations, and romantic walks on the beach, how can you not feel a little jealous?

But nobody lives ONLY a shiny happy life, including me. We are all equal in our human condition.

And this is why I gave this talk. I wanted you to see a different side of me, a non-shiny side of me, at least one time. I’m just a guy with a blog. A blog that saved my life.

Here is a transcript of the talk. This is how blogging saved my life.

Hello everyone. The topic of my talk today is how blogging saved my life. Not in a figurative way, but in a literal way.

I am going to talk about three different ways that the act of creating content really saved my life. Who knows, maybe you will find something that can help you along the way as well.

To understand how blogging saved my life, you have to understand the context of my life in the time frame of 2006-2007. This was the darkest time of my life. It was a very, very difficult time. In a period of about 18 months, I successfully satisfied all the requirements to become a blues singer, basically.

Every part of my life had been lost in some way, beginning with my career. I had a successful career with a Fortune 100 company. Like so many of us at certain times in our lives, I came up against this immovable object. I had this boss who was unethical, some may even say evil. His nickname in our department was Beelzebub … that would give you some idea of what this guy was like.

I had to make a difficult choice. Do I continue to operate in this environment? Or do I find some way to get out? After six months of deliberation and looking at different options, I had to move on, and I decided to start my own company and teach at a university, which had always been a dream of mine.

That has worked out well, but at the beginning, I was upending an important part of my life and going through this period of radical transition. A great part of my identity had been associated with this role in this company … a core part of my support system had been associated with this company, too.

About the same time, I went through a horrible divorce. My alcoholic, drug-addict wife, who I had supported for many years, decided to run off with her drinking buddy. When she did that, she also took her children with her. They were her children, my step-children, who I had raised as my own for eight years. They called me Daddy. When she left, I never saw them again. Step-fathers have no rights, I learned.

At this same time, I had a very serious injury. I had a spinal cord injury. When the neurosurgeon looked at the MRI, he saw this fluid seeping out of my spinal cord. He wondered aloud how I could walk, how I could be walking, and I was sitting right there.

He demanded that I walk across the room. He said, “I want you to show me that you can walk.” That was unnerving. Then he said, “Are you having any problems with your cognitive abilities?” And that was … terrifying.

With all this change and with all this upset comes a lot of financial problems. I was starting this new job, I was starting a new company. I had to give half of everything I owned to this awful person. If you take one lesson from today, it would be this: Never get divorced in your peak earning years!

I had medical bills of my own because of the injury and I had to go through an operation. And if you can believe this, I still had to pay off her bills from rehab, after I was divorced. So I had some pretty big financial issues as well.

At this same time, three of my best friends dies. Two from disease, one from a self-inflicted gunshot wound (this haunts me even today).

This was a very, very dark time. I felt that I had suddenly lost so much. Some days I felt like I had lost everything that mattered to me. I felt despair. At times I felt hopeless.

The stress I was feeling was so severe that it raised my blood pressure to a very unhealthy level. My doctor said, “You need to measure your blood pressure every hour. Because we are afraid it might get too high and some very bad things would happen.”

When I started measuring my blood pressure every hour of the day, I discovered something amazing. One time a day — the same time every day — my blood pressure was below normal.

This is the time each day that I was blogging.

The act of writing, the act of creating content, put me in this zone. It put me in this zen-like state, where I was focused … and I was concentrating … and all this bad stuff went away. The act of creating content literally was healing my body.

The second thing that happened was something really miraculous, I think. People started reading this thing; they started reading my blog. Some of those people are in this room today, I know. This was a new community of friends who didn’t care about these problems that I had. They didn’t know about the problems, and I didn’t want them to know.

I was sick of my life. I was tired of this pain. I just wanted to find people who would see me for who I was … Who could see me for my ideas, for the content I was creating, for my abilities, not the situation I was in. Maybe they could even see me as the person I was becoming.

I really needed this connection. This new community helped heal my mind and my spirit. I was being rewarded, and maybe even loved, for my ideas and my content, not because they felt sorry for me.

The third thing that happened — and I didn’t realize it at the time — but as I was going through this pain, I was being given a gift. It was a gift of new super powers. That might sound strange; let me explain what I mean.

