IN RETROSPECT

December 2008.

The night was unforgiving in its blistering cold on the streets of Buffalo, NY and I was feeling the bite.  I was hungry, so I left the house to buy some cheap snacks. Spending $2.00 on late night munchies would be foolish of course, as that would be my bus fare to get to an open interview for a minimum-wage job in the coming days. I was 24, living in my first eyesore of a one-room walk-up.

Like many in America, I was unemployed and looking forward to a modest tax return in the next couple of months to help put food on the table. I looked down into the desolate street — potholes covered in trash and ice, neglected properties. These inner-city streets that had claimed the lives of a host of my peers and stolen the dreams of generations before me caused me to stare, as a single soul in silence, wondering how many other people on this night were feeling just like me – like a complete loser with no purpose. When would my time come to experience true satisfaction, peace, happiness, or just a life with a pulse?

I thought back to my classmates, particularly the ones who kept good grades and concluded they likely had gone to college, found a great career and were married by now. At the very least, I was sure they had a car. But I was grateful because a roof over my head with heat blowing through the vents exceeded the living conditions of dozens in my zip code.

How had I got into this pathetic mess? Truthfully, I had no good excuse to be in it. But I didn’t need an excuse; I needed an explanation, an understanding, really, about what had actually happened to me.

Do you, like me, know that feeling you get when you look at everything and everyone around you, and then, look deeply into your own eyes in the mirror? And you know that you should be doing so much better than you are? I mean really much better?

This is where many of us find ourselves: Lacking ambition to make our ideas materialize; reflecting on our disappointment every time we see someone else bringing our ideas to life, as though they’d cut and pasted them into success. “But that was my idea!” became my catch phrase. Has it become yours?

We consider ourselves to be decent people who try to do well by others. So why is it that we still experience struggle when trying to get ahead? If you’ve been in this situation, then you know that a deterioration takes place within our souls, because we’ve kept the winner inside of us from getting out.

If I was sound in mind, healthy and intelligent, why did I need to sell my bed and few furnishings in order to pay the rent? Why had I needed to borrow a few bucks from a friend to keep the lights on? Hadn’t I been born and raised in the United States, the land of opportunity?

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to make a detailed assessment of yourself. You can start by asking a few simple questions.

• Am I achieving less than I would like to because I don’t have the resources and/or the ability to do more?

. . . OR . . .

• Am I achieving less due to poor planning? And has poor-planning resulted in a mistaken belief that my abilities are substandard?

• Is it really the economy that’s contributing to my lack of money or is it my lack of knowledge and unproductive habits?

It’s easy to be comfortable with being uncomfortable especially when it prevents us from taking a good look at the person we are now, the person we have to change in order to free ourselves from what holds us back from all types of successes.

Too many of us are, actually, idealists. It’s a syndrome that only lets us envision ourselves where we want to be yet doesn’t prompt us to make a practical action plan to get there. In times past, we have tried to better our conditions — usually when we were children or teenagers and our faith in ourselves was extremely high. But by the time we entered the working world, most of us were conformed to being like the majority: people who need to use only a small fraction of their brains to survive in a state of mediocrity.

Think back to your earlier desires to dramatically improve your lifestyle.  One of the most memorable such times for me was at age eighteen, when I attempted to sell a commercial script to luxury brand automakers, the likes of Mercedes, Jaguar and BMW.

My plan was to present a script that I wrote to any company willing to hear me and, if they liked my idea, I could negotiate an exchange: the script for a 50k vehicle and I’d be able to joy ride in a European dream machine for a time, then sell it on eBay for a deep discounted price. I’d use part of this money to pick up a used car and put the rest aside to finance my own publishing company.

Had that worked, I really would have had an incentive to finish all of those scattered papers in my closet that ranged from a novel that I started in high school, to poetry that had no end. And my artistic side was so lazy I told myself, “It’s poetry, the poems don’t have to be complete. They can be cliffhangers, let the reader come to their own conclusion.”

I did feel good about showing some signs of ambition as I struggled to graduate high-school at the time.  My attitude towards school took a downward spiral over the years and was reflective in my poor grades and in the fact that I overslept every day and always had detention for tardiness (to which I reported religiously).  I’ll never forget: One semester in my junior year my performance was so low that I even failed gym class!

As I struggled through the years, my real intention became to drop out and prove to myself — and to the world — that you don’t have to go to college and get a traditional job to make a great living. I was going to do it by being a writer, whether that meant a deal with Random House or starting my own publishing company. But I didn’t want to see that hurt look on my mother’s face from me quitting, so I completed high-school. Besides, I had already severely disappointed her in junior high.

I had entered a speaking contest. Today I know that I would have taken home the trophy if I had actually gone through with it, especially since I had public speaking experience since age seven.

Making it through the tryouts, I’d been selected as a representative for my school in the competition. Yet when it was time for the next round, I literally just decided to drop out, to quit at the last minute. I was set to perform a poem, entitled, “Think of a World.” My mother had chosen it and I had it perfectly memorized, but when it was showtime, I exited stage left.

From what I recall, it wasn’t stage fright at all. I withdrew simply because I was afraid that I might lose. Writing this all these years later, it still hurts to remember mom’s tears as she came out, in her pretty dress, to see me. “Mom, I’m dropping out the contest,” was what I told her, just minutes before I was set to take the stage.

