Icarus Syndrome Entrepreneur Corporate Example

What I Learned From Bottoming Out A Mustang In the Arizona Desert

15 min read

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love to live my best life, particularly renting mustangs, enjoying a pool party in Scottsdale, and then pulling a Steve Jobs in the Arizona desert whenever I need a hard reset on my mind.

Working nonstop and closing deals left and right, I am a pretty confident guy and have been overdue to be humbled in some capacity as I have forgotten what it is like to lose, and in some cases feeling invincible with the risks I take in life.

As I sat in my rental car in the middle of the Arizona desert stranded with no signs of humans to be seen, and 100% stuck with the car completely bottomed out, I had quite a bit of time to reflect on life the last few weeks, as my neurons fired to stimulate my mind and my senses heightened as I had hoped.

I was just not prepared to be in a situation where I legit thought I was going to be stuck in the desert all night and had one of the biggest panic attacks of my life, with endless scenarios running through my mind.

Let me back up on how I ended up in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, in the pitch-black desert, and found myself humbled by a problem that for the first time I could not engineer a solution, pay someone to fix immediately, or talk my way out of it.

Per Newton’s First Law and lack of static friction with the wheels of my vehicle, per basic engineering mechanics, I was professionally fucked with my car unable to move whatsoever in the sandpit I had somehow found myself in.

Entrepreneur Burnout Icarus Syndrome

Good job Daniel . . . . . . . . . .

The last two months have been full of countless triumphs with new clients for all my businesses, record revenue, and finally getting a gameplan put together on scaling my agency and building a team.

Behind the ego and charisma, I have found myself facing consistent anxiety and panic attacks, as I have never received so many phone calls, emails, and people battling for my attention on a daily basis, relying on personal crutches to get through, but ultimately facing imposter syndrome while I make more than I ever have.

I am not one to ghost anyone, but I have people screaming at me on a daily basis that I ghosted them, and they deserved a quicker response, to which I do not disagree, but do not think anyone realizes what it is like to be on the phone with a client, and then have four calls you during that very calls in addition to numerous emails, withe everyone expecting an instant response.

Dreading the week ahead on Monday, I was eager to jump on a plane this week to Phoenix, AZ when one of my clients gave me the bat signal that they wanted me in town to create some content and help ramp up their cancer clinic in Scottsdale, AZ.

Scottsdale, AZ is typically my favorite place in the country to visit, as I typically crush pool parties at the W, hike all of the awesome trails, and enjoy the festivities that Scottsdale has to offer.

However, on this trip, it was off to a rough start with COVID cramping my style in Phoenix being a COVID epicenter, and personal challenges in my life that I mask by consistently taking on my than I can handle, only to find myself in hotel rooms working myself to death all night in the hopes of training my team to help distribute the load.

Starting Wednesday, the clinic loved everything that I was doing and my playbook to get them off the ground, but I could just not get my mind right to get work done efficiently, and after receiving a few calls late in the night, I grew frustrated that I can not always talk others into sharing my opinion and resorted my natural defense mechanism of smoking a joint and working till 4 AM.

Fast forward the next few days, all of my efforts at the clinic were well received and my client was extremely happy with my trip out there and the amount of work we were able to accomplish.

When Friday hit, I was excited to put work aside for a few days and take a road trip around Arizona and Utah to visit the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Lake Powell, and a few other places to escape into nature and forget the stresses on my mind.

Eager to get going, I hit the road literally 100+ mph out of Phoenix and off to areas where I knew no one, to focus on getting my mind right and organize the thoughts in my mind on how to scale my businesses, train my team, and coaching myself on what I should define as a “priority”, and what should be labeled a “distraction”.

Not to mention, I feel I have failed in my personal life in all aspects with my family, relationships, and people close to me, I have consistently put work and travel of a lot of things, and I find the people I value close to me suffering or letting me know politely they need some distance.

Roadtrip to Grand Canyon

Saturday started off great, I had driven to Flagstaff the night before, I drove to the Grand Canyon and spent a few hours taking in the scenery, and then I hit the road to Page, AZ in the hopes of taking in the amazing sunsets and snag a front-row seat for the planets being visible in one of the areas knowing for having little light pollution.