During this time, I felt emotions I had never felt before. I had felt these very deep, dark emotions. For the first time in my life I experienced hopelessness. I felt utter despair. I felt uncontrollable rage.

I wanted to kill somebody. I wanted to hurt somebody. Not in a metaphoric way. I really wanted to hurt somebody. Luckily I didn’t act on this. Well, not much anyway!

What I realized later — I couldn’t have seen it at the time — But as I was exploring these edges of human emotions, these horrible, dark feelings … it made me a larger emotional being. It pushed me and stretched me into new places. In some ways, like I said, it gave me these new super powers. I was transforming into a different, larger emotional being.

This experience has helped me become a better person, I think. It has helped me become a better friend. A more empathetic listener. A stronger leader. A better content creator. It helped me become a person who can manage an online community in more skillful ways.

Today, when I sense that someone is suffering, when they just can’t take any more, I can honestly say, “You know, I think I know how you feel.” That’s important, isn’t it?

My new super powers have helped me make new and authentic connection with my readers, my community, my family, and my friends. In times of difficulty, I can have a level of understanding that could have never been there before.

There is this book that I love, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It is barely a book. It is almost like a pamphlet, which you know if you are familiar with the book.

In the book Frankl says, “To be human is to suffer.”

This is the human condition. We will suffer.

Maybe there are some of you here even today, who are going through some of these dark, dark fears, some of these very deep and disturbing emotions. Maybe your time of suffering is yet ahead of you.

What I would like for you to take away from today is this hope for the future. To know that suffering can lead to something positive.

When you are in the middle of it — as the horrible pain is happening — you can’t possibly know what is ahead. You’re just trying to get through each day.

But just keep in mind that down the road you will realize that this darkness and pain will become a gift. You can emerge as a new person, you can become something new, something stronger, because you are being awarded a powerful new cape of super powers of your own.

Thank you very much.

So that was my speech. Here is the funny and ironic part. I couldn’t help but edit a few verbal blunders out of the talk. See … even when I am trying to be honest and human I am still trying to be bright and shiny!

Nonetheless, I hope this post connects with you and encourages you. I felt queasy publishing it but I have learned that when you get that feeling, pushing “publish” is exactly the right thing to do.

Facebook and the other social media glitz can make life seem like it is out of reach.

It’s not. We all suffer, we all fail, we all have bad days. We just don’t show it.

Here’s to new super powers.

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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  • Wonderful, honest and thought provoking Mark.

    That’s it, I have no more words.

  • @mrsoaroundworld

    I have always admired your honesty and I wished I had been at this talk to give you a big hug and enjoy a glass of vino with you and R!

  • How dare you break into my soul and steal my personal paranoia!

    Thanks for sharing, Mark. Guess I wasn’t going down the road alone after all.

  • Nancy Scott

    You’ve really hit a chord with this post, Mark. I’ve always respected you as a writer, philosopher, thinker. Now I can respect you as an authentic, *courageous* human being. Thank you for honoring me with the inspiring story of your struggle. May your queasies subside forever!

  • Mark, thanks a tonne for lifting the lid on your hugely successful writer’s trek. It’s all too easy to look at the big bloggers out there and assume they’ve never sat – facing insurmountable mountains of their own. You’re an inspiration!

  • Gina Balarin

    Thank you for sharing, Mark. This is an honest and hugely vulnerable post – and talk. It proves that there’s room for honesty, for emotion, and for people to change their lives, even in the depth of adversity – to do the thing that makes them happiest. Your story is truly touching.

  • Thanks for sharing, friend! It was a highlight of Inbound to be able to speak with you after your talk that day. Somehow, I think this speech also helps explain your active sense of humor. Don’t go changin’

  • Mark, congrats on what seems like a truly unbelievable speech! If it was that good on a blog post…I can only imagine seeing it live!
    Let us not be jealous of humanity and the world but rather celebrate all people and all ways…even on our FB news feeds haha.
    Keep doing wonderful things!

  • Mary Jane Kinkade

    Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us…

  • Claudia Licher

    Mark, thanks for sharing. It’s odd: once we make it ‘to the other side’ we realize we’re stronger than we thought. But while it lasts… it’s a different story. Thank you.

