Focus on What You CAN Do

In his book "Be Great," Peter H. Thomas tells the following story...

A man named Bill was having trouble finding work.

He finally found a job as a garbage man.

On Bill's first day, his boss gave him a list of addresses to go to on his route.

Bill looked at the list despondently and confessed that he couldn't read.

"Well," his boss said, "if you can't read, you can't be a garbage man."

So his boss fired him. Feeling sorry for Bill, the boss handed him some bananas and wished him luck.

Bill went to the park to ponder his life.

He sat the bananas down beside him.

A man approached Bill and asked him if he would be willing to sell a banana to him for five cents.

Bill eagerly sold him the banana.

Thinking about what happened, Bill placed the rest of the bananas on the bench in a more noticeable position.

Before an hour was over, he had sold all the bananas.

In fact, the demand had been so high, he raised the price to ten cents each for the last two bananas.

With the money from the sales, he went down to the grocery store and bought some more bananas.

Every day throughout the summer, he went to the park and sold bananas.

He soon branched out to different types of fruit, setting an area for himself at the gate of the park.

Twenty years passed.

Bill found himself in the boardroom of a major company. This major company was in the process of buying his business, which had grown into one of the biggest food distribution companies in the United States -- worth millions of dollars.

When the documents were ready to sign, Bill passed them over to his lawyers to read, telling the purchaser, "I can't read."

"This is unbelievable," the buyer said. "Here you are, so successful, without being able to read. Just imagine what you could have been if you could read."

Bill thought about it for a minute.

Then he said, "Yes, I know what I could have been. I could have been a garbage man."

The reason Thomas (founder of Century 21 Canada and LifePilot) tells this story is to point out that people with winning attitudes don't focus on what they don't have or what they can't do.

They concentrate on what they have and what they can do.

So what about you?

What do you already have that can help you on your journey to living the writer’s life? What past experiences do you have? What can you do?

I invite you to share your own story with me and other AWAI members by posting a comment below.

For me, I’ve always enjoyed writing, so it only made sense that I pursue copywriting when I decided I wanted to take charge of my life and start working for myself.

If you have the same dream I did, I recommend you to check out AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Until Friday, you can save 60% on the program, and still get access to all of the bonuses including – AWAI’s exclusive job board for its writers.

Like many other AWAI members, that program is what led me to living the writer’s life, and it can do the same for you.

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Published: February 9, 2011

10 Responses to “Focus on What You CAN Do”

  1. I have been a freelance writer (and marketing specialist) for 32 years. I have only "modeling school" for college background. My life plan, when I formulated it in my early 20's, was to retire early from the ad/pr agency I owned - about the time my kids would be out of college - and do mission work around the world and write about my experiences. My plan got interrupted when I became very ill in my early 30's, and fell into the disability pool. For the last 12 years or so, I have lived in poverty, and took care of my mother who passed away in October. I didn't lose my ability to write, only my concentration and discipline. While I thought my life plan was completely squashed, I have now realized that I can pick up right where I would have been long ago and start again. I am writing as a freelancer online and planning to enter mission work in two months!

    Guest (Krissy)

  2. This is a wonderful story. Although copywriting is not my forte, I keep reading these stories as I work on photography. In my former life had worked until cancer intervened, lost my job, underwent surgery and due to side effect residual from chemotherapy am finding it impossible to go to old type of work -- which is good. Re-learning to concentrate, focus my camera and other goodies are helping me get back to normal. You do not know the good you give out with these stories.

    Guest (Barb273)

  3. So true. Writing was just a pipe-dream for me just a short time ago. I used to read the AWAI booklet I got in the mail over and over, reading people's success stories and wishing it was me living "the writer's life". One day, I decided I had spent enough of my time making a living, but not having much of a life. When I made that decision, everything started to fall into place. I attended bootcamp, and my belief and confidence in myself soared. Now, I am living the dream.


  4. Credit for this story, Mr Thomas (tut tut!), should be given to W. Somerset Maugham, in "The Verger," one story in his Trio (1950).

    It is about a Verger, who was not able to retain his post when a new Vicar realised that he could not read. He was sacked. Slightly dismayed, he went for a walk but he could not find a tobacconist shop. So he decided to ... ! You should watch the film or read it in Maugham's book.

    Guest (Troy)

  5. That is the most funniest stories i've ever read. Bravo!

    Thank you!

    Guest (Al)

  6. I'm an excellent photographer. I received my training in the RAAF and received many commendations on my
    'Skill at Trade" ..........Exemplory.

    I went into sales as I didn't know how to use my skills as a photographer profitably. I ended up in Snr managemet of software companies. One book that I read "How to Right Write" (or words to that effect) which changed how I put a quotation together. Business rolled in.

    Then I came across AWAI's course on Travel Writing and I though what a wonderful way of combining both skills, plus my wife loves travelling. I haven't kicked any goals yet but that will come.

    Guest (Norm)

  7. In July 2010 I was fired from my job. Depressed and dispondent I decided to restart the AWAI copywriting course I aquired two years earlier and give it my best shot. I am halfways done with the course and am confident copywriting will be my new career and that I will be successful. Getting fired was a blessing in disguise because I dont think I would have restarted the course if it werent for, at that time, my unfortunate loss of my job

    Guest (butch247)

  8. A different take on the story: while this man couldn't read (dyslexic maybe?), he was obviously VISIONARY (could look ahead plus see what was happening right in front of him). Very sharp, instantly able to assess an opportunity so as to take advantage of it. Education guarantees neither foresight nor wisdom. I know a lady who had less than a year of school but is one of the sharpest, most curious, most successful, talented, creative, visionary people I know. The garbage truck boss made assumptions without asking any questions; HE was the real loser, though compassionate.

    Guest (Kathy)

  9. There are three aspects to the story.One is the area of providence that prompted the dismissive boss to unwittingly hand Bill the initial capital for his business .The second in the form of the first customer, again is the providential twist where he asked Bill whether he would sell the Banana.The third is the awakening of the Businessman in Bill when he responded to the growth in demand and the short supply in hand,to raise the price to an acceptable level, and then to recycle the the trade to begin changing his life . Life is mysterious in the ways it treats every one of us.But industriousness does pay off.

    Guest (C S Radhakrishnan)

  10. Some of the wisest professionals I've ever worked with... never went to college and got "programmed as employees."

    They had that entrepreneurial spirit (inner drive) that ruined me in my 13th year in the Navy. I couldnt' wait to retire and stop taking orders from educated idiots!!!

    Guest (John)

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