Friday, November 28, 2008

Do You Deserve To Be Happy?

Almost four years ago, my father died.  But all the same, I learned an important lesson from him today.

I loved my father dearly, and remember him fondly.  In my entire childhood, he was the only person I can remember -- family, friend, or otherwise -- who treated me with respect, dignity, and unconditional acceptance.  He never treated me like I was too young to understand, and even when we disagreed, he didn't let it come between us.

All the same, it's taken me half my life to unlearn most of what he taught me.

You see, my father was born almost a century ago, as the youngest in a large, wealthy, and privileged family...  shortly before that wealth and privilege evaporated in the Great Depression.

Still a child -- not even a teenager yet --  his family lost everything.  No longer did servants make hand-cranked ice cream on the back porch for him and his brothers; no longer was there any ice cream, period!  Instead, he had to go to work to help support himself and his family.

And during those years, he learned many hard lessons, which he duly passed on to us, his children.

Lessons like, "man appoints and God disappoints,"  "Don't expect anything, and you won't be disappointed," "You'll just have to learn to live with it," and so on.

And beneath the slogans, a burdened, world-weary attitude.  As far as I could tell, in his heart of hearts, my father had given up hope long before I was born.

He told me how, when his fortunes had turned enough to get him into college, another misfortune required him to drop his chosen major in music.

(Truth be told, I'm a bit hazy on the fine points of many of his stories, so I hope I've not done anyone an injustice by errors in my understanding or re-telling.  I really only remember the thrust of his losses: how each time, just as things seemed to be going his way, something would come along and make it all go away.)

I see now, too, that he must have seen in me that same streak of ambitious dreaming he'd once had, and that he must have feared the world would break my heart... as it had his.  No doubt he shared his stories and sayings with me, hoping to guard against it.

So when the world went against me, as it sometimes must, I thought I saw the truth of his words and attitude, and despaired similarly.

However, while my father possessed patience and a sense of duty, to stick with the hard thing and see it done, I had none of these qualities.  And I always saw myself as less of a man because of it.


Click here for the rest of the story!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What Makes A Person Naturally Successful?

I felt like I was living a lie.

These past few months, I was supposed to be working on my new book, Thinking Things Done.  But somehow, I didn't seem to actually be getting anything done on the book itself!

Sure, I made videos, tons of notes and outlines, struck marketing deals, traveled to conferences doing promotion, and even figuring out how to swap out my entire business's technology infrastructure.

But the book still wasn't getting written.

And even worse than that, was the feeling that my schedule was slowly slipping away, and soon I'd have to delay my promised launch dates.

And in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, "Oh god, what is it going to say about the book if I don't get it done on time?"...

(Click here to get the "inside dirt" on the whole sordid story of what I've been up to this last month...  and the totally unexpected results.)