There is this idea we have that everything we believe is true. And it must be true because then why else would we believe something if it wasn’t true? Am I right?
Even if truth and belief do not match, we find ourselves with the firm intention of defending our beliefs. This is it. This is truth. And that’s that, right?
There is the fact that perception is not truth. Perception is only true to us and our belief is altered by opinion and emotion. To me, my truth can be changed and altered to fit what I believe.
But this is how self-deception works. This is where the deception of our perception tricks our belief system into following a matrix of ideas that keep us from our best.
Don’t believe me? Okay, then read on.
I suppose the start of my life was to learn more about this thing we call boyhood. Then it was how to be a teenager. Then I had to learn how to be a man. Then I had to learn how to be me. It seems like most of our life is spent learning how to be something we already are.
I trace this thought back to the days when we were on corners or in front of stores, asking the so-called “Cool” looking adults if they would buy us some liquor or beer. The conversation always started out with the same, “Excuse me,” and sometimes we’d luck out. Sometimes we’d find someone who thought it was their job to educate us on life. It was enough for me to roll my eyes, thinking, “Good God, man. Just buy us some beer or get lost.”
I think of all the writers that I’ve heard about. I think about the names like Shakespeare or the other greats whose names may differ, according to opinion. I think about Kerouac and his long, unending sentences, which make sense to me. I think about Tristessa, which is a great one by Jack Kerouac. I think about this and what the novel means to me.
I think about the late poet Jim Carroll and how he would read his poetry at open venues. Carroll read his poems regardless of his accent or the sound of his voice. I think about this and how it leads me to regard myself.
I think about Robert Fulghum and one of his best selling books, which I took from the nightstand next to my Old Man’s hospital bed.
I am on my way like I have been more than ten thousand times before. It is early and the months are growing colder, which means sunrise will not come until later. We are entering the final approach and soon, this year will end and the new one will begin. My body is in that familiar sense of auto-pilot again, which means I am driving and alert. I am aware of my surroundings but yet; my mind is someplace else. It’s crazy to think that we are at the close of the year. Soon enough, we will hear all the “New Year, New Me” ideas and people will begin with their New Year’s resolutions.
But my resolution is simple.
“Just keep going.”
So much happens in the tiny pockets of our memory. Trees grow here with roots that bury deep within and sprout in the fields of our dreams. And dreams? Yes, I have them. As a matter of fact, I am thankful for each and every dream I have.
Today is Thanksgiving, November 25, 2021. The temperature outside is 31 degrees. The dawn is just about to break and the early light is changing the color of the sky. It is still dark and quiet and from what I hear, the weather is supposed to be partly cloudy, which is fine with me.
You can call me crazy, but I appreciate a day with gray clouds in the late autumn scene. It’s not sad nor tragic. It’s just a reminder from the great Mother Earth who says “Relax.” And I plan to.
Relax, I mean.
I would like to believe that I would never forget and that above all, I will always remember who I am and where I come from. I would like to believe that I will never forget what it took me to get to this point, which has nothing to do with success, least of all a monetary number or a bank account. This has nothing to do with where I live or the type of car that I drive. This has nothing to do with a portfolio or net worth because I have learned that money can lose its value. Fame is fleeting, which is not to say that I am famous or anything like that. But popularity is only plastic. The rest of the world is see-thru but if I am to be held to the light; I want to be more than what appears to the eye.
I am sure we all agree that awareness comes in time. I am also sure that awareness comes in stages. For example, I was more aware of my surroundings when I was younger. I was more aware of fashion and flash and glory. I was a younger person in search of thrill and thrill-seeking things, like, how fast can I go or how can I push my adrenaline to the highest peak.
I am less aware now of things that divide the crowds or the status of social popularity, which at one point; this was something that mattered to me. But simply, the older I become, the more I find myself completely unaware of new technology or how to use it. The more I advance, the more I move away from unimportant ideas that crippled me in the past.
I was standing outside of my hotel room in the early hours of the morning. My body was on New York time but my location was Los Angeles, California. This was one of my first trips out to L.A. which was more like a dream to me. I was partly awake because my body was unsure about this thing they call time zones. I was partly up because I was excited to be where I was and partly so that I could call in to one of my Sunday morning empowerment groups.
