Inspiration part-two: Vision
Inspiration? What is it to you. Back about a year ago on this blog, I wrote a short post about Inspiration. Mostly in relation to writing inspiration. Fitting of course since my blog is supposed to be about my writing endeavors. Lately, though I thought about doing a second part to that "Inspiration" encompassing more about what inspires you to push forward in the face of obstacles and negativity. What drives you even when other's say you should give up, and that it is just a dream and a waste of your time?
Well lately after many moons of listening to pod-casts in my car driving to work regarding writing and the writing industry, now lately I find myself listening and watching YouTube video's from those I admire in the world for what they have accomplished or continue to accomplish. My number one inspiration is Elon Musk. He represents all that I think man can accomplish. His perseverance despite major setbacks both financially and mentally after many large failures are truly inspirational. What drives him? Well, I think it is both his vision that he sees for the world and his love of what he does. Other's impress me as well like Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Richard Branson. All for similar reasons. They had a vision and sought it out. It wasn't for fame or money, it was for the love the vision.
I had a Vision when I was young after moving to Southern California, thinking I would continue the modeling I had been doing in San Francisco (Yes, I did that) and move to Southern California, home of Hollywood, warm weather, palm trees, beaches, and bikinis. Hey, I was young, that is what I saw in that area originally. Well yes, I had that "thought", of modeling and becoming an actor, but I never pursued it, having gotten into the Powersports industry fairly quickly upon arriving in So Cal and thoroughly enjoyed my work and did reasonably well financially for a young guy. So I basically ran with it and never looked back. There was always that part of me though that wanted to use my creative side more in my work and life. I got to occasionally when it came to an event or an interior display, or marketing plan, but my mental creativity had so much more that was not being used. So my "vision" like many others became fragmented.
Those who have reached the pinnacle of success due to their vision, are the ones who focus on that vision and what it could bring to others. Any financial gains are a by-product of that vision being achieved. I highly recommend to everyone one that they read and watch all that they can on those that inspire you or you admire. Learn all that you can about what makes them tick, and even if you put in place 10% of what they do, you will do better. Now for some people going for their dream or vision seems too daunting or impossible. I say it is not! It may take time and perseverance, but you can do it. You just need determination and focus on the end game. I constantly get off track of my end goal because of work, family, and just plain life. Yes, sometimes it is because of the frustration of not reaching a particular point in my goals by a certain time frame. But one must not give up.
One thing I feel I have always had, which many do not, is a great work ethic. Still, I feel I should be doing more and that pushes me to strive for more as well. My work ethic has taken me far in all that I do, but it isn't enough by itself to reach my own goals and vision of where I want to be. Now at my age (56 as I write this), I am starting to feel I have a tick-tock end of time coming near. Kind of morbid, but true. I feel due to the process of time involved to achieve some of my goals I may get too old to achieve them and enjoy the fruits of my labor. That mostly comes from the writing industry as I have now found out does not move at a fast pace. My goal this year after several postponements last year was to be in the query phase by Feb 1st. Well, that hasn't happened. For good reason after I got the opinion of a second editor on some needed changes to my manuscript. So now I am again in the "final" rewrite and edit stage which just takes time as I have to change up some chapters, chop up some more pieces, Frustrating, but just the way it is if you want to be successful hopefully first time out of the gate.
My "running out of time" mentality comes from when I look at the logistics involved to get published, and the reality of how long that will really take which I have mentioned before. Now at age 56, I break it down like this:
1) Finish final edit - est March 2021
2) Finish final query letter - Est Mar/April
3) Finish final synopsis - Est Mar/April
4) Blast off manuscript to first 5 agents! Est April/May
5) Wait for response. Est time frame 2-3 mths(?) = July/Aug
6) Hopefully get a bite on one of my first sends (which is rare) otherwise 2nd batch to be sent out requiring another 2-3 mths wait period putting it out to Oct/Nov.
7) Now waiting again for the holiday break to end which basically kills all Agent responses between Dec-Jan at a minimum.
8) Now saying I do get the good news and an Agent picks me up. Then on average, you are talking 3-6 mths to potentially find a publisher. Basically at the mercy of the Agent and their potential to find you a good match with a publishing house excited about your piece. So that puts us into spring/summer 2022.
9) Goes into a publisher-editing phase which could take another 3-6 mths on average, sometimes a year.
10) Printing phase. Avg another 3-4 mths. = Spring 2023
11) Actual release estimated Summer 2023.
Now, this is just using average time frames which I have learned about from all those industry podcasts. Picking up an Agent can sometimes go way faster (now wouldn't that be exciting and confidence-inspiring) and sometimes way longer with several more rewrites of your book to get it more like by the agents. Then you can add up to another year to that time frame. Also, the time frame when it gets into the publisher's hands can also widely vary. Some smaller publishers may actually be faster, especially if your manuscript doesn't need much editing, but the larger houses may take longer to get your book published because they have many jobs working at the same time. So a lot of variables, but now after almost 3 years in writing/edit the fact I may still have another 1-2 years is sometimes crushing to me, but I endeavor to go on and push forward seeing my end-game. And what is that?