  • dankraus

    Mark, one of my co-workers was at your talk at inbound and said it was one of the most powerful he had ever heard. Thanks for having the courage to share so much.

  • A most lovely share. I’ve always believed that, when you go through dark experiences (very dark experiences…I relate), you end up making a choice, conscious or unconscious, to be elevated and triumph, or, in my words, living in a cardboard box on the street. The cultivation and blossoming of empathy, caring and (yes I’ll say it) love for oneself and for others often comes after great expense: “the darkest hour is just before dawn”

    Thanks for sharing so openly. It hits a chord especially for those of us who have travelled the path of dark challenge.

  • Frederic Gonzalo

    Wow. That was a powerful post. I can just imagine the speech that came along with it, that room must have been very emotional. Kudos for sharing this, I feel many will relate…
    Thanks again!

  • Great post, Mark.
    Is your speech available on YouTube?
    I would have loved to be there to hear you in person.
    I hope you have left back your dark times and that you are enjoying your new super powers.

  • Nancy Davis

    You have been an inspiration to me since we met Mark. I cannot say enough how much you have helped me through the years. I loved this post for many reasons. I am still in the tunnel, but more and more light comes into it with each passing day. Thank you for being you.

  • Kristine Allcroft

    Wow! Thank you for sharing . . . it literally brought tears to my eyes. Yes, there is a lot of suffering, but as you have demonstrated with the work of your life, you don’t have to make suffering your identity. It’s not the suffering that matters, it’s what we do with it. . . as Frankl taught us. I loved the part of “Man’s search for meaning” when he was talking about the moment in the morning and feeling truly alive with appreciation. In a ditch. Frozen and hungry, somehow his spirit was able to soar.
    Sometimes, that’s what suffering drives us to do.
    What a great post for the pre-Thanksgiving season. 🙂 Thank You!

  • it was a very emotional room. One young woman came up to me afterwards sobbing. She was going through something similar. All I could do was give her a hug. I wish I knew who she was, just to see if she was OK. An interesting experience.

  • Interesting story. My original idea was to use the video of this speech as a blog post to make a specific statement that I do not belong on a gold pedestal — I am human like everybody else. But it turns out no video was created. However, somebody recorded the whole thing on their phone, had it transcribed, and posted it on their personal blog! I thought that was a little weird but decided to post the transcript here since it would accomplish the same goal I think, although there is probably more emotional power in a video.

  • Sounds like you are still in the process of being awarded your super powers and I think you know you already have them!

  • Aseem Jibran

    To be honest, I was waiting for this ever since I read your facebook status where you said that you’ll be presenting on a topic that you will never present on again. Thank you for the transcript and more importantly for the inspiration. You are changing lives of so many by being a source of motivation. #respect

  • I’ve found creativity to be a powerful light source in the pit. Brave/inspirational share Mark.

  • Wise and powerful words

  • Gary Schirr

    Thanks for sharing! I had pieced together this story from multiple conversations but it was more powerful in total. Very powerful.

  • I don’t have a lot of time to read blogs. Who does? Well, no one who is active. But I try to catch yours as often as I can because you are so authentic, honest, inspiring and helpful. Thanks for all you give and share. Jack

  • Erich Campbell

    Thank you very much for sharing that. It’s a great speech, and one that you should be proud to have shared.

  • Jeff Reed

    Thank you Mark! This is a great example of authenticity, one of the best reasons to read your blog. At my church’s greeting desk there is a hand-written sign to remind volunteers how to “meet” people. It says “When you greet someone remember that they are going through a battle that nobody knows about.” We would be served well as a society if we adopted that as our mantra and treated others accordingly.

  • Yes, yes, yes and YES! Thanks for conquering your queasiness and posting this. Queasiness and nausea are excellent indicators of the need to follow through and make meaningful change. Suffering is a catalyst for discovering our super powers. The challenge is convincing those presently suffering that incredible times lay ahead.

    In order to connect with my clients and prove to them that I know how they feel, I dig into my own vulnerability and share my own story with them. You did this in this post. Awesome.