After losing a considerable amount of weight, I loaded up a backpack with the same amount of weight that I lost. Then put this on my back. I walked around for a while and felt the weight that I had lost. I did this to realize how much weight was gone and after removing the backpack, I realized how much lighter I felt.
Weight has always interested me. I know how much a pound weighs. I know how much ten pounds weigh and twenty and so on. I understand that my concept of weight differs because my strength and depth of feeling is unique to me. I don’t know what ten pounds feels like to anyone else. I only know what this feels like to me.
I know that holding something that is lightweight can eventually become heavy. I also understand the process of accumulation. I know that one thing can become two and two becomes four and therefore; before we know it, we find ourselves carrying way too much.
Of course, I have a past . . .
We all do. I suppose the trick is to identify this instead of this identify me because at one point, I believed that my past is what defined me. I believed that my past is what connected me to a stigma that would never allow me to move beyond my old identity. I believed that I was held to a standard which was no longer applicable. At best, I believed that I was a person of my circumstances. At best, I believed that I could only go as far as the labels that described me and at best, as I saw it, even being termed as a person “In recovery” was a limiting idea that held me back from reaching my best potential.
At best, I could only be learning disabled. I could only be a person with a past. At best, I could only be the sum of what I was labeled as, which in my mind, was weaker and less than the normal population.
I am watching the sunrise from my window (again).
The colors of orange and purple amaze me at times like this. The clouds mix in and take the different colors under its belly. There are leaves on the ground and autumn has taken most of the foliage. But still, the remnants of colored leaves are not all lost. At least, not yet.
There was an early morning gathering at one of the bagel places near my home. I noticed them every Sunday morning and each week, a small group of people chose to meet up at an early hour, just to connect, just to talk, or better yet, maybe they met up to hit the reset button and come Monday, they were ready to deal with the week and all that comes with it.
I am sitting on an outbound bus with the sun going down. The moon arrived early for its shift today and across the Hudson, which is between me and the City, I can see the spires of tall New York City buildings, pushing their needles into the palms of the sunset.
I am older now but the romance has not left me. Not at all. I still feel the same way and to me, she is just as beautiful—or better yet, she is more beautiful now and beautiful as ever.
My feelings towards her are still as impactful as when I was young and wild. This place has seen me through decades of changes. She is always there for me, regardless of my faults or past misgivings. Besides, she knows my truths, which I suppose was something that used to frighten me.
I have seen her from the Eastside and the Westside and from the Downtown side on cobblestone streets, which still exist. I’ve been with her from the SoHo side, to the Uptown side, from the parks, and to the Avenues with alphabets. She is still very real to me; my City.
There are different phrases for when someone “Goes away,” to dry out or clean up. One phrase that I hear is, “He went to the farm,” which is interesting to me because in my case, I was literally on a farm for 11 months. But I get it. There will always be slang terms. There will always be an attachment to opinions and connections to stigma. I understand that anonymity is not always anonymous and that people talk to keep the rumor factories alive.
To be clear, I was in three different treatment facilities. I was in two of them twice. And I say this without shame. I offer this without regret and openly identify myself as a person who needed help. But this is more about people and our relationships than it is about rehabs and recovery. This is more about the connections we make and the people we meet. This is about what people share with each other when it seems like the entire world is about to fall apart.
That’s what this is about.
I understand that most people seldom see where they fit in their own equations. In all fairness, it would be great to say that no one ever gets hurt. No one ever says mean or hurtful things. Loved ones would always be in love. In a perfect world, no one would ever argue or have to.
No one would ever say an insensitive thing and we could smile and laugh and see things in our own special way. In a perfect world, everything would be perfect. No one would use passive/aggressive remarks to show their pain or hurt someone else in return. But to be clear, this is not a perfect world. We are all imperfect. We argue. We hurt. We assume and somehow, we seem to hurt almost preemptively. Then we submit to pains of something that hasn’t even happened yet.
More and more, I think the farther I move away from my former self, the more I realize that I am more than who I ever thought I could be. I am more than my surroundings. My eyes are open now; or better yet, maybe I’m not afraid to see anymore. Maybe I’ve given myself the permission to move on. I have gone beyond the crossroads and come to the understanding that I am more powerful than the influence of my environment. I can change. I can improve. I can say goodbye and walk away. I can learn new things and choose a new life.
