I have a question, which I think is interesting. What makes anyone different? Or better yet, what makes anyone stand out?
What differentiates you between me, or me between a financial wizard? There are people in life that exist in all different categories. And yet, there are people that stand out among them all as successful. They are in the news. They are creators. They are innovators and, somehow, they rise above the rest of the world to become newsworthy — but what makes them so special?
There was a man I knew that never moved past his 7th grade education. He spoke with a thick New York accent. And to some, he would seem or sound uneducated. However, to those who knew him, they knew about his success in a dying industry. They knew about his story that went from job to job until he found his calling. This man tried everything. He was a split lapper in the jewelry market. He worked a series of different jobs before landing in an industry that changed his life. He became a manufacturer of women’s apparel. Although this man was unknown to most, his success is a story worth mentioning.
Yet, the question still remains. What was so different about him? How did he differ from the other manufacturers? What helped him stand out above the rest? Was it his politics? Was it his connections? Both politics and connections are always helpful.
The styles themselves were simple with a moderate budget in mind. And still, this man was successful. He went from a small place in Brooklyn to a large home on Long Island. He went from modest to successful and retired to Florida. Yet, the question remains.
What separated him from the rest?
It can’t be all about luck, can it?
One could say he was in the right place at the right time. Or, one could say that his ability to remain consistent and persistent was beyond compare. One could certainly argue that regardless of whatever downfalls or setbacks, he kept moving until he found his place in the circle.
I mention this man as a person of note. He was a mentor of mine when I was younger. I was impressed by him for different reasons at the time.
I know people that go their entire life without finding their passion. I’ve witnessed people settle into their positions and miss their window. I knew a man that worked as a union engineer for more than 30 years. He swung wrenches and worked on machines. He told me he began in the union because it was a good idea. He had hopes to do other things. He had different ideas and while young, he assumed his union job was good enough. He told me, “I figured I’d do this until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.” More than 30 years later, this man is still working in an engine room.
There is a fear that comes at the later stages of the game. There are worries and concerns about starting over at an older age. The ideas of comfort become troublesome. Financial insecurity is painful. The ideas about what if can be overwhelming.
What if I take a shot and miss? What if I take the risk and nothing works out? Then what?
There is another idea that comes to mind. If not now, then when? And I say this because temporary lives have a way of becoming permanent sometimes. This is why I admire those who refuse to quit. In the face of new changes, the underdog is unrelenting. A champion is only a champion because one thing above all is the champion (or the underdog) refused to give way. They did not stop, quit or give up.
What makes someone like Steve Jobs become Steve Jobs or Bill Gates become Gates? Forget about politics or opinions for the moment. How is it that even though our country is in a time of crisis, there are other people out there still working and still creating their own success?
The question now becomes what is success?
What are the right ingredients? How do we find our specific brand of motivation that will keep us moving regardless of pain, persuasion, or late nights, the early mornings or the stress of fatigue?
What is the secret of your endurance? What will allow you to both endure and advance instead of become still or stagnant?
There are people that are born differently. They are gifted with talents beyond measure. There are those who become athletes. There are some that become champions so easily because their talents are more heroic than human. And there are some that had to earn this. There are some that had to nurture their abilities, work hard and grow them from seed to sapling until eventually, after all their hours of work, they were able to touch, taste and feel the fruits of all their labor.
There is something called work:
To exert energy, to produce, to create and to labor; to earn, learn and create a life or livelihood.
To work: to build, dig, to scrape, claw and climb the ladder of production.
To work, as in to move, churn and create the necessary energy to live, survive and breathe.
To work is to become. To work is to grow. To work is to learn and evolve, and more than earning a living — to work is to understand that everything in life takes effort. No one is going to give you success. Nothing comes free or easy. No one is looking to give gifts at the door. No one is in business to give their money away. No, business is a mutually beneficial transaction. Healthy business is reciprocal. No one is looking to hire someone just because they’re fun to be around. Work is part of life. There is no avoiding this. Not even in poverty or if we are jobless. There is always work. The choice, however, is what do we want our work to mean to us?
