38. This David slew many Goliaths

I had to pry the story out of him and he only agreed to allow me to tell his story on condition that I do not identify him.

He does not see himself as a role model or as a shining example of determination and human endurance. He sees himself as “just an ordinary guy” who got lucky.

I see an example of the indomitability of the human spirit and his story will, I’m sure, serve as an inspiration to many.

Let’s call him David.

David dropped out of school at 16 to help his mother. His father had died a few months earlier, leaving his mother, who had left the workplace 18 years earlier, as the sole breadwinner, and person responsible for raising and caring for David and his two younger siblings.

He had gotten a job as a store-room clerk in one of the branches of a national chain of department stores.

It was not long before his determination and enthusiasm were noticed by his superiors and within three years he had progressed to becoming the floor manager in the menswear department.

David loved his job, worked extremely hard, and gave 110% every single day. He was therefore taken completely by surprise on the day “it” happened.

It was announced that the president of the company would be paying a visit to the store and that all employees were requested to go above and beyond in the execution of their duties.

On the day in question David was helping a customer when he became aware of the store manager, accompanied by another man who he assumed to be the president, approaching him.

Unbeknownst to David a recent customer in the store, who happened to have a personal relationship with the president, had called him to complain about slow service in David’s department.

The store manager walked right up to David, ignoring the customer, and told him that the president wish to speak to him NOW. David started to explain that he was busy with a customer when the president approached and told him about the complaint he had received, all the while raising his voice and attracting the attention of everyone in the store. He ended his rant by letting David know that if he didn’t “pull up your socks” he would be fired. He then turned and walked away hastily with the store manager in tow.

David was devastated. He felt he had been ambushed and humiliated and was quite disgusted that the president of the company would see fit to reprimand him publicly in the presence of staff and customers.

That night David went home and made a promise to himself. He vowed that never again would he be in a position where anybody would have authority over him and be able to speak to him in that manner.

In the moment David made that decision, an entrepreneur was born. He began focusing on what it would take to become self-employed. He had several ideas for starting a business but, of course, as a 19-year-old just starting out in life he had no financial means of doing so.

David decided to try his hand in the sales business. It took him six months to obtain a real estate license and he spent four years developing a client base all the while slowly and systematically building his business.

And then it all fell apart. Just as David was celebrating his 24th birthday his doctor told him that the blinding headaches he had been experiencing for several months were being caused by a tumor on his brain. He underwent surgery, experienced postsurgical surgery complications and, in total, his recovery took more than 14 months.

By the time David was well enough to go back to work he had exhausted his savings, his client base had, for the most part moved on, the economy was in recession, and selling real estate had become a far greater challenge.

He was tempted to seek employment but remembered the pledge he had made to himself. Never again.

He went back to work in earnest and for the next five years spent every waking moment showing properties, obtaining listings, and developing a system for providing exceptional quality service to its clients.

He was at the point where more and more of his business was coming to him by way of referral when one night, while walking back to his car after having dinner in a restaurant with the client, a drunk driver saw fit to drive up onto the curve and sent David through the plate glass window of a store.

This time his recovery was a lot longer. He spent almost eight months in hospital before beginning extensive physiotherapy in an effort to have his legs working as they once did. He had trouble speaking and remembering words and most of his days were spent practicing his speech and focusing on his language skills. Thirty months passed by before David was ready once again to pursue his career. His mother suggested he try and find a job and, again, David reminded himself of the promise he had made so many years earlier.

He went back to his career and spent seven years rebuilding it again. He was close to being one of the top salespeople nationally in his company, and was just trying to feel confident in his future when the unthinkable happened.

Barely 40, David had a heart attack. Back to hospital for a short while, back home recuperating David pondered whether his lifestyle was adversely affecting his health but each time he thought of getting a job that would make his life easier he remembered his pledge to never give up.

He stayed home for almost a year before he felt able and confident enough to go back to work and start again for the fourth time in his young life.

This time he was able to build his business for 10 straight years before a skiing accident put him back in the hospital with a broken back. He told me that he remembers jokingly asking the nurses whether they had a customer loyalty program because he felt his many visits to the hospital should have earned him a few free nights.

It takes more than a few nights for a broken back to heal and this time David was home for more than a year. He frequently wondered about his future and kept asking himself whether this was not the time to go get a job with a secure income so as to ensure that his family would not have to continuously suffer financially.