The more I grow as a person, the more I realize that this is all within my grasp. I do not have to submit or allow myself to be overrun by circumstances. There is no law that says I have to be defined by my situations. It’s true. In fact, if ever there is a miracle it is the day we realize our own abilities to walk away.
The Old Man used to tell me, “If you sleep with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.”
Then he’d point to my friends and point out my condition.
Then he’d say, “You’re gonna have to start scratching soon.”
I suppose he was right
There are people who look to help and people who look to speak. There are times when silence is best. There are times when all we need is a friend to be there, not necessarily to say anything or least of all, the right thing—but just to be there is perfect enough.
I came to a break in the road but not after a long drawn-out routine of rehearsal and practiced speeches. Something happened. I suppose we can call this awareness. I suppose a time came when I woke up and it was time to move.
I came to the understanding that maybe there is an easier way to live or think or be and feel. Of course there was. I am also sure the saying holds true about simple ideas for complicated people; and likewise, I am sure that I have complicated simple ideas with disbelief or doubt. Maybe this is where the challenge comes from – it’s all in the mind, which was truly my biggest obstacle.
This series of published journals will be number eight of its kind. The intention here is the same as the intention with all the others. My aim is to create a resource of improvement that is simple, relatable and understandable. The goal is to be happy. That’s it.
Plain and simple.
I am writing this entry to you from the dimness of a late-night thought. Mainly because I cannot sleep and partly because the thoughts I have are swirling around. There are no lights on but the soft gray from my computer screen brightens the loft where I keep my journals. I call this place my Writing Loft because this is where I write and like you, I need someplace sacred. I need someplace that makes sense, a sanctuary, someplace devoted and somewhere that I can retreat and find salvation.
I am writing in the quietest setting with some soft background music, playing with just a hint of sound. I come here each morning to mark my daily confession. I do this to leash my thoughts to keep them from running away.
I do this with no distractions and for no other reason than to deliver this to you with an open heart. But more, I do this to wipe away all the sorry images and decorations that we wear throughout the day—to just be real, so that I can be me and you can be you. There’s no need to be tough here. After all, it’s tough enough just to get through the day.
Know what I mean?
There are times when I find myself driving through my old hometown. So much has changed. The landscapes, the storefronts and the people have changed too. There are, however, the unchangeable familiarities that my mind will never forget; and when I’m home, it’s as though my body knows where to go. I don’t need to think about which direction to turn. Somehow, it’s as if my mind shuts off and I revert back to the different stations of my youth. And the town, she is fine with me. The old places and familiar streets are like an ever loving mother, anonymous and gentle, always welcoming and always comforting, regardless of who I was or what I did.
I was a kid once too. I admit it, I was part of a crowd. I admit to being part of the wild ones. We were the crazy kids in the town. We laughed and we carried on. We ran around and we caused some havoc. But we were young at the time and this is what kids do. Isn’t it?
We were both hopeful and hopeless; yet, we were all just trying to understand what life was all about. We wanted to learn and see things. We wanted to touch, taste and feel. We were trying to find our way around the playground and trying to find out who we were. What is this thing called life? Is any of this real? Are you real?
Ah, the friend, the person who knows and the one who understands. I can say that I am lucky to have had friends in my life. I have had people who somehow instinctively know it is time for a call. These are real friends. These are the people to hang on to. These are the ones that will detail our memory and at the final time, when we find ourselves at the twilight of life and the dawn of a new entry, our friends and loved ones are the momentum that keeps the pulse going.
I think I will end this part of my journal here with this thought. Of course, I would like to punctuate this with some emotion to trigger the thought machine to take on a new direction.
It’s amazing to me how we grow up and somehow, we still manage to stay the same. We age some and we grow some. If we’re lucky, we learn some. Hopefully, we can change some and improve some too. I am thinking about the things I see throughout my day. I am thinking about people who honk their horns on the expressway. I’m thinking of people who refuse to allow the car beside them to merge ahead of them simply because they want to be the one who gets there first. It’s amazing to me the way we take on arguments with people we don’t know or people we will never see again. It equally amazes me how we completely surrender our sanity.
