Architectural Digest and Minecraft, Marker Man and Z-Man
My 8 year old digs Minecraft. Minecraft is a video game where you build castles and walls and landscapes and moats and anything else you can imagine. It’s like virtual Legos.
One day he was showing me a fortress he’d built. He said, “Dad, I’m an ARCHITECT!”
“Yes, Z-Man, you are. You are an Architect!” Suddenly I thought of something that would inspire him. A memory took me back 18 years.
It’s the summer of 1995. No kids yet. I’m a circle-drawing, mile-driving Amway Marker Man. My credo is “Massive Action Solves Every Problem” and I’m Mach 2 with hair on fire. I’ve been banging this HARD for four years and have never achieved any momentum. I have maybe 20 people in my ragtag group, from the comatose to the desperadoes. I’m deliciously close to a tipping point.
I’m doing presentations left and right and I always carry a copy of the May 1995 issue of Architectural Digest. It’s my “Dream Building” magazine and I’ve learned that if you want to get people to engage you have to get ‘em dreaming first.
So when I give presentations I flip open that Architectural Digest and show them a picture of a glass house on the ocean in Japan – which is so totally The Bomb.
I say to Z-Man, “I’m going to get you an old magazine that I think you’re going to like.” I don’t offer any other details, I just get online and find a company that sells back issues. I order a copy of that magazine.
A couple of days later he’s badgering me to see when this special “thing” is going to come.
Yesterday, it came. Z-Man intercepted the mail before it even got to me. He pranced into my office while I was on the phone and pointed to the exact picture I was thinking of when I ordered it.
He spent the entire morning poring over that magazine, conjuring up new structures he could build in Minecraft.
The summer of 1995 was a sweltering 106 degree heat wave. During that spell I got tantalizingly even closer to that elusive MOMENTUM stage, the magic carpet ride that’s the dream of every network marketing maven.
But no cigar.
Actually, 30 stragglers and a few hundred bucks a month was as close as I ever got. It was downhill from there. I cranked the stalled engine for another two years before I finally quit and turned to other endeavors. All in all, six years of sweat and money and scraping nickels together.
Or so it would seem.
18 years later, kid #4 was catching a different kind of dream. I said to Laura, “Back when I was showing the plan like a banshee I never imagined that I’d dig out that magazine for a son who wouldn’t even be born for another ten years.”
Was my circle-drawing, marker-man effort wasted?
Consider my discovery that nobody would engage with me about the “logic” of business until I got them to dream first. Do you think that was a natural discovery for an electrical engineer? Do you think I might have picked up other vital lessons about human nature while I was pounding the steaming pavement?
How about all those tapes and seminars we bought and couldn’t afford, the tens of thousands of dollars of revolving credit and 2nd mortgages? Do you think those might have imparted anything to me about how to…
What about the schemes I concocted to make contacts, arouse interest and book appointments? Trips to the mall, striking up conversations with strangers… my reverse telephone directory experiment where I called people in my neighborhood and dropped off a tape… the directory of local businesses… targeting niche businesses with niche pitches, going miles beyond what I learned on the books and tapes?
Do you think any of that prepared me to “get” direct marketing when I finally discovered it?
How about the years of Chinese Water Torture, eroding my financial head trash? I had grown up with a calcified, entrenched resistance to financial success. My religious upbringing was deeply conflicted about money. The people I admired were delighted to take the large donation from the successful businessman, yet they looked down upon his “lesser calling” in the marketplace, sullying his hands with mammon instead of the true riches.
I guess his donation was buying him a bit of redemption and self respect.
Yeah… it took something like six years to straighten myself out about the fact that mediocrity is just mediocrity and conflictedness is conflictedness and there’s nothing virtuous about it what – so – ever.
After my convo with Z-Man about the Architectural Digest – including a gander at luxury safari huts in a Kenya article – I said to Laura, “Ain’t it funny how hardly ANYTHING actually got wasted along the way. It ALL got used, somehow, somewhere.”
Solomon famously said, “In all labor there is profit.” How right he was. But in order to harness that reality, you must acknowledge and accept it. You must know that in the turbulent weirdness of life, cause and effect are not linear, paths are not straight.
Necessity is the mother of invention and you never know when that odd thing you picked up 18 years ago is suddenly going to come in handy.
I don’t know what you’re doing today, and I don’t know if it’s going to take you exactly where you’re trying to go or not. Odds are, it’s going to take you to a different place than you expect. I love that old Jewish saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
What I do know is, in all labor there is profit, and you’re storing up treasures of wisdom and experience.
If you value those treasures.
If you store them away and protect them with labels that say “Treasure still in process.”
And if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to treasure DREAMS. You might think they’re nutty sometimes, and they usually are. But it’s the nutcases who change the world. There’s no reason it can’t be a reasonably sane nutcase like yourself, instead of some psychopath.
Cuz in life it’s not the mediocre vs. the passionate. It’s the crazy sane vs. the crazy insane, the deranged dreamers vs. the directed dreamers. If you’ve got your shoulder to the wheel and you’re chasing your dream, you’re a directed dreamer. In fact you may not even realize how much the people around you depend on you to hold their world together.
Seize the Day.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw