Ambition and Luck. Two classes they still don't offer in college.

*Update June 2020. I recently promised my friend Q that I would write more. This isn't exactly what I meant to write when I made the promise. I have a few things that are half or more complete stashed away in the ole e-hopper and I promise to get them out soon. And there are some more I'd like to write before the lights go out. Some are just stories of experiences I've had. Others, about people I've crossed paths with who have meant a lot to me and had an impact on who I am.

I've had this blog for years. I believe since 2007. Before July 2018, it was a place where I could safely write, get thoughts out of my head and keep or delete these thoughts when I wanted. Nobody knew about it. It was great therapy. 

I had written sales, marketing and  proposal type documents for my entire career. It was easy and in my opinion pretty good stuff. Perhaps in the minds of my higher-ups and customers as well! We all did quite well together.

But to write publicly about the stuff in my head and heart was a "not gonna happen." NOBODY needed to hear about the conversations that the people in my head had! Conversations, arguments, memories, dreams, etc. Best left for them to ponder. 

But that all changed. My need to share some things with my family and friends outshined my Reluctant Writer Syndrome. 

It occured to me that I purposely didn't mention why I wrote this when I did. July 2018 was when I was diagnosed with cancer. About a year later I wrote the post to make the site public and share a quote that has had a big and evolving impact on me.

My sister Laura (a Leadership Development Consultant) and her company gave me a beautiful framed copy of the quote after my completion of a 3-4 day workshop called "Mastery" a couple years before my diagnosis. Mastery is an intense self discovery and management-style framework. Laura had read the quote and she wanted me especially to hear and absorb the message it delivered. At that time, I read it, "got" it and it was hung on a prominent and visible place in my home. I'd look at it and read the quote now and then and ponder... and ponder. 

Once I was diagnosed and given a 24-36 month prognosis, I reread it. It hit me with a completely brand new ton of bricks. And I loved it even more. It had a brand new and much more powerful meaning.

When I originally wrote this post, I was about one year into my prognosis. I'd only told my family and a tight circle of long-time friends about the cancer. There was no big reason to spill the beans beyond them - at that point. I looked like I'd always looked. If you didn't know I was sick... You didn't know I was sick! I liked it that way.

It's now June 2020. What a year it has been so far eh? Impeachment hearings. A pandemic. Months of quarantine. Millions of lost jobs, homes and fear for the future. Over 100,000 Covid related deaths. Both parties of our State and Federal Government in continuous turmoil - seemingly dead-set on further dividing us  and keeping us divided. The senseless murder of another African American man by a white police officer caught on camera for all to see. Peaceful protests by citizens of all races in support of African Americans and other minorities demanding long-overdue change. Looters killing police officers. People being beaten to death or near death for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Destruction and looting by bands of pissed off citizens with varying intentions and/or goals. Police in riot gear responding violently to the violent bands but at times to legitimate protesters. The National Guard deployed in cities all over the US. Billions of dollars of property and merchandise destroyed. Small businesses  barely hanging on after the carona quarantine open for a few days, then destroyed. Big corporations greedily snatching up "recovery" dollars made available by both parties of our corrupt Federal Government. News conferences from so many Government officials and politicians. Many of these with vital information and/or encouragement. Many more with conflicting, wrong and irrelevant information held solely for personal  political gain. This has become our cliche "new normal." And we're only half way through the year.

The quote and why I posted it should make a bit more sense now. Read it using the lens of your life experience. I hope you can gain the measure of meaning from it that I do every time I read it. I like to read it one sentence at a time and ponder the meaning each has individually. And then ponder on its meaning as a whole.* 

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From: Ambition, the Secret Passion. Joseph Epstein (via my sister Laura). She gave me a framed print of this quote. I love it. I "got it" but I really didn't get it until a year ago - July 2018. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

"We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time or conditions of our death. But within all this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we shall live: courageously or in cowardice, honorably or dishonorably, with purpose or in drift. We decide what is important and what is trivial in life. We decide that what makes us significant is either what we do or what we refuse to do. But no matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices and decisions, these choices and decisions are ours to make. We decide. We choose. And as we decide and choose, so our lives formed. In the end, forming our own destiny is what ambition is about."

The rest of this... From: me! Via - a little time on my hands.

Figured I should have something here just in case you clicked on one of my "FREE STUFF" "CLICK HERE!" links. I set a bunch of stuff I'd written here back to draft mode. Meanwhile, my niece Hannah made the site look... well... good! As though it was something I didn't create. Thanks Hannah. Making old Uncle Champion look good. (Shh. Don't tell her! I've told her that's my name since she was hatched!)

The luckiest guy to  ever walk the planet?


It must be so. It's on his card!

That thought occurred to me in my early twenties. I was sitting on a plane headed for Clearwater, Florida. A college drop out. Nobody special. My employer was paying me to fly to Clearwater to install a computer system. No shit. The company had a warehouse full of burned up circuit boards, printers, disk drives, computers - tons. They hired me to organize it and put some systems in place. I was done and bored after about a month. I had started spending a lot of time at the Mont. Co. Pub. Library. Reading and teaching myself "how to fix broken computer stuff." I had two great mentors at this company. Don Baumgartner, one of my most favorite sales people. And a few months later, Wally Munsey - best teacher I ever had. And a friend I will never forget. He had actually gone to college to learn how to fix broken computer stuff! Go figure. More about Wally another time. Except to say he's one of the kindest people I've ever known. He taught me how to get stuff done and gave me a sense of what I could possibly do with all this stuff I'd learned. And, that I could maybe even earn a decent living while I was at it. 
That trip to Florida boosted my confidence in many ways. And I'd proven to myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to. I stuck with that industry for over 30 years. I taught PhD's and professors, teachers and librarians. I've lived a life of teaching and learning, marketing and selling. And I had great help along the way.

I often compare myself to Ham, the Chimp. For you kids out there... Ham was the luckiest Chimpanzee to ever walk the planet. He got launched into space by a bunch of brainiacs sitting in lounge chairs exactly 1 year before I was launched into life by me dear ole Mom. Thanks for not naming me after him Ma!

What a run. Me. The guy who sat down with the Dean of whatever at Alfred University and agreed, smiled and shook his hand after he said "Bill, I think we've taught you all we can here at Alfred!"

ANYHOW...

The other part of that trip that I remember as though it happened yesterday... There was a tall African American man at the baggage claim. I was across the conveyer. He was wearing a white suit, straw Panama hat, and sunglasses. He looked good... sharp and successful. I walked over to him,  looked him in the eye, nodded and smiled. I waited just 1 second too long (on purpose). A visible thought-bubble actually rose from his head "oh great!?!" Still smiling I said "you can't fool me. You're Famous Amos." (Wally Amos - read on.) He slowly took off his sunglasses, peered down at me (maybe even through me!) and then a huge smile appeared. He laughed out loud and we shook hands. He said "You know son... I've been called A LOT of things in my life. But I've NEVER been called Famous Amos." We picked up our bags, chatted on our way out of the airport and parted ways.



I learned a lesson that day. I'll save that for another time. I'm also saving why I feel like the luckiest guy to ever walk the planet for another time.

So. There you have it. Ambition, luck, a brief college stint, a couple Wallys and Bill tiptoeing past not getting his ass beat. All in one tidy prattling missive.

Yeah, I know... Where's my free stuff?!

PS - Wally Amos is an inspiration and an American badass. Don't believe me? And you can find his original chocolate chip cookie recipe - courtesy of Mr Amos - right here! It's also the sign-up for the documentary once it's complete. Here's the trailer.

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