I go back to the point of this and the reason why I’ve decided to write this book or the others before it. At some point, I came to a staggering realization that I was part of the 85% who were unhappy with their work life, which bled into my home life. I was part of the mindless motions of everyday commuters. I had my traditional cup of coffee in hand and a newspaper folded beneath my arm. Each morning, I was heading to a job that was more of a habit than a passion. My body knew which way to go, when to turn left or right, when to pause, when to stop and when to go. I was almost Pavlovian in the sense that my day was mainly predictable. Nothing was ever exciting or fulfilling. Instead, mine was a simple case of life on the clock. I punched in to prove my existence and at the end of the day, I logged off to prove that I had ceased to exist in the corporate world.
Here’s a great quote from the Buddha who said, “We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts, with our thoughts we make the world.”
I love this quote because this helps us understand more about the way we think. Therefore, if we think something is true then we believe this must be true. Meanwhile thoughts are neither true or false. They’re only thoughts. There can be a thousand variances and still, thoughts are only thoughts. Nothing else.
This understanding helps me formulate a simple deduction. On average, I have read details that we think an estimated 70,000 thoughts on any given day. I suppose this makes the mind a busy place to be.
Each year, we celebrate something old with something new. We celebrate birthdays and holidays, and of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas are claimed to be the most wonderful time of the year. We celebrate with our families. We enjoy meals at tables with unending plates of food. We exchange gifts. We welcome in the New Year and talk about our New Year’s resolution. Then we laugh and say, “Hey, maybe I’ll stick with it this year. You think?”
This one might get a little personal. Then again, all of this is personal to me. I suppose that as a young boy, I wanted to grow up to be big and strong, just like my Father. I wanted to be like him and to think like him. I wanted to know how to fix things the same way he knew how to fix things. He was my hero and to me, I looked at my Father with such admiration. I wanted to be charismatic, just like he was. I wanted to be able to talk to people the way he could or tell a story and make it just as interesting.
There is always someone around to tell you why your dreams will never work. There is always someone looking to disprove your theories. There will always be crabs in the bucket.
There is always someone who looks to criticize and point out your flaws. They’ll tell you what’s wrong to keep you down. And be mindful that this is about them. Not you.
This one comes from a personal perspective. The experience below is mine but I am sure that anyone can relate to wanting more. I am sure there are people who are brave enough to face the tides and make the changes they need. Yet, there are countless others who simply meander through their life wondering if or “When” something is going to happen. They wait so they can catch a break.
At one point, I was that person too.
So, please read on.
There is a lot of talk in the workplace about two words. Then again, there is a lot of talk about a lot of special words in the workplace. Some words you can say without a problem. Some words are sensitive. Of course, some are offensive. However, these two words are not offensive or sensitive to me but to someone else, the ideas of Emotional Intelligence could trigger a workplace dispute over whether terms like this should be used or not.
To be clear, we live in interesting times. I have sat in meetings that discussed empowerment topics. The main objective was based on wellness and well being proposals to create workshops in the workplace. The intention is to promote personal satisfaction, growth, clarity, interpersonal improvement, as well as to overcome obstacles and above all, to support transformational, personal and professional changes.
As a kid, I remember being told the story about the tortoise and the hare. I remember hearing slow and steady wins the race. Then again, as I grew older there was another saying. “Nice guys finish last,” which sounds a little conflicting if we think about it. As a matter of fact, I have seen production lines. I have been a part of crews that built machines. Come to think of it, there was a year in my young adulthood where I spent my time on a farm and at no point in any of these equations did anyone tell me “Slow and steady wins the race.” I was told to move faster. I was told “Hurry up,” but to be clear, the only time I was ever told to slow down is when I was firing off in too many directions. I was wasting energy and trying too hard. (Enter contradiction here.) Then I was told to slow down. This is when I learned about the rules of efficiency and the benefits of energy conservation.
I have said this before but this is a good time to say this again. I am a real person. I have faults and flaws but also, I have chemistry. You have chemistry. And sometimes, our chemistry doesn’t mix, which is fine. I cannot say whether I am the most liked or the most hated. Neither can you. But I can say that some people are often an acquired taste. In which case this could be me or you. Or better yet, maybe this is all of us.
I have always been amazed by the person who walks in the room and somehow, everyone seems to notice them. I have always wondered why some people have social talents that exceed the norm. There are people who can literally take over a room. They can walk into the office or the boardroom and somehow, the room becomes about them. They have a natural presence. People listen. This is amazing to me.