Whenever I get stressed, one of my natural defense mechanisms has been to drive far enough away that no one can find you, and you can just stare up to get lost in the stars and forget what is on your mind.

In Greek mythology, Icarus and his father, Daedalus, were imprisoned on an island by King Minos. To escape, Daedalus – a master craftsman – created two sets of wings made of wax and feathers. He warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, as the wax would melt. He also cautioned Icarus not to fly too low, as the feathers could get wet in the sea. His warnings, however, went unheeded. Icarus was so intoxicated by the experience of flight that he went higher and higher. As the wax in his wings melted, he tumbled into the sea and drowned. The saying “don’t fly too close to the sun” is a reference to Icarus’ recklessness and defiance of limitations.

I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and philosophy as I believe there are lessons to be learned from the mindsets of ancient philosophers who lived in a world free of technology, yet developed some of the most complex mindsets in the history of humanity.

Connecting Greek philosophy to the world of business and entrepreneurship, there is a characterization of entrepreneurs that have come to be labeled “Icarus Syndrome”, in which an entrepreneur continuously initiates overly ambitious projects, only to at some point find themselves causing harm to the organization or team they work with.

Addicted to success and closing, during the COVID shutdown I spent nearly 8 weeks on the road pitching new clients to continuously build a pipeline of new works and projects for my team, promising everyone who works underneath me that I will never lay anyone off and find a way to support them financially as long as they give me their all.

However, fueled by excitement and an addiction to dopamine, I realized that my misguided enthusiasm had gotten to my head and I felt invincible that I could fly, drive, or do anything wherever I wanted because I am Daniel Lynch and I always close because I can figure out any problem that comes my way.

If you were to do some researched on the characterization of “Icarus Syndrome”, these business leaders are often characterized as:

  • Placing excessive confidence in their own judgment
  • Harboring feelings of omnipotence
  • Becoming reckless and restless
  • Displaying contempt for the advice and criticism of others
  • Ignoring the practicality, cost, or damaging consequences of their various endeavors.

Anyone knows me well, knows these characterizations sum me up fairly well, to the point where you could call it Daniel Lynch syndrome.

Back to being lost in the desert, I enjoyed an amazing sunset at Lake Powell and felt super confident going into the night that I would go for a quick trip in the desert and then come back to my hotel room to work all night until I passed out.

After spending an hour enjoying the view and taking in the scenery as the skies turned black and the I could make out countless constellations in the sky, I decided to go even further to see how much better of a view I could get.

Lake Powell Road trip in Arizona

So I decided to drive north from page to an isolated area just south of the Utah border that I had been told was as dark as it gets, and no one would bother me.

I love risk, I sometimes think I am addicted to thinking I can do anything I put my mind too, and regardless of the situation I get myself into, I can find myself a way out and not rely on others to help me do it.

Flying to Phoenix during COVID is no doubt risky, but one of my favorite hobbies has been taking mustangs into the desert and getting lost on dirt roads in areas where there is limited to no cell phone reception, and you probably don’t want to run into any issues.

Fun fact, the sand I usually do this in the Sonoran desert is a lot more compacted and harder, but I found out the hard way the sand in the northern parts of the Arizona desert is a lot softer with little to no cohesion or compactness.

Anyways, I decided to drive north and I was going down a dirt road that was paved and everything was going well until, boom I got lost in the stars and next thing I know, my rental car is legit sunken in the sand and I am legit fucked.

No cell phone reception unless I walk a few hundred feet and even that is in and out, and there is no people insight whatsoever.

All this is going on while my mind is blowing up from my preparation to enjoy nature more and I legit just sit in my car for 20 minutes thinking, “How fucked am I right now?”

Even if I get out of here, what happens if the car is broken?

At Medical Bill Gurus, we are notorious for breaking the axels of rental cars from making bad decisions, but this time was different. . . . .

There is no rental car company for at least 3-4 hours, there is no major airport, if the rental car is broken, I have no idea how I am going to get out of this little Arizona town, make it to my final destination fo Salt Lake City, and hopefully, my American Express will take care of the car with Avis, God knows they have made enough money off of me with my business card line of credit.

