My father-in-law is a self-made man. He spent most of his life owning and running his own business. When he “retired” a few years ago he discovered he wasn’t much for sitting around and besides how much fishing and hunting can one do anyway?! He had a friend who drove a school bus in his “retirement” and really enjoyed it. My father-in-law decided he might like it too so he went to “bus school” and got his license. That’s how in his late 60’s he began a completely new profession, one involving shuttling kids to and fro each morning and afternoon. Low and behold he too found out he enjoyed it even when it cut into his occasional fishing and hunting outings.
Two years ago both he and my mother-in-law had had enough of Chicago winters and decided to “retire” to a bed and breakfast community located just outside the Gulf of Mexico in Fairhope, Alabama. They love it there! Part of the reason, besides the weather, is the fact that my father-in-law decided to continue driving a bus there as well. Here’s where the moral of the story comes in. When he went to the bus company in AL to apply, they told him they had no openings. They weren’t hiring. But saying “no” to someone who is self-made is really just saying “find another way.” And find another way he did.
He went to Kinkos, made flyers stating his qualifications and contact information, and started going door to door. That is, he started going school to school and asking this simple question at each school office: “Who’s in charge of scheduling bus drivers here?” Almost always he was shuffled right to each school’s decision maker, whom, when he introduced himself and handed them his flyer they replied with a standard “nobody has ever done this before.” His response was “I’m new in town and I’m willing to take whatever fill-in routes you can get me. If you call me at the last minute and I’m not already driving for someone else I will drop what I’m doing and be there for you.” He then asked if they had a magnet or tack and he would go behind their desk and post his flyer where they would hopefully see it when they needed it.
Almost immediately his phone began to ring…and ring and ring! He said it was often not convenient and was often at the last minute but he fulfilled his promise and dropped whatever he was doing or had planned and took the job. Within a year he had earned a full time gig with one of his regulars. Why? Because he didn’t do what the majority of people do and take no for an answer! Because he did what all self-made people do and he took initiative, thought outside the box, and made his own opportunities. And he got lucky when the preparation of creating flyers and knocking on doors met the opportunity created when someone else got sick or couldn’t drive their regular route.
Business owners love when people have initiative. We love when people think outside the box and create their own good luck from being prepared for the opportunity that always will present itself eventually. We love when people don’t take no for an answer even when that no might come from us. The question for you and even all of us business owners is; What’s your Bus? What’s something you want to do that you haven’t yet done because someone or lots of someone’s told you “NO!” The ultimate question is if you are someone who feels controlled by destiny or do you work to make your own destiny? I for one don’t want to ever be a victim. A victim feels that someone or something else controls their destiny. It’s almost always a boss “who is holding a victim down” or maybe even a spouse “who can’t make ME happy.” You and you alone, determine not only your happiness but your ultimate destiny in life. Life’s 10% about what happens to you (NO) and 90% what you do about it. “Find another way!” “Make your Flyers!” “Knock on more Doors!” If not someone else will…even if they are “retired.”
The Pond Guy