“While the Salesman Is Away, and Other Stories/ The Surviving Game” CHAPTER 1: THE PURPOSE TO ALL
It may not help you to read about how many times Babe Ruth struck out or Michael Jordan missed a shot because – let’s face it – these are mythical creatures we may have seen a glimpse of, read about or seen on a highlight reel. I’ve personally been rejected for 2,218 jobs I’ve applied to and my book was rejected by 953 publishers before publication. Despite that or, perhaps better said, in the face of that, people call me a success.
Success – I’ve learned – is relative; relative to a great many things. Most of all, it is relative to the definition of the beholder and their prioritization of love, family, money, fame and power.
No matter your level of mastery of selling, management, leadership or life, you will be challenged tremendously over the duration of all of the above. It is highly likely you will witness unfair practices, be a victim and struggle with losses that are completely out of your control – no matter how good you are at whatever you do. That is why – even more important than the selling game – there is the surviving game.
If you are reading this, let me lead off by saying thank you.
After The Selling Game I felt accomplishment; I had summed up something I wanted to contribute to the world and managed to fill a book with said musings. The experience was (and is) a tremendous learning one. It also gave me a priceless opportunity: connecting with people all over the world that I could learn from and mold my experiences because of.
Our lives are constantly in motion, continuously classified as works-in-progress and, regardless of circumstance we are faced daily with decisions that will craft our futures.
As we discussed in chapters regarding battling burnout and earning the promotion, keeping fresh challenges always in our lives is one of the greatest challenges in and of itself. In addition, living a life you can be proud of, making choices you can and will have the courage to stand by and operating without fear and regret are extremely tough to do.
Someone once told me that our chosen career path should coincide with our answer to the question of what we would do with our lives if money and privilege were no object. The thought behind this theory, of course, is that when we choose with our heart, we find career happiness. Of course, money very much does play a factor, but there is some merit to this point. From the early days when I wrote stories about my friends and I traveling to outer space, to third grade when I incorporated all of my classmates into a story about time travel even into writing newsletter columns regularly at work, writing was more than a hobby for me.
So the one thing I have always been passionate about is writing; communicating via the written word to an audience I am hoping to inspire. Your talent matters. And, if what I hope my talent is, matters to you and helps you grow, it did its job.
Every day, in every way, my mind expands to accept and process just how great and vast and wondrous this existence is and can be. Things that make no sense at first glance, things that confound and confuse many, are all revealed when we allow our true selves to come into focus.
So – what is the purpose to life, to our reality and to the things large and small that we encounter, experience and expect daily, monthly and over the annals of our years?
You could be the most powerful person in the political world. You could be the person who bought the last box of a brand of cereal, forcing another customer to make a different purchase that makes them ten seconds later to buy a winning lottery ticket, causing them a financial windfall they give to a charity that saves someone’s life. You could be the great-great-great-great-great grandmother to the doctor who cures a fatal disease. You could write a song, a play, a movie, or a television script that inspires someone to get off their couch and do something with their life that touches someone else’s. You could be an athlete with motivating ability, a janitor whose cleaning prevents someone from falling and breaking their neck so they can go on to win an Olympic medal and inspire millions worldwide, or the salesperson peddling sporting event tickets who convinces someone to go to a game that – had they missed it – they would have been elsewhere during a catastrophe that would have cost them their lives and prevented them from one day going on to cure a disease.
You could be the one who grows up to cure the disease.
It all starts with believing it.
My point is overly specific above, but the general idea is this: absolutely everyone and everything has a meaning and a purpose. The real challenges lie in finding ours, committing to that destiny and staying on course, despite all obstacles that will inevitably present themselves in our paths over and over until the day we die. That is the surviving game.
These obstacles can break your spirit, your physical body or your morale. But they only will if you let them.
Believe me: you will face hardships and stumbling blocks and grief like you sometimes cannot even imagine. It may not let up. Your definition of happiness, your desires and your destinations may change, and often at that. At the core, however, the most vital attribute is staying true to yourself, your beliefs, your morals and what you hold dear.
And even if you have been crippled by the brutality that life can inflict on you, it makes you all the more valuable, versatile and viable in your quest of facing the millions of challenges that still lie ahead.
Those who allow life to keep them down will be kept down. Those who move past the obstacles, learn from them and challenge themselves to be great will be.
