Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Turning a Deaf Ear and Tagged as A Volcano.
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Hello and welcome to episode #89 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Turning A Deaf Ear and Tagged as A Volcano.
Turning A Deaf Ear
Sometimes struggling to accomplish something seems all fruitless or a waste of effort, especially when you don’t get the desired results. If it is difficult, you may think it is impossible and stop trying. When the results you want seem too long to achieve, you may give up before you even start. Naysayers and pessimists could bring you down, and you want to give up. And then, when I recall a children’s story about two frogs who fell into a deep pit, I am reminded to turn a deaf ear to the naysayers and disregard obstacles.
The story is simple, but its lesson is profound. I must share it. Two frogs fell into a deep pit. They quickly began jumping up to try to get out of the pit. They jumped up and down and up and down. Some nearby frogs hollered, “You might as well give up because you are as good as dead.” One frog said, “It’s too deep; you will not be able to get out. You can’t jump out; it’s impossible.” Another frog said, “Stop the pain and just die.” After a while, one of the frogs who listened to the repeated screams stopped jumping. He gave up, fell, and died. The other frog kept trying to jump higher and higher and then jumped out of the pit. Frogs on the ground gathered and asked why the frog in the hole did not stop jumping when they told him it was a useless effort. Soon they realized that the frog could not listen to them because he was deaf. Sometimes, being deaf or turning a deaf ear is a good thing! In this case, it was a matter of life or death.
Sixteen-year-old me worked at McDonald’s and secretly saved up the money, so I would have the cash to go to college and escape the home life I hated. After a year at McDonald’s, I moved on to working at Burger King. That money was also painstakingly saved for my dreams of going to college and getting out of hell. After two years of hiding money earned, I knew it would still not be enough money for college, so why did I bother trying? I had to keep at it and find another way to get more funds for college. I couldn’t stop. Stopping would mean giving up on my dream to escape home life and seek freedom. Freedom was the most important thing to me. As the famous American politician and orator Patrick Henry once said, “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Challenged to get a graduate degree, I pressed on. My graduate school professor said it was near impossible to work full-time, be a student full-time, and get a Master’s degree in two years. I refused to believe her; I had to reject the idea and the naysayer. To afford tuition, I had to go to work. Sometimes, I envied those who could go to school full-time without working. But since I did not have such luxury, I had to juggle doing both. It might have been easier if I studied part-time while working full-time, but that would take longer to get the degree. The difficulty and time constraints made it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Quitting my full-time job to go into business full-time was an enormous risk. For years, the naysayers said it was too risky and that it would be best not to take the risk. My regular job gave me a steady income, and I had the experience and skills to do my job. Why take the chance on something unfamiliar and not guaranteed? I loved my job, but I also wanted to go on an adventure that allowed me to earn millions and affect thousands of people. Because I loved my job, it was hard to think about leaving it. Since I also wanted another adventure that could make my dreams come true, making a decision would not be easy. I considered the naysayer idea that it was too complicated and risky and delayed making my decision.
After a major breakup and financial disaster, I ran off to a tropical island to get a new life start. Many thought it was not wise to do so late in life because I was no longer a teenager or twenty-something. Besides, it could be dangerous, and many bad unforeseen things could happen, and there would be no one to save me. Staying home to run into my ex would be too painful. Trying to start another business after failing at one was impossible without the funds. Going back to my previous career at an older age was not easy. And running off to another country, an unknown land, could create more problems and disasters.
The Covid-19 pandemic put in effect many travel bans. I had planned to move abroad a second time when it happened. The job and another new beginning were awaiting me. How could I possibly overcome a travel ban that was government enacted? The travel bans did not allow visitors or tourists to travel and had other restrictions. I was told to wait it out because that was all I could do. Wait for the ban to lift and then I could travel, move, and start my new job. But my savings was dwindling; how could I wait? How could I possibly overcome government restrictions? It was hard to keep hoping that the virus would miraculously disappear.
Relatives, friends, and acquaintances said I should get a job and attend a community college since I could not enroll in a private college. They were the naysayers and the pessimists. I turned a deaf ear and proved them wrong.
Graduate school professors and counselors said my lofty goal of getting a Master’s degree in two years while working full-time was unrealistic. They were the naysayers and the pessimists. I refused to accept it as truth and proved them wrong.
The naysayers and the pessimists said I would not likely make millions as it was no easy feat. They were right, but for five years, I refused to quit, learned many life lessons, and strengthened my character. Along the way, I also had an adventure of a lifetime.
Moving abroad, I knew no one and did not know what lay ahead. I turned a deaf ear to the pessimists who said it would be dangerous. As it turned out, I enjoyed six years of living in paradise, traveling all over Asia, and it was the most carefree and worry-free time of my life.
I was advised just to wait it out and to keep checking the news to see when travel bans would be lifted or when the pandemic would be over. If I had kept waiting, I would have been destitute. I had to find a way to move abroad during the travel bans, and I did.
Turning a deaf ear has paid off well in many instances. Had I not done so, I would not have found the money to finance my college education. Had I not turned a deaf ear, I would not have taken the risk to go into business, and then I would have missed out on an adventure of a lifetime. Had I listened to the naysayers, I would not have moved abroad, and then I would have missed out on living a carefree and worry-free life. Had I listened to the pessimists, I wouldn’t have gotten a Master’s degree while working full-time. And the most challenging of all, had I let travel ban restrictions stop me from moving and beginning a new life, I would have become destitute.
