Often life has a way of giving you hard knocks. It happens to all of us. It’s important not just to start over but start over with the right attitude. I hope the story helps.
It was one of those days I did not wish to live again. I had been working for weeks to secure a deal that would give me a nice provision. Everything seemed to go perfectly and I had already been joking with co-workers what would I do with the extra income.
I picked up the phone and called to the customer to get the deal finalized, only to hear that the depression had hit the company. My customer told half the staff had been let go and that all purchases were put on hold.
I had so concentrated on this deal I had not worked much on my other customers and knew that instead of getting a big fat check I´d be having one of the smallest ones I had ever received.
I just couldn´t stay at my desk but got up and went to get some coffee.
The cleaning lady was just washing the vending machine. I slumped to a chair and felt awful.
I startled and looked up. The cleaning lady was looking at me.
You could say that again… I sighed.
What is the matter? she asked.
She was a motherly type of a woman with kind eyes. I had seen her around for years but never said a word to her really. And yet I suddenly found myself telling the whole pitiful story to her. She listened intently, finished cleaning the vending machine and nodded.
Your situation brings to mind my own father. He was also a salesman, but not lucky enough to be able to sit in one office. He was a travelling salesman. You know: big suitcases and all. Vanished for weeks sometimes and came back with an empty bag, pay check and a big hug for us kids and mother.
I looked at her, not knowing where she was going with this.
There was a time when he also lost a big sale. It was just before Christmas and he had to tell us children that there would be very few presents. We were disappointed, but he gathered us around him and told a story. I shall always remember those inspirational words. First he asked us which animals we liked best. My answer was cats. My older brother liked dogs and my younger one loved ponies. Then he asked if we wanted to know which animals he admired the most and of course we did. The bees, the ants and the spiders, he told us.
I lifted my eyebrows. The cleaning lady smiled.
Now we of course did not agree with him, but asked why ever would he like such nuisances. Didn´t they bite or sting or just look plain ugly? He explained us and these inspirational words have been my guideline ever since.
He said he liked the bees because if a bear breaks their nest and steals their honey, they keep on building their honeycombs, making more honey. And he liked the ants because if the same bear destroys their nest, they also immediately start building their nest anew, working together for a common goal. And the spiders he liked because if their webs are destroyed, they start repairing the damage right away – or building a whole new, better one.
He said the lesson he had learned from these little insects was that the world may surprise us sometimes by destroying even our most carefully built plans, but if we choose to be ready to start all over again no matter what, eventually we shall achieve great results. We shall just have to start again, one step at a time.
At that the cleaning lady nodded to me and pushed her cart out of the room.
I sat there for a while, thinking of what she had said. Then I got up, walked back to my desk and started to build my next pay check, one customer at a time.