    Thanks for your blog, Mark! Every morning I stumble out of bed, make my tea while I wait for my phone to warm up, and then open your email. As a burgeoning participant in the social media world, I ALWAYS find something useful in your posts. Thank goodness for all of us you found your purpose!

  • And I thought I was the only one who gets jealous seeing all the fun my facebook friends are having! Thanks Mark 🙂

  • rob petersen

    Thanks for sharing, Mark. Although we know each other through teaching and other activities, there is so much I never would have gotten to about you where it not for your blog. Thanks for keeping it personal and real.

  • AngieFinley

    Mark, if your blog was an actual book in my hand, this page would be dogeared and the print would be smeared, along with the pages about Elijah and the one where you wrote “in praise of the unremarkable.” I’m grateful that my search for marketing help brought me to your blog years ago because I have learned so much from you, not just about the subject you know so well but about how shared experiences and authenticity lead to connections and opportunities for personal reflection and growth. (You picked the perfect name for your blog!) I had no idea that your blog was born during a time of such personal loss. Congratulations on channeling all that into such a positive force, and thank you for encouraging all of us who have experienced similar circumstances. And since I’m in full-on gratitude mode, thanks again for the outstanding learning experience you provided at Rutgers CMD, which led to camaraderie, friendships and opportunities that followed me back to Alabama! (Unsolicited shameless plug to Grow readers— take the Rutgers CMD social media courses. They’re fantastic!)

  • Tara Geissinger

    Wow. Count me amongst the readers who really had no idea of the turmoil happening behind the scenes. You are truly a fighter — and that’s one of the main reasons you’ve accomplished what you have. Fighters always find a way to push through and use the hardships to create something better. I’ve been a fan for a long time, always reading but not always commenting. And I’ve learned so much from this blog. Thank you for writing it and for sharing a little bit of yourself with all of us.

    I actually needed to read this today and I think that’s what brought me here.

  • Pingback: 6 Ways To Nail Small Business Marketing On A Crunched Budget | SME Mark - Growth Marketing for Small & Medium Enterprises()

  • I have the same philosophy Jeff. I try to push that “judgment” reflex down as much as I can!

  • That means a lot to me Merideth. Anybody who is willing to start their day with me has some unusual super powers of their own. Thanks for being a regular reader. I appreciate that so much.

  • Thank you my friend.

  • Konstanze

    Mark, what a uniquely human and courageous contribution illuminating those places that exist in all of our minds but few of us will admit to. Our deep-seeded human desire to fit in, to be validated (and praised) by others, to be part of a group seemingly ‘forces’ us to compete with all of the happy FB users surrounding us…until…until someone has the courage to admit to imperfection. Admitting imperfection interestingly has a very similar effect, it gives all of us permission to do the same, opening the flood gates to release a million sighs that form a river of honesty and compassion washing away the incredible pressures that build up as we anxiously await ‘likes’ and “Yay’s” from our competitors in the race to be first in pretend happiness.

  • I’m humbled and always amazed when people can recall past posts and even apply them to their lives in some way. That is just the best feeling in the world.

    In addition to teaching at Rutgers, I am also a true fan. It is the best digital marketing program in the country. I’m glad you agree! Thanks for the wonderful comment.

  • Beautiful Mark. This is why I love you and respect you as a mentor and friend. From the outset when I first found you 4 years ago, I sensed that you really, truly care about people and that’s what attracted me to you and your community. And you have proven this to be true time and again. As you say, business isn’t B2B or B2B it’s P2P.

    This type of honesty and willingness to share is going to change even more lives as people learn it’s ok to be human, it’s ok to be honest. You are a remarkable teacher and leader.

    BTW, this will be required reading for my social media marketing class first thing in the semester.

    TY for all you do!

  • Your honesty and sincerity are both inspiring, Mark. Thank you for sharing this.

  • The other half of the Frankl quote goes something like this: “To be human is to suffer and how we handle that suffering is what defines us.” I always keep that in mind. We all suffer in some little way every day. And how we handle it defines us.

    Will I always be able to overcome? Who knows. When I went through these bad times, I was not a perfect person! Coming out of this I was actually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome — as if I had come through a war. So I was a real basket case for awhile. But it worked out OK.

    I hope you are doing OK. You know how to reach me if you need to talk.

