There we sat during both of our breaks. The classroom was cool, and no children were around. Only the sound of conversation could be heard. I tried to block out the nagging thought that the chair I was sitting in was covered in kid germs so I could better listen to Mister B.
"It's all about pushing forward. You've got to go for it!"
His words had been echoed many times by lots of other motivational speakers, but there was something different about how he said them. I recalled that for many weeks prior, we had been excitedly discussing our plans to get our various business ventures off the ground. In fact, Mister B was one of the main reasons I finally decided to publish my book. After he read what ended up being the final draft, he was shocked (in a good way) at how much he liked the story. He shared how he enjoyed the rawness of it and how it could be used to help others going through a difficult time. Even still, he kept saying how people would be drawn to the story once I laid the right groundwork.
"You have to keep going. Greg, there have been so many times that I've seen people get excited in the initial phase and then crash and burn once they have to push towards the top."
Back in the classroom, Mister B referenced a principle that I find myself drawing a parallel to with counseling. The Stages of Change model has become quite prevalent in the field, and I think it applies here. The process of going from Pre-Contemplation to Maintenance isn't always smooth. It requires a lot of work that can ultimately see many people burn out and slide back into old patterns. So what's the secret to staying motivated? In counseling, it usually occurs when a deep desire to change meets a skilled therapist who understands the client's plight. But what about publishing a book? Building a website? Writing a (semi) regular blog?
"Time is all that we have. It's important that we don't waste it."
I looked at Mister B as he spoke about his philosophy, and I felt a metaphorical fire burning in my gut. "Go forth and set the world on fire" has been a quote that has guided me over these past few months, and I believe it started in that classroom. I continued eating my roast beef sandwich as I absorbed the words of a person who would give The Most Interesting Man In The World a run for his money. He was not only an accomplished educator who ran his own non-profit, but also the best damn pianist I have ever seen in my life. The way he dealt with people had impressed me for the past three years, and this glimpse into his personal philosophy fascinated me.
"So, what are you going to do?"
I decided in that moment that it was time to go for it. Time to set myself up. Time to stop wasting time. That night, I went home and built my entire website. All of it. Of course, it was rough around the edges, but it existed. I had a home base of operations. I was so excited that I had a hard time sleeping, thinking about what I would add to it the next time I logged in. When I arrived at school the following morning, I showed Mister B what I did. His eyes lit up, and he shouted "YEAH" as he gave me a high five. His inspirational words caused me to do something I wasn't sure I'd be able to do. Not only that, to do it in one night. It sounded impossible, yet the evidence was in front of us both.
"Dude! You have to show me how you did that! Now it's time for ME to get set up!"
The passion was infectious, and I spent the next few weeks showing him the ins and outs of SquareSpace. Not that he needed it, as he did some of the most rigorous research outside of our sessions that I had ever seen. We both continued to build our websites and push each other forward, rising up together. With that, I soon learned that a website wasn't enough for me.
I spent March and April recording an audiobook and producing physical copies of my book, respectively. Those two things alone were plenty to keep my plate full, but I didn't want to stop there. I wanted to push a little harder to get the word out about my book and website. I then met with a very talented marketer and discussed ways to advertise. This led to an ad on Google via the service AdWords. I also started to send out copies of my book to various influential people on YouTube and media personalities at newspapers to try and promote awareness for my book (and hopefully some reviews!). To this day, I still find myself being that pain in the ass that keeps calling and bugging people for a shot to sell my story.
The Secret To Success
"You know, I've met so many people that have showed me what not to do. They've screwed me over, were disingenuous, and sometimes even actively tried to work against me. But I think... I think you were sent to me to show me what to do."
Mister B cheered as we walked down the quiet Chicago side street. About one month after his classroom inspiration, I shared that tidbit with him. The warm sun and cool breeze helped our already good moods reach higher ground. It was then that Mister B's tone shifted. During the following weeks, he continued to ask me to help with various pieces of his projects and let me in on the secret to his success. It all boiled down to one word. I never thought about it before in the way that he framed it, but I knew he was onto something when he mentioned what it was.
At first, I was a little confused. Most people don't think of inefficiency as the best way to go through life. After all, everybody tries to be efficient, right? And yet, I found myself thinking back on the numerous times that people had done downright stupid things that made situations much more complicated than they needed to be. That would then lead to added stress and a breakdown in communication. Before I knew it, I watched what should have been an easy win turn into a colossal failure.
This begged the question: had I lived my life in inefficiency? My initial response was a resounding no, and for the most part, I still believe that to this day. However, to say that certain areas of my life have been inefficient wouldn't be an unfair claim. For example, let's go back to me sending off promotional copies of my book. In years past, I would have put all my eggs in one basket. I would have sent off one copy and waited patiently for a response. If it never came, I would have been disheartened and probably take my sweet time in sending out another. Efficiency helped me push through that. It helped me to see that I cannot control what the recipient of a promotional book does with it. However, I can control what I do. Rather than wait for somebody else to MAYBE help me with bringing awareness to my book, why not do it myself in a way that lets me reach as many people as possible and in a way that I'm happy with? So I made my decision.
Mister B and I continue to have big plans regarding our individual projects. And yet, we find the time to get together and talk to ensure that we continue to motivate each other and grow together. It has been a pleasure to watch his website transform from a few blank pages to the professional site that I see today. Couple that with some academic and musical projects in the pipeline, and I know he's going to go far! I have to thank Mister B for his help in keeping me focused on accomplishing my dreams, too. And while we have had our misunderstandings, miscommunications, and unproductive sessions together, the past four months stand as a testament to how far we've come and how far we'll go in the same amount of time.
So, dear reader, what does this mean for you? If you are looking for a personalized touch from the man himself, please go and visit Mister B's website to learn the true meaning of efficiency. But what if you decide you aren't interested in his program? Then I will leave you with this: just do it! Yes, you can! Keep going! While those all sound like cheesy motivational posters, they are the common denominator of many successful people. I still have a ways to go, but I'm closer now than I ever have been. And if I, a nerdy lover of video games who took nine years to release a book, can do it, then I have the utmost faith that you can, too.
Gregory T. Obert