The Second Place Entrepreneur

I was talking to a woman the other day who told me that she had recently interviewed for a position that she really wanted but came in second. Her statement got me thinking that sometimes second place is the best outcome. We’re conditioned that winning is the only outcome for which we should strive. After all, who runs a race with a goal of coming in second? But what if second place really turns out to be first place? Let me explain.

I have always believed that there’s a reason that things work out the way they are supposed to. It’s not fate – it’s simply the way the world works. Here’s my story. When I was about to become a newly minted college graduate, I interviewed for a job managing a shopping center in a medium-sized Midwestern city. I pulled out the stops to prepare for the interview and dazzle the owner’s representative with my charm and good looks because I had no experience! But alas, the owner opted to hire someone else who actually did have experience. Naturally I was disappointed. But had I won that job, who knows where my career path might have led? Instead, I have been blessed with the most incredible opportunities to live my passion over the past 45+ years. In the end, I definitely ended up in first place!

Some may see this as a Pollyanna sort of mindset. After all, who really thinks that they’ve won when they’ve lost? But there’s a method to this madness. The key is to truly believe the notion that something better is always in store for us. When we succeed, it’s a reflection of this reality. When we are unsuccessful it’s a signal that what we wanted wasn’t meant to be . . . because we’re destined for something better. If we doubt that the latter is true, then it’s highly unlikely that we’ll experience that “something better.” We all know the power of the mind. And yes, it’s powerful enough to block and deny positive outcomes when we aren’t open to all possibilities.

It’s hard not to be disappointed when we take second place. But with practice we can learn how to quickly replace the feeling of disappointment with feelings of excitement and anticipation. I’ve reached an interesting point in my life. When I expend extreme effort, work smart and am innovative but still come up short, my heart pounds a little faster and I think to myself, “OK, something pretty amazing must be in store and I can’t wait to find out what it is.” I may even work with some positive affirmations at this point to ensure that I am open and receptive to however the script is about to be re-written.

Here’s a current example of how this actually worked for us. My wife and I have been spending time each winter in Florida (where it’s much warmer than in Kansas City). We decided to stop renting and purchase a condo. We found what we thought was the perfect unit and made an offer which was countered by the seller. We submitted a counteroffer to the seller’s counter and then heard nothing. I was fairly certain that another buyer had emerged which turned out to be the case. But rather than being disappointed, we chose to truly believe that something better was about to happen. And boy did it! A magnificent unit we had previously seen in another building came back on the market. Right after we had initially looked at this unit it went under contract. Apparently, the buyer backed out at the last minute and we quickly bought the unit. It has exceeded our wildest expectations. Had we wallowed in despair over the first unit we didn’t get, I’m absolutely convinced that we wouldn’t have connected with the unit we ended up purchasing.

By being open and receptive that something bigger and better is waiting to be revealed, our losses can become spectacular wins. Clearly there is no downside to embracing this mindset.

 This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Blind Pigs

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that even blind pigs find a truffle once in a while. Sometimes people will say that their luck has run out. Author Josephine Hart once wrote, “Lucky people should hide. Pray the days of wrath do not visit their home.” Theodore Roosevelt said, “As regards the extraordinary prizes, the element of luck is the determining factor.” Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes once quoted Calvin as saying, “You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.” That one is my favorite.

So, how often do we chalk things that happen up to luck? There’s always been a lot of talk about coincidence, destiny and fate. It’s as if there are certain influences in our lives that are out of our control. And it’s pretty hard not to believe that this is totally true. But as the years have gone by, I’ve come to believe that we do control pretty much everything that happens, just not always at a conscious level. Once, I was talking with a friend who had been struggling with his job performance. He wasn’t hitting the sales goals his company had set and was on the firing line to improve. He had a breakthrough month and said this about it, “Basically, my team was down three points, and I got fouled shooting a half-court shot at the buzzer that happened to go in. I worked hard to get there, but it was purely coincidence that it all came together at one time for me.” But the reality of what transpired for him had nothing to do with coincidence or the serendipity that he describes.

What my friend didn’t realize is that he set an intention and then persevered to make it so. In the process, he created an energy that opened the door for him to win. We are such a tangible society. If we can’t touch it or see it, we often don’t believe it. Ah, ye of little faith, as the saying goes . . . right? But I’ve said many times how powerful our minds can be. Think about it. When we are in a negative frame of mind, how productive are we? How often do good things happen? Likewise, when we have a positive mindset how productive are we? How often do good things happen? I can’t think of a single time when I was in a sour mood and wallowing in negativity that anything really good came of it. And I do know that everything good that has transpired occurred when I was in a positive place. Thus, I have reached a pretty simplistic conclusion that if I stay positive, I’ll create the energy necessary to draw good things into my life.

Do you believe that NBA star LeBron James is the luckiest man alive because he can shoot the lights out and dominate the game? Or, do you believe that LeBron James maintains a positive mindset that propels him to work hard to take advantage of an opportunity given to him by his innate skills? He does a combination of stretching and yoga throughout the day. He works out in the gym and on the basketball court. He is fanatical about his nutrition and water. James has a tireless work ethic, preparing himself mentally and physically to be the best basketball player in the world. Is that luck?

We do not stumble into our success but will it to be so with our preparation and mindset. Keeping negativity at bay opens the door to the positive energy that is anything but luck.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

blind pigs