The Writers' Loop

For Readers and Writers

Total Commitment & Tolerance for Adversity = A Dream Come True

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By Peggy Morehouse

Imagine strolling down a city street and not smelling robust, spicy coffee brewing at the corner Starbucks or visiting Orlando without stopping by Disney World. If the two men who founded these establishments abandoned their adventure when the going got tough, rich dark coffee, jazzy music, and comfy chairs wouldn’t be around to offer a rest stop and the doors to the Magic Kingdom castle never would have opened. Walt Disney and  Howard Schultz embraced two of Matthew Walker’s elements discussed in Adventure in Everything: total commitment and tolerance for adversity.

Walker describes total commitment as, “The pursuit of an endeavor with flexibility about its execution, detachment from its results, and complete and total focus.” Tolerance for adversity is, “Your ability to work past adversity without succumbing to the distress and negativity that’s typically associated with it.” Whether your high endeavor adventure is taking a novel from idea to publication or turning your passion for baking into a profitable business, carving out time and overcoming obstacles are part of the game. Just read these snippets from two super-successful entrepreneurs.

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Howard Schultz:

In 1981, when Schultz was managing a sales force for Hammarplast, a Swedish kitchenware company, he noticed a small retailer in Seattle called Starbucks. Interested in knowing more about the business, Schultz flew to Seattle to investigate. He tasted a cup of Sumatra coffee, and by the third sip was hooked. Soon after, he began asking questions about coffees from different regions around the world, and his passion and vision for Starbucks began to take shape. It took Schultz a year to convince the three Starbucks owners to hire him. He had outlined his vision for them of how Starbucks could go national and create a brand synonymous with quality coffee. Just when he thought he had the owners convinced, they declined his offer, viewing him as too risky. Within 24-hours Schultz managed to change their minds and take a chance on him. The owners hired him as director of operations and marketing. “I have often wondered what would have happened if I had just accepted their decision,” Schultz says. “Most people, when turned down for a job, just go away.”

After a trip to Italy, where he visited coffeehouses overflowing with people and serving fancier coffee drinks made with espresso, Schultz realized Starbucks was missing the social connection Italians have with coffee. “The Italians had turned coffee into a symphony,” he says. “They understood the personal relationship people have with coffee, its mystery and romance.” Schultz thought his new vision for Starbucks could revolutionize the company. Once again, his bosses didn’t agree, viewing Starbucks as a retailer and not a restaurant or coffee shop, so Schultz quit and took his vision elsewhere. Taking another risk, in 1985, Schultz started Il Giornale, his own chain of coffee bars. With the success of his company, and by raising enough venture capital, Schultz bought Starbucks two years later and converted Il Giornale Coffee Houses into Starbucks Coffee Company. “It’s about seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to,” he says. Schultz learned the importance of determination. “So many times I have been told that it can’t be done. Again and again, I’ve had to use every ounce of perseverance to make it happen.” (Reference: http://www.success.com/article/from-the-corner-office-with-howard-Schultz

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Walt Disney:

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Disney formed his first animation company in Kansas City in 1921. He made a deal with a distribution company in New York, in which he would ship them his cartoons and get paid six months down the road. Flushed with success, he began to experiment with new storytelling techniques, his costs went up and the distributor went bankrupt. He was forced to dissolve his company, could not pay his rent and was surviving by eating dog food. This was just one of many setbacks for Disney. Others included being turned down by a production company for his treasured mouse, Mickey, because a large mouse on a screen would scare women. The Three Little Pigs was rejected because a story with only four characters wouldn’t hold people’s interest.

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The great majority will never obtain the fame and success of Disney or Schultz. Then again, most don’t have their persistence, and some aren’t interested. I know I’ve never had to eat dog food or pursue a job for over a year on any of my adventures. As I prepare my second novel for it’s first trip to the editor, I will keep persistence in the forefront of my mind. How committed am I to this high endeavor and how much adversity am I willing to tolerate in order to take it to publication? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, and to be honest, I don’t know what mine is. I am certain that my writing journey is fascinating and I’m content to take one step at a time, even if that step leads in a reverse direction for a period of time.

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