You Suck. So Does Everybody Else. It's OK

Posted by Jim Egan on February 14, 2016 . 0 Comments

2/9/2016

You Suck.  So Does Everybody Else.  It’s OK.

This is the title of the 2nd Chapter of The High School Graduates Owner’s Manual.  It was pointed out to me by one early reader of the work that it was a very inappropriate title for a chapter designed for young people.  She suggested the title be discarded and the chapter be combined with one later in the book.  I appreciate all feedback, but feel the chapter title was a great lead in to the message in the chapter, which addresses the fact that everyone sucks at almost everything until they put in the time and effort required to get good, or even great at it.

 I’m a good example of someone who didn’t like to do anything I wasn’t good/great at.  When I was a kid, I was a natural athlete.  Anything requiring eye/hand coordination that included a ball or stick of any kind, I could master with little effort.  Because I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood in the 60’s where many families had 4 to 6 to 8 kids or more, there was always a ball game of some sort going on year round.  Like many kids hooked on sports at a young age, I didn’t care about anything else.

But what was I missing?  My mom had bought a nice piano when she was a young adult, and took piano lessons in her 20’s to learn how to play it.  All of the kids in my family were expected to follow her lead, and all did except me.  My brother and sisters all took to music when they were barely in elementary school; all I could think about was playing ball and being a Green Bay Packer or a Milwaukee Brave some day.  I had absolutely no interest in having anything to do with piano or guitar lessons, which today I totally wish I had been open to.  I did end up taking drum lessons because I did like to bang on the drum all day, but even though I was a fairly decent percussionist based on chair rankings in junior high & high school, I never considered myself a musician.

For most young people, you pass through a stage from when anything is possible, to when everything is difficult.   Most little kids start out with unlimited curiosity.  Why? Why? Why?  Over the years of being parented and taught and corralled, most kids seem to be steered toward things they have an aptitude for, and away from things that may provide great potential rewards, but which they do not take to initially.  This can carry on to your adult life if you do not force yourself to take on new challenges.

The reason that I am releasing my first ‘official book’ at the ripe old age of 59 is that even though I have enjoyed writing my entire adult life, I was never able to make the commitment to myself to find the right concept, and stay with it until it was accomplished.  I had made three or four weak attempts at starting a book, but never stayed with it as I always thought the concepts I had come up with were not that great.  Maybe I was afraid I would suck as a writer.   

My focus over time shifted from actually writing, to searching for a concept that could somehow find an audience.  There is a book that was first published in 1910 by Wallace Wattles, entitled The Science of Getting Rich.  I came across this work about 15 years ago or so, and have probably read it 50 times or more since then.   If you are familiar with the book or movie called The Secret, you have been exposed to the basic essence of the work, which is, how we think determines the outcomes we will experience.  If we need an answer to a simple or complex problem, you can greatly increase your chances of finding what you are searching for by mentally focusing on it, and putting it out to the universe for help.  I read the work so many times because I was trying to ingrain the process in my mind.

 Gradually I began to focus my energy and thoughts on coming up with a concept for a book that would find an audience.  By this point in time, I had no question that my real calling was as a writer; my hang up was that I wanted to write something that people would read and which could make a difference for some of the people that would read my work.  I also wanted to make a living at it.  Despite having a goal and a focus to my thoughts, the light bulb never came on.  I had a few false starts, but nothing that made me think that I had found the concept.

Then something happened with my career.  As many people realize as they get further along in their work life, the options for advancement and fulfilling work become scarce to non-existent.  I was at a particularly frustrating point, as I had a sales job for a good company, but was getting to a point where I dreaded going to work every day.  The paperwork was suffocating, the windshield time unending, and Monday mornings were the worst, when I would have to get out of bed by 4am in order to be ready for a production meeting that was about as much fun as attending a 4th grade string recital.

It was at this low point that the light bulb came on and I came up with the idea for The High School Graduates Owner’s Manual.  To make the link to the job situation complete, about 4 to 6 weeks had gone by since I came up with the concept, but I had not done anything with it yet other than think about it a lot.  Then one day I had a sales call at a home where I recognized the name as someone I had meet about 40 years earlier.  Michael had been extremely successful in his business career.  I knew of his financial success, but not that he had retired.  When I asked him what he was doing now, he asked me what I meant.  I asked him what he was doing for work.

 He simply said, ‘It’s very hard to go to work every day when you don’t have to.’  That statement woke me up!  I had already come up with a great idea, but had not done anything with it yet.  It was time for action!  The next morning when I got up at 4am, instead of doing paperwork for my job, I began to work on the outline for the book.  I rose at the same time everyday to do the pre-writing work, and then set a date to begin actually writing.  The writing went fast, and the preliminary rough 1st draft was done within several weeks.

Throughout my business career, I did a lot of writing, and usually received very positive feedback.  I always knew I could write, going back to high school and college.  So how come I never did anything with it until now?  I don’t think it was fear of rejection, but if not that, what was it?  I actually don’t really know, other than to use the lame excuse that I was too busy doing everything else to actually get off the Merry-go-round and focus on what I really wanted to do.

So is there a lesson here?  Yeah, I think so, and you’ve probably heard it before.  You’re never too old to discover what you were really meant to do in life, but you would be better off if you discover it sooner, rather than later.   

So now I’m a writer, and it sure beats working.  I have several more titles in the planning stages, and look forward to seeing how this story ends, and where the next one begins.

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