Failing to the Top

Daniel Christopher Lee, best known as DLee, is one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs in the solar industry. Unknown to many, however, Daniel’s journey to success was not always a walk in the park. In fact, he has failed many times in his life. At one point, he too had given up on his dreams. Rather than being motivated by what’s possible, he began to settle for what was probable. For several years, he believed that a six-figure job for a decent company was all he needed. Luckily for DLee, over time, his failures pushed him into the solar industry and his dreams of success, impact, and legacy have been reinvigorated with possibility. 

Looking back, Daniel remembers his first failure was during third grade when he could not read. He struggled with it so much that he needed help in order to keep up with the other kids in his class. He was in a program called Resource where he received one on one instruction to develop the fundamentals of learning to read. It wasn’t until mid third grade that he graduated from Resource and aspired to become one of the top students in his grade level.

Another memorable time he experienced failure was when he did not get hired at Chili’s. At the time, he felt destroyed; he had a lot of confidence going into it. But in retrospect, he could see that job would have prevented him from his first sales position with Cutco less than a year later. It was at Cutco that he developed strong communication skills and a desire to be successful in sales, paving the way towards pursuing a business degree in college.

Years later, Daniel found himself working for Verizon, where he stayed there for eight years. He became the top sales representative, got promoted to top assistant manager, got promoted again to the store manager, and eventually top general manager for the company. Despite his tremendous performance, however, Daniel was fired from Verizon. It was one of the most difficult times in his life after having worked for the company for a considerable number of years. At the time, he was lost, uncertain, and ashamed of it. He did not have direction or confidence in himself. 

The next few months played an even larger toll on his confidence. He interviewed for sales and management positions for multiple companies and did not receive a single offer letter. Some of the companies he interviewed for were Apple, T-Mobile, Target, ADP, Paychex, Public Storage. But looking back, all of the positions he applied for would have led him back to the same place he had once settled for, a limited and unfulfilled job. 

Thanks to the encouragement of his wife, Daniel managed to bounce back after stumbling into the solar industry at a local job fair. Although he didn’t secure a cushy job with a big salary or management position, he found himself with something more than a job, he had an opportunity. He excelled in the company and quickly rose to the top sales representative. 

He was heavily recruited and took an executive position at a local solar company. Despite all his hard work growing the sales team, achieving record numbers, Daniel was fired from that company. Again, devastating to his pride and confidence. 

Nonetheless, he was hired by another solar company quickly. He came in as a manager and eventually opened five more offices. He was even a motivational speaker at the company’s annual summit. That same company eventually fired him as well.

The article could easily have been called Fired to the Top but not everyone experiences being fired. Everyone does experience failure and one of the points Daniel wanted to make was that failure is not final. Had it not been for getting fired several times, he would not have had the courage to start his own company. When he finally did, everything just fell into place.

“The reason why I want to tell the story is that being fired or not getting the job or failing is not the end. It’s not the end of anything. It’s actually the beginning. It’s actually the story that you get to tell people when you experience adversity, and you did not give up,” Daniel explained. “It’s an actual motivation that keeps you going when you don’t feel like doing it anymore because you remember what it was like to be a failure. You remember what it was like to lose, and you don’t want to do that anymore. It’s actually the foundation for greatness.”

After having been fired several times throughout the course of his professional career, Daniel had a very life-changing realization—sometimes, things must come to an abrupt end so that a new journey can begin. It became clear to him that his failures did not define who he was at all. Learning to see things from a different perspective, motivated him to keep on moving forward despite the setbacks that would come every now and then.

“Sometimes God puts things or does things in your life that you have no idea why it’s happening to you. But remember, even things as bad as ending a relationship or getting fired or being completely embarrassed because you failed doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story,” Daniel shared. “Sometimes these things are necessary to happen to push you out of your own boundaries in developing you into something amazing.”Daniel Christopher Lee’s story is one worth learning from. He is living proof that success does not always come fast and easy. In his case, circumstances shaped him first in preparation for a bigger task—establishing and expanding a solar company that is making a difference in the lives of multiple families. If anything, Daniel is where he is today because he made an effort to learn from all the failures he experienced in life. He hopes that others who read his story will also come to see their present predicaments as stepping stones to success.

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