Part of what I do for a living is present reading and drug awareness programs for schools. Now these places of academia don’t just call me up, I have to market myself through direct mail, email, phone calls, and sometimes by visiting with the principals or PTO members face to face. Although more time consuming, the later is more effective than all the other methods combined. The reason I do this, I honestly believe that what I do not only entertains, but educates and is beneficial to audience, and I do everything in my power to convey this to the powers that be. If I can talk to a person face to face, I can sell my program to almost anyone. Notice, “almost anyone”. With this being said, I’ve been able to present school assemblies to nearly every school within a 100 mile radius of my home, except for one.
There’s this one school, less than 10 miles from my house, that I just have not been able to get in to. I call, write, email, direct mail, and personally go see this principal every year, but to no avail. Just this past week, by the grace of God, I booked a record number school shows without any problem, then I go to this principal, no go. Now he’s not rude, he’s actually very nice, but I just can’t get him to book. At our last meeting, he informed me that he didn’t really like to do assemblies, would rather not spend his classroom time on it. I finally broke and told him I would come for FREE, just to get the show. He still said no and said he would rather not. Even though I had booked over a dozen shows that week, it frustrated me that I could not get this one. It bothered me, made me angry, no matter where I was going, that one elusive show seemed to consume my thoughts, my free time, even this blog.
I was at a church with about 500 in attendance. Everything was going great. The sound was perfect, I was hitting my marks, everyone in the audience was into it, except for one man. One man sitting on my right hand side, fifth row, on the aisle, white shirt, tan pants, blue blazer, about 60 years old, and he looked like he would rather be anywhere else than in that church. All of a sudden, my focus changed and I started trying to evoke some sort of emotion from him. I looked him in the eye, made a reference to him so that he knew I was talking to him, but nothing, he just sat there with his arms folded like Sitting Bull. Finally at the close of my program, I came down the aisle, while looking for volunteers, I stopped right in front of him, looked at him and went “Arggggg”, and he smiled. Yes, he smiled, he acknowledged me, my job was done, or was it?
As I went back to the hotel room and began to replay the nights events back in my mind, I realized that I basically ignored my audience of 499 and focused on the 1 that did not want to be there. How did the crowd respond when the handkerchiefs disappeared? Did everyone jump when my fake snake jumped out of the box? Who was moved and touched when I gave the invitation? All I could remember was trying to get a response from the one emotionless guy in the audience, all the while mentally blocking out the ones who were there to enjoy and get something out of what was being done and said.
I focused on the negative. God was and has been so good to me, yet I was so focused on the negative that I failed to see the positive. At the end of the week of booking shows, I had set a record in shows booked, but that one show not gotten had so consumed my mind that I didn’t even realize the personal milestone I had reached. The church, looking back, I’m told that not only several children came forward, but also adults, and to add to the success of the night, several were also baptized. All I remembered about that night was blue blazer, white shirt…..you know. I tell you this because I was robbed because my focus was on the negative and not the positive.
Brad, a really good friend of mine, is a very successful sales rep for a national company, he pushes his company and products all the time. In talking to him one day I ask about his being so successful. He told me, “Nathan, there’s over a billion people on this planet. I want to ask each of them to buy my product, if they buy then great, if they say no, I forget them and move on to the next prospective client.” I asked about those that don’t buy and he gave me a very strange answer. He said, “I can’t think of those that don’t buy, I have to look for and help those that will.” BING, LIGHT BULB. Don’t focus on the negative, focus on the positive. So what if a school turns me down, there’s a whole county full of schools, a state, the United States even, that will possibly have me, Now, if you sit in my audience and you don’t like what I do, I might not appreciate it, but I’ve got to cater to those who came to have a good time.
What are the negatives in your life? I could name a lot of things, but you’ve probably beat me to the punch as you name the big things that drain your energies. What are the positives? It’s a little tougher to bring those up, why, because our focus is on the negative and it forbids us to look at the positive. The negative is a bucket, not just a bucket, but a bucket with a hole in it. Even though you pour time, energy, thought, creativity, and even money into it, it’s just all going to leak out. The negative is not doing you any good, it's time to shift your focus. Take a look around at the good in your life. I know, I know, I can hear you moaning, “What good?” Well number 1, you’re alive, and what about your family, the good family members, I knew that would make you smile. Even if you had more negatives this week than positives, surely something good happened somewhere, you need to focus on that.
King David once said “I’m going to think on the good things.” When the Apostle Paul was standing in front of his captors in Acts 26, he proclaimed, “I think myself happy.” Don’t look down, look up. Don’t be sad, be happy. I heard of a pastor who was involved in a dreary worship service. It seemed that no one in the congregation could get into the service. The pastor interrupted the song service and addressed the issue of how everyone seemed so down for no reason. He asked the attendees to stand, smile, act happy, and if they were not happy, to fake it until they were. What happened as every one begin to “fake” smile, they really did begin to laugh. The dreariness left and everyone talked about how wonderful the service became. This remarkable man of God shifted the focus from the negative to the positive.
Don’t worry, be happy. Everyday you’re vertical is a good day. Walt Whitman said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." Surround yourself with positive people, listen to a comedian instead of a complainer. Worry about the big stuff and let God worry about the small stuff, then remember it’s all small stuff. If you find yourself depressed and down and out, fake it till you make it. Focus on the positive, not the negative.