Just like everything in life when we have a bad outcome, lose a client, or maybe have a bad breakup, there is always a sense of denial, that “no way this is happening to me.”

So I got my wits about me and was like Daniel, you are an engineer and can figure out anything, you can get your car out of this situation.

Symptoms of Icarus Syndrome

Just like that I legit started trying to dig my way out of the situation, taking my flip flops and anything else I could find to act as a shovel to dig out all of the sand surrounding the tires in the hopes of hitting compacted clay or solid ground, and then leveraging stones I could find to create a surface for traction.

After 30 minutes of thinking I had hope in the pitch dark, I started to have anxiety sink yet again, as I realized I could not do this alone, and ended up cutting my arms with little to no results.

I started to feel helpless of maybe I should start walking for help?

I had tried to call all of the local tow companies to no success and even tried calling the police department, who I definitely did not want to show up, but was starting to get desperate.

As I started to lose faith and found myself in my head thinking of all the other stupid risks I had recently taken, and stupid decisions I had not prioritized work or focusing on the wrong things, I saw headlights in the distance.

It was local Navajo Native Americans, who lived nearby and let me know I was on a Navajo Reservation, and that got out of their jacked-up jeep to try and help me push the car. After 5 minutes of pushing as hard as we could, the car barely moved and they said they had to run to town but would get a winch to help me get out if I was still there when they got back.

Shout out to those amazing people, they saw how flustered I was, and just their words of assurance made me feel a ton better.

Seeing them drive away, I started to think ok how long will they be? What is my backup plan?

Another 10 minutes went by where I could lost in my head realizing that I had a hard time asking for help?

Why do I feel my ego is too good where I can’t ask others for help, or that I have to be smarter than anyone else to find a solution out of this mess? Well straight up, I was fucked up and there was no one I alone was going to figure out a solution.

A few minutes later, I see another set of headlights, this time it is a couple on a 4 wheel jacked up ATV type vehicle that was out running their dogs in the desert.

Seeing how desperate I was, they stopped to talk with me, joking around with how they were planning to buy a mustang but might have to reconsider based on where they live and like to drive.

The husband was a technician that worked on boats at Lake Powell and had a rope that we tied into the frame of the vehicle, and we tried to use to pull out with his vehicle.

After 15 minutes of struggling, he then let me know he had a buddy who was already on his way to help and he had let him know just in case but didn’t want to let me know until we got to that point.

I then realized, wow I am so afraid to ask for help that I am embarrassed right now realizing someone is on their way to help me, and on top of that these people are here, and I started having yet another panic attack thinking how the fuck did I get myself into this situation.

Sitting in my car waiting for the tow truck, that I am afraid to ask for help, and I am afraid to think that anyone could do certain things better than me.

It then hit me, that because of this mindset, I have hindered my success on so many fronts with my businesses, struggling to prioritize training my team, and always thinking I can do it better than everyone else.

Shame on you Daniel I thought, this is a metaphor to your life, being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, with Native Americans and a nice couple randomly appearing to help you.

When the tow truck came, he had the right F-250 and we were able to get the car out of the sand, and the couple started cheering for me.

Super grateful to realize the car was unharmed and driveable to my destination, I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders, and I also realized I got an awesome view of the planets and stars that were visible that night.

Hoping this situation was a wake-up call for me, I learned quite a bit on my trip in the desert, and determined there a few priorities I need to move up on my daily agenda:

  • Show more appreciation for friends and family who are there
  • Take the time to evaluate risks and wonder what could happen if I fly too close to the sun
  • Prioritize the success of others, and making sure I value every second of their time they give me
  • Stop being ashamed to ask for help and being vulnerable with others
  • Realize failure is only when you walk away, and sometimes you just need to own you fucked up professionally

As I start off this week right a blog on how I legit got a mustang stuck in the middle of the dessert, I hope I give someone a laugh, as I know I will be laughing about this one for a while.

Cheers to the journey! What is life without a few bumps in the road, or a pit of soft sand in my case . . . . . .

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