So, what’s the point of all this?
The reason behind my journal entries and why I share them with you is because first, I am documenting my efforts to grow as a person. I want to note my changes and openly discuss what works and what hasn’t. But more, I want to write about life in a relatable way with hopes that my brand of information is helpful to others. Even in spite of all our differences; there is a commonality we share. We are all here, living, learning and we are all moving along this great big conveyor belt, which I choose to call Project Earth.
I suppose this entry is written for the person who is starting in a new position. Or, maybe this is for the young person who is just starting out. This is for the young entrepreneur who wants to make a dent in the business world. Then again, I suppose this fits anyone in life. Or, perhaps this is an entry from the old me to the new me. Better yet, this is for anyone in need of clarity. This is to define some of the important behaviors that help create our personal success.
Now that I’ve taken a moment to talk about communication, I think it is important to recognize a few lessons and exercises that I have seen throughout the years. The first lesson came to me at a very rough time. This was years ago in the month of December 1989 to be exact. I was a young man on the verge of losing my Father. At the time, my Father (The Old Man) was in a coronary care unit after a series of heart attacks. By the way, this was the strongest man that I ever knew. Of course, my Dad could beat up your Dad. He was smarter too. He could fix anything (So there!) but above all, The Old Man was my very first hero.
The Old Man lay in his bed, almost gray, and weak as ever. I never saw him this way before. I never saw him as anything other than strong and capable. However, life is life, which means life is both eventual and inevitable. Age takes place and although my memories of The Old Man are of him and his strength, at his end, The Old Man was weak and humbled.
Question: How many times have you been at work and learned that you had to communicate with someone you don’t like? How many times has a name come to mind and you sort of roll your eyes? You think to yourself, “Oh, great! I have to deal with this one now!” How many times have you lost your patience when trying to explain yourself at work to someone who claims to know your job; yet, they truly have no idea what they are doing. Sound familiar?
They say good things come to those who wait. They also say patience is a virtue, which is another one of those sayings that used to drive me crazy. The dictionary says a virtue is a moral excellence or goodness; as if to say that if we wait patiently, then we are good. So, what do we do? We wait . . .
They call it work. Isn’t that right?
In a previous entry, I explained how a person told me, “If work was fun then they would call it something else.”
I discussed the personal mindset and the way our thinking affects our behavior.
This entry will not be much different. However, I will relate this more as a personal exercise in which I will expose the quitter’s mindset and offer my personal history. My aim is to detail how my thoughts impacted my behavior. As I mentioned in previous entries and as I plan to repeat; I am a real person. I have thoughts and feelings. I have a history. I have biases that range from memory bias to personal, to decision biases, thinking errors and fears, concerns and worries. Again, I am a real person.
I am thinking about taking a break from the norm. What I mean is I have an idea to break away from my regular routine with hopes to save my sanity and restore my soul. So, what exactly does this mean? This means that I need a vacation. Perhaps someplace warm. Yes, I think that would be nice. I could go to a place where the water is the color turquoise, the beach is filled with white sand and half bent palm trees swaying in the wind and the breeze blows by me like a dream. I am thinking of island drinks with tiny umbrellas that perch at the rim of a coconut cup with a triangle of pineapple that has been skewered and can be dunked in the white frothiness of the drink. I am thinking about the kind of time where I wouldn’t have to even wear shoes.
They always say “What goes around comes around.” They say don’t work angry. Don’t worry about revenge. I’ve heard people say “Keep the focus on yourself,” and “Don’t take things so personally.” By now, I’m sure that everyone has heard the saying, “It’s just business. It’s not personal.” And I’m sure that people are familiar with this saying too: “I’ve wanted to run away more as an adult than I ever did as a kid.”
My Mother used to tell me, “No one ever promised you a rose garden!” This means life is not going to play fairly. Others will not play fair in the sand box. Life happens. But either way, we have to find a way to get through.
I used to have a boss who would phrase this a little differently. He’d shout, “Suck it up!” and then walk away.
I have a shirt that says, “Nobody cares, Work Harder.”
Either way, the goal is to find the secret of our endurance which is different for everyone.