  • I saw a very sad post on FB yesterday. The person said he would unfollow anybody who had any political commentary. It’s as if we ONLY want to see that shiny self, sunsets and cat pictures!

    Don’t we want to REALLY know people? To accept the whole self even if we disagree? To grow through tolerance and diversity?

    Is there any interest any more in fulfilling a promise of true connection and global communion any more or do we want to join the 100 Club by getting 100 likes on a selfie?

    I’m afraid that in a way, a system is developing that not only spurs jealousy but institutionalizes a world where only rainbows and unicorns are tolerated. Will a post like this change anything? I’m not sure. Maybe for a day : )

    Thanks for the great comment my friend.

  • Wow. No pressure there! Will be very interesting to see a classroom reaction. Fascinating actually. Maybe I could Skype in (I usually do anyway!)

  • Serwind

    Mark, “Thank you!”. You should give this speech again as a TED talk. It’s encouraging and honest. It offers hope to those experiencing despair and confirmation to those of us who have survived these dark periods.

    Your blog was referred to me by my daughter who manages social media marketing for a major multi-faceted northern Nevada corporation. While there are many fine bloggers around, yours is one of the few I actually read and appreciate.

    My site, is beginning it’s 16th year providing ongoing training to licensed foster parents. Like so many other “successful” sites, I’m a one-man band. While it’s great for the most part (no bosses), there are times when I feel I’m an island cut off from everything and everyone.

    But the ideas and suggestions you provide are a beacon of hope and encouragement to me and many other “one person” online businesses. I feel you are a colleague in the next office to whom I can “drop in” and talk to. Thank you!!

  • Yes sir. You seem to do well with pressure though 😉 I think the students will love this and more importantly NEED to read this. And yes sir, we’ll plan on Skype or G+ Hangout in late January or early February. I’ll send you tentative dates and times.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Mark. I was talking with a friend online this week and he lamented that there is plenty of inspiration on the web from folks who have “made it”, building successful businesses online. But no one ever talks about the scary stuff. They tell us the beginning and the happy ending but they don’t talk about the middle.

    Humans are hardwired for connection and if we really want that deep connection with our audience, we have to be honest about the whole business journey, not just the happy ending.

    So thank you for digging deep and telling the whole story.

  • Nazli Yuzak

    I’m sending you a virtual hug right now. No matter how different our lives may have been so far we are all connected and go through similar pains and joy. Here is my little gift to you:

  • Jeffrey Slater

    Who says being human doesn’t scale? Thank you for sharing such a heart-felt speech.

  • Not too many lists I’ve been on for 4 years. Liked you from the start, loved you with the “drugs talking” post on the circus. Started my blog with you as my wingman (though you didn’t know it), now have 5000 people who wonder what the heck I’m gonna come up with next. Sometimes I’m still “nicey, nicey” Barney, but think that’s a little bit of my Mom nature… you’ve given me clear pathways for becoming more of myself in my writing. Braver, more compelling. In short, a better writer, and a better person. Cheers, Mark, Becky NZ ps It’s a sign of the level and completeness of your healing that you are willing to share this story. You are free.

  • Pauline Baird Jones

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my favorite books. I read a talk this week that says what you said about super powers, just a bit differently, “Those who feel no need for mercy usually never seek it and almost never bestow it.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, in case you wondered.) Your blog brings people here because they feel the mercy behind your wisdom.

  • Wow. I will have to think about that one. Thank you Pauline.

  • Mark, thank you so much for hitting that publishing button! It really resonated with me and found it very moving.

    We all like to project a particular image of ourselves to different people, and that’s the same online. Death might be referred to as the last taboo but I honestly think that admitting things aren’t going well is treated as more taboo by many. “Success” is seen as everything- although how you define success is another interesting topic of discussion. However, as you have shown, we can grow the dark times and come out better for it.

    I recently read the book “Snakes in Suits: When psychopaths go to work” by Robert D. Hare and it sounds like your old boss was a psychopath in the literal sense. That must have been horrible.

    So, thanks again for your honesty and sharing a little bit of your life with us. I hope that through this, we can have more transparency, honesty and integrity online. Coming to your blog certainly encourages me with that- and we can all help each other be accountable!

