I was speaking to my friend +Nicole Levac on a Blab yesterday about Committment on your Soul-Full Journey (see it HERE).
The discussion about being committed to your journey reminded me of this story I use in our seminars to demonstrate how, when we commit ourselves to succeeding, we never stop and we do what it takes to get to our destination.
This story is about a man at his wits end. A man with nowhere to turn. Like King Midas in reverse,
everything he touches turns to dirt. He has tried everything to get on his feet and make some money but no one will give him a chance. He has a wife and two children and providing for them is a constant and never ending struggle.
Like many people in situations like this, he turns to religion. All his life he has avoided the church services unless absolutely necessary and has always said that prayer is pointless as nobody is listening but here he is, sitting in West Ham Church in East London, looking for an answer.
The Priest walks over to him and sits alongside him.
"What is wrong my son?"
The man opens up. "Ya know Father, I have always led a good honest life. I have never been religious but I see so many people getting on in life who never go to church and do all manner of stuff, but me? I have no money, no job, a family to provide for and nothing to show for my 44 years on this earth"
"You're Michael aren't you?" Asked the priest and the man nodded. "I remember your father, he was a good friend to this church. You never attend do you?"
"It's not my thing Father. I am here because I have nowhere to go. If I go home my wife is going to ask me if we can pay the rent. I can't. I have no money except to feed my wife and children.....I need a job but...'
The priest nodded. "Yes, it is tough out there but...."
The priest rubbed his chin.
"Well, I have a very good friend who has become the Head of a girls school in Stratford. He is looking for a Janitor. He needs someone reliable. Why don't you get yourself over there before he puts an advert in the paper. I will call him and tell him you are coming."
"Do you think he will employ me Father?" Asked Michael.
"It doesn't hurt to give it a shot does it?"
Michael hurries over to the school and asks for the Head Teacher. When he finally sits down in the office the Head Teacher laughes.
"Well you have a big job on your hands living up to Father Johns glowing recommendation. he has been a great friend to me over the years and I know he wouldn't steer me wrong. He says you are the man we need so, if you want the job, it's yours. Fifteen thousand pounds a year."
Michael could not believe it. He could see the light at the end of the tunnel, finally.
"All you have to do..." The Head continued, "...is fill out these forms.'
"I can't do that?" he whispered.
The Head Teacher looked confused. "Why not?"
"I can't read or write." Michael admitted.
The Head Teacher looked disappointed. "Michael, " he said, "I need someone who can read because there are chemicals, cleaning materials, and the person I employ needs to be able to read what's what, it's health and safety!"
After another few minutes of pleading, Michael gave up. He knew that the Head was right. He slumped in the chair, then stood up and thrust out his hand.
"Thank you for seeing me anyway."
"Wait!" Said the Head as Michael walked to the door. "I feel bad about this but my hands are tied. Look, please don't leave here empty handed. My deputy has just returned from Cuba and given me a box of cigars. I don't smoke, I have no use for them, please, take them. Good luck!"
Michael took the box, turned and walked out after nodding his thanks at the Head Teacher of the girls school. If only he could read or write.....
Michael walked and walked. He walked for miles, wondering what the next move would be. Eventually he found himself in the City of London near Lloyds in the heart of the financial district.
He watched all the people walking around in their expensive suits and expensive haircuts carrying expensive filofaxes and briefcases, eating expensive sandwiches and driving expensive cars and drinking expensive coffees. Michael had a box of cigars and 80p in his pocket.
Opposite him, on the other corner, was a cigar shop. One of those places that sell all manner of cigars and exotic cigarettes from France and Turkey. Michael walked over and looked in the window at the man behind the counter. He was watching TV. The shop was empty when he walked in.
"Can I help you?" asked the man.
"I hope so, I wondered if you would buy these cigars?" Michael asked.
The man put his hands up.
"No can do mate, I had a visit from the VAT people last week. I have to show receipts for everything. I can't buy them from you, sorry."
Michael felt the room spin. He was running out of options. Then the man spoke again.
"Why don't YOU sell them?"
"Me?" Asked Michael.
"Yeah you! There are a lot of people around here running around with a lot of cash on the hip. Big wallets stuffed with cash. they like to flash it around...pull out a big cigar outside the pub to show off. Go and put up a sign and sell them. What are they Churchill, Romeo y Julietas? You can get £20 for each one."
Michael stared at the cigars. Then he realized.
"I can't put a sign up, I can't read or write."
The man looked at Michael and thought for a moment.
"You really are in trouble pal aren't you? "
"Do you think people would buy them?" Michael asked.
"It doesn't hurt to give it a shot does it? Tell you what, I will make the sign for you"
So the man did. He made a sign on a sheet of cardboard and Michael went further down the road and stood there. Nothing happened. Then, at 5pm the offices turned out and all the people he had seen earlier hurried past him to the pubs and wine bars. Within 10 minutes, Michael had sold the lot. He now had £400 in cash. Enough to feed his family and pay the rent.
Next day, Michael walked into the cigar shop and bought some more cigars. Then he bought more, and more. He was standing out there every weekday for two years. Snow, rain, fog, wind, it didn't matter. He sold cigars.
One day, after two years, he had a brilliant idea. 'Why am i standing in the street in the rain when I could buy that Cigar shop?'
He went and saw his old friend, the cigar shop owner and asked him if he could buy the place.
"You know what?" the old man told him, "If you had asked me two years ago I would have said no but I am getting too old for this and I want to retire abroad. I will sell it to you, if you can raise the money."
"How much do you want for this shop?"
The shopkeeper didn't pause. "I had this place valued two months ago. In the middle of the city, prime location, £800,000!"
"Eight hundred grand?" Michael repeated
"I wouldn't rip you off, Michael. It's a fair price. Why don't you get a loan from the bank?"
"Do you think they would give me a loan?" Michael asked.
"It doesn't hurt to give it a shot does it?" Said the shopkeeper.
Michael went to the bank and asked to see the manager or whoever is in charge of business loans. After sitting down in the Managers office Michael told him about his 'business' and the plan to buy the shop in the city. the Manager nodded and asked Michael how much the shop was. When Michael told him eight hundred thousand pounds the Manager took his glasses off and sat back in his chair.
"That's a very large amount. If you want to borrow money you will need to have collateral"
"Collateral?" Michael asked, "I don't have any collateral!"
"Do you have any money?" Asked the bank manager.
"Yes I have money, I have an account here." Michael passed his paying in book to the manager who started to enter details onto the screen. after a few moments, Michael saw the color drain from the Managers face.
"Y-y-y-you have £655,000 in your account!" The manager stammered in shock.
"Do I?" Asked Michael.
"Y-y-y-y-you have £655,000 in your account" the manager repeated. "£655,000. £655,000 from selling cigars on s-s-s-treet c-c-corners???"
It looked to Michael like the Manager was going to pass out. He kept repeating it again and again.
"I don't know, I just pay the money in. I don't know how much is there because I can't read or write."
The manager looked up. "What did you say?"
"I can't read or write!" Michael repeated.
The manager ran his fingers thru his hair and then pinched his nose contemplating what he had just been told.
"Mr Stevens, you have made £655,000 in two years selling cigars on a street corner. That in itself is one thing but...you can't read or write? Sir, you are a....a...financial genius. My God! Do you have any idea where you would be right now if you could read and write?"
"Yes," Michael told him. "I would be the janitor of a girls school earning £15,000 a year!"
When you are committed you can achieve whatever you desire and nothing will get in your way...