What to do when you feel trapped and desperate
Life is like a game of Scrabble.
And there was a time in my life when I was staring at an empty board with a handful of lousy letters.
In late 2007, Queen Karina and I made some bad investments.
One of them was a 7,500 square foot house, from which we thought we could make a healthy profit by finishing the basement.
Then the housing bubble burst, and our plans along with it.
We were extremely lucky to sell the house and break even. We negotiated to live for six months in the basement we had just paid a lot of money to finish.
We ended up losing five properties, $120,000 cash, our car, most of our furniture, and most importantly, our main source of income.
Soon after we had moved into the basement, I discovered that our bank account would be overdrawn if I didn’t act fast.
I had no income and not a clue as to what to do.
I hit my knees.
After a long time, an idea emerged.
I had an asset that could be leveraged. A paltry, insignificant little thing, to be sure. But something to work with.
The previous year I had made an audio recording of a few essays (many of which would later be published in my book, Uncommon Sense). I had a box full of CDs sitting in a closet.
I arose, dressed nice, and hit the streets to sell my CD door-to-door.
That silly little CD put food on my family’s table and paid our bills for a couple months. (Would you believe I made $33.40 an hour selling it? True story — I kept meticulous records, which I still have.)
Queen Karina and I like to play Scrabble. Occasionally we’ll catch each other bemoaning our letters, saying, “If only I had an ‘s,'” or whichever letter we need to score big. We remind each other to play the board — to play what is, not what we wish for.
“If only” is an absurd waste of time and energy.
In Scrabble, as in life, you can wish for something different all you want. But your board is your board, your letters are your letters. You got what you got, and no amount of wishing or whining will change that. You must forget what you don’t have, focus on what you do have, and play what you can.
Theodore Roosevelt put it like this:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Sometimes in life you draw lousy letters and you’re staring at an empty board. What you do in those moments defines you and determines whether or not you’ll be prepared when everything falls into place.
If you bemoan your fate and whine “if only” when your letters are lousy, you’ll still be whining when they’re fabulous and you won’t see and capitalize on opportunity.
And more often than not, the letters you think are lousy can actually score big.
I was once staring at these letters on a tough Scrabble board: I V R I I L T. I cursed the letters and played something lame for nine points, only to discover that I could have played “virility,” using all my letters for seventy-two points.
If you focus on abundance and possibility, assets and opportunities are revealed that you can’t see when you’re focused on what you wish you had.
You see what you want to see. What you see determines what you do. What you do determines the results you experience.
The faster you accept reality, the better you play the game of life.
Forget what you wish you had. Play what you have. Because it’s better than you think.