Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Once Again, I Learn That There Really is No Such Thing as a "Sure Thing"

Many years ago I was invited to offer my services to a local general contractor seeking to improve its marketing. The CFO, a friend of my wife's, arranged a presentation.

I felt great the day of my scheduled visit. Not only did my presentation feel solid, but everyone who needed to be there would be there. I was assured of the latter after repeatedly questioning my wife's friend about the audience for my talk.

I delivered the talk, left the building, and headed home. By the time I arrived I had a voicemail on my answering machine (in the days before cell phones) from my wife's friend. "Mitchell, it's a slam dunk," she said. I had won the business!

One day passed, then two, then three without any further word. I called my wife's friend. In a tone dripping with sarcasm she stated, "The owner's wife was not in the room when you spoke. Therefore, she vetoed the decision to hire you." 

End of discussion. 

My wife's friend soon left that company, frustrated by this and other similar instances.

I learned a valuable lesson: there is no such thing as a "slam dunk."

Apparently, I had to review and relearn the lesson given my immediate reaction to today's developments. Let me explain. 

I recently applied for admission to an honor society for public relations professionals. The process was long and occasionally complicated. Along with other applicants, I was assigned a mentor to help me through it.

I submitted my materials well in advance of the deadline so my mentor could review them and provide feedback. I received this email from him after he initially reviewed my documents:

"I've reviewed your materials. I think you have a very strong application. . . I think you have a very good chance of being part of this year's class."

I made all the changes he suggested, resubmitted a revised version, then made additional changes per his feedback. 

Today I learned that I was not accepted into this honor society. 

Once again, what I wanted to be was a "sure thing" wasn't. 

Was I foolish in this instance to believe the positive feedback offered by someone I considered a reputable source? No more so than in the other instance when my wife's friend spoke. 

Once again, I've learned that there really is no such thing as a "sure thing" even if evidence suggests there is. It's a painful realization, to be sure. Nonetheless, it's another reminder of the complexities and tentativeness of so many aspects of my life. In short, I cannot control things--only myself. And so I'm moving on from this latest disappointment a little wiser but no more jaded. 

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