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The Un-Comfort Zone with Robert Wilson

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Will You Freak-Out or Hunker Down?

Robert E. Willson, Jr.

ATLANTA, Georgia–Sometimes motivation is forced upon us. We are thrust into the Un-comfort Zone. And, whether we sink or swim depends on how we respond to the situation. How do you react during a crisis?

Here are the stories of two men who faced a crisis late in life and how they dealt with it. One was a restaurant owner; the other a janitor. The former went into bankruptcy at an age when most people retire, and the latter was fired from a job he’d had for nearly 20 years.

The restaurant owner enjoyed a successful business in a small town at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains. It was a great location along busy U.S. Route 25. And, because he offered the best food and service around, his eatery was jammed from sunup to sundown. But it wasn’t to last.

The janitor started his job at St. Peter’s Church in London as a teenager. Over the years he married and raised a family and enjoyed a perfectly predictable profession with solid job security. That is until the new vicar came along.

Over the course of 26 years, he was honored by the state governor for his recipes; and was praised by famous restaurant critic, Duncan Hines, in his column Adventures in Good Eating. Then in1956, the new super highway by-passed the little town. It’s amazing the difference just a few miles can make. Two years later the restaurant was closed and the property auctioned off to pay creditors. At 64 years old, the restaurant owner was broke.

It was around the turn of the twentieth century when the new vicar, a stickler for decorum, took over St. Peter’s Church. When he learned that the janitor could not read, he gave him three months in which to learn. Quite depressed by the news, the man thought it might make him feel better if he smoked a cigarette.

Unable to afford the cost of opening another restaurant closer to the highway, he reviewed his assets. All he had left was his knowledge and the delicious recipes that made his food so popular. So, he got into his car.

As he walked home, the janitor searched for a tobacco shop. There was usually one on every block, but there were none near the church. He walked block after block without finding one. By the time he reached his house he knew exactly what he was going to do.

Town by town, he drove, stopping at every restaurant along the way. He told the owners they would be more successful if they served his secret recipes under his brand name and paid him a royalty. Two years later, in 1960, he had 400 restaurants serving his food. By 1963 he was making a profit of $300,000 per year. And, in 1964, Colonel Harlan Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken to investors for $2 million, plus a lifetime salary of $75,000 per year.

With his meager savings, he opened a tobacco shop near the church. It was an immediate success. His profits went to open a second, then a third and before long he thriving tobacco shops all over London. Ten years later, he met with his banker about investing his earnings. The banker gave him some papers to sign. The man asked the banker to read the papers to him, explaining that he didn’t know how. Shocked, the banker exclaimed, “You are so successful, just think where you’d be today if you could read!” Albert Edward Foreman smiled and sighed, “I’d be the janitor at St. Peter’s Church.” (Based on a true story by Somerset Maugham)

Did you know that in Chinese, the symbol for the word “crisis” is the same symbol used for the word “opportunity?” Two sides of the same coin. In other words, it’s all in our perspective. Will you find the opportunity in your next crisis?

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Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist.  He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators.  For more information on Robert’s programs please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.

The Un-Comfort Zone with Robert Wilson

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

 

What’s Pushing Your Buttons?

ATLANTA, Georgia — What motivates you? That’s the question I’d like to ask in this inaugural column on motivation. Are you motivated by fame, fortune or fear. Or is it something deeper that fans the flames inside of you. Perhaps you are like Jeanne Louise Calment whose burning desire enabled her to do something that no other human being has done before. A feat so spectacular that it generated headlines around the globe, got her a role in a motion picture, and landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records. A record that has yet to be beaten.

Jeanne Louise, however, did not initially motivate herself. It was someone else who drew the line in the sand. But, it became a line she was determined to cross.

In motivation we talk about getting outside of one’s comfort zone. It is only when we are uncomfortable that we begin to get motivated. Usually to get back into our comfort zone as quickly as possible.

Born into the family of a middle-class store owner, Calment was firmly entrenched in her comfort zone. At age 21 she married a wealthy store owner and lived a life of leisure. She pursued her hobbies of tennis, the opera, and sampling France’s famous wines. Over the years she met Impressionist painter Van Gogh; watched the erection of the Eiffel Tower; and attended the funeral of Hunchback of Notre Dame, author, Victor Hugo.

Twenty years after her husband passed away, she had reached a stage in life where she had pretty much achieved everything that she was going to achieve. Then along came a lawyer. The lawyer made Jeanne Louise a proposition. She accepted it. He thought he was simply making a smart business deal. Inadvertently he gave her a goal. It took her 30 years to achieve it, but achieve it she did.

Are you willing to keep your goals alive for 30 years? At what point do you give up? Thomas Edison never gave up, instead he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Winston Churchill during the bleakest hours of World War II kept an entire country motivated with this die-hard conviction: “We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches… in the fields and in the streets… we shall never surrender.”

Many of us give up too soon because we set limits on our goals. Achieving a goal begins with determination. Then it’s just a matter of our giving them attention and energy.

When Jeanne Louise was 92 years old, attorney François Raffray, age 47, offered to pay her $500 per month (a fortune in 1967) for the rest of her life, if she would leave her house to him in her will. According to the actuarial tables it was a great deal. Here was an heir-less woman who had survived her husband, children, and grandchildren. A woman who was just biding her time with nothing to live for. That is until Raffray came along and offered up the “sucker-bet” that she would soon die. It was motivation enough for Jeanne, who was determined to beat the lawyer. Thirty years later, Raffray became the “sucker” when he passed away first at age 77.

When asked about this by the press, Calment simply said, “In life, one sometimes make bad deals.” Having met her goal, Jeanne passed away five months later. But on her way to this end, she achieved something else: at 122 years old, she became the oldest person to have ever lived.

In future articles we’ll examine further the ways in which motivation works. How to motivate ourselves, our employees, customers, friends, loved ones and children. I would like to get your feedback on which of these areas of motivation are of most interest to you. Please email me with your suggestions.

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Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist.  He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators.  For more information on Robert’s programs please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.