Sunday 11 December 2011

I Doubt It

I was listening to the radio the other day and the topic was what makes successful people successful?

They mentioned a lot of traits that you would expect a successful person to have. Single minded dedication to whatever they are interested in, intelligence, good business sense, innovative, good people skills, the willingness to work long hours and the belief that what they are doing is worthwhile. The two things that I found most interesting, was that they must also be very good at failure and have the ability to say no.

You have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. In fact, a lot of the most successful have failed time and time again. They were able to learn from their failures and try not to repeat them in the next endeavours. How do you not let failure get you down? What kind of positive dipshit would lose everything they owned and still be willing to do the same thing all over again? I guess that is one of the reasons that I haven’t had a lot of business success. Okay, no business success.

I knew a guy once that truly lived on the financial edge. He would contract to have a house built, and not pay anyone at all until finally the trades people would put liens on the house and of course stop working. By the time that happened, the house would be 95% complete and my friend would go in and do the finishing touches. He would then put it up for sale and pay off all of the trades from the profits. I don’t know all of the details of how this worked; I just knew that I got ulcers from just being his friend. He did this over and over again, and I imagine that he made more than a few dollars at it. I am pretty sure that he would hire different trades’ people each time though. The fact that he had the gift of gab and could sell sand to the Arabs didn’t hurt at all. I think he and his long suffering wife moved 12 times in eight years.

This idea of saying “No” being important to success has me intrigued. I have never been able to say no. I can hem and haw and put off an answer for a while, but I will eventually capitulate and agree to whatever I am asked. The reason is partly because I want to be the good guy and not disappoint anyone, which I surely would if I didn’t say yes. I do like to help people, but sometimes there is a confrontation between what would make me happy and what would make the askers happy.

The other reason that I am reluctant to say no is due to my friend Ken. Many years ago he was visiting from Ontario and tried to talk me into taking the next day off, but I had already taken a few days and told him no. Just a few weeks later I found out that he died in a motorcycle crash and I have never forgiven myself for not taking the time to just be with Ken. Ever since that time, I really have a hard time saying no and most of my friends know it. I don’t mind when friends ask me things, but it is the acquaintances that kind of irk me.

One of my wife’s favourite sayings is “NO is an acceptable answer to any given question”. We don’t like to hear NO, but sometimes you have to use it so that the important things in your life can get done.

I guess that I should start to use NO more often. I don’t suppose that I will become a wealthy powerful man, but it would be nice to say no without feeling guilty. I wonder if you can change after five decades plus? I doubt it.

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