“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns
Whenever my dad decided something, you could pretty much guarantee that he would not change his mind. He was stubborn, to put it mildly.
I remember an opportunity that arose when he was about 85 years old requiring him to modify his thinking – just a tad – to try something new that would make a huge difference in his life. He would have nothing to do with making a change.
One day when visiting him, out of frustration regarding his inflexibility, I left him the book, “Green Eggs and Ham,” a renowned classic for children written by Dr. Theodor Seuss. I told Dad that I wanted him to read the book and we would discuss it during my next visit. (One privilege of having a great relationship with my dad was the freedom I had to challenge him as I did that day).
During my visit a week later, I asked if he had read the book. As long as I live, I will never forget his reply. He said, “Try it, try it, you will see. Try them with a goat, try them on a boat. You may like them you will see.” He went on to quote a number of sentences from the book. He had not only read the book – he had read it several times! I was stunned at what I was hearing. Here was an 85-year old man reading this classic, memorizing some of the passages. He had even developed a tone for the character, ‘Sam I Am.’
How old will you be before you stop learning or trying new things that life presents? The answer clearly is that you are never too old to learn and grow. Dr. Seuss had children in mind when he wrote this book, but the message of being open to trying new things – taking risks to learn and grow – is a timeless lesson for all of us. Do you agree?
What is currently on hold in your life? Is this the time for you to take a risk, to try something new? If not now, when will the time ever be right?
“Green Eggs and Ham” is one of my favorite books for adults as well as for children. A copy of this classic is on my desk in my office at home. I have used the story in presentations and training sessions for many years.
As a result of using this story many times over the years in illustrating the importance of taking a risk, something interesting happened to me: Besides taking some additional risks, I started to see other lessons I could extract from this classic. What about the attitude of not accepting the first ‘No’ someone tells us? Successful sales people know this lesson well. ‘Yes’ often comes after the sixth or seventh round of asking someone to buy a product or service.
Even if you do not have a career sales position, all of us are in some form of sales. We have all heard the answer ‘No’ to a suggestion or request many times during our professional and personal lives. How often did you stop trying after the initial ‘no’? How many times has someone finally said ‘yes’ to you after repeated efforts? And, how important was that ‘yes’? In my own life, the ‘yeses’ that came after multiple ‘noes’ were more important than most of the other yeses following the first effort. Have you had this same experience? For some of us, it was the difference–maker in our lives. We entered into marriage, created companies and made major decisions after the first ‘no.’ Is there something powerful to learn from our own experiences? Yes! Your own stories – those you have lived – are far more powerful in teaching life lessons than even the teachings of a classic like “Green Eggs and Ham.” Your stories are the gold in your life and available for you to use . . . today.
The pivotal story in your life, when you heard ‘Yes’ after many ‘noes,’ is gold in your goldmine, a life lesson meant just for you. That time when you tried something new, took a risk and scored a major victory is more gold. Life lessons buried in the stories of your life are available today to teach and guide you. Gold in your goldmine.
‘Today, I will discover pure gold. My stories.’
‘I will never give up. Never. Even after No.’
‘I will take some risks. Always.’
“Try it, try it. You may like it. You will see!”