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A Valuable Lesson From Step Brothers

Often people exhibit a form of bi-polar disorder when they try something new. One minute they are up; the next they are down. Most humans get frustrated easily by a lack of quick positive results. I have been just as guilty of this as anyone.

With this in mind, I want to share an insight with you that can best be illustrated with a scene from a comedy movie Step Brothers. In the story, two 60-ish people meet at a conference, fall in love, and marry. The only thing that could throw a wrench into the works is the fact that both of them have loser 40-ish sons still living at home. When the newlyweds settle into the father’s house the sons are forced to share a bedroom. This leads to a lot of very funny scenes where Will Ferrell and John C Reilly behave like a couple of 13 year olds.

A particularly hilarious one starts with the two talking in their bedroom late one evening when Reilly comes up with the brilliant idea of converting their single beds into a bunk bed so that they will have “more room for activities.” They then race down the hallway to their parent’s bedroom where mom and dad are reading. The two excitedly pitch the conversion idea and ask for permission. The parents tell them that as adults they are free to do whatever they wish to with their room. The two then race back and quickly cobble together the most rickety bunk bed imaginable. An exhausted Ferrell then plunks himself down on the lower one and Reilly uses a chest to propel himself into the upper berth. As expected, the thing instantly collapses trapping Ferrell inside.

What does Reilly do? He races back to his parent’s room  in tears and attempts to throw the responsibility for the failure onto them, “The bunk beds were a terrible idea! Why’d you let us do that?” Every time I recall that scene I bust out into a laugh. Who hasn’t behaved like that at the first sign of trouble? Hopefully most people outgrow this type of response to failure by the end of high school.

The lesson here is that you can expect to meet with some resistance early on. You may be turned down by a customer or an investor may pass on giving you seed capital. All manner of things can go wrong while you are taking the first wobbly “baby steps” into a new field. But so what? The men and women who eventually become successful simply forged on towards their goals.

Don’t be the type of person who gives up at the first speed bump on the road to success. Beware of extreme highs and lows in your mood. The best advice I have come across on dealing with emotional ups and down comes from the Buddhist tradition. Simply be aware of your emotions and acknowledge them. Emotions are like passing clouds. They are gone quickly and replaced by something else. Next time you experience an extreme take a moment to acknowledge it: “Okay, this is me experiencing negativity” or “This is me experiencing irrational exuberance.”

Then get back to doing whatever must be done.

Thanks to The Tycoon Playbook for this lesson.

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