“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”– Frederick Keonig
Let me introduce you to my father Alfonso Jalan. A first generation US citizen, born 1925, No formal education, manual laborer and father of nine children.
If you had known my father, you would have known him for his uncanny ability to make you laugh. It was either a funny joke or his wry smile. Everyone he met would always say. “Your father is always smiling.” In spite of no formal education, he was well liked and respected by his employers and friends. Why? No matter what the situation he always kept a smile on his face and kept on trucking.
This was never more apparent the day I came home from school with a piss poor attitude. This day I was exposed to why he always he had a smile on his face.
I was an eighth grader and like many 8th grade boys, I was making the transition from boyhood to manhood (I had a sensitive ego). This was about the same time I began to compare my life to others. The latest styles from clothes to shoes and I concluded that I was usually behind a few years in the style department. You know the kid I am talking about, the kid who wore Zubas pants when they went out of style three years earlier, the kid who asked his dad to drop him off a few blocks away from school, because his family’s car either was 15 years old or was missing a hubcap or two.
Yep, this day was going to be my terrible day, yet a day in which I would learn lessons that I still hold true to today. It was the third period and it just so happened I was the lucky recipient of Jimmy’s watchful. We have our Jimmy. The guy in class who is always willing to point something out. Today Jimmy decided to make a public announcement in history class that I had worn the same clothes 3 times that week. Of course, I was devastated I tried to hide the now well-publicized fact about my wardrobe. As he made this public announcement, I thought to myself, “I am wearing the same outfit because I had outgrown my other outfits and that these clothes fit right.” My failed attempts to minimize Jimmy’ comments were a lost cause. For the remaining part of that day and week, I was known as Repeat Tony. Embarrassed, mad, and humiliated. I could not wait to go home and voice my displeasure to my parents.
Foot stomping, head down I marched up the steps of my house, into the kitchen and right up to my father and said, “We need to talk.”
My father was only 5’4 and I am 6’1. As he usually did, he let me rant and rave for a few minutes. He told me to take a seat and put his left hand on shoulder while looking me straight in the eyes and said. “First off, never complain always be happy with the opportunity given to you and make the best of it. Your clothes may not be new, but they are clean. If you want to do well in life, you have to start thinking this way. Secondly, If it is a problem for you, who is working on the problem? Cause if you aren’t working on the problem, you are simply complaining. Lastly, why would you let him get to you? No one controls you but you.
These words have resonated with me my entire life.
Today marks the day I got the moniker Repeat Tony and I want to give a public thank you to Jimmy. If it was not for you Jimmy, I may not have enjoyed the successes I have experienced to this point in my life.
That day I learned three valuable lessons of successful people.
- Successful People exude Joy– Who wants to be associated with negative people whether in business or personal relationships? Sure, there are those days that do not go as planned. However, it can always be worse, most of the time you are not going to die or go to jail. (Hopefully.). Be a person that is a victor of their circumstances vs a victim. When you are happier, you tend to be more focused and productive. In addition, you become more likable.
- Be a doer vs a complainer– “Leaders spend 5% of their time on the problem & 95% of their time on the solution. Get over it & crush it!” – Tony Robbins. In a recent TV episode of Shark tank I heard this quote, “Find a problem, come up with a solution and you have a business. When you take action you experience joy and happiness because you did something.
- Pain may be a more powerful motivator than pleasure– There are countless rags to riches stories of people who have used their dire situations to propel themselves to great heights of achievements. Motivation a lot of time comes down to either pain or pleasure. The pain I experienced that day motivated me to become a better person. How can you use painful situations to become better?
My father has since passed away. However, I will never forget the countless lessons he taught me. Including how to always smile despite the circumstances.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” — Albert Schweitzer
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