Monday, June 13, 2011

Trust30; day 14: Alternative Paths

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them


To me, the only real teacher in life is experience and the only way to really "get it" is to be playing the game of life in a conscious manner. That can be easier said than done, especially when we attract a cascade of not-so-pleasant events that tend to have us pushing our collective heads up our collective butts.

One such case that really taught me the value of staying awake / aware / "with it" and also remembering to make the best out of every situation occurred during the end of the 1990's.

I blew up my life... and not in a small way either.

You know that Thoreau quote, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go the the grave with the song still in them"? That was me.

Married for fifteen years to a terrific wife... nice house... comfortable income... secure job...

Pitched, chucked, thrown away... blown up.

Anyone who knew me said that I had gone crazy. Quit the job... massively depressed... fell behind in finances... used the Internet to escape into "one-nighters" with equally unhappy women..

Blew. It. All. Up.

Not one shred left of what previously was.

Before the selling of the house, before the divorce, as "rock bottom" was being hit, I took what seemed to be really "trivial" part-time jobs to try and start bringing in some money again.

One was doing surveys on the phone. I had people skills. I was good at it.

That led to a full-time position at another marketing company doing similar work for an insurance company, looking to upgrade their existing policy holders into higher coverage, higher revenue policies. I made the best of it.

I calmed down. I was "present" as I did my job. Again, I was good. They made me a supervisor of an entire team, then a shift. This was happening very fast, within just a few months.

As the "destruction" wound down and we sold the home and settled on an amicable divorce, "creation" was occurring in the ashes. I met a woman on the Internet from Philadelphia, several years older than me. This past February, we celebrated eleven years together as a couple.

My employer won a contract to put together a retail sales team for HP. I was asked if I would like to be part of that team.

Two years later, my love and I were on the beach in Maui at Presidents club. I was one of the top salespeople for that year and had won the trip as a reward. The coolest part was that in the short time (at that point) we had been together as a couple, this was our third trip to Hawaii! We had just come back from a previously planned one (to take her elderly father to Oahu) a mere eight weeks before going on this reward trip to Maui.

Finally, HP asked me if I would like to audition to become one of their reps selling for them on the national sales TV channel, QVC. I did and was accepted; that began a part-time, nine year run on (mostly) late night TV as an "electronics expert." I averaged being on about once a month, usually at 3 am.

I share this story with people who ask me about what path they should take in life. I offer to them that there really aren't any "shoulds," just "coulds."

They always have choices open to them. That's what life is about. To me, the constant choice is, "Do I make the best out of where I am right now, or not?" I absolutely believe that one can get to anywhere in life starting from any point. That's the "alchemy of life" at it's finest.

Seriously, how does one go from utter despair and a "menial" job as a telemarketer to working for a major technology company and sitting on a beach in Maui with a part-time gig on national TV in a little more than two years?

That's impossible, isn't it?

I'm just sharing my experience with you. Take it for what it's worth. I certainly do because nothing ever stays the same. Change is the name of the game.

Truthfully, it is "game, set, match," total and complete. Choose to play it for all it's worth, choice by choice by choice, making the best that you can out each and every one of them...

Even (and especially) when the choices aren't necessarily so "savory." There is still a better feeling decision one out of the two (or more) in front of you.

This "note to myself" is now complete. I certainly need reminding in the everyday flow of my life (and the world that results) from the choices that I make.

Today's feedback received with appreciation. Thank you.


  1. So honest and so helpful to me. 'choice by choice by choice' and 'starting from any point'. You give me hope. Thank you.
    Peace, Nico.

  2. Rich, what a wonderful post. And so honest. It ripped my heart open. I can so relate to the total "burning down the house" period in life. I have been there, done that. And in some ways still doing, but as I wrote yesterday, it's all good.

    I love your statement "especially when we attract a cascade of not-so-pleasant events that tend to have us pushing our collective heads up our collective butts."...I had a very vivid picture in my head. LOL

    Anyway, I am honoured that you shared your personal story like that. And it brings hope to the table. Choose to hope.

    Thanks, Rich and keep on surfin' the waves. xoxo/Michi

  3. It's our own version of the movie, "The Endless Summer" Michi. The waves never stop; only the rider does.

    Nico, wonderful and please remember, whatever you are finding here (or anywhere) is being attracted by YOU. Way to "author this chapter" in your latest round of change.