Yet each time he had that thought it was followed by reminding himself of his promise and so this time he decided to go back to work a little differently. He went and got his broker’s license and set up his own brokerage so that his income, and his family’s security, would not be dependent solely on his ability to sell real-estate but would be secured by income from realtors working in his brokerage.

That was 12 years ago. David’s business is both huge and successful. His future and that of his family is secure and he jokingly told me that having gone 12 years without a hospital stay was a “personal best” for him.

If ever there was a person who exemplifies the  Habit of Persistence it is my friend David. We’ve never met me, we’ve only spoken on the phone, but it is my intention in the next few months to get on a plane and go and meet this remarkable man in person.

What I’m hoping for is that by being in his presence his incredible commitment to the Habit of Persistence will rub off on to me.

David told me something interesting. His hero is Winston Churchill and his favorite quote is to repeat a line from a famous speech Churchill gave to Harrow School in 1941: Never give in -never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

The Habit of Persistence. Churchill had it. David has it. I want it.

Winston Churchill’s birthday is November 30.

David’s birthday is November 30.

My birthday is November 30. Surely, with so much in common, I am entitled to absorb some of the greatness from these two truly inspiring men.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

37. Luck! What Luck?

My friend Kevin had good cause to celebrate. He had just closed the biggest sale of his career and it would have required surgery to remove the grin from his face.

Of course I was thrilled for Kevin. He’s one of those folks we meet from time to time who are just impossible not to like.

Kevin sells employee benefit programs. If you work for a company that has provided you with health and dental benefits, life and sickness insurance programs or many of the other benefits that are common in corporations then, directly or indirectly, you are dealing with Kevin, or someone just like him.

What made this particular sale so satisfying for Kevin was not its size – the client has more than 25,000 employees participating in this plan – nor was it the commission checks that will be flowing Kevin’s way for a long time to come, it was something far more rewarding.

Kevin first made contact with this company in the spring of 1989. Yes, 1989, twenty-four years ago. He was shown the door and told not to come back.

But Kevin is the embodiment of the Habit of Persistence and for the next twenty-four years he called on that company every spring and every fall, attempting to “get my foot in the door.”

And each time the message was the same. There would be no opportunity for Kevin to sell his services. This company enjoyed a long-term relationship with its existing service provider and would give no thought to changing.

Around the fifteenth year he thought his big break had arrived. The Senior Vice President responsible for employee benefits – the very person who had been shooing him away year after year – was retiring and Kevin thought a new face may present new opportunities.

That did not happen. The new VP had long been mentored by his predecessor and kept telling Kevin that he preferred to “keep things the way they are for now.”

Undeterred, Kevin continued to call this person twice every year with the unshakable belief that the day would come when instead of hearing the sound of the phone being hung up, he would hear a voice inviting him to meeting.

This past spring when Kevin made his call a different voice answered the phone. This voice belonged to a newly promoted Senior Vice President who was taking it upon herself to do a thorough review of all vendor contracts.

Kevin was invited to a meeting and given an opportunity to present his services. He was then asked to submit a proposal and, in doing so, was able to demonstrate that he could deliver greater benefits, with superior service at a lower cost.

Kevin’s proposal, along with several others from competitors, was reviewed over the summer and two weeks ago he learned that he was the successful bidder.

One of Kevin’s colleagues told him he was indeed very lucky to secure a client of that size.

Kevin agreed. It all just came down to luck. It was sheer good fortune that Kevin had adopted the Habit of Persistence and went back time after time, enduring rejection for twenty-four years in order to get lucky.

We should all be as lucky as Kevin.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

36. If at first you don’t succeed, do what Malka does.

Gimalle, my wife, and Malka, our little shih-tzu-dachshund cross who moved in and took charge of our condo four years ago have this game that occupies hours of their time each evening.

We have gone to great pains to ensure that Malka is not spoiled in any way – her toy collection has been limited to no more than 2 to 3 new toys each week – and the game consists of Gimalle hiding one of these toys and then instructing Malka to “go find your toy.”

Upon hearing this instruction Malka leaps into action, tearing through the condo with great urgency and determination, finding the toy and returning it to Gimalle in order that the process can be repeated.

As an observer it is blatantly apparent to me that both Gimalle and Malka gain tremendous delight from this exercise as, night after night, they continue this adventure for what seems to be hours on end.

