“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” – Unknown
I am a true believer if a door is open, you walk through it. Opportunities are life’s little positive gifts that so many don’t take advantage. But as I view the world today, not only are there people who just bulldoze down doors, but individuals that express all the reasons why you should never even walk up to the welcome mat.
Back in the day, I worked with a man named Richard who was, by the best description, the “painter” in the Operations Department at the California Mid-State Fair. He was a text book California fair maintenance department employee. First, he wore the same uniform everyday, with the name Louie on the chest. He smoked one too many packs of cigarettes, never stopped to plan his yearly goals at the first of January, feed all the black cats on the fairgrounds and had a heart of gold. His claim to fame (at least in my world) was to respond to any one of my many requests, “not gonna happen”. He would sit across from my desk, with his devilish grin, shake his head, and proceed to explain why he just didn’t have the time to complete my request. This would be my que to give him the borderline shake your head look, which would generate him to pull out from his front shirt pocket a note pad and jot down my wish. In the ten years I worked with Richard, it always happened. Sometimes, not completely as planned (I have a few Richard stories that are priceless), but we were a team and there was a common goal to achieve.
A fun game, I loved to play, was to send our yearly college intern out to find Richard and inquire when XYZ sponsor’s sign would be hung. They soon would appear back at my desk bewildered and perplexed as Richard gave them his standard answer “not gonna happen”. This would trigger the Jacky/ Richard dance of me explaining why it was going to happen and Richard pulling out his small pocket notebook to make notes of my request.
These encounters took place in the late 90s well before 9/11, school shootings, and the housing market debacle of 2008. Before social media was the platform for one and all to share their dislike of anything from the POUS to the lady that had too many coupons in front of them at the local grocery store. Richard’s intention was never negative in nature, he wasn’t leading the conversation with all the ways it wouldn’t work, it was just his character to make the process a little more playful. The other day I began to wonder when did Richard’s “not gonna happen” became many peoples first response? Why as a solution based society do want to focus on all the ways something will not work?
The writing wheels began to turn and I began constructing a blog about how I am simply over people that lead with a “No”. What happen to words like solution, opportunity, “if there is a will there is a way”? I am not sure if the absolute negative is a quicker way to move past the work or if as a culture, we have become sensitized to be downbeat and depressing. The “try” has left the station. For some it is a power move, for others it is a lack of faith and then for a select, I truly believe, it is pure laziness.
And as I was pondering this topic and subsequently heading down the pessimistic rabbit hole, something marvelous happen. I was reminded that not everyone behaves this way.
This past month we hosted our wine and spirits competition at the San Diego County Fair. As the usual suspects of judges begin to arrive at our little community, years of great memories and times began to fill the void of the day. At the opening night judges gathering, it was very apparent that one of my all-time favorite judges was absent, David Stevens.
David Stevens, passed away shortly after last year’s competition. To say he was a marvelous human being, that was one in a billion, wouldn’t even scratch the surface. The man was a savant on the topic of wine and had an impeccable palate. Yet, if you met him on the street you would never have known. In an industry that if filled with ego and self-loathing, David didn’t possess an ounce of these qualities in his being. He was the happy guy, he had delightful stories, he was the man that would never say “No”.
As buttons that read #BeDavidStevens were handed out, it occurred to me to stop wasting my energy on a topic that doesn’t deserve the time of day. Adverse comments, and I don’t just mean from others, but from myself, were simply not worth giving the ear space to register in my head. If you are given an opportunity, take it. If you see an open door, walk through it. #BeDavidStevens.
Shortly after the competition, I was sitting listening to another day of pounding rain, feeling down that my Sunday was dampen by the weather. And I light bulb went off above my head #BeDavidStevens, and seize this opportunity to work on this blog. And I started writing. Then came a call that offered me chance to visit Singapore for a mini vacation, and I thought #BeDavidStevens.
Both David and Richard, left me with great life lessons, that at the time I never embraced. But as I continue to journey into 2019, I have adopted a few new mantras. You want to come after me with all the reasons why not, my take is #NotGonnaHappen. You offer me a golden opportunity, I am going to say #BeDavidStevens. In the infamous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And that is a door, I am not going to miss walking through.