If you missed the introduction to this new series of posts last Thursday, catch it here before reading on.
Art begins All You Can Do Is All You Can Do by relating how everybody want to be somebody and grows up with the feeling they are special and different. My (Doug’s) generation watched Art Linkletter’s show on TV, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” He regularly asked children what they wanted to be when they grew up. Kids would answer all over the map with everything from President of the US, to movie stars, Olympic gold medalists, astronauts, and Super Bowl MVP’s.
It never occurs to kids that there are obstacles and barriers to their dreams. And why should they, because at this point in their life they are constantly encouraged and surrounded by family members that tell them how special they are. This usually lasts until kids graduate from school and then they come face-to-face with the “big bad world.”
They marry, have kids and take on increased responsibilities. They go to work for companies that promise but don’t deliver.
Their level of frustration goes through the roof as they wake up one day thinking that life has passed them by and that things will never work out like they thought they would. Instead of juggling choices and options, they begin to take on an attitude of simply accepting what life dishes out. Childhood feelings of excitement and enthusiasm wane, replaced by feelings they must just be average and ordinary, like everybody else.
I (Doug) know because I’ve been there. Born the first child and grandchild in my family, rhetoric told me I was smart and special and would be a superhero when I grew up. Then life began to close in. My mom died of cancer at age 36 as I began my senior year of high school. Following that tragedy my dad drowned on a beach vacation in Florida. I had to take a full-time in a grocery store to work my way through college. And then to my surprise, there wasn’t a long line of companies fighting to be the highest bidder for my services.
Within a few years, marriage, children, and several multi-state relocation’s told me this was survival on life’s treadmill. This same story occurred to pretty much everybody else in my circle. I decided not to live the next 40 years of my life that way and decided to make some changes to ensure that wouldn’t happen.
Art defines it by saying that you have to fight for whatever you want, because life has a way of slapping you around and beating you up if you let it. If you will accept being unhappy, or broke, or being an average Joe; that’s exactly what life will give you.
In the book Art describes four principles people must burn into their brains to turn the corner in life:
The first one is that you’ve got to demand happiness and success because nobody is going to just walk up to you and give you something.
Second he states we must learn to dream again like we did back in high school. By the way, that is probably the last time most people really did any big thinking.
His third principle is that everybody has got to compete. You have to see yourself winning and then continue to slug it out until you work your way up through the food chain and reach YOUR objectives. Yes, it takes time; but what’s 5-10 years if your family can eventually “live like nobody else.”
Whether you believe it or not, your company probably has an environment where you can compete. Take a look at photos from your company’s past annual “winner’s” incentive trips, whatever they are called at your firm. You will see people who look just like you, warts and all, with similar backgrounds and abilities. The difference; they decided to compete and are now winning; many earning six-figure incomes. Decide to go be one of them!
I’ll bet you’re familiar with this sequence of events that actually happened to a great American:
1831 – Failed in business
1832 – Defeated for legislature
1833 – Second failure in business
1836 – Suffered nervous breakdown
1838 – Defeated for speaker
1840 – Defeated for elector
1843 – Defeated for Congress
1848 – Defeated for Congress
1855 – Defeated for Senate
1856 – Defeated for Senate
1858 – Defeated for Senate
1860 – ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Abraham Lincoln just kept competing until he won, although he had an unbelievable pattern of failure that would cause most people to just give up. His saga lasted for 30 years. But the principle stands that if you’re tough enough and compete long enough, you will win!
The fourth principle Art shares is that you must realize you can change. Your friends, relatives and even spouse may not believe in you, but if you believe in you, nothing else matters. What about these “losers”:
Henry Ford – Went broke 5 times before founding Ford Motor Co.
Bill Gates – Dropped out of college and started a business that failed before birthing Microsoft.
Albert Einstein – Didn’t speak until he was 4 or read until he was 7. Later expelled from school.
Thomas Edison – Was told by teachers he was “too stupid to learn anything” and unsuccessfully attempted to invent the light bulb 1,000 times before succeeding.
Winston Churchill – Failed 6th grade and lost every election until he became Prime Minister at 62.
Oprah Winfrey – Endured an abusive childhood and fired as a reporter as, “unfit for TV.”
Dick Cheney – This former vice-president of the U.S. flunked out of Yale…twice.
Jerry Seinfeld – Froze in front of a comedy club and booed off the stage.
Charles Schultz – The author of “Peanuts” had every cartoon rejected that he ever submitted to his high school yearbook staff and later in life was rejected for a position with Walt Disney.
Elvis Presley – Fired after one performance and told to “go back to driving a truck.”
Just think for a minute what the world would have missed if these folks would have listened to those external voices and quit, instead of their own internal voices to persevere. Art Williams says to keep stumbling forward and constantly improving!
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