Memories From the Balcony – So, I Hear You Have the Secret . . .

Once more, I have the need to say this. I am a fan of the underdog. I am a fan of the dogged, the unrelenting and the one who understands what it means to endure.
I am a fan of the person who is not deterred by the word No!
Why wouldn’t I be?
I’m a fan of the one who understands the secret of persistence. I admire them.
I am a fan of the person who figured out the combination and, somehow, they can be consistent and persistent on a daily basis.
This doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as bad days or hard days. But in light of bad days or hard days, this only means that through it all, they never drop their things or throw tantrums and say, “I quit.”
If you ask me, I say this is more than being persistent.
No, in the face of the real world, I think this is simply heroic.

I’m a fan of heroes.
I am certainly a fan of the person who can stay the course. I am a fan of anyone who can find it within themselves, that no matter what happens, no matter if the ground shakes or the sky is falling, nothing and no one else is going to stop them.
I admire this.
I admire this because, of course, this is what I aim to be, which is not easy.
I want to be unshakable too.
I say this because my world is a real one. My world has hate and anger. I see this all the time. I have lunch with the cutthroats who smile with their knives hidden for the backs that have no idea what’s about to happen. I see them all the time. In fact, I call this Monday-Friday, or maybe this is just another day in the life.
But the underdog doesn’t see these things.
No, the underdog is not intimidated nor do they allow themselves to interact with thoughts that betray them.
I admire this too.

My world has the typical and usual bad-mouths and slanderers. My world consists of good and bad people and, sometimes, my world consists of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  
I think we can all agree that this is something we find plenty of.

I can say that all is fair in love and war. I can say that all is fair in business too. But even if it’s not fair, life is life. Love is love. Business is business.
But come what may, I can say that I have met people who can endure the hardships.
I have met people who have learned to negotiate the world regardless of what’s on the menu, they eat and they survive.
I have met people who understand the secret of endurance and, somehow, no matter what comes to them, they run on the fuel of tiny success. One victory at a time. Or not even that – no, they just keep moving at a steady, unstoppable pace.
How amazing.

I know that essentially, success is a relative thing.
Sometimes, success is not always a kind thing.
Success can be lonely.
Success can be draining.

In fact, our dreams can take a lot out of us – and our passion, well, our passion can mean everything to the point that we have to turn off the valves that feed anything else.
We have to shut the switch on distractions and intimidations; otherwise, we become prey to our own thinking.
I was told, “if you want it, you have to go for it.”
I was told about the theories of success and how, in fairness, success is not always kind or giving. In return, our true success takes blood and sweat. Then again, depending upon what our success is, success can mean anything.

I’m awake right now. That’s a win. The fact that I can stand; the fact that I can see and the fact that I can articulate thoughts is another success. The fact that I can walk, talk, see, touch, feel and smell on a daily basis is a success too.
The fact that I didn’t shy away from you and instead, I came here where I always do, just to meet with you.
This is also successful.
Writing is not always a kind sport.
That is, if this is a sport then writing doesn’t come with all the rewards as say, one of the top pitchers in major league baseball.

The fact that I am healthy – at least, for the most part – this is another success of mine. The fact that I have managed to get through another hour (sometimes) or another day, week or month is certainly a success.
Or better put, the fact that I am alive another year is a big success of mine.
As a matter of fact, I’ve been pulling off this trick for more than 50 years.

But what does success really mean?
Or what does this mean to me?
Is this about the size of my driveway?
Is this about the square footage of a home on the water; a boat docked in the marina; nice car, or two nice cars; bills on auto-pay and yet, the bank account doesn’t even burp nor require my attention because the stress about money and I parted ways a few million dollars ago. . . Is this what success means?
Could be.

Or, could it be that somehow, I have found my niche?
Could it be that through it all, I found my purpose?
I think this has something to do with success.
Or, could success mean that where I am is exactly where I want to be in life?
I think this might be it too.

I can see where I have fallen. I can see where I have lost my direction and, at the same time, I can absolutely see when and where I lost my momentum.
I can see when and where I allowed outside influences and opinions to intimidate me.
I can see where I allowed my thoughts to betray me and when I was down or when I was beaten; I can see how my thoughts led me astray. 

It isn’t easy, you know?
No one says this, at least not so outwardly.
No one talks about the struggle.
But everyone is definitely around to share and witness the success.
Otherwise, the room is empty when you’re at the bottom and scraping by.
(Or, at least it seems to be.)

No one looks at the pain and the dedication which comes with “winning,” because winning is not free from loss.
I  have lost sleep.
I have lost patience.
I have lost time and energy.
I have lost myself.
I have undergone pain.
I have endured growing pains which hurt. I have endured the mindsets of imposter syndrome and other rejection-sensitive disorders which are all thought-based problems. 

I have challenged the big dogs and yes, there were times when I was kicked around and sent home whimpering like a little puppy. 

I have been in the face of the so-called big leagues and the corporate brainiacs who deem themselves as “better” or at least high in the so-called business world. I have been excluded. I’ve been denied entrance. I’ve been told, “Close, kid. But not close enough.”
I have been rejected. I have been counted out and outvoted. 
I am not in that big house on the water (not yet).
I have bills and the auto-pay and I argue on a daily basis.

I know that this is all part of something.
I know that people tell you “age is just a number,” which it is.
But youth is a moment in time. So is age.
Since everything is pivotal and hinged upon seconds and minutes, I understand that time doesn’t always work with our plans.

I want the world and I want it now.
Or, as the saying goes, I want what I want, when I want it and I want it now. 
Of course I do.
And so do you.

