Friday, October 30, 2015
The Day I Almost Gave Up
It's not often I start a blog with a picture but this picture, one I took on my national tour two years ago in Utah, is a perfect example of a point that I want to make in this post. Anyway, what's in this photo? A picturesque sky, booming mesas, and a road that just stretches for as far as we can see. Isn't this, if this were a metaphor for life, what it should look like? A destination firmly set out in front with a nice, smooth road leading to the destination under a magnificent would be ideal sky, but is this how life often plays out? I think you already know the answer to that and where I am now and the path that got me to where I am often looked as if the road was going to be like the picture above, but even with a good start the road can take sudden twists.
In January 2009 I was an unknown author having a book signing on the north side of the Saint Louis area and the response was incredible. This book author thing looked as if it was going to take off and "look out New York Times Bestseller list because here I come" was my mentality. I had another signing on the west side of town and the response was even stronger. My confidence was booming but just because of this initial response I was not prepared for what was to come.
There were a couple more signings, then I consulted with Easter Seals Midwest in the summer of 2009 and then, a few weeks later, I got my book to be featured by a seller at a big conference in downtown Saint Louis. A conference?! As I was writing my book, and specifically the chapter of "The 4th Wall" I had this vision that the conference life was going to become my life. The roads looked as perfect as the picture I began this blog post with.
The conference came and I was standing near my book and person after person passed me by. What was going on? At the signings I had been to people came up and talked to me first and it was sale after sale but here I was invisible. The fact that I was an author didn't matter to any person there because I was an unknown in a world of well established people. A couple hours went by and not one person as so much picked up and looked at my book. Despite my early success, and all the sleepless nights I spent writing my book, I didn't take any pride in any thing I had done. The only thing that mattered was those hours in which no one cared, no one looked, and no one acknowledged my existence.
In the weeks that followed that conference, I was discouraged and I swore to myself on the day of that conference that I had given up because there was no point in trying to reach whatever destination I was reaching for because it was unobtainable. This, however, is flawed logic. Maybe I was a bit spoiled with the attention I got in my first few signings, but for any future speaker or author out there I implore you to not fall into the trap I did. Even in my speaking career, early on, there were those moments that I felt as if I had failed, but here's the thing; no road to success, or even self-improvement is a nice flat road with awesome scenery. No, most certainly not! Instead it is a challenging path with peaks and valleys that will test a person. Is it impossible? Again, most certainly not, but had I stayed in the state of giving up I wouldn't be where I am today.
This post is really directed towards those wondering if writing a book, or maybe giving a presentation or two is really worth it, but the concept really applies to life. I tell people at my presentations that, "you're really seeing the almost finished product of who I am. This just didn't happen overnight" and so to is the way life works. I would love to say the path to whatever success, or improvement a person wants is a smooth road, but life is full of twists. I, I firmly believe, needed that conference experience. I needed to know the feeling of being ignored because when I got closer to the destination the sense of achievement felt greater and the moments interacting with those talking to me meant more. I wasn't this superstar I thought I was on those first few signings but instead I was there serving a purpose greater than myself and if books sold great, or if I had a presentation and only five people showed up great. Will big things come? Maybe yes, maybe no, but while we have this destination in our minds of where we would want to be, whether it's a top of the NYT Bestseller list, or selling out an arena, it, I believe, isn't the destination that matters at all but rather the way one handles the journey to it. There will be highs, there will be setbacks, and most of all it's going to be hard work that requires unwavering dedication. This dedication will be put to the test and I'm thankful that on that summer day in 2009 when I was put to the test I didn't 100% accept defeat. I thought I had, but deep inside I'm a fighter and I came back stronger and with each set back since then I have done the same. I don't know if this is motivational in any way, but this was my story of a day I haven't shared with any one and could've been a day that led me down a different path away from the road I'm supposed to be on.