It’s an old cliché that the only thing worse than a man who fails is a man who never tries at all.
Hell, I feel stupid even writing it. That’s how cliché it is.
Yet, when I pause to think back of one of the major things I remember about school, I am reminded of the truth of this statement.
You see, almost everybody thinks incorrectly or inaccurately about success. It’s our assumptions that get us. This isn’t said enough.
In the words of General Douglas McArthur, the US General who led the fight against the Japanese in WWII: “Assumption is the mother of all fuckups”.
It’s true. We hold an image of what success looks like in our minds. Most of us learned it from watching TV or seeing tanned models with pearly white smiles and blondes in elegant dresses on banner ads and Youtube videos. We see the suits, the cars and the money and we think “Man, if only I could be that guy”. We imagine how he went to college, got a great job, made a high six figures and made it in the world.
Yet, as the picture I chose for this post illustrates, that’s completely incorrect. That’s about as opposite of successful as you can get.
Do you know what the guy who followed that path really looks like? He’s got a pot belly, he’s pasty white, he has a wife who breaks his balls and he is headed for either a diabetic coma or a heart attack at 50. That guy is f***ed!
The real success looks far different. It’s a series of massive setbacks, followed by a breakthrough that takes you to the top. That’s the truth about success that many don’t want you to know. Once they’ve got the Merc and the suit, they want to forget about when they were a janitor or flipped burgers after their first venture went belly up and the whole city was snarling at them.
Yet without failure, we would never learn the lessons we need to succeed. You’ve heard this all before. It isn’t original and any feel good book you pick up at Barnes & Noble will give you a 5 point plan on turning your failures into success.
Me, I’m going to show you, for free, how it can be done.
Enter Fat Bill.
Fat Bill: The Kid Everybody Loved to Hate, then Just Loved
I’ve obviously changed Fat Bills name for reasons of privacy and because, as a victim of bullying, I know how scarring this can be to a man’s psychology and how private he wants to keep those times from his past.
Fat Bill was the kid everybody liked to pick on in school. He was a tub of absolute lard and he would get smashed into lockers, get his head dunked down toilets, and would get laughed at by girls (except one) in the corridor who were too busy figuring out how to get their panties off in the presence of natural alpha jocks to pay any attention to an overweight kid with glasses like Fat Bill.
He was a classic dork. He got high grades, but had no friends. Teachers loved him, but classmates hated him. He was a class A student, and a class D athlete. He was pretty much screwed, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Until school sports day one day when Fat Bill crossed what I like to call “The Threshold”.
The threshold is when a man has had enough and decides to do something about his situation. It’s that one credit card bill that decides to make you like as a minimalist. It’s that last jibe from your wife that makes you decide to go out, meet a hot blonde, and get a blowjob, which makes you finally leave her. It’s that last time the boss overlooks you for a promotion and you slam a caramel Latte off the wall and let out a lion’s roar before starting your own company.
You see, Fat Bill had wanted to bang Penny Wordsworth for a long time (name again changed for reasons of privacy). Penny was a classic cock tease. She would have Bill carry her books, have him fetch her drinks at lunch break and would string him along with attention and an unspoken promise that someday Bill might get his rocks off on her ample tits in exchange for favours.
But, it was never to be.
You see, it all came to sad end and Bill was shown the real Penny when he took part in school sports day and decided to enter the 100m sprint. Bill came off the blocks and I swear to God almighty he didn’t make it 40m before he went down like a ton of pulped motherfuck. Kids started yelling, screaming, hooting, howling and throwing debris at him.
Bill was crushed. He laughed and walked off to the field at the side, but I knew he was crushed. I could see it in his face. I could see it even more when he gazed across at Penny and she just turned around and started talking to her friends like she didn’t know him. I’d say 50 people noticed the exact same gesture. I thought Bill had died inside that day.
Then about 2 months later I came back after summer and I saw Fat Bill. He was still fat as could be, but he sure as hell looked like he had lost a pound or two. I realized that my initial perception was right when at lunchtime I saw Fat Bill running lengths of the football field. He was giving it hell for leather, running up and down the field like a piglet being chased down by a hound. People noticed, but nobody really cared.
