MindSet For Success: VMAN speaks with Sam Farao on Trauma and Growth
“While I didn’t have a clear-cut plan or vision appear magically before me, I still knew that I wanted to infuse more purpose and long-term thinking into the way I worked.”
Trauma is a powerful drive. By all accounts, Sam Farao had an abusive upbringing; when he talks about his father he paints a picture of an angry alcoholic, who drove drunk and smashed plates on the kitchen floor when he was in a temper. For a long time, Sam didn’t think much of his childhood, except for his sad and negative memories. That was until he realized the enormous capacity negative experiences hold in pushing us forward on our personal and professional developmental journeys.
The beginnings of the resilience mindset
Sam’s earliest memory, from age 4 or 5, places him in the backseat of a car in 1990s Norway. His father was behind the wheel, and he was drunk. When you ask the serial entrepreneur to share the emotions he remembers from this incident, he recounts fear and terror. Sam also reflects on the immense power our parents have in shaping our adult pursuits, and how his lack of role models on the one hand delayed his entrepreneurial beginnings – but on the other drove his desire for something better.
“When you have the kind of parents I did, of course you hold bitterness in the sense of what could have been where your childhood is concerned. On the other hand, it also gives you this really clear idea of everything you don’t want to be, and everything you want to strive for.”
Perhaps it was the lack of setting a good example, both on the part of his father and his mother, that made Sam so prone to living for the moment and the day in his teenage years and 20s. He skipped school, he was involved in petty crime, and even when he started working legitimately, in various sales roles, there was no sense of strategy or longitude to his endeavors.
A motorbike accident – and clarity
While working as a phone salesman in Thailand, Sam was involved in a serious motorbike accident that left him in hospital for several weeks. At this stage he had grown accustomed to a high-paced life, with lots of cash – much more than he needed. Still, as he lay in that hospital bed, Sam began to reflect, and slowly realized he was under-utilizing his potential. He’d had success, sure, but he lacked focus; he lacked the kind of aspirational mindset that would really take him places.
“It really was one of those cliches, ‘What are you doing with your life?’ moments. And while I didn’t have a clear-cut plan or vision appear magically before me, I still knew that I wanted to infuse more purpose and long-term thinking into the way I worked.”
The link between his traumatic childhood, and harnessing its power for his entrepreneurial pursuits would still take a while longer. But when he returned to Norway, Sam started thinking big, and visualizing much grander schemes than he had previously allowed a chance to manifest.
To be one, think like one
Sometime in his early 30s – after he’d founded Netpixel Media, and begun seeing success with his affiliate marketing company – Sam realized that all great innovators and entrepreneurs share a similar mindset. What they have in common, he found, is high self-esteem – the kind that is formed and solidified during your childhood years. Additionally, many of them share a traumatic or difficult background. A peculiar paradox, given the likely assumption that people with a happy childhood would enjoy more success in life.
“As it turns out, these great entrepreneurs – the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks out there – they’re hungry on a different level to others. For some of them, it’s about trauma. For others, it’s about a long-nurtured self-esteem. So I realized that in order to excel, I would need to quite literally set my mind to it; to convince myself I was great. And I truly believe that growth comes through pain – No pain, no gain!”
Sam began to re-examine his childhood, and what it had actually meant for his adult life. It became a fuel; a source of energy, to turn this disadvantage into a very unique asset. He began working with a coach, to unpack the trauma and to heal. Parallel to this, Sam also set out to incorporate mindset exercises and approaches to his day-to-day work and life.
Seeing is believing
The number one mindset hack in Sam’s toolbox? Visualizations. If you can see it, you can believe it – then you just need to make it happen. And his visualizations aren’t 1-year or 2-year or 5-year business plans – they are wild dreams. They’re outrageous, rebellious, and out of this world. That’s because Sam believes that if you’re going to join the ranks of the greats, you have to convince yourself of your capacity and your potential.
“It all comes back to that high self-esteem. Whether you develop it as a child or you carve it out as an adult, you have to find a way to manifest the conviction that you are able to reach these incredible goals. That’s the only way to actually get to them.”
According to Sam, your achievements are the result of how big-scale you allow yourself to think. Set goals as soon as humanly possible. Set your goals beyond your lifetime. You will never exceed your highest expectation or your thoughts. The bar is yours to set – and wherever it winds up, that’s where you’ll go.