  • Michele Wolfson

    Amazing, honest, heartfelt and very very true. With adversity comes growth. We only change for one of two reasons: pleasure or pain. In my life, the greatest lessons and transformation occurred with rock bottom scraping adversity as well! Thanks for sharing your story Mark, it endears you to your readers because your humanity shines through!!

  • Cathy Jennings

    Bravo, Mark Schaefer!

    I didn’t think I could respect you any more than I already do — but there you go, forcing me to with this post.

    Thank you for sharing your story, your journey. Sometimes it’s easy for us “little guys (and gals)” to lose sight of the fact that experts and celebrities experience the ups and downs just as we do.

    I applaud your courage.

  • Rob Ainbinder

    Congrats Mark … a soul revealing post that certainly resonated with me. I see a number of parallels in my life’s walk. My cousin claims that social media (in particular Facebook) is a “happy” place where people only share the good times. To me that seems unauthentic.

  • Thanks for the supportive and thought-provoking comment Ian. looks like you knew my boss then? Small world. : )

  • Amanda Hoffmann

    Wow! I have always admired your ethics, your honesty and what you represent in the field you specialize. Having had the privilege of meeting you at SMMW13, You were the one who inspired me to be active on twitter. Lately, I have been beating myself up….thinking I’ve not achieved enough. I’m not “doing” enough to achieve my dreams. After reading this raw post, you have given me a “reality check”. Thank you Mark for sharing this about yourself, the fact you inspire through your words. One day, I hope to meet you again and give you a big hug of thanks. To also acknowledge how in a small part, you have encouraged me to run after my own dreams. If you can do it…..than surely I can too! Much love and thanks Amanda x

  • Ryan Nied

    Fantastic post, Mark. Thank you for sharing. Very inspirational. Your courage and authenticity is what separates you in the social media world. PS – your “Tao” book is why I’m on here – so thank you again!

  • Wow. I especially appreciate those blog references in there. Thanks so much Becky!

  • So much vulnerability and courage in this post. all power to you dude.

  • That’s some content shock right there, Mark. Great post, thanks for having the courage to share.

  • Thanks for being so open Mark. A great post and I’m greatful you felt brave enough to share it.

  • Another great piece. I love your transparency Mark, and this ongoing honesty that simply separates you from other ‘experts’ in the marketing world.

    This post just proved that you know this world inside out. I always say that the more times you fail the better human you become. The harsher life is for you the more you understand other people and what they go through. This is where the great power lies.

    For the last couple of years I had a privilege to interview and watch many business owners and experts from different walks of life. When I saw your blog for the first time, I instantly knew you went through some dark stuff. It shows in your writing, it’s brilliant, to the point, and cuts out the well known jargon.

    Most of us go through life pretending, we block ourselves and use the “shiny and all good” mask to the world. We use this strategy almost like we where in some kind of trans. It’s a sleepwalking through life.

    During harsh years of growing up, difficult financial situations, split ups, nervous breakdowns and the never ending search for a meaning I found out that no one has a marketing problem.

    Business owners and marketing professionals have a storytelling problem. Especially one major part of the story. Their story, what they’ve been going through, what kind of experiences shaped them, what was the thing they wanted so badly.

    It’s all important, but I’m still amazed how most businesses and marketers never use their true story to connect with their audience.

    When I started interviewing those business owners I mentioned earlier I wanted the deep stuff, the hidden reality that made who they’re now. At first they were very defensive to share even small parts of their journey. But we managed to record some great stuff that gave us a great insight into human psychology and the mechanics of success.

    But what’s most important I realized after weeks of going through the recordings that there is one major part that had the biggest influence on those people.

    We thoroughly analysed the most successful people from that group and found one characteristic – they all shared excruciating growth process – a period of time that I call a Pit (they used to call it Hell).

    The pit is your first downfall, the first time you had doubts in what you do or who you are. Maybe your business partner left, or you weren’t sure if you are on the right track. You wanted to quit, or go back to your old job. Your wife or husband left or you had to deal with major health issues.

    We found out that this is the most important part that simply says – “I’m a human, like you.” And this is exactly what I feel when I read your blog, especially this particular article where you’re so honest about your growth process. I’m loving it.