Well, my true-end game would be to become a full-time author and travel the world being inspired by all that I see and hear all around me. But also enjoying all those locations as an adventure tourist. Not just someone sitting on a bus, listening to a tour guide tell you about the beautiful sites outside your window as they pass by. But someone truly exploring the locations and getting a feel for those people. That is probably the main reason why I feel the clock is ticking. I don't want to become successful by the time I am 70+, who knows how my health would be (hopefully decent, but my diet isn't helping that right now) by that time and would I really be able to enjoy those exotic locals if my health isn't up to it? Probably another reason why I have put myself in debt sometimes over my life-time thinking you may never know, this may be my only chance to go here or there. This is true, and I am a firm believer in getting out as much as possible both locally and internationally as much as one can. I feel it makes you a better person seeing and understand how everyone lives. More of a global citizen. I have been lucky compared to many in this desire, but know there is so much more I want to see and do. You know, the old bucket list is key. I just want to turn that visit list into more inspiration for my writing and occasionally drawing to again use my creativity.
How could one not be inspired by mankind and nature if you stood on top of the plateau in Macchu Picchu in Peru looking out over those mountains through the ancient mountain top city? Now that is my kind of inspiration!
Elon's vision encourages me to continue mine. Not only in my writing goals but also in my current business goals. He says to strive for excellence with your product, instead of just looking at the financials. I live by that. Yes, I strive for greater profits, but I also reinvest in the store which in the short term reduced profits, but it is noticed by both our customers, our employees, and even by our corporate side. That doesn't mean you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in making the showroom look like something out of Star Trek or a grand palace, but just showing care in your surrounding. Re-painting those older scuffed walls, covering or replacing the old marred up tiles, adding new lighting, organizing all your product to show better and be better organized. And it also doesn't mean you have to do it all at once. I am an impatient type who likes to get things done fast, but I have to tell myself again and again, "patience young grasshopper", and do my improvement in increments to spread out the cost.
The easiest thing one can do (to some Managers the hardest) is creating an atmosphere that all the employees love to be in and that now inspires them to take that extra step and wipe down that bike, clean that floor, and give that extra care to their customers with a smile. I guess that is what many retail chains demand, but if the employees aren't involved with the product or have a passion for it, demands don't work. It then is just a job to them. Great customer experience comes from the employees and how much of a show you put on as soon as they walk in. If you have a good atmosphere with employees who enjoy being there, the customers feel good as soon as they enter. I can't count how many 5-Star Google reviews we have received since changing the atmosphere of the dealership that stated as soon as they walked in they felt welcomed. So that is my way like Elon says to improve the product. We are not a production company, we are a retail company. So my way of improving the product is improving the atmosphere. As I continue to add staff to the store I will only hire passionate people about our industry. They have to be a rider. Not someone who talks about riding. There is a big difference and the customers know it and catch on to it.
That show I mentioned comes from the feeling that they are at a cool product show, like going to a convention. I know how much I liked the feel when I walked into the Motorcycle Show in Long Beach or the Auto Show in Los Angeles. Seeing all the awesome displays and hearing about the product from people who truly know about the product really got me excited about those products. It is the same way in a great motorcycle dealership on a smaller scale. Now some dealers have unlimited space and can play that game very well, others have very small square footage to deal with. Some places do the warehouse look with rows and rows of bikes, others keep very few on the floor showcasing those that are there with beautiful displays. I like something in the middle. You need to show a large selection, but you also need to make it a show when they walk in and then top it off with excellent customer service. Not an easy feat.
Well, there I went off on a tangent again getting off my main subject. My previous paragraph though does still go into the subject of vision. It is my vision for the store going forward that I continue to strive for. Just like my vision for myself in that store as its GM, as well as my vision going forward in life with my outside-of-work goals. It has not been an easy road, and it looks like it will continue to be challenging. But if it was easy, wouldn't everyone be doing it? Yeah, we have heard that one before haven't we? So those who inspire me and my vision I weave into my daily plan. Sometimes that plan gets derailed for a while, other times it is full speed ahead. Just find your vision, and then make your attack plan. Give yourself goals, but make them in increments so you can actually achieve them. Put time frames on them to help push yourself to achieve each step. But don't get crushed when you sometimes fail in the process to reach those time goals. Remember Elon lost his first 3 rockets and almost went bankrupt with his Space X division in those first years, but now look at him. Or remember J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter got turned down by 12 different publishing houses before finally being accepted to being published. Twelve times she failed and faced rejection, yet she kept trying!
So I hope I do inspire some to keep going even when they think they should give up. I hope still to one day talk about my publishing successes right here on my blog with excitement. I too have faced failure and defeat, yet here I am again still pushing forward. That last defeat almost took me out for good with the combined hit of losing a good long-time job and having major surgery on my neck I almost gave up. Almost being the keyword. Thanks to my family's support, and my perseverance, I again got back up and pushed through several menial and mentally deflating jobs to find my way back to the business I love and have always been successful with, and keep my dream of being a writer. Even just this blog helps give me inspiration just by writing down my trials and tribulations along the way.
Sir Richard Branson