I once heard a story about a poor boy in search of success. He approached a wise man, who boasted riches beyond description, in search of assistance. The wise man said, “If you want to know the secret to success, meet me at the beach tomorrow morning at 4 a.m.”

The boy questioned, “The beach? I said I want to make money, not learn how to swim.”

“Tomorrow, at the beach, 4 a.m.,” the wise man said, obtrusively.

The next morning, the boy walked onto the beach, to find the wise man patiently awaiting his arrival. They met without embrace. The elder asked if the boy was ready to learn his secret.

He answered, “Yes, of course.”

“Then walk out into the water.”

Without a hitch, the boy entered the water, step-by-step, until the whitecaps reached his waist. He then turned and asked, “What next?”

“Keep walking,” said the older man, while following the boy, remaining a few steps behind.

The boy ventured further, until the water level met his chin. “OK. What now,” he asked tipping his head back to keep his mouth free of water.

“Keep walking,” said the mentor.

“But, I can’t go any further; the water is up to my chin.”

“Keep going, you’re almost there,” said the old man, adamantly.

“But, I can’t go any further.”

“Don’t you want to be successful? You said you’d do whatever it takes,” replied the teacher.

And, as the boy turned to take his next step, the old man grasped his head, submerging it underwater. Flailing, the boy attempted to escape the old man’s grip, but couldn’t overcome his strength. A half minute later, the man released the boy, who darted above the water.

“I have a question for you,” said the old man, staring into the boy’s eyes. “When you were underwater, what did you want to do?”

The boy wiped the water from his red, salt-stung eyes. In between gasps, he replied, “I wanted to live. You almost killed me. All I wanted to do was breathe. What the hell were you doing, man?”

Without hesitation, the old man responded, “When you want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, you’ll be successful.”

The old man turned and walked away.

The same lesson can be applied to HVAC. When you crave success like you do oxygen, that’s when you’ll accomplish your goals. You can’t want success; you must need to have it.

Seeking Success

Most contractors say they want to be successful. Why else would they have ventured into the business world? But, the reality is, some don’t seem to want it bad enough. I am sure you have seen it with competitors. They are content with mediocrity. They fall back on the tired phrase, “we’re doing what we can to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table …”

That’s hogwash.

If you accept that as the norm, then it may be time to find another career. Perhaps you can find a job as a cook, or as a mall security guard. I know Wal-Mart is often looking for greeters. If you’re working simply to collect a paycheck, there are much easier ways to do that outside of HVAC ownership.

Those who desire to be the best take the necessary steps, without excuse. Successful contractors spend evenings in the office or inside customers’ homes. They aren’t on the golf course at 2 p.m. Booming businessmen aren’t using their smartphones to tinker with Facebook or Instagram. Their apps are designed to bolster business. They leave the timewasters (e.g. Words with Friends and Angry Birds) to the kids. Their time is better spent developing a clever marketing scheme, calling a homeowner to follow up on an install, analyzing sales statistics, budgeting, planning, guiding, leading.

If you are going to be successful — from day one — you have to be prepared to make sacrifices. You have to be willing to miss sleep because time spent dozing off may cause you to miss your one opportunity to close a sales lead. That’s how bad you have to want it.

Battle of the Fittest

Are you tired of hearing about your competitors? Does your face crimson at the thought of their new shiny trucks, flashy iPads; clever television advertisements; and ability to pickpocket once-faithful customers from your call list? And, lord, that jingle of theirs is so damn annoying, yet, even you admit, it’s incredibly catchy.

Is their success driving you nuts? If it isn’t, it should be.

You can have it all. You can do all of this. You can boast double-digit returns. You can own the tropical bungalow. You can eat from a silver spoon.

But, it starts with you. You have to want it. Because, right now, Neighbor Nate — catchy jingle and all — wants it more than you do. And, newsflash, he’s winning the battle.

You’ve got an opportunity to turn a dream into a reality. It’s now or never. And, it’s there for the taking; you just have to be willing to go get it.

Publication date: 3/11/2013