Bill just kept going, however. Day after day he just kept running lengths of the field. I think about 6 or 7 months passed because I remember it wasn’t long before the next school sports day, and Bill was still giving it hell for leather on the field. Except one thing had changed: Fat Bill was now just Bill, he must have sweat off about 100lbs and the talk had changed from:
“There’s Fat Bill running like a piglet up and down a field, remember when he fell on his ass?”
“Holy shit! Is that Fat Bill? He’s moving like Flash fucking Gordon”.
That’s right folks. Fat Bill had learned the most important lesson about success: keep on truckin, no matter how many times you fall down on your ass. And you will.
Eventually, sports day came around. I’d noticed a few changes with regards Bill. He wasn’t exactly captain popular and he still didn’t get any girls, but nobody shoved him into any lockers and flushed him anymore. He’d moved from being the kid everybody hated to the kid everybody sort of acknowledged but never really noticed. I guess that was a vast improvement.
Then sports day rolled around.
Bill again entered the 100m sprint. Everybody whispered and talked smack about how the event went down previously. They laughed about how Bill had fallen on his ass and how Penny has literally fucked the living brains out of Kevin McCormick, the sprinter who’d won at a party that night. She’d done that the very same night Bill had fallen on his ass, and ignored him ever since. He apparently wasn’t even worthy of carrying her books anymore.
Today, however, it was showdown time again. Kevin was back on the blocks and he had been playing all year. He was one of the top athletes in the school. He was in a hell of a shape and he was universally popular, loved and had his pick of the ladies, including Penny who he regularly pump and dumped.
The coach (who I never liked due to the fact that he thought being a high-school sports coach made him some sort of a war hero entitled to a 21 gun salute funeral) stood on the side as the runners all took their places on the blocks. I was rooting for Bill, but I admit I wouldn’t have had the courage to say so at the time. Then I heard it, the crack of the blocks coming together, and the runners took off like bats out of hell.
Would you believe it, Bill came out of the blocks like a cheetah who’d just smoked a bowl of ice. He must have been 5 meters ahead for the first 20. Kevin McCormick pressed him, but again Bill pulled away. Finally, in the last 10 meters or so, Kevin got just ahead of Bill and crossed the finish by a hairs breadth in front of him, but the whole crowd erupted in a way I’d never seen at any sports day before or since.
Do you know who they surrounded?
You might have guessed it. Fat Bill.
Bill was hoisted onto the shoulders of a big fucker from the rugby team whose name I can’t recall and people literally circled him like a pack of wild hyenas and started howling. This time they weren’t laughing at him and throwing old coca cola cans, they were like a mob of paparrazi surrounding Johnny fucking Depp. Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
People loved Bill that day. Kevin McCormick even shook his hand and they laughed and embraced for a couple of seconds. The whole crowd was wild talking about “Did you see Fat Bill” and “Holy shit! Fat Bill took Kevin McCormick to the last inch”.
Even the coach smiled like a doofus at Bill. I’m not sure the coach had a single brain cell between his ears, but if he did, it was flooded with dopamine that day.
I’ll always remember that day. It taught me a valuable lesson I’ve carried with me in hard times. Life will knock you down on your ass, probably more than once, and you’ll fall and skin your kneecaps in front of the whole damned class, and you’ve gotta just get back up and start again, running lengths of a football field.
The last I heard Bill had moved to NYC and was working for some huge company that is involved in the future of agriculture. I’m not sure about that exactly, but the story goes he is a boss and he is living in a penthouse with a beautiful wife.
Wherever Fat Bill is I want to thank him. He may never read this. Hell, if he is where they say he is he’s probably never even heard of nor does he have any need for this website. However, every lap that Fat Bill ran to become Bill the peoples champion for a day, I want him to know that every lap counted. I still remember him to this day when I feel down. When I feel that I can’t get up. When I feel like a failure.
I think “Every length counts”.
That’s the true journey of success. It aint no straight line. It’s a fucking brawl, every single day, falling on your ass and getting back up again, and going for another length of the football field.
That’s what the banner ads should really tell you.
That’s what real success takes.
Remember that the next time you feel like giving up!
Desire. Decide. Persist.