My Time in Vietnam
Lying in the jungle surrounded by Viet Cong snipers-my world was suddenly different. At 19, I was experiencing emotions that most people never experience in a lifetime – feelings of panic, confusion and terror. Each time I moved any part of my body, I heard a crack from an AK-47 rifle, which hurled a bullet or two in my direction. I could only hope that it would not find any part of my body.
The year was 1968 and I was assigned to a communication center in Ban Me Tuit, Vietnam. We were in the middle of the Tet Offensive, a time in the war where utter chaos was breaking out all around us. I was ordered to destroy all of the secret communications in the communications center. The order came as a result of the immediate threat of being overrun by the Vietcong. Cong snipers began shooting at me; all I could do was lay still behind a small barrier, and hope that the snipers would either be shot or somehow go away. The problem with their being shot was that they would tie themselves to the trees that they occupied, so even if hit or killed, our forces would not know it, since they would never fall from the trees.
That day I was provided with a significant inspiration on the value of life – mine to be more precise. I was barely out of high school and there I was, negotiating life and death. To compound the issue, my immediate supervisor, Sgt. Tucker, sat nearby viewing the incident, and instead of assisting in one way or other, thought the whole thing to be very funny! Well, one can imagine my chagrin. My life was before my eyes and my sergeant, whom I trusted and relied upon for help, was amused and couldn’t care less about my predicament. To this day, I do not understand his reaction, yet, on reflection, feel that in war people act in the most weird and uncommon ways.
Yes, I survived the incident without harm; but came out of that situation with a very different and respectful view of life. I also realized that others were not always what they seemed and were not always in alignment with the John Wayne movies that I grew up with.
Not only did I learn about life and about others around me, but it dawned on me that I received an inspiration that day-not in the traditional sense of having a mentor or of an individual leading by example, but, rather, through a reversal of the common form. I lived through an event that would change my life and I witnessed an individual’s reaction to my circumstances that was totally inconsistent with my expectations.
These two events made me realize that my life was changing. You see, inspirations can be derived from an individual’s action in a positive sense or one’s reaction to an event or action in a negative sense. The internal reactions within you is the controlling factor, so that whether the event is a positive one or a negative one is unimportant.
Negative Events Can Bring Positive Change
The resulting reaction from a negative event can be just as powerful as that from a positive one – in either case catapulting you to levels never dreamed of. Your reaction to the people and events around you reveal everything about your character.
Upon discharge from the army, in surprisingly good physical and emotional health, I began college. I lacked some motivation and direction regarding where my life should go. After exploring various options and subjects, I made a decisions to go into law and become a lawyer. I took the necessary Law School Aptitude Test and, due to my lack of talent for test-taking, I achieved a very low score.
Armed with my grades, character references and test results, and other relevant information, however, I made an appointment with the Dean at a prominent law school. After just a few minutes of discussion, the dean looked at me, frowned and stated in a dispassionate way, that with the test score on the LSAT test that I had achieved, I would never become a lawyer.
What an incredible statement! Completely negative and unconditional…but inspirational!!
Inspiration occurs within the receiver, not the giver, no matter what the intention. The internal reaction of the receiver controls the reaction and the value of the interaction.
Such a statement by a law school dean would probably send most people out that door into another venture. It had the exact opposite effect on me.
I had two choices:
I could have bowed to his expertise and advice and begun seeking another vocation. If I had allowed his remarks to dissuade me, I could have chosen to enter another field such as sales or computers. Had I been successful in that arena, subsequently I would have looked back at that day in the Dean’s office and felt gratified that his words of wisdom righted my ship and provided a path away from potential failure and disappointment and toward another area more suited to my potential success.
Or I could have reacted the way I did.
Fortunately, I chose to ignore his advice. As I proceeded through law school, very few days went by that I didn’t think of the Dean, his statement and his prediction of my failure. Whenever I was down or frustrated with school, that law school Dean was the major driving force that kept me going.
Bottom Line – I graduated from law school, tenth in my class, (ahead of most who had a significantly higher LSAT score that I had), received several awards, and continued on to a highly successful law career.
My Law Career
Inspiration comes in different forms. Inspiration can come from negativity – if it creates a particular reaction within yourself and provides you with the necessary drive, competitive edge or clarity, which otherwise might not have been catalyzed.
