Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chase Rainbows In the Rain

I love to see the rainbows in the desert It does not happen often because we don't get much rain. The perfect combination of rain and sunshine creates that multi-colored arch streaking across the sky.

Many times in these entries, I will point to an article in The New Yorker magazine which arrives in my mailbox every week. Often as soon as possible, I will read the various articles. If I fall behind, they tend to stack up and I will miss something significant. Last night I read through the November 10th issue. Many people don't notice the author of a particular article but as a writer, it is always a combination of the subject of the article and the author which will draw me to a particular story. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell and his contributions to the magazine. I have mentioned Gladwell's excellent book, The Tipping Point in other entries.

Gladwell has caught my attention again with his article, The Uses of Adversity which was thankfully posted online. The full article is worth reading but here's a couple of interesting paragraphs quite a ways into the article, "It's one thing to argue that being an outsider can be strategically useful. But Andrew Carnegie went farther. He believed that poverty provided a better preparation for success than wealth did; that, at root, compensating for disadvantage was more useful, developmentally, than capitalizing on advantage."

"This idea is both familiar and perplexing. Consider the curious fact that many successful entrepreneurs suffer from serious learning disabilities. Paul Orfalea, the founder of the Kinko's chain, was a D student who failed two grades, was expelled from four schools, and graduated at the bottom of his high-school class. "In third grade, the only word I could read was 'the,' " he says. "I used to keep track of where the group was reading by following from one 'the' to the next." Richard Branson, the British billionaire who started the Virgin empire, dropped out of school at fifteen after struggling with reading and writing. "I was always bottom of the class," he has said. John Chambers, who built the Silicon Valley firm Cisco into a hundred-billion-dollar corporation, has trouble reading e-mail. One of the pioneers of the cellular-phone industry, Craig McCaw, is dyslexic, as is Charles Schwab, the founder of the discount brokerage house that bears his name. When the business-school professor Julie Logan surveyed a group of American small-business owners recently, she found that thirty-five per cent of them self-identified as dyslexic."

If you are one of those who struggle with a learning disability, you can gain encouragement from this news. If you don't have one, you can still gain encouragement looking at the persistence and determination of these dyslexic learners who became successful.

Another fascinating article in the same issue is a detailed profile of bestselling author Thomas Friedman called The Bright Side. I devour these profiles in The New Yorker and unfortunately only the abstract is online. (But I understand The New Yorker is selling magazines so you will have to purchase this one to read the full article.) Friedman is a much published and colorful writer, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author (among many other things).

The paragraph which stood out to me relates to Friedman's mother, Margaret Friedman. "She died earlier this year, and Friedman wrote a column headlined "Call Your Mother," which was largely based on the eulogy he gave at her funeral. "She was the most uncynical person in the world,"he wrote. "She was not naive. She had taken her knocks. But every time life knocked her down, she got up, dusted herself off and kept on marching forward, motivated by the saying that pessimists are usually right, optimists are usually wrong, but most great changes are made by optimists." Friedman said to me, "I don't do pessimism." (page 58)

It's important to focus on the possibilities for your writing and work instead of focused on rejection. I love what Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield teach writers about how they handle rejection. They say, "Next." Then move ahead to the next opportunity.

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5 Comment:

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Jane Lebak Left a note...

Thanks for this!

There's a personality component for optimism in the way we explain our own failures to ourselves. If any of the LD individuals you mentioned had said, "I can't read because I'm stupid," then they would have quit trying. Instead they found workarounds because they told themselves, "I just have to find the right way to overcome my problem."

As a writer, once I overcame my sense that my words got rejected because *I* was worthless, it was a lot easier to do as you say, and say "Next!" :-) Now I just say, "Eh, so they didn't think they could make a ton of money off this," and then it's easier to revise the piece and resubmit it elsewhere.

One of my writing teachers said, "Sooner or later, you'll wear them down."


Jane Lebak

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Debbie Petras Left a note...

I love to read stories of people who overcame obstacles. My husband is a serial entrepreneur and he never gives up. He loves the Rocky series because the character never gives up and fights to the end.

I watched a video recently with Nick Vujicic, who has no arms and legs and yet... he is a public speaker who offers encouragement to others. I loved people who overcome obstacles and not only survive, but thrive.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Lenore Buth at www.awomansview.typepad.com Left a note...

Thanks, Terry, for including the link to that inspiriing article. Sidney Weinberg the outsider never tried to hide his lack of education and the poverty of his childhood. Yet he built Goldman Sachs and all the rest. He simply was who he was and maximized his gifts and skills. To be so unabashed about it strikes me as rare.

Maybe I think that because I'm easily intimidated when I consider I can't list an impressive string of degrees after my name. After all, they really dress up a book jacket--and impress editors and agents, too. So the lesson I take from this is to be myself, work around my shortcomings and, of course, write well.

Thanks for the encouragement!

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Janice Seagraves Left a note...

Pretty rainbow.


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Ross Gale Left a note...

That was encouraging, thanks.


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