There are so many things I’d like to do; that I’d like to accomplish. And I think it’s time to start doing them.
I don’t have to plan it all. I don’t think I can plan it all.
It’s sort of like when my parents were first in business. They were in their late twenties. And my dad was blind.
They wanted to build this hotel. Okay. Not a hotel. A motel. A mom-and-pop motel. And so they had this plan and they bought the land, and the land had a little house on it to live in.
My mom was hospitalized for a year. She had gotten tuberculosis from a patient she was caring for at a hospital. She was a nurse.
And so my blind father was left on this chunk of land, with this little house, and all of their dreams stopped.
She did get better. She never came horribly ill. And she got out a year later and they began all over again.
They knew nothing about building a motel, but they knew they needed buildings.
Building codes weren’t as strict as they are now, and my dad just started building a wing of a motel. He got through the first one or one and a half wings and…
He fell off the roof.
He couldn’t build the rest and they had to hire someone to finish it.
If they had known they were going to have to hire someone to finish it, they might have believed they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the money.
But they were already halfway done!
So they got all of the wings built – I think they built three on this little mom-and-pop motel – and then they couldn’t afford the paint. And painting it would take both time and money.
But they had these plain, cinder block rooms and thought they’d just start renting them out. That way, money would be coming in.
“People won’t care,” they thought. “We’ll just stick up a sign.”
They didn’t hire a sign painter, and they didn’t know about stencil lettering. Mom made a hand-painted sign, and they stuck it up in front of this little motel where none of the walls were painted. The place was bare, gray, cinder block with a scary-looking sign out front.
And you know what happened?
Nobody came to their motel.
“Okay,” they admitted, “nobody’s going to stay here until we paint the buildings.”
And so they painted the buildings, but still had trouble getting people in until they hired someone to make an actual sign.
All of these were expenses they thought they could just cover as they went along. And they did, but not in the way they planned. All of these things stood in their way.
And if they had known any one of them might happen, they probably wouldn’t have gone through with the original plan in the first place.
But instead, they built this motel and it became the foundation for a future business when they relocated to Florida. They had that nest egg which, although a humble amount now, was a sizable amount then. And that’s what started their next business.
But to think that we can plan everything ahead of time is self-defeating.
I think it all starts with the idea – the concept. And then are we willing to move forward on that concept?
Because we won’t know how to proceed at every turn. And things will come up we never imagined would be a problem. But they are.
And so you keep moving forward with your plan and you find ways around your problems. The dream itself remains.
And I’m thinking about all of this and wonder if I can do it. I’m an over-planner, you see. I think years down the line and about everything that might or might not happen. And it scares me. But there’s really no need to fear. Obstacles aren’t an if. They’re a given.
So now I’ve entered my senior years, and I’m finally starting to get over some of my hesitation, and I’m just moving forward. If I have an idea, I’m going to do it. Because no one knows how to start. No one knows if an idea’s going to pan out. And sometimes an idea won’t pan out, but it will lead to the thing that will. But staying in place gets one nowhere.
And my dad used to know that. Toward the end of their lives, Mom was sick of the business. She wanted to reign it in or give it up altogether. “Can’t we just be satisfied?” she’d ask. “Let’s just stick with what we have.”
“No,” said Dad. “You either grow, or you start to die. There’s not choice but to move forward. Stagnation is the start of decline.”
Dad lived a relatively short life, due to many factors, but it was a rich life. And he accomplished so much more than anyone thought a blind man could.
But that’s because he was always moving forward.
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