There are those who stand out in our society. And there are those with plenty to say about their boss or about those who stand out in political crowds. The slander parties are always available. There are those who are newsworthy and those who put them down. The difference between them is one person decided to continue and keep moving. One person decided to look to create and build, regardless of outside thoughts or opinions. One person decided to maneuver until they reached a dominant position. Meanwhile, the other person decided to slip into a tired existence called mediocrity. Put simply, if we want more, then we have to get it.
Don’t like your surroundings? Change them.
Don’t like your job? Do something about it.
Don’t like where your life is or how you live? Do something.
Otherwise, be prepared for more of the same.
The difference between the successful person and the one that settled is very simple. One person refused to give up because of their intimidations, and the other person submitted and accepted the trade.
And this is life.
Either we work and achieve what we want or we accept the trade and work for a life we never wanted in the first place. There is no in-between here. There are some that live humble lifestyles, and yet, they have everything they need. I have met people that live simple lives. They manage their bills. They enjoy their life and their family. And adversely, I have met people with seven-digit salaries. They have all the fine-tuned gadgets that money can buy. They have the house on the water and the vacation homes. They have the C-suite title. They have the salary, but yet, they have no sense of self, nor do they have a real sense of happiness.
This has nothing to do with money or titles or professional success. More to the point, there are those that are wired efficiently and effectively. There are those that seek to live. There are those who work and live and taste every experience they can touch. And there are those who simply live their life, miserably, because although money rents whatever you choose; there are billionaires that live with depression too. There are people with endless bank accounts and yet, in the end, they have nothing because they are miserable.
There was a man in the commercial real estate business. He was known for his kindness and generosity. He was known for being extraordinarily humble. He would speak to his building cleaners and maintenance personnel the same as he would speak to his Chief of Operations. He would call people by their first names and ask about their family. He took the time to know his co-workers. And I say co-workers, not employees because this man had a gift in which he knew how to assure people about their value. He was a billionaire that was comfortable in any restaurant and yet, he could sit in an engine room with men covered in dirt from a job and listen to every word they said. There was something about him.
What was it about him that made him stand out above the rest? Was it that life was easy for him? Was he never really tested? Of course, this is not true. He lived too. He knew about pain. He knew about loss. He saw financial ups and downs. And yet, he had the ability to persevere. He found the proper ingredients to feed his endurance.
It would be inaccurate to say that champions never lose. The truth is champions lose all the time. Even the undefeated lose. The difference between them and the rest of the world is their losses mean nothing more than the donation. They understand that this is what it takes to create and build the life they want to live.
See, me? I want to be a champion too. And like others, there are times when I am afraid. There are times when the odds are stacked against me. There are times when my doubts get ahead of me. And I call this out. In fact, I call this honestly because part of my endurance is I tell on myself whenever I think about quitting. I expose my weakness whenever my fear sneaks in to keep it from gaining strength.
I don’t want to settle. I don’t want to slip into the sad submission of mediocrity. I understand that the windows of opportunity can diminish as time goes on. And sure, I can stay in my comfort zone. I can give in. I can say, “Hey, this is my life. At least I’ll never go hungry.”
But is this true?
The truth is regret comes after the times we failed to take a chance. And I get it. There’s a lot on the line. There’s a lot at stake. Rent or mortgages, bills, insurance and groceries all need to be paid. I get that. These are scary times too. Who knows what the future holds, right?
What makes us stand out? What pushes us to the top? What do we bring to the table?
These are great questions.
What makes me different from you, or you from me?
We all have our talents. We all have blood moving through our veins.
We all have heart.
I wake up at 4:00 AM every day . . .
I write every morning. I build and I create. I have my problems with the critics. I have people that doubt me (including myself) and I have programs that have been denied or rejected. All I have left is motivation. And without this, I have nothing else but the coffee klatches and the welcoming committees in the lunchrooms of mediocrity. They welcome anyone with a smile.
“Sit down,” they say. “We were just about to talk shit about the people that took a shot and made it.”
I’ve seen these lunchrooms before. And you know what?
It’s not for me.