What I find fascinating is the dedication to which Malka devotes herself to finding her toy each and every time. Gimalle has become far more skillful and cunning in finding ever increasingly difficult locations to hide Malka’s toys and the more difficult it becomes for her to find her toy, the more determined she becomes to do so. Malka, our adorable little shih-tzu-dachshund exemplifies everything that makes the Habit of Persistence so integral to success in life.

She remains undaunted by the challenges set before her and with great vigor sets out to search every conceivable location in our home to find her hidden object. Regardless of how difficult the task, Malka has never once given up, has never once come back to Gimalle empty-mouthed.

Her longest search took her more than 2 1/2 hours to find the toy during which time she didn’t even stop for a coffee break.

She did not rest for one moment but went from room to room, nook to cranny, corner to corner until she finally found her toy peeking out at her from the third shelf of a book case – requiring her to leap up and grab it. When she had the toy, she raced over to Gimalle as fast as her little legs would allow her to go to deliver the toy with, I swear, a look of triumph on her face.

The Habit of Persistence  has long been known as a harbinger for success. Calvin Coolidge famously stated that “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Dictionary.com tells us that to persist means 1. to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc.:

2. to last or endure tenaciously:

And Malka endures tenaciously. She sets out on each mission as if failure is not an option and consequently, she has never failed. If she could talk I’m sure she would tell us that each false lead, each disappointment, each wrong approach, each misdirection served only to strengthen her resolve and caused her to redouble her efforts.

Imagine how much more satisfying our lives would become if we adopted the Habit of Persistence with the same enthusiasm Malka has. Imagine if failure was never an option and we had to keep trying until we succeeded.   Imagine if we never considered obstacles to be reasons to quit.

It would be quite something, wouldn’t it?

If you are serious about adopting the Habit of Persistence,  Malka will come over to your place and hide your toys.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

– My company, Strategic Pathways, this week introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

35. A novel approach

From the moment he first laid eyes on her he knew. This was the one. The person he was going to marry and with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life.

She was strikingly gorgeous and, floating across the width of the gymnasium, her laugh was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

He knew she hadn’t noticed him but that didn’t matter. She would be his wife.

The year was 1943 and Bert was 13 years old.

The next day he went up to her and introduced himself. She told him her name, politely excused herself and left.

In the ensuing weeks, his efforts at engaging her in conversation were constantly rebuffed.

On several occasions he offered to walk her home from school and each time she refused.

He offered to carry her books. She refused

He invited her to a movie. She said no.

So he invited her again.

And again.

And again.

And each time the answer was the same.

He discovered her date of birth and brought flowers to school for her on her birthday. She thanked him and walked away.

For more than two years his attempts to gain her friendship were rebuffed.

And with each rejection Bert became more determined.

He somehow knew that if he could just find the right approach she would say yes.

And finally, after years of failed approaches, success.

He tried a radically different technique. He sent her a telegram.

Delivered to her at school during recess.

Her name is Mary and she read the telegram to me over the phone when she called last week.

It seems Mary has been reading this blog and our topic over the past two weeks, the Habit of Extreme Flexibility reminded her of that special day in her life all those many years ago.

Bert’s telegram had melted her heart and she had agreed to go out with him. After their first date they had become inseparable – childhood sweethearts – and had married in 1951 when she was 20 and Bert was 21.

In 2011 they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They raised four children who have given them nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mary told me that Bert exemplified the Habit of Extreme Flexibility in everything he did. Failure did not exist in his world. Whenever his attempts at doing something did not meet his expected success he simply regarded the result as valuable information about what does not work and creatively looked for different ways of getting what he wanted.

He applied the Habit of Extreme Flexibility to all three of the businesses he started. He constantly spent his time being dissatisfied with his results and trying new and creative ways of enhancing them.

And he instilled this habit in each of his four children who have “left our nest and gone off and created wonderful lives of their own.”

Bert strongly believed that there is no such thing as failure – there are only opportunities to try different ways.

On Christmas Day last year Bert passed away. Another victim of prostate cancer.

Mary told me that he fought boldly and that shortly before he died, with a whimsical grin on his face, he opened his eyes and said that he hoped he could stick around long enough to find a way to beat this disease.

I could hear the smile and love in Mary’s tone as she read me that telegram she received so many, many years ago.

“Dear Mary, I will love you longer then you will be able to say no to me. You may as well give in and go to a movie with me. Please say yes. Love, Bert

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure