Someone wisely observed, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans."
As we drift through or drive our way through this experience we sometimes call mortality, things
happen and stuff doesn't always go the way we expect or prefer or want it to. That's life. Sometimes
we have to change the direction we've been going, even when it isn't particularly pleasant to do so.
Something I have been learning from many long years of experience is: Never underestimate the
value of the experiences you gain by trying things, whether they work out or not. When I was in
college, I bought a corporation that owned two small-towm cable TV systems and a retail TV repair
shop. I ran that business for two years while going to school, and tried a lot of interesting things.
For example, I built a 40-foot-diameter dish and hung it on a 60-foot TV tower (with some help from
my wife) so I could pull TV signals from Albuquerque, NM to 20 miles north of the Colorado border,
a distance of over 180 miles. It worked unbelievably well. So well that I was getting a full tenth of
a volt of signal off of the antenna instead of the usual one one-hundredth of that amount (which
would have been acceptably adequate)!
After shutting the systems down because they weren't making the money I was told they made, and
pulling the plug on the TV shop because there wasn't enough business for just me and I was sharing the
marketwith eight competitors, I went and got a job at Hewlett-Packard as an electronic technician on a
precision digital voltmeter assembly line at $3.30/hour in 1969. I was one class short of graduating with
a degree in physics with a minor in mathematics, but HP wanted people with real engineering degrees
before they hired them as engineers. I worked that job for 15 months, then enrolled in a graduate
electrical engineering program at Colorado State University where I went to school via video tape for
5 long years. After 2 years I became an engineer. I never finished the MS degree, but five years later
I got licensed as a registered professional engineer in Colorado. In 1999, after 30 years with the
company, I took my retirement and left. I was making $75,000/year at the time. Yet, when I
figured inflation into the picture, that $75,000 translated to barely 10% more than I was making as a
brand-new electronic tech with no credit for experience 30 years earlier! I felt like I really got a raw
deal after figuring that out. I made and saved that company many millions of dollars in that time!
People thought I failed when I shut down the business in 1969. Some thought I failed when I didn't
finish the MSEE degree. I have tried other things that didn't work as planned. Did I fail? Absolutely
not! We have nine *good* children who are productive adults. Our youngest daughter is pursuing a
PhD degree right now (I think she's nuts but she wants to do it). Our youngest son was inducted into
a the Beta Gamma Sigma international business honor society last spring (he's a junior at CSU studying
international finance and is learning Spanish and Chinese -- he already knows French).
The whole point of this is to tell you, don't be afraid to try stuff, and if it doesn't work, learn to
appreciate the value of the experience. When really bad stuff happens, as it sometimes does, don't
sit and feel sorry for yourself. Always try to look for the hidden value in the experience. It is true that
in every adversity in life lies the seed of an equal or greater benefit. So when garbage lands in your
lap, start looking for the benefit whle you deal with the garbage.
After a few years, you'll be able to look back and see the value.
But if you do what many do -- get a case of the po' po' pitiful me's -- plan on having a lot of pitiful
days in your life.
We have the power to choose how we look at life. Within that power lies the key to personal
Happiness doesn't come from always doing what you like to do. It comes from learning to love what
you have to do, while keeping an eye on the eventual reward if you don't give up on the important
Don't let what matters most suffer at the hands of what matters least. That is what wrecks lives,
marriages, nations, and societies.