I laugh every time I read that stupid phrase, but it is true. But that is not what this blog is about…this is about not putting a period where a comma should be when writing your own story.
Whatever you are doing now, and whatever you are doing in the future, all of it gets a comma at the end of that thought, not a period. In other words, you are never finished writing the story of your life, and everything you do adds to the overall story. I have had some wild successes and miserable failures in my life already, and I hope to add more of both in the next half as well. You have to understand that BOTH are part of the journey.
One grand adventure that I undertook that was a belly flop by the end was trying to start a Sports Video Analysis business with two good friends of mine. On paper the idea was fantastic, as most entrepreneurial ventures are. We had secured some software technology specific to this space for the entire U.S., and my two friends were tapped deep into the tennis world. We excitedly packed up and headed to Florida to a well known Golf and Tennis resort that had a teaching academy for both sports onsite. It seemed like the perfect blend of opportunity; golf has always been quick to adopt new technology and what we had to offer was an upgrade to anything currently available. Tennis was notoriously slow to adopt new tech, and because this academy was willing to take the chance to be first to market to offer something like this, we were convinced that we’d not only be revolutionizing the approach that teaching academies in the U.S. would use moving forward, but that we would all get rich in the process.
Well, suffice to say things didn’t pan out the way we expected. We learned a few hard lessons during that year away from our homes here in Phoenix, one of which was about contract negotiations. We did far too much on “good faith” and promises made but not delivered. We lost our asses on this deal, and limped back to Phoenix after a year of spending our own money. Each of us suffered in our own ways as well as collectively. Luckily we are all still friends today despite this undesired outcome. It was not the end of my desire to do something impactful, to avoid sitting at a desk in a high rise building downtown, wearing a tie to work and fighting traffic to and from. For a year I worked at a golf and tennis resort, early morning sunshine and beautiful grounds, being around world class athletes and future versions of the same. It was a dream come true to a degree.
We returned to Phoenix and I got a job doing Residential Property Management to pay the bills while I got back on my feet. THIS WAS A COMMA, not a period in my story. It was not the last entrepreneurial venture of my life and it was not the last time I had a job and not a career. My career is sales, the job descriptions ebb and flow, but the career path I chose based on my most applicable business attributes was to do sales. I applied this skill set into a bunch of different things over the course of my life, it just so happened in this particular venture, things did not pan out. But it was by no means a deterrent from future opportunities and it was not the end of my story. It was a chapter in the overall book, one that is still being written.
When I reached the pinnacle of my racquetball career, I didn’t know it until later. I had one weekend in particular that I can look back upon and say that it was the high point. Of course at the time I was hoping it was the impetus for more similar weekends. I went to a Pro Tournament in Stockton, CA on Labor day weekend in 1998 and made it to the Round of 16 in that event. I lost to the number 1 player in the world after winning the second game in a best three-of-five match. It was my peak moment on the court for sure. That same weekend I flew home to Phoenix and played in a local tournament, winning the singles and the prize money check, a whooping Five Hundred bucks. Total for the weekend was $800, and believe it or not that was the most lucrative racquetball payday I ever had. Everything after that weekend was a slow downhill slide until I retired in 2000. Retiring from the sport I loved so much of my life was a tough time for me, and even though it took me a long time to understand this, it was just another comma in the story.
When things are at their pinnacle and when things are bottoming out, I want you to keep this in mind:
It is all temporary. Everything in this life is borrowed, including time.
We are all living on borrowed time, and the things you accumulate along the way can’t be taken with you. I have quite humbly an I have lived well. I have stood on top of the mountain and I have fallen all the way to the bottom. ALL OF IT is part of the process of life. This crazy journey we are all on is supposed to be a wild ride, full of adventure and memorable moments. Nothing is promised to anyone, and keeping that top of mind will do a couple of things for you:
- It will keep you humble.
- Gratitude should pervade everything you do.
- It is helping to prepare you for the next round of whatever is coming your way
Keep in mind, no one gets out of life alive. What you do with the time you have been given is up to you, but always remember that “deserve” has nothing to do with it. You don’t deserve a victory just because you show up, or even when you put in what seems to be more work than others. Lose the entitlement state of mind ASAP. And when you do win you need to remember that it will be for a short time. That short time could be a few tournaments when you are on top of your game, better than any other time in your life. Don’t be like so many sports figures who made it to the top and lived like the money would never top flowing. Or it could be a job or business venture that has you making more money than ever and living the best lifestyle you ever have. Remember this, the 1% is a revolving list. Every ten years there are people who add in and people who drop off that list. And none of it promises you happiness, that is a job all of it’s own.
If you are lucky and have done things well, you will get to the end of the story (life) and have lead a life full of experiences, great stories, a few scars and lots of laughs. If you happen to pass from this life while lying in a hospital bed surrounded by people you love, well that is as good as it gets. Whether you are flat broke or have lots to leave behind for others, your job is to have enjoyed the ride to the fullest and have the fewest amount of regrets possible. And if you ask someone who is nearing the end, they will almost all tell you the same thing: they regret the things they DIDN’T do far more often than the things they did. Remember this as you continue to write new chapters in your own story…
I wish you luck in your endeavors.