I love Tacoma! I love this city called “Grit City” and “The City of Destiny”. Both of those terms seem so fitting for the journey that I have been on my entire life. Chasing what I would have called ‘destiny’ in a former paradigm and doing so with a hefty expression of grit amidst a multitude of challenges in the process. People here in Washington State have asked me from time to time if I was ever going to move back to Birmingham, AL where I grew up or even Houston, TX where I went to college. My answer until recently has always been, “Tacoma is home now!” Well, that began to come into question last November. I was working for an organization who had hired me in part because of my unique experiences and my communication skills. Long story short, my ideas about accomplishing the mission were very different from their ideas. I chose to leave. All parties involved were very disappointed. I had high hopes for what this could do for my career as a speaker and the amount of positive impact I could have on my co-workers and our clientele. It was supposed to be the perfect setup. After three months it felt like a nightmare. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. I was leaving the church as my ideas about God were changing (this means my social circles changed). I was trying to keep my business moving forward and preparing to give my talk at TEDx Tacoma. And, I was torn between letting go of the financial stability which I craved greatly or staying true to what I believe in.
As I made the decision to leave that job I began to ask the question, “Maybe Tacoma isn’t the right place for me?” You see, I have grown here T-Town. I’m more athletic than I have ever been in my life, to include my military service. I’m a skilled and confident communicator. I don’t even get nervous in front of a crowd anymore and I’ve got a significant opportunity to speak on the east coast at a prestigious institution next April. My writing has improved leaps and bounds from where I was in 2014 when I first started. I more financially savvy. I more self aware. This growth has happened in the midst of loneliness as romance has alluded me. This growth has happen in spite of having to move home to Birmingham suddenly in 2016, in order to help with a family emergency. This growth has happened in the face of several people who I would consider friends telling me that my business will never make it. This growth has happened in spite of being ghosted numerous times by people who handed me their business card after a speech, imploring me to reach out to them. All that to say that while I love Tacoma and I’ve developed some amazing friendships here, the broader environment has not been very helpful in me moving my message to the forefront of people’s minds. Why that is? I have no clue. Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, “There goes Travis talking about Self Awareness and Self Discipline again.” Maybe it’s a victim’s mentality disguised as progressive liberalism, “But Travis, it sounds like you’re telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” Maybe I just suck and people keep telling me I’m great because they don’t want to hurt my feelings, “Travis is a terrible speaker with a crappy message but you can’t beat free.99 for someone who at least looks and sounds confident.”
Whatever it is, it’s all speculation. I can’t make anyone listen to me or appreciate what I have to say. What I can do is try to find a place that might have a culture that resonates with what I’m saying. As I thought about moving I asked, “But where and why?” Well, here’s where Mixed Martial Arts enters the decision making process. If I’m going to start this journey of entering the octagon at 37 years old, I figure why not learn at a gym that has produced champions. After looking at several gyms around the country and in Canada, I landed on American Kickboxing Academy. They have trained and produced several UFC fighters and Champions. The gym is located in San Jose, California which is the heart of Silicon Valley and in recent history has been an epicenter for Technology Startups. If I had a family, I might be more hesitant to consider the move but, seeing as a woman won’t touch me with a ten foot pole (I’m joking… I think), I figure why not give it a shot. Why not learn Mixed Martial Arts from one of the best teams in the world? Why not live in an area where entrepreneurs flock? Why not live in an area where people have made unique sacrifices to achieve unique accomplishments as startups?
So I’m plotting the move. I don’t know when it will happen just yet but I’m researching. It’s bitter sweet. I love Tacoma. I’ve been here for over 7 years now. There have been moments in the last 7 years when I wanted to cut and run, but those would have been emotional decisions prompted purely by loneliness. This a strategic choice. The Pacific Northwest is a unique part of the world in my opinion but if people aren’t buying what you’re selling, then at some point you have to change your product or find new potential customers. Whether it’s romance or business, I’m the product and I’m going to stay true to who I am. So I have to look for new customers. Right now, that means a new city.
My encouragement this week is that you think about the life you want to have and whether or not your environment in moving you toward that end. Sometimes we need to change our friend group, or our jobs, or our significant other, or our location. When we make that change, I think we would rather make it having thought thoroughly through alternative scenarios rather than relying purely on emotion. My 2 cents. I love you Tacoma and when the time comes, I will miss you.