    I once asked a buddhist monk to explain the general meaning of life. He said that we come to this world to Experience. The more we suffer at some point the faster we grow into life and we become aware of life expanding before our eyes.

    Thanks for sharing your story Mark 🙂

  • Glad I came back to this one today.. having skimmed and it let it set a while. Why? Because I was just over at Gini Dietrich’s blog writing about how we need to stop judging .. we spend so much time and energy critiquing others’ on their writing, their work, their appearance, their social updates, their perceived ‘success’ or failures. it’s all kinda crap.

    This one – like so many of your other posts Mark – gets filed away for future reference. One day I’ll turn that corner when I feel it’s ‘safe’ to out my own foibles and failures in such a way. Until then, hugs and thanks. FWIW.

  • Wow. What an amazing comment. This research, these interviews you did … would make a great blog post. Would you consider doing a guest post for {grow}? You can connect with me via email through my contact page. Thanks so much for this gift!

  • Thanks so much Davina. It’s funny, this has been a real crap-filled week in terms of social media drama. I try to stay out of it but it does make me glad to be in this comment section connecting with actual adults : )

  • I would love to Mark. I’ll get in touch through your contact page. Thanks!

  • Gordon Diver

    I first became a fan of your writing and work because of what felt to be an authentic take on the world (business and personal) as you saw it. You’ve advocated for generosity of spirit/knowledge and then backed it up with real examples. I felt a kindred (though maybe more successful 😉 ) spirit with you through your work. Your talk validates some shared experiences. It’s been a real pleasure getting a sense of who you are and I’m looking forward to the day I can say hi and shake your hand in person.

  • awesome!

  • Alice Ackerman, MD,

    Ahh, there you go again, Mark, in your awe-inspiring way. I hope you never change who you are. You are one special person.

    I have been “making” my pediatric residents write critical reflection papers on topics related to professionalism in medicine, since I am trying to see into their minds and hearts and create positive change for them, or rather allow them to create it for themselves. That process helps me to see the healing power of the words they write–that they wouldn’t write unless I made them–but that they are writing more for themselves than for me (I hope). The beauty of reflecting is that it allows us to identify lessons from our lives miseries (and yes, we ALL have them), and best of all to understand how those lessons shape our souls, our emotional selves. But then, a real reflection goes on to mold our FUTURE behavior, personality and actions. You would get an A+ if I were assessing your reflection. Its beautiful, moving, but most of all meaningful. Thank you so much for sharing it. I may use it with my trainees next week as a perfect example of what I am hoping they will give me, give themselves, and give their patients.This talk you gave may end up having saved more lives than just your own if it helps them to understand others just a little bit better. Thank you once again.

  • We need to make that happen Gordon. Thanks for your consistent support of the blog my friend.

  • Speechless. The blog ripples through the universe in so many unexpected ways. Would be so honored to be part of the training. And I always smile when I see you in the comment section Dr A! Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom today.

  • Look forward to that day Amanda. Thanks for the beautiful comment!

  • Ken Kaus

    I’m sorry I missed the talk in Boston. I completely get what you are saying about being in the blogging “zone”. I need to learn how to stay in it longer and not let the other stuff creep in. I feel so much better when I’m creating something I feel good about.

  • Powerful sharing – great insight into your love for life and willingness to engage people. “In my deepest wound I saw Your glory and it astounded me.” -St. Augustine

  • Gordon Diver

    The support is my pleasure and you still have a standing order for farm fresh Canadian Bacon and a visit to our Stratford Festival if you find yourself in the Waterloo area 😉

  • Two words – “Thank YOU”

  • You had me at bacon.

  • Hi @davinabrewer:disqus 🙂

    I completely agree with you on this!

    There’s so much sniping, attacking and downright bad behavior in this fickle blogging realm we inhabit.

    Like Mark stated, this place can bit filled with so much (unnecessary) drama.

    Love this post.

  • Hi Mark,

    Thanks for sharing this. There is a bit of shiny happy people syndrome going around, especially on Facebook, so man, I can see why the emotion of jealousy rules they day there.

