Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why Things "Happen To You"

Dennis is one of the most successful people that I know. He comes from a comfortable background as his father runs a successful distribution business. He is an architect by profession but decided to give up a career in design to pursue entrepreneurship fresh out of college. Hardwork and good business sense paying off, he was running 4 very successful companies before the age of 30.

He is beyond successful as an entrepreneur, has a happy and beautiful wife and baby daughter, and hands down an all-around very nice guy. He is one of the people I respect the most.

One fine Saturday, I ran into him and got a nifty surprise. As he waved hello to me, he walked towards me. When we were at conversation distance, he said: "Let's have coffee some time. You might have some questions, I'd be happy to answer them."

I was beyond surprised; I was floored. I was going to get a one-on-one mentoring session with Dennis! I was over the moon. The person I look up to knows me! Haha.

I waited for the "some time" to come. I waited to run into Dennis again. I would see him every now and then but he was always talking to someone else, talking on the phone, or has to run. I can never seem to get a hold of him. But I just... waited.

It was a "test"
A little over a month after I got the invitation for coffee, I found myself in a huddle with the boys. Dennis was congratulating Vincent for the birth of Vincent's baby girl and swapped newborn baby stories. Ray and I stood by and listened in on the two of them. After a few daddy tips exchanges, Vincent had to run, leaving Dennis with me and Ray.

"I never heard from you," Dennis said to me. I was surprised. I didn't expect to, but I mindlessly mumbled, "huh?" Then Dennis said in a very nice way, "You never called me or texted. How long ago was that? I think a month na, no?"

Quizzical look on my face. I wasn't following. (In my head, "I was supposed to call him?!")

Dennis smiled and said, "That was a test."

WHOAH. That was a test?! (WTF) Still no words from me.

Dennis continued, "I was waiting for you to call me. I was testing if you'd call me."

I was choosing between panic and shame. "Oh," was the only thing I could muster.

Because you wait
Then Dennis said the one thing I was suspecting about myself but kind of keep brushing aside because no one was calling me out to it: "You're like this about everything, aren't you? You wait for things for things to happen to you."

It was so spot on, I couldn't say anything. I wanted to reason out that I respected his time, that I was waiting for a go signal from him that it was alright to talk to him, that I was waiting for his permission, yadda yadda. Then it occured to me, why would I need anyone's permission? Why did I think that I was not worthy of his time? Why was I, a grown capable adult living in the real world, acting like a high school kid waiting for the teacher's permission to go to the frickin' bathroom?

Make things happen
This Dennis -- who has only been saying hi to me from afar for the past year or so, who has not spoken to me any longer than 5 minutes, who doesn't know me, my family background, or my history -- read me like a book.

He said something that profoundly affected my perspective:
"You have to fight for the things that you want. You have to make things happen to you.
I'm sure you're not like this just this one time, right? You must be like this at everything, this is how you approach life, tama ba ako?

The people who wait, all they get is crumbs. The people who get the best things in life, they fight to get the best things in life. If you don't, people walk all over you. Don't be surprised when things just keep happening around you. YOU HAVE TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN."

I felt so naked. The man read to my face the story of my life without even asking me anything. But I've never felt so empowered. It just clicked. And with that one statement, so many other questions were answered.

He went on, "Don't ask me when I'm available. You tell me when you're available and ask me to be available. That shows you're hungry."

After that, he gave me his schedule and along with it, a chance to redeem myself. I'm happy to report that we did go on to have that meeting. And again, the man wowed me with the way he thinks. No wonder he is successful.

For your time, for your patience, and for your keen attention. Thank you, Dennis!

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