It was a rainy and cold January morning. I was wet and miserable, yet I was running in a formation at 6 in the morning chanting about killing the enemy. Drill sergeants were yelling and screaming while people were falling out of formation, some to puke up the previous night’s dinner. I did not dare fall out of that formation. I was already on the “shit list” for laughing at a drill sergeant a few days earlier. One drill sergeant kept shouting the same thing over and over. “No Excuses!!!” I made it to the end of the run that day with less than half my platoon, soaked from sweat and rain feeling sick to my stomach, yet proud of my accomplishment.
Four years later I was trying to learn how to be rich. I came across a mentor who was originating conventional loans and I stuck by his side as much as possible. He taught me to focus on removing “try” from my vocabulary. Try is a copout. It is a way to feel good about not being successful. “There is no try, you either do or you don’t,” he would say. If something did not work out the way you want, you can focus on the fact that at least you tried… you can focus on making it happen.
Before my mentor taught me that the words I use, (or not use in this case), are important or before I learned about not making excuses from the military, my dad would tell me, “You only fail if you give up.” This is something I learned long before I ever left the safety of his home. I don’t remember how old I was, but this is one of those lessons that stuck with me. I can make mistakes, not have the success I want, or have a setback and not really fail. The reason, of course, is I can learn from the attempt and try again.
A few weeks ago I was on a trip to Minnesota and I had lunch with this amazing person which sparked my desire to write this article. She is originally from Vietnam where she grew up in a poor family working on a farm. She had no money and was not able to finish school. We had a discussion about a bike and I remember her saying she did not have one growing up. She was forced to drop out of school so she could work and help support her family to survive. She came to the United States as an adult, not able to speak English. She got a job as a server in a restaurant and attended an adult high school so she could earn her diploma. Amazingly, she taught herself to speak English, mostly while interacting with customers at the restaurant, and graduated from school. She decided to pursue an education in Information Technology and received her Associates degree. Deciding she did not want to work on computers, she shifted focus before pursuing her Bachelors degree and went to real estate school. She received her license and now has a thriving real estate business. She owns her home free of debt and has rental property and savings. She is happy.
As I listened to her story in amazement, I thought about the times that I was discouraged and felt sorry for myself with my setbacks. Can you even imagine what she had to overcome and the setbacks she must have experienced? I also kept thinking about the clients and prospective clients that simply give up, or make excuses, and never reach their potential. The reason I was visiting Minnesota was to deal with a problem from one of our clients who got into trouble and then decided to give up on the project. This client failed and will never be successful.
If this Vietnamese woman with no money or job can become successful when she could not even speak the native language, there is no excuse for anyone reading this article! I put myself in that category because God knows I have not seen everything through that I have wanted to accomplish. The good news is, I don’t have to stop reaching for my goals. If she can accomplish what she did, I can accomplish what I want without saying I tried or giving an excuse. Remember you either do or you don’t. I chose “do”.