Whether it was Sgt. Tucker in the Army laughing at me, or the law school dean challenging me (without even realizing it) to seek a successful law career, the consequences are the same. People or events that move you, whether positively or negatively, are inspirational. Your internal reaction to an outside event, etched in your memory, is what will get you to a place that you might not have gone without such event or individual.
Since becoming an attorney, I have received much positive inspiration, which has helped guide my life.
As I have progressed through my legal career, I had always been drawn to attending seminars, listening to tape programs and reading as much as possible on self-help topics.
Every time I had an opportunity, I would listen to a self-help series and use the information either in applying it to my ongoing law practice and/or mentally file it away for my future ventures.
I have never been satisfied with the status quo in anything that I have done. Being a typical Type A personality, I knew early on that I would most likely venture forth to something other than the field of law.
In 1985, after gobbling up one self-help program after another, and attending numerous seminars an events, I pulled the trigger for the first time, an decided to venture into the legal self-help area for myself.
Having purchased several self-help legal books published by No-Lo Press and having read books written by the master marketing and self-help guru, Ted Nicholas, I decided to sell my law practice and write “how-to” books on legal issues.
Armed with the information that I had received from my attendance of past seminars, I decided to write, publish, design, and market legal books, providing the public-at-large with information and tools that would effectively eliminate the need for a lawyer. Topics such as “How to Do Your Own Will,” “How to Write Your Own Contract,” and “How to Put Together a Power of Attorney” were prepared.
Undertaking this project with very little prior experience was certainly a challenge, yet it was one that I was prepared to undertake.
By consistently focusing on the works and successes of Ted Nicholas and others like him, I knew it could be a successful enterprise.
Generally, the new business went very well, until I was persuaded to turn over the concept and, in fact, the whole project to one of the largest publishers in the world. I acquiesced to the idea that a very popular and highly respected publishing house would now publish me, and in so doing, the book’s success would be assured.
How wrong was I! By giving up control of the business and relying solely on the publishing house, the business did a complete reversal, resulting in its failure.
Yes, I was inspired and followed the lead of my mentors, achieving success while I did so, however once I relinquished control the project failed.
I subsequently began anew, in a second legal career, and once again took up the practice of law for a period of ten years. Although I made good money in my legal practice, I never lost sight of my interest in self-help topics. Dr. Wayne Dyer was the next force in my life, which motivated me to go to the next level and follow me passion once again. I had followed Dyer throughout his career and owned and read virtually every book and tape that he had authored.
In 1990, I had heard that Wayne Dyer would be appearing in Los Angeles, and I decided to attend. By that time, his influence on my life was significant. I respected the content of his books and tapes, as well as his background and persistence in achieving his goals.
Meeting A Role Model
I arrived at the seminar approximately three hours before the scheduled speech, and since other speakers were on the agenda before Wayne Dyer, I decided to have some lunch at the hotel nearby. As I entered the restaurant, I saw Dyer seated at a table eating lunch alone.
After debating the pros and cons of interrupting hime and introducing myself as a “Big Fan,” I decided to go for it.
After several enlightening minutes of discussion, Dryer invited me to talk to him again after his presentation. I did so, and actually became involved with his future presentations and developed a friendship with him thereafter.
This interaction was the precipice to the second ending my law career and the commencement of my new career.
It’s interesting that among lawyers, when gathered at the central meeting place, (the courthouse), the regular and routine discussion is how much they dislike what they’re doing, and how they would like to extricate themselves from the law profession and go into something else.
Unfortunately, most just give lip service to this desire and never really take the necessary steps to fulfill their desire.
My desire to go onto something else, however, was strong enough for me to carry it out. My flame for movement into the arena of self-help and seminars was very hot, and in fact, had been fanned by the many who inspired me by their speeches and actions.
Hearing a motivational speech is generally not what really inspires most people, but the combination of the content of the speech with the actions of the speaker, is what true positive inspirations is all about.
A Final Thought
The absolute joy of giving and receiving inspiration, when taken to heart can significantly change a life-and that is probably the most rewarding feeling one can experience as one travels the roads and highways of the growth process. All of us certainly need inspiration at carious points of our lives, to overcome the roadblocks that come our way, as we continue to strive for passion and excellence. As much as we need to receive inspiration from others, the gifts of giving inspirational messages, whether orally or by action, completes the cycle, enabling our life to be complete and worthwhile.