I’m a huge Aerosmith fan since high school and it’s because the music resonates with me because it reminds me of the experiences that I have gone through life, which had some adversity and accomplishment. The lyrics from Dream On say it best when: “You got to lose to know how to win”. When I look about many of my defeats in my career, I know that to be the case.
My grandmother Rose (I fund a scholarship at Stony Brook in her memory) told me the story about her time in Auschwitz that really changed my life and changed the pessimism that plagued it. In her bunk, there was a girl her age (around 20) that was crying and declaring that she was going to die. My grandmother insisted she was going to live. Well, that girl died and my grandmother lived, even after the Soviet soldiers left her to die in a stairwell when she had typhoid.
What I learned from the story is that you need to be optimistic in life to succeed, you need hope. You can’t say you’re not going to make it. When I was younger and pessimistic, I let everything get to me. I let the C+ in Civil Procedure I convince me that I’d never get a job after law school. I let not making the law journal or the tax clinic at law school run my life. After hearing her story, I changed. My grandmother survived the Holocaust and saw untold horror that she took to her grave because they were so painful. Anything I have gone through in life is nothing close to what she suffered. It’s thinking about my grandparents and their suffering that made me go on after Hurricane Sandy totaled all of our cars and half our house.
When I worked at other place, I would see people who would complain about their job and just do nothing about it. I was working at one third party administration where most employees complained about their job, their benefits, etc., and just proceeded to work there and not try to find greener pastures.
The point is that in your life, career and in your business, you are going to have adversity and what matters is how you deal with it. You could feel sorry for yourself or you can put yourself in a position to grow.
For many reasons that I have detailed in my writings and in my book, I failed trying to start national, single employer retirement plan practice at this law firm who I have mocked ever since I left there. I tried using social media, tried talking to our law firm partners, and attended so many networking meetings that I can’t count. So after I left, did I cry? Did I feel sorry for myself? No, I started my own law firm, using the same tactics I used at that law firm because I’m stubborn and if I was going to control my destiny instead of depending on others, I was going to do well. This time I succeeded. Four years later, it’s still a struggle, but we’re doing quite well.
When you deal with adversity, learn to take the negative and turn it into a positive.