Finding True Things Of Value (Or, The Best $50 I Ever Wasted)…

Napoleon Dynamite Suit

To illustrate the point I’m about to make, come back in time with me now- to the early years of this century…

On the political front, Australia is debating whether the Howard government was right to commit troops to Iraq in support of the U.S war effort. On the sporting front, there’s great anticipation about our hosting of the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with optimism that the Wallabies can win their third Championship on home turf. Entertainment-wise, Coldplay, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, P!nk and 50 Cent dominate the airwaves, and people tune into this new show called ‘Australian Idol‘ in the hope that we discover our next homegrown talent to top the charts here and overseas…

And me?

My high school days are months from drawing to a close when one evening, at a friends’ 18th, I meet this girl. We dance late into the night and despite me being just a little drunk (and a relative novice when it comes to the game of romance) I can tell that she likes me.

A week later she invites me out with her and her friends. In the cinema we sit next to each other. Before the movie starts, I glance at the screen of her Nokia to see that she’s saved my name with love heart emoji’s either side of it (did we even have emoji’s back then? I forget…)

Now, nothing actually happens between us that night. For starters, while I’m flattered by the attention, I’m not really into her. Secondly, there’s somebody else I’m interested in. But none of this seems to matter. A few days later via Messenger (remember that?) she asks me to her formal. I figure sure, why not, and accept her invitation. So a few days afterwards, I hit up a formal hire place and try on a few different suits, before picking out one I like and putting down a $50 deposit.

Even though her formal is still a couple of weeks away, I like to get this kind of stuff sorted early. But then something happens…

She meets another guy. They start dating and like that, I’m sidelined. My role as her formal date is relieved. Now I’m not that fussed by it (remember, I was interested in somebody else at the time), but what does annoy me is when I discover that the $50 deposit I laid down is non-refundable. I mean, $50 was a night out with mates. $50 was still enough for a carton of domestic beer, with change left over for beef jerky. That’s what I’d blown!

Yet from this experience came an important lesson. Had I been wiser or if somebody was around to impart the wisdom upon me at the time, it’s a lesson I could’ve learned right then. Instead, it would take nearly another decade for it to sink in:

Nothing of real value comes easily.

In this case, the person who falls for you quickly will probably fall for somebody else just as quickly- and depart from your life at the same speed they entered it.

A new scheme that vows to make people wealthy quickly, often sends them financially into the red with the smaller details.

How many times have we heard about the lottery winners who pissed away their winnings and ended up even worse off than they were before their numbers lined up?

Last year, in an article I wrote, I spoke more on this concept of delayed gratification, on the sweetness of success that comes after a struggle or a dry season in life: What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success

There are likely going to be times where it feels as if you’re hitting a metaphorical wall- in some particular area you can’t move onward and upward. It’s not that you lack the ability, it’s just that you don’t have any idea what you need to do from here? During these periods in time, it can be difficult to maintain your motivation, I know. Especially if you see friends, family, colleagues succeeding at what they do, while you’re stuck in the same place with no notable improvement.

In times like these, the temptation looms to drop it. To give up. It’s too hard or you’re too dumb or the game is rigged or whatever it is- you think this is it and you can’t go on.

But what if you just keep doing?

If you enjoy what you do, if you finish your days with a sense of achievement, of contribution- then why stop that?

There are plenty of ‘easier’ paths you could choose. Easier workloads, less hours, less to organise, better pay. But these are a slow death of the spirit. Do you want to walk the straight path- or climb the mountain?

Because one is far easier, and you know what you’re going to get.

But the other one is going to demand far more of you. The other one can be unpredictable and wear you down and make you feel as if you’re an idiot for not choosing the easier path.

But what about that view, should you reach your goal?

Every man dies, not every man really lives

William Wallace

A successful business, a great body, an amazing story worth sharing- nothing of real value comes easily. There are plenty of counterfeits, plenty of things that seem great and easy on the surface- but it’s only later you see how fickle and unrewarding it is.

You see eventually, I realised that all along I was better off pursuing the girls I actually liked (risking rejection that meant something) than just going with whoever went for me.

I choose the mountain over the footpath. I choose the rollercoaster over the merry-go-round. I choose to earn wealth rather than get rich quick.

I choose these things because I am obsessed with getting value and giving value. And nothing of value comes easily.

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