There are three major changes in life. There’s the home life, the work life and the relationship life. Changes in any of these are big and in the past year, all three things have been affected by the pandemic. Home life has changed. There is uncertainty with mortgage companies due to loss of income. Some people have moved to new places which is a big adjustment. But more than this are the changes that have come with our work life.
Safe to say there are more ways than one. I know this is something that people say, but there are times when people insist their way is the only way. This is not to accuse anyone of being right or wrong. This is only to say that as we grow confident with our craft or move forward in our field of business, we become comfortable with our own tactics and methods. Also, the more we grow comfortable, the less offended we are by those who suggest a different way.
I can say one thing without any doubt, the most comfortable person on the job is the person who is least intimidated by suggestions or change. This is a great person to learn from. It’s not the boastful one or the bragger; it’s the quiet one who is humble to feedback and appreciative of suggestions. This is who we learn from.
There was an afternoon I spent putting office furniture together. In fairness, I am not a fan of putting office furniture together. To be honest, I hate it. I am not a fan of the instructions that come with the furniture, nor am I a fan of the person who ordered this furniture. However, life does not always come with attractive options. Sometimes, the only option is to suck it up and do it. So I did.
Above all things, be humble. A good friend of mine told me this. He mentioned this advice after I reported a downfall of someone who was part of a role that was uncomfortable in my life.
Be fully mindful that all things can, do and will change. For as the saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. They also say, which is biblical, and for the moment, I ask that you please excuse the reference but in any case; they say, “He among you who is without sin; let him be the one to cast the first stone.”
This is no different from the saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. For the record, I don’t know anyone who is able to cast the first stone. But if I was to ever place a wager, I’d bet there’s a long line for the person who casts the second.
For the record, I’ve seen people in glass houses throwing stones. I’ve watched the pot call the kettle black. I’ve seen the gossip mills and the rumor factories go to work.
There is an unfortunate truth that goes unsaid. But unsaid does not mean untrue and slight deviations aside, for the most part, we fail to realize how important someone is to us until we need them. When we don’t need them anymore, their importance goes back to where it was, which for the most part is unimportant at best. At the same time, most of us have a job. Most of us work. We have a craft or a career. We have a week to get through, which is not always easy. But, you eventually find a groove.
You find a way to split the week and make the days move faster. You train yourself to think of ways to make time and the week easier. We start with Monday just to get through Tuesday; and by that time, Wednesday is on its way. The week is half finished because all that’s left is Thursday, which leads us to Friday. And thank God for Fridays.
Am I right?
Years ago, I met a man who ran a small charter boat on the Island of Maui. Perhaps at the time, he was a bit older than I am now. He was tanned and spoke with a southern drawl. I boarded his 31′ Bertram and we were ready to troll with hopes of reeling in a trophy fish. The man asked me about the temperature in New York, which at the time, was warmer than usual. I told him that I heard the temperature was somewhere in the mid 50’s. The man smiled. He told me, “Son, I haven’t felt weather in the 50’s since I left my real estate business back in Maryland.”
I understand the title of this entry is not grammatically attractive. However, I title this for a reason. In fact, I title this because there are people who can live this way and remain lost. There are people who can live this way and find excuses why they stay as they are. Lost. But why?
If there is more out there, then why do people stay stuck? I swear, sometimes it’s like we play hide and seek with ourselves and yet, after a while, we just stop looking. We become accustomed and comfortable and then what?
I would like to start this entry with a simple exercise. I think it would be best to start this way because the mind is a remarkable place. So much goes on at once. We think and we feel. We predict and we act. We have storage units and keep detailed records of information and experience.
There are so many things happening at once and yet, we hardly realize what’s happening at all. Reports show that the average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions in a day. Think about this? There are reports that show the average adult makes 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two-seconds. Of course, this assumes at least a seven-hour sleep period, which is tough for those who struggle with insomnia. Let’s face it, thinking is not a friend when you can’t sleep.
There is a difference between the two collars. Isn’t there?
There is the white collar and the blue collar. There is a difference in culture and a difference in moods. Their jobs are different and their lives are different. There is a difference in education and yet, there are people out there who have dedicated their life to a craft as a means to feed their family. There are people who work with their hands and those who work with their minds. Of course, there are those too who work with their hearts and they have become truly successful. And, too, there are those who’ve made it from humble beginnings and those who’ve fallen from the top.