From Dysfunctional to Daring & Un-Afraid
Everyone has a place their memories call them back to. Mine was my hometown; I lived in the shadows of the ruins of a once glorious resort town on the Jersey Shore known to the locals as simply the ‘Burg.
The ‘Burg was not only my birthplace but the birthplace of Daring and Un-Afraid. ® Those three words aren’t just a neat little catchphrase; they’ve become my philosophy. And my evolution from the ‘Burg to the brand was a challenging but transformative one.
Back in the late 70s, I belonged to a group of reckless teens who took control of a little corner of the world. We weren’t a gang, but we were rowdy and things got crazy at times, but still just kids out having a little fun. Our motives were never malicious, but often the means we chose to create our fun weren’t the best or the smartest.
Daring and Un-Afraid became our battle cry, our accounts of drinking and carrying on. Recalling the previous night’s events, we’d brag, “Man, we were out daring and unafraid last night!” Looking back, it’s hard to believe this description would hold so much meaning for me today.
My life had little direction back then. I put self-seeking needs before my relationships. As a result, the girls I cared for the most would leave me because I simply didn’t think about their needs. Besides that, they recognized my life was out of control, so it was impossible to have any type of relationship anyway. It’s funny how they saw the direction I was heading in except for me. I can appreciate now that they had to leave me because I was in a bad place.
As they moved on without me, the pain of losing them grew and slowly I began to see that my little corner of the world was becoming my spine, propping up a life that had gone off course. I’d find myself asking, what am I doing here? What happened to me? It got to the point where I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore. My patterns were unhealthy and unproductive. I was undereducated with no steady job and no prospects. What’s more, I had no prototypes of a functional family or principled living. I knew I had to make a change and quickly.
As I began strategizing a new direction, I realized it was scarier to be lodged in the unfertile ground than it was to move forward, so I pulled up roots, determined not to keep living on empty, determined not to die like so many around me eventually did.
However, I knew that in order to change my life, I needed to put myself in uncomfortable situations. I had to live and experience the uncomfortable in order to grow. In retrospect, I don’t know where this insight came from. After all, I was a small-town kid who’d lived a short life made up of bad decisions; however, something in me drove this notion of no risk, no reward. And as perceptive as that sounded, deep in my gut, I was scared as hell to try something new.
Yet there was a hand on my life I couldn’t see and couldn’t control, and it took me from reluctance to confidence, from barely getting by to gainful employment. I let go of fear and took hold of courage, changing my life in ways that kid from the corner could have never dreamed. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t as if an enchanted wind swept across my situation, suddenly making it all better. I worked my ass off and made tons of difficult choices to carve out a different path. It took leaving my good friends, several career choices, educating myself and a connection to my God to get to this place.
So by now, you may be asking how all of this got me to Daring and Un-Afraid®? How did my life story shape this brand? Fast forward four decades, and I’m 180º from where I started. I’ve been the architect of this life of mine, steadily laying brick by brick to create an edifice I can be proud of. I’m a hardworking everyman, constantly growing and learning with the love and support of a wife and three beautiful daughters, striving to be the husband and father they can be proud of.
I’m no business mogul, I’m no hero, and my life is unquestionably still under construction. But I overhauled who I used to be by formulating a plan to realize my dreams of something better. It wasn’t easy, and it was never comfortable. And although I’m still not finished, I’m filled with overwhelming gratitude and triumph for my journey thus far. And just like everyone else, I still have fears and challenges that never stop following me, but my mantra Daring and Un-Afraid® attends me on this journey.
So, that’s my story. I share my difficult truth so that perhaps I can be an inspiration to others.
These three simple words keep me moving forward and drive me to appreciatively live life one challenge at a time. Daring and Un-Afraid® is my inspiration, my motivating force. It is my courage. The meaning of an expression used to describe the rowdy nights of youth has been transformed, but more importantly, so have I. Daring and Un-Afraid® has not only become my way of life but my hope for you. I want ordinary folks just like me to aim for difficult dreams, never lose hope, to work and play hard, and fight like hell when the odds aren’t in your favor. I want this philosophy to inspire you, letting your heart lead you toward achieving goals and letting your feet keep propelling you forward.
My wish for you is resilience, courage, perseverance, and an enduring spirit! That’s what this brand represents. So be victorious by living your life Daring and Un-Afraid!
And although I left this place to change my life, this place never left me.