When You’re Following Your Dream, Believe in What’s Possible, and Know if Anyone Can, You Can
“Opening a bookstore when everyone buys their books from Amazon is a crazy idea, and in a small town, that’s soon to be by-passed when that new road opens, makes it not only a crazy idea, but a stupid idea too, and in case it hadn’t come to your notice, there’s also that rather big obstacle that the town has never fully recovered from the recession. I’m sorry to say this, Michael, but your idea is crazy, stupid and it’s not going to work, I’m saying this for your own good, before you invest your time and money into something that has no future. What you’re proposing, can’t be done”
To say Michael was dumbfounded by this outburst from his uncle Matt is the understatement of the year. But let’s back up to Michael’s story to how he found himself on the receiving end of uncle Matt’s advice — unsolicited advice that his uncle Matt was prone to dish out rather frequently.
Be Grateful to the Naysayers, Allow Them to Motivate You, to Prove Them Wrong, When They Say Something Can’t Be Done: A Case Study:
Michael had a lifelong love of books. As a young boy he was always first in line when the Books on Wheels mobile library parked up in the grounds of his village school every Saturday morning. Returning the books he’d avidly read, he’d leave with a new collection, with excited anticipation of the places, near and far, that he would soon be transported to. His encounters with the familiar, unfamiliar, and sometimes bizarre, people, places and happenings, continuously opened his mind to new learning and discovery. To what was and what could be, to how the impossible could become possible.
It was with no surprise that Michael went on to study Irish Literature at college. Then on graduating he began working at the library in the town close to the village he had grown up in. The library that served all the neighbouring small village communities with its Books on Wheels mobile library.
That the town had been hit hard by the recession was true. Some businesses didn’t make it, and the businesses that did survive, did so by the skin of their teeth, and were forced to make cuts. Job losses were high and livelihoods were severely impacted. This was followed by government cuts to public spending, the latest of which brought about the closure of libraries throughout the country.
Michael finding himself out of a job, had what uncle Matt labelled as a crazy, stupid idea, that wouldn’t work, that couldn’t be done, and that was to open a bookstore in the town.
Though dumbfounded by his uncle Matt’s outburst, Michael wasn’t deterred, in fact if anything it spurred him on. It motivated Michael to prove his uncle Matt wrong, and that what he was proposing to do, could be done.
It was more than wanting to prove his uncle wrong. Michael believed in his idea, he believed he could make it work, he believed the people of the town wanted and needed it, many of whom were bereft following the closure of the library. There was a gaping hole in the town, and Michael felt he had the ability and capability to fill it. His uncle was right that the new road could cause the town to be bypassed. Michael felt now was the time to ensure that didn’t happen. He was determined to plant the town firmly on the map, and in his mind there was no better way than a bookstore that brought people from near and far. He was under no illusion that it would be easy, but he believed it was possible.
There had been many books that had inspired Michael throughout his life. Books had taken him on a journey of make believe, and also on a journey that was real. It was books that had taken him along a path to college and to study Irish Literature. It was books that had taken him along a path to working at the library, a path that at the time had seemed to have taken him full circle, back to the beginning of where his love of books and love of book wisdom had first begun. Michael now knew that his journey wasn’t over, and he believed that it would be books that would take him along a path to his next destination.
The book that motivated Michael to follow the path that he believed he needed to be on at this moment in his WorkLife journey, the path to owning and running his own bookstore was Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova talks about her rise to success, and the disasters that threatened her career and her fight back. She says if there are lessons she could share from her experiences, it would be about the people you surround yourself with, whether that’s your family, (excluding any uncle Matt types of course!), your mentors, your team members.
Choose people you’d be comfortable to lose alongside. In sport you lose a lot more than you can win. If you can face those challenges in that moment with people you respect and trust, it makes the process so much better, it brings so much light to the situations, it carries you through. We don’t always feel at our best, but if we have people alongside us, paving the way and giving us a platform, giving us a voice, and sharing values that we have, it’s so meaningful. So much about the process is about the people you meet along your path.
She believed her earlier years formed a lot of her character, and that the foundation and skills she built when she was young was something she could always go back to. If the core of what you’re doing is so strong and so positive, it drives everything else. Whatever comes your way, at whatever age, it’s how you handle it in the moment that will ultimately set you up in the future. When you face challenges that are not necessarily the same, your life experiences never fail you.
Stay grounded and real, when other worlds are stripped away from you, by keeping your feet on the ground. This is the belief that allowed Sharapova to successfully establish herself in the world of business.
Although their paths were very different, Michael believed by surrounding himself with good people, people he trusted and respected, he too could achieve his dream. This belief proved to be true. He met all the right people along his path: virtual people in the books he read, who became his mentors; and real people, who he seemed to meet at just the right time. This is where Michael believed the universe conspired — he did a lot of the work, every day he kept on moving, and every day he was directed along his path
Michael succeeded in his dream of owning and running his own bookstore. He succeeded in firmly planting his town on the map. He succeeded in bringing people from near and far to visit his bookstore and his town.
He achieved this by waking up every day and asking himself the questions:
How can I continue to do what I love doing?
What can I do next?
How can I get better or how can I stay level with where I was yesterday?
Reflecting on these questions through self-feedback, the answers always came to him.
Words of Wisdom
You can’t unilaterally try to give people feedback, you have to let them come to you and want that feedback. There are times in a relationship that it’s more welcome than others, and you have to know when to give.
In saying these words to his uncle Matt, Michael wasn’t sure if they were received with the same intention they were given. And in his mind he was thinking, “oh and when someone tells you it can’t be done, don’t believe them, believe in yourself instead”.
When we face challenges, change and uncertainty in our WorkLife, this is the time to ask ourselves how we might take ourselves to a new place, a place that gets us through these difficult times or even a place that is even better.
Today’s featured book is: Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova
Today’s story is from my book: How To Use Turning Points To Start Something Different And Better from The School of WorkLife book series.
WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:
The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.
My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.