During a recent sabbatical, I finally consumed Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. The most profound morsel from this excellent work is that the preponderance of those who have found success found it just after most contemporaries would have given up. The moral? Keep taking steps towards your goals and your destiny, no matter how many steps you get knocked back. Weather the storm. You will eventually find the blue skies.
Is the aspiring actor who never becomes a household name, but keeps trying all while they are waiting tables to pay the bills, any less valuable to the world than those who broke through and made it against all odds? The people fighting who don’t necessarily “make it” in the eyes of the public can still find what they need or want. They also push those regarded as “the best” to be even better.
And – ironically – many in history have not been fully heralded for their feats until after their deaths.
We all have our own preconceived notions about what “making it” is. Live a noble life that you can be proud of. Make a difference, one step at a time.
Only if one believes they are not valuable does that become true. Only if one fails to choose to put forth their best foot, best effort and their all will they find that rewarding life.
The things that are easy to obtain come with less sense of reward and accomplishment. The best things we have – the accomplishments, the victories and successes – often came at a price or extensive effort. At the end of the day, the people and things we have in our lives that actually add value are what we must be thankful for and we must spend our time truly treasuring.
We will all encounter petty jealousy, wolves in sheep’s clothing and fair-weather friends; things that do not make sense, things that challenge every bit of our patience and test our limits. The real question is: why does what other people, who are incurably lazy and utterly miserable with their own lives, think about us remotely matter? Be proud of yourself, your transitions, your forward-thinking strategy, the steps you are taking and the person you know you will become. Other people can and will be obstacles, just the same, and often for their own jealous reasons. If it or they are not adding value to your life, that obstacle must be jettisoned immediately.
A string of ten failures in a row does not mean the eleventh attempt will result in another one, so why do we ever stop trying? Athletes miss shots, lose games, but they keep conditioning and playing. Actors put out poorly-received films, but they keep cultivating new ones. We lose jobs, we have horrendous relationships – but do we stop working or trying to find a match that will fulfill and enrich us?
Think about the people you consider great. They are grand in our mind, or the minds of others, because they never stopped when faced with adversity. If they inspire you, let that attitude inspire you more. People love success stories, comeback stories and stories of greatness and great ideas because, if even just for that moment, they believe or believe again that greatness can be achieved by all of us.
Life, business, politics, medicine, operations, sales – these are all processes that have been practiced and experimented with over the history of our world. Someone can have flash in the pan achievement and disappear from public consciousness. Someone can flounder around with the wrong course of action and never find success. Or, you can live a life that allows you to look back and know you did everything you could to squeeze out all the juice of life in every situation.
That choice is yours.
The most difficult part of life is living it. There is so much uncertainty and so many obstacles. Happiness is often just a fleeting period of contentedness, interrupted regularly by roadblocks. If everyone could make it to the top of the mountain, they would, but most people stop somewhere along the way after multiple falls.
Through decisions, learning, falling, and getting back up, weathering storms and keeping your eyes on the prize, you can find reward.
We are not inventing or re-inventing any wheels here; the processes in the aforementioned walks of life have already been created and done a thousand times over. Our role is to contribute. Our role is to add to what has been done; to make our own invaluable entries in the ledger of life.
It is key to remember that everyone has at least one talent. Everyone has a part to play. Everyone has something to contribute, and you cannot let anything stop you from making that contribution – even if you have no idea what the end result is.
Figuring out what you want can also be tricky, but without that goal to move towards we are just moving aimlessly. And being able to commit to that, commit to a plan, commit to the process that matters and commit to staying away from the evils and obstacles is a very challenging task that will literally consume your entire life.
Are you satisfied with absolutely everything about your life right now? Figure out what you are not afraid to risk; if there is no satisfaction in your life, you can risk quite a bit. Either way, making calculated risks and always making the best decisions weighing all variables will aid you in your endeavor.
There is no such thing as a prescription of action that will handle or appropriately address anything you could possibly face. There is no road map to life. There are no-win scenarios. Your heart will be broken, your fears realized and your limits tested. Daily.
Just make sure that you focus your sights on what will truly give you the feeling of happiness, accomplishment and satisfaction; don’t settle and do not let the knockdowns of life keep you down.
For, in the end, the real truth is that life is nothing more or less than the surviving game.