My Fellow Compassionate Capitalists:
A little more than 20 years ago I was a struggling contractor who had become disenfranchised due to the fact that growing up I was told by people that I loved and trusted that I would do great things. Imagine my disappointment when I looked back at my life and it appeared as if I was nothing more than a complete and absolute failure. The movie Forrest Gump had come out a few years earlier and at that point in time in my life it was probably the only thing that had given me hope.
Pathetic I know!
I happened to join a Toastmasters group because I enjoyed competition….and believe it or not….I can be a wordsmith when I so desire. I was terrified at first that my 3 to 5 minute speeches would take me hours and sometimes days to prepare. I wanted everything to be perfect. Finally out of desperation I stopped trying to speak like an professional and just spoke from my heart.
Who knew that would be the secret sauce!
I went on to be undefeated for a couple years at the club level and also competed and won several times at the district and regional levels. I even went to Nationals one year. Having done this I was exposed to a lot of amazing speakers and had the privilege to rub shoulders with the likes of Zig Ziglar and Les Brown. Of all the people I met though there was none that inspired me more than the “real life“ Forrest Gump…. Jerry Traylor.
Jerry was a local speaker out of Fountain Hills, Arizona who was born with cerebral palsy. Having this disadvantage did not stop him from climbing the 14,110 feet of Pikes Peak. He also ran from coast to coast across the US……on CRUTCHES!!! I was in awe of him and much to my surprise he accepted when I asked him out to dinner in exchange for some advice. Before the dinner he asked me to answer one question the next time I saw him. He asked me if I had a time machine…who would I go to talk to in order to get some advice.
As a contractor I had the ability to work by myself most of the time. In the days leading up to having dinner with Jerry I thought long and hard about the answer to his question. When the time had come to meet him at Mimi’s Café I had my answer. When he asked what it was…I humiliated myself in front of everyone there and broke down and cried like a baby. Jerry helped me regain my composure and as I did I blurted out the answer: “if I had a time machine I would go and see the future me to see if everything was going to be all right”!!!!!
It was a stupid answer… but it was pure and honest.
My fellow Compassionate Capitalists….How many of us can relate to the story that was just told? How many of us have found ourselves in a position in life where no one seems to have the answers and the only hope we will receive is if we get in a time machine and talk to the future us?
I’m glad that I did not have a time machine. The sweetness in victory lies in not knowing 100% that it was possible. I am happy to report that my life since then would make a movie way better than Forrest Gump!! I had to go through monumental struggles that I would’ve shirked had I known that everything was going to be OK.
Within that last sentence lies the entire point I’m trying to make.
Many of us… like modern day Forrest Gumps… tell our stories from the view of a spectator rather than as a participant in the game of life. There is something safe about being in the stands as a spectator. There is something that allows you to criticize and judge your performance without taking it personally. There is something empowering about being an armchair quarterback because you get to feel as if you are the expert without having to do any of the actual work. Telling your story through the eyes of a spectator is a cowards way of believing the excuses and never having to feel the pain of defeat. However…the coward will never truly feel the thrill of a true victory!
The only way we win in life is if we score.
The only way we score is if we actually play the game. It is a hollow victory if the victory is a sure thing. The ability to practice, calculate, plan, and execute is how we make a life worth living.
It is how we ensure to never suffer from a premature death.
It is how we form gratitude to the “big coach in the sky”.
It is how we live 100 lifetimes in the space most barely live one.
It is how we once and for all….ensure that we “NEVER awake from the American Dream”!!