Very interesting post on Book Peeps the other day. It was Friday, I think. All about ‘seizing the day’.
Then yesterday Pete Armetta mentioned, in a post he wrote about volunteering at the Virginia Festival of the Book, how he’d brought a manuscript along, because he knew a particular publisher would be in attendance.
A subject close to my heart. And the way I choose to live my life. Can’t say I’ve always embraced it with the ease and fervour I do now, but I have at least always tried to put my fears or discomfort aside and just go for it.
And the older I get, the less I worry about it. It’s a benefit of aging, I think. You start to develop a to-hell-with-it attitude. What’s the worst thing that can happen, right?
In fact, the alternative is far worse. To my way of thinking, the worst thing that can happen, is to lose by default. To do nothing. To want. To dream. To desire. To hope. To go so far as to obsess over it. But to be too afraid to take the risk. To be too afraid of being hurt, or disappointed. To come up short.
So we’d prefer to leave it to chance.
But what we often don’t realize is, to do nothing is to fail. To try, even if nothing comes of it, is to succeed. At least as far as I’m concerned.
We owe it to ourselves. We get one shot at this life. At least as far as I know. So we’ve got to make it count. And sitting on the sidelines, watching everybody else go for it, and waiting for something to happen to us, is a waste of a life. So really, it’s not better to do nothing. Or safer. It’s not better to to wait. To hope it comes to you. To envy all those who don’t just take advantage of any and all opportunities, they create them.
Living vicariously through someone else’s life is not my idea of a good time.
Several years ago I had an idea. An opportunity for me to do some interesting strategic work. It was a long shot. But I still went for it. In the end, it never bore any fruit. But I tried. I went after it like a pig hunting for truffles, actually. For me it was a triumph, regardless of the outcome. In spite of the outcome. It is a great feeling. And every time I think back to that time, I smile.
In a strange way, getting the assignment would almost have been anticlimactic. The much bigger story, is having tried. It’s a story of ‘personal’ triumph. Over fear. Over insecurity. Over any number of ‘what if’s’.
Yep, it’s a MUCH bigger story. And a better one, too.
Running an agency helped me with this a lot. New business was my responsibility. In the fullness of time, clients do have agency reviews. They do send out requests for agencies to pitch their business. But it doesnt happen every day. Or every year. In truth, no one can afford to sit around and wait for those calls to come in. So I had to look for new business all the time. I had to approach strangers. Make cold calls. Not knowing whether they’d be remotely interested or not.
Not as easy to do as you might think, let me tell you.
Regardless, I had to do it. And, over time, I began to even enjoy it. It’s the same kind of thrill you get when you work out. Your endorphins kick in. You get a rush. It’s a real high. It’s a great confidence-booster. And funnily enough, getting the business has nothing to do with it, although it is nice when it happens. Having the balls to go after it, is what it’s all about. That’s the real thrill.
The Book Peeps post I mentioned earlier also has a video clip from one of my favourite movies, Dead Poets Society. One of the scenes in the clip is when Robin Williams’ character walks his students over to a trophy case filled with pictures of long-dead boys. As a way of explaining to his students why they owe it to themselves to ‘seize the day’, Williams explains “These boys are now fertilizing the daffodils”.
Loose translation: It’ll be too late when you’re dead, boys. Take every opportunity you can while you’re alive. Make the most of the life you’ve been given. Carpe diem.
Amen to that.