The frog in the children’s story may have been able to jump out of the bottomless pit because it was deaf. I could turn a deaf ear and be like the frog too. But I believe my accomplishments and ability to overcome adversity are also because I choose to listen to myself and follow my dreams.
Tagged as A Volcano
He said I was a sleeping volcano. He said I could one day erupt and wipe out all the other people in our business of selling life insurance. That meant that one day I could become a star income earner and outshine everyone else. Daniel led a business meeting to motivate the audience to produce more sales and not let rejections deter them from pressing forward.
After the meeting, I asked Daniel why he called me a volcano; I didn’t fully understand. He said, “When a volcano lies dormant, it does not mean there is no activity. It is brewing underneath. It makes many preparations; it is stirring and bubbling. It gets hotter and hotter as time passes until it boils and erupts one day. When it does explode, it can wipe out a whole town like Pompeii, and no one knew it was coming. That’s because no one was paying attention. But I am paying attention and know that you will erupt one day.”
For the first time, I felt complimented and acknowledged for my efforts to make sales. Tagged as ‘The Volcano’ and Daniel’s belief in me gave me hope and motivation to keep plugging away at what I was doing.
I was a quiet person who came to practically every weekly meeting. I made a few sales, but I kept plugging along. I pulled out all my creative skills to find prospective clients. I read books on sales and the psychology of selling. I attended seminars and webinars. I was out on the field at various events to meet potential clients. I engaged in many networking events and passed out many business cards. Daniel knew what I was doing because he was my supervising manager. Even though I didn’t produce many results, he knew I was hard at work. It was comforting to know that his ‘compliment’ of me as ‘The Volcano’ was not unfounded. It made me even more motivated to press on with my efforts.
I would often be discouraged as potential clients said, “No, thank you.” Then Daniel would remind me that though there may be many noes, it would only take a few yeses to hit the jackpot. And I needed to press on with tenacity to get the yeses. And press on, I did. Still, after a few years, I didn’t make much.
Daniel would see my sad face, but he would also see me coming to meeting after meeting. He would see me come up with even more ideas to find potential clients, like sending personal handwritten letters, volunteering, participating in community events, joining clubs, posting on bulletins, and more. The process of finding clients challenged my creative skills to the maximum.
Feeling low, Daniel would say I was temporarily at the bottom of a rollercoaster ride. When I posted flyers, held events, or called people, Daniel would say I was going up on the roller coaster ride. I had to keep at it. The moment I stopped would be me falling back down. If I kept chugging along, I would eventually make it to the top and be at the peak. Indeed, whenever I made a sale, I felt like I was on top of the world. It wasn’t just that it would pay my monthly mortgage; a sense of overcoming an enormous challenge was the greatest reward. And then, after momentarily reaching the top, I’d come crashing down with zero sales.
I began to realize another meaning to being a volcano. All my efforts were stirring and bubbling inside the volcano. As an outsider, you don’t see all my efforts and don’t care for them either. As many cut-throat businesses would say, “Just show me the results.” I wanted results for all my efforts, too. After all, I needed to put food on the table, or I would go hungry.
I would sometimes wonder how I kept motivated when I had little results. I wondered because others wondered and didn’t know how I stayed motivated. They asked. I said nothing out loud. My inside voice said something: “You are a sleeping volcano that will one day erupt. Your eruption will shut everybody up who didn’t believe in you or thought your efforts were wasted. You will leave them shocked and amazed.” They will look at you in disbelief, and you will secretly say, I told you I would.”
In year five, I did some sales presentations for co-workers. Daniel bestowed upon me the honor of doing it when he was out of town on business. He had many other business partners who could have done it, but he asked me! I could create a motivational or informational talk. The floor was mine, and I discovered that I loved giving training and speeches. The audience of people in sales would tell Daniel about my training, and then he would ask me to do it more often. I found satisfaction in doing it and enjoyed having a voice that people heard.
Soon colleagues in the company asked me to help them with their sales presentation by presenting in front of their clients. They assured me I would get 50% of the sale if the client accepted the life insurance plan delivered. As a result, my income started to increase. It became clear to me that my strength was in the talk. My weakness was getting a client to sit in front of me. Other people were good at getting the client but not good at presenting or persuading the client about the value of the insurance plan. It was satisfying to hear colleagues say that I would explain it so clearly that people would understand their value and want to buy. And my colleagues were also learning from me: The one who made few sales because she had difficulty getting clients.
After five long years of struggle and pain, the day finally came when ‘The Volcano’ erupted. I became one of the top ten earners in the company with an award for individual and team effort that year. The great leaders before me were shocked and humbled. They shook my hand in disbelief and smiled. As great as they were, they knew their eruption would happen again because I inspired them.
Even I didn’t altogether believe that day would come for me. I was filled with tears of joy as I ran to receive my awards, and I trembled as I gave a short speech from challenge to triumph. Tagged as ‘The Volcano,’ I became ‘The Volcano.’ Though often seemingly dormant, you never know when it will explode, but it will explode.
Key Takeaways: Though I have had many naysayers and pessimists who did not encourage me, I turned a deaf ear to overcome many difficult obstacles and accomplish many things.
Though it took me a long time to make many sales, I finally did it. Tagged as a volcano that would one day erupt and be a star in sales, I lived up to the name and erupted.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Escape From the Quake and The Power of My Pen. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!