I don’t need the keys to the executive washroom.
I don’t need the corner office as much as I need to find this “thing” I’ve been working on.
I want to find my soft-spot in the sun.
I want to find the place where, all of a sudden, I walk in and sit down and say “Ahh, this is what I’ve been looking for.”

By the way, it’s okay to outgrow things. It’s okay to evolve and change or to transform into a new person.
It’s okay to become more and without apology, it’s okay to want, feel and to deserve more. 

I know there is a secret ingredient.
I know that, somehow, the underdog has found a way to master this.
But the market has not been cornered.
There’s a way . . .
You have to find this and learn how to endure loss and pain and to hold tight until you’ve finally broken through the barriers and then your limits are obliterated and gone. They’ve blasted, like an explosion with a mushroom cloud that is unmatchable or unbeatable. Not even a missile can match you.

Unbeatable . . .
Now, there’s a word.
But no, wait.
This is more than a word.
This is life. This is endurance at its best.
This has nothing to do with who crosses the finish line or who stands on top or wins the trophy. 

To be unbeatable; to keep going; to work no matter how tired and nothing drains you, nothing stops you and regardless of the outcomes, you can still live, love, laugh and learn without being broken or shattered. 

This is unbeatable: To keep going in the face of loss or victory as if neither have meaning because the only thing meaningful is you and your strides, which never stop. You never cease, never break and you never pause because unlike the winner or loser, you are not based on outcome. You only see effort and movement.
You’re not counting the clock or the minutes. You’re only considering the steps you take during the “here and now” moments of a “dare to be great” episode in your life.

You’re not worrying about the secret handshake people or their club ties and the exclusiveness of their platinum status.
You’re not worrying if anyone approves or includes you because, again, your sights are set on something bigger and brighter. 

I have met people who, if you never knew, then you would never know about their levels of financial success. You would never know that they are the leader of some huge organization.
They don’t brag. They don’t tell everyone who they are.
They don’t need to declare anything or prove anything; and more, I have met leaders who run teams that are so tight that no one appears better or beyond; but instead, everyone on their team is equally essential and equally integral.

I have met champions who defied the world and as the underdog, no one told them that they were supposed to lose.
Yes, I have met with and talked to a fighter who became the champion of the world in the welterweight division.
He was fighting in a cage against arguably one of the greatest fighters of all times and, still, no one told him that he was supposed to lose. He didn’t know that he was supposed to be too afraid to compete. 

I have heard the comments of people who say, “That was all luck!”
I’ve heard people say that “Luck is everything.”
Sure it is.
The years of training, the pain and the healing, none of that had anything to do with it, right?

I have seen people who trained their entire life, who dedicated themselves to their craft and, no matter what, they never stopped or quit. They never gave in. They never lost their focus. Even if they didn’t make it to the big stage, they stayed true to themselves.

I know that in the beginning I met someone who told me that I should “forget about it” when I said that I wanted to become a writer.

I know that I was laughed at. I know that I am still laughed at.
I’m told “Thanks, but no thanks,” all the time. 

I remember a saying from a movie:
A bunch of kids were in the army. Their Drill Instructor had them doing mud drills and screamed, “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.” 
There’s something about this saying.
There’s something about the pain and the setbacks we endure.
There’s something about the doors that won’t open, just because, and no matter how many times we try or how many times we hear the word “No!” somehow, if it ain’t raining, then we ain’t training.
If we ain’t moving, then we ain’t doing.

I remember back when I was doing door-to-door sales.
I took a job at a small network marketing shop. I was young and, of course, the sales managers were telling me how great it is and how much money I could make.
I was told how the plan works.
I can remember sitting in a sales meeting when they talked about this thing we call motivation.

They showed us $5,000 in cash.
Would this motivate you to sell your product today?
Meaning, “Would you come back empty if we were guaranteed that money?”
Then they doubled the cash.
“What about now?”
The room went wild
They doubled the cash again.
“How about now?”
Once more, the room erupted with a team of young and hungry so-called go-getters, all on the prowl to earn a stack of cash.

The idea was to understand energy.
Whether we came back empty or whether we sold a fair share or had a bad day, this is the attitude that keeps people moving. 
This also creates magnetism.
When it rained and you’d have to endure the outdoors, the sales manager would tell us “Those aren’t raindrops. Those are juice drops.”

I suppose the secret to endurance is to have that motivation which is beyond the eventual $30k in cash.
For the record, that’s how much the manager showed us to incentivize his team to sell out their calculators and pens.

I quit a few days later because I realized this wasn’t for me.
I realized that selling impulse items was not for me.
The manager told me that he liked me.
“Whatever you do, just work really hard.”
“You can be a millionaire doing anything. You just can’t give up.”
I appreciated that. 

I have met a lot of miserable millionaires along the way.
I have met people who put the brakes on my efforts because for them, either I was an insult or a threat.
But that’s about them (not about me).
I’ve met clinicians who hated me because they thought I didn’t deserve to share their air. Yet when the public initiative was through and the news reported the events on television, it wasn’t them or their highbrow bullshit that the news reported. It was me, the little guy who didn’t deserve his time on the stage. 

I know that one thing the underdog understands is humility and modesty.
This is their true success. That no matter what comes, whether they win, lose or draw, they do not stop being themselves and they do not boast or brag.
No, they smile and they keep moving. 
This is unbeatable.

I’ve seen cutthroats and people with knives in their backs. 
I’ve met people with sharp smiles and flashy clothes.
I’ve seen people who sit at the end of the table in boardrooms and have their teams gather around them like little minions. 

I’ve also been to Otisville Correctional Facility.
I had to go to visit someone who was in for securities fraud.
And yes, oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Life can be humbling. Unless you stay humble, of course.
Then nothing can beat you, says the unbeatable

(except yourself).

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