    This is a truly inspiring post on so many levels, and even though this was an extremely difficult period of your life, it is good to learn a bit more about you. Will are all frail humans and we all have to deal with those monster curve balls life lobs at each one of us – sometimes it feels like the lobbing never stops.

    I went through an extremely difficult period in my mid-40s, so I can relate. My problems were completely different than yours, but extremely tough nonetheless.

    Anyway… thank you for writing this and I really, really look forward to chatting with you in December.

  • Alice Ackerman, MD,

    You are much too kind. Part of my “job” as I see it is to make people smile. That’s very therapeutic, you know. 🙂

  • Pretty powerful story, Mark. Life seems to come at you in waves sometimes, doesn’t it? You got a big tidal wave, it seems. But, you survived. You’re better for it. And now, as a result of this blog, you’ve met all sorts of wonderful people who now call you “friend.” I’d say you won. Big time.

  • You’re a good man Mr. Schaefer and I’m proud to know you.

  • rhonda hurwitz

    I am so inspired by the courage it took to reveal this. When you were in the the depths, you couldn’t see beyond. But just doing the work , and trusting your instincts that you were meant to do it — created a new reality, which is truly awesome when you think about it. PS – Being that you shared this at Inbound, I’ll state the obvious: it was studing the data (your blood pressure) that led to the insight that led to … Well, you know the rest. Be human, always — but a little analytics never hurts!

  • Ha! Well said! That is what i have been saying all along. It starts with the data!

  • We rarely know what problems other people experience. We may be equally unaware of their special gifts. When you don’t understand someone’s behavior, there is a good chance you don’t know enough. Thanks Mark, for sharing this. You have turned your “dark side” into a gift that many of us enjoy- your writing. Don’t stop.

  • Thanks for that very kind sentiment Chris.

  • Hi Mark: Wow! Wish I could have heard you deliver the talk live. I attended Inbound2014 with my daughter – but we missed your great talk. Thank you for posting the transcript.

  • Sue Brady

    Mark, what a truly inspiring post. The thing is, our past informs the people we become. You have taken adversity and had this dramatic renaissance. I follow your writing and so appreciate your knowledge. I am sure you don’t realize how many folks you’ve impacted by your marketing acumen, and now you’ve added a whole new dimension. Thank you for your honesty and I’m so glad I was able to read this post.

  • So kind of you to say Sue. Thank you.

  • Mark, thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing all this. I’ve always admired the depth of your messages.

  • Christine Webber

    I wish there were more people in the world with the courage to inspire others with their personal stories. Thank you for sharing yours. I loved the way you demonstrated how out of darkness comes light and learning when you are ready to see it. I for one am so pleased you made it through the dark as your life now touches so many people in ways you could never imagine.

  • jennifer lehner

    YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!!!

  • Great Story Mark! very inspiring.

  • Pingback: Mark Schaefer—How Blogging Saved My Life :: AOBO Podcast Episode 4()

  • Enjoyed this post and, having been at Inbound 14, I’m bummed I missed the one and only telling.

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  • Holly McIlwain

    You touched me in three ways that I can relate. Your marriage (similar) and career ending (similar) to mine, collided at the same time for me too. The comment on jealousy and fb, one of the major reasons I’m not on it, because it never seemed real to me. I noticed you were different in “Known,” than in all your other books, because you started to share your personal story for the first time, at least for the first time I’ve read it. I’m not sure if it added to or detracted from the purpose of “Known,” but regardless, you did and it’s a brilliant book and must read for anybody seeking to become *influential* not to be confused with *famous* which I learned from you in “Known.” So anyway, thumbs up from a fan. Jim and I would like to be your friends too. We’re an amazing example of the many who are super happy the second time around. I don’t know if you’ve remarried or are dating anyone special, but I’d love to encourage you to try. Once I got over the fear of trying it again, the universe opened up to me and all my dreams came true, including be married to the love of my life for 10 years. Ciao Bello!

  • Thanks so much for your support and you comment Holly. It was a tough decision to open up like that, but it was my way of talling the world that I was not speaking from the top of a mountain — I was below where most people are in their lives. It was my way of saying … come on, let’s tackle this together!

  • Pingback: Celebrating 10 years of PR Warrior. Here's what I have learned!()

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