She was in disbelief and tried to persuade me not to quit. She eventually covered her face, trying to hold back her waterfall of tears when she realized I wouldn’t reverse my stubborn and selfish decision. “You made your mom cry!” a classmate said furiously to me as I heard the teacher announce my resignation to the anxious crowd. It would have been my moment, but I didn’t take it.

Abandoning the winner’s crown became commonplace for me. My mother would remind me of this, years after the speaking contest. “When you were a little kid, every time that you were in a race, you would just stop in the middle of it if you thought you were going to lose.”

I thought of those races, as I and a handful of neighborhood kids would dash briskly down the street. I had a slight advantage, tall for my age and skinny with long legs. I’d start off swift, confident and certain, but as soon as I saw the back of an opponent’s head, I would slow to a halt and watch the winner, hands waving high, exultant in victory.

This same lack of initiative would undermine my performance in many areas of my life.  How did I first form the habit of quitting and underperforming? Indeed, I don’t really know that answer. What’s important now is what I have decided to do since then.

I knew that I was always willing to work hard based on the fact that I was usually employed and had a long list of low-paying, laborious jobs that I had acquired over the years. But I soon realized that experiencing a much more sophisticated life was going to take more than hard work. After all, our grandparents worked hard, but if simply being industrious was all it took, then most of us would have received a juicy inheritance.

So I eventually decided to explore creating opportunities for myself through business, with the goal that it would be an avenue to provide me with more control over my time, a higher sense of fulfillment and the potential of unprecedented profits. My earlier experiences in business had been generally distasteful because I often worked alongside my father. He has been self-employed my entire life and has operated businesses in a great variety of fields, from restaurants to home-improvement to retail. In working with him, I became disgruntled: His advantage of being his own boss didn’t come with the lifestyle perks that I would imagine is due to a person who sets their own agenda and workload.

He was — and still is — a hard worker. He’s now in his fifties as of this writing and I’ve never seen him out of action despite laboring since he was a youth. It would frustrate me to work on a hot roof in the summer or in a cold basement in the winter. I intensely disliked the idea of fixing things in people’s homes for a living. He pushed my brother and me to do things right, no slipshod work and no laziness.  While later on I came to appreciate his vantage point and adopted part of his work ethic, I still saw that the expense he paid often meant fourteen-hour days, seven-day work weeks and being covered in drywall particles and dust with very little time to enjoy himself outside of work. I wanted no part of operating that type of business, dealing with the types of people and circumstances that I would see him handle.

Though I understood the importance of learning trades and later appreciated his sincerity in passing them down, instead of devoting my days to the business of home-improvement, eventually I would focus my attention on using a chisel on my personality and a wrench on my philosophy in life–through self-improvement.  I came to see how important it was to use greater strength in working on myself than I did at my jobs.

But in the meantime, I settled into being a working stiff, building the dreams of several ungrateful bosses and neglecting my own. Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew that there was an untapped man inside of me with a special energy waiting to be set free to expand. So here is a better glimpse of that man.

I’d first like to “recite” the poem that would have made my mother proud.

THINK OF A WORLD
Just think of a world, a world without tears
Where a man can live for a million years
With never a grief, an ache or a pain
And never the thought of dying again
Think of a world where a man plants a vine
He can sit in the shade and say, “This is mine.”
He can live in the house that his own hands have made,
And no one will molest or make him afraid
Think of a world without bloodshed or strife,
Where no one dares take another one’s life
Where man unto man will unite in peace,
And malice and hatred will forever cease
Think of the earth as a global paradise,
Where mountain and desert will dazzle your eyes
With beautiful flowers and shrubbery and trees
With fun butterflies songbirds and bees
Think! Just as God’s word is truth
One shall return to the day of their youth
Their flesh will become as the flesh of a child
And the words that they speak will be tender and mild
Think of a world where a lame one will leap
From crag to crag like a deer or a sheep
Where none will be deaf or none will be blind
And the dumb shall sing and speak their mind
Think of a world where each one is his brother
Not esteeming himself above that of another
Where one to another will be friend to friend
In a world without tears that will never end
Think of a world where the dead will have risen
From their silent tombs that held them in prison
To forever live, to love and caress
Their love ones and friends in righteousness
Now a world without tears is not just a dream
As to many a person might it seem.
For just as sure as God’s word is true
A world without tears now lies before you
And since such a world before you now lies
Wouldn’t you like to live in this paradise?
And share all the blessings that are in store
For all who do good forever more
Good news of this message is still being sung
Throughout every nation, kingdom and tongue
And all who are thirsting for truth are invited
To be in this earth and to be united
So come on and learn about all these things
And see what goodness it will bring
And live in this world for endless years
In a world without sorrow, a world without tears
-Anonymous

The Time Is Now

What is the biggest investment that you and I can make? It’s to empower our personal development. It’s so easy to have a habit of taking care of your car better then you take care of yourself. Everything that we want and need, will eventually find us if we put in the time to being the individual that we can be by enriching ourselves first from the inside out. To the extent that we do so, the objectives in our personal successes and the cooperation that we get from others will be met correspondingly.

Can you imagine being able to encompass the habits, skills, philosophies, disciplines and self-reliance that you need to be a person whom others would eagerly seek out and hunt down just to share a moment of time with?

That is the intention that we’re going to explore here through this website, which is designed for the person who wishes to do well using the information age through its channels to communicate their value and have multiple opportunities to be compensated for such value.

We’re going to reset ourselves, so pull up a chair and let’s get started!

Copyright © 2016 Waymon Brown

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*Let’s see where you would like to start!

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