Dancing On Thin Ice

by Jake Block

There is a saying that goes something like “If you’re going to tread on thin ice, then you might as well dance.”  While it’s cute and its trite, it’s nonetheless true.  If you’re going to go for it, then go for it.  Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead.

 I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been out to impress me with their knowledge of the occult, from Grand Masters of Inverted Lodges, barely able to spell the magical processes they’d claimed to master, Gifted Psychics unable to function without “spirit guides” who never quite make it when challenged, and the inevitable “witch” claiming powers that would be more convincing if she were able to make ends meet.  They’ve all fallen short of the mark, and have always had a reason for their failure.  It’s joss, fate, kismet or just bad luck.  “I’ve tried everything, Mr. Block, but you see, the world just isn’t ready for me yet…maybe in another life.”  Hell…why have another life if you aren’t going to make use of the one you have?

  While we like to think about our world as an ordered sphere in which one can get ahead by plodding on hour by hour, day by day, it’s the chance-taker who usually wins the rat race.  Those who sit and wait for their chance at life to come usually never get it.  They are the wannabes of society.  They may be eager and possess the skills to succeed, but with out a good healthy dose of chutzpah, forget it.

 Billionaire Donald Trump once related a story about his days as a young entrepreneur waiting for his chance to make it in the construction game.  He was nearly broke, and knew that his small business would fold without financial assistance. He brought his potential backers to a “construction site,” and the sight of Trump’s work crews hard at work inspired them.  “Gentlemen,” he said, “This is where I will build my biggest and most impressive building.  You can be part of it.”  They jumped at the chance to help this dynamic leader to achieve his goal.  Trump got his financial backing and the rest is history.

 What Trump didn’t tell his backers was that he had yet to buy the land.  The crews were his, but he had no money to pay them.  Trump had mustered all of the manpower he could manage and told them, “Look busy.”  It was a sham…and damned impressive.  And it worked.  Chutzpah. 

 The world is a place in which everything can be manipulated in favor of the bold.  All that is required is that the individual be capable of manipulation.  Being able to warp time and space to one’s advantage is no mean feat.  It requires a great deal of self confidence, sometimes bordering on “cockiness,” a desire to exert one’s will over that of others and a somewhat fatalistic attitude. I know of one highly competent entrepeneur whose personal motto is, “Expect the worst, hope for the best.  Tip the scales whenever you can.”  My personal motto has been lifted from Friedrich Nietzsche, “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker.”  Loosely translated from the German, “What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger.” 

 A great many people wear their hearts on their sleeves, accepting whatever indignities the world may heap upon them with a mournful sigh and a look that says, “This too will pass.”  They take the sorrows of the world to their graves as companions and friends, for they quite often have nothing else.  They use the negatives to outbalance the positives in their lives, providing a ready-made excuse for failure.

 “I could’ve been rich,” they cry, “but I was born black…or white…or green.  You know ‘they’ won’t let us get ahead.”  These same people tend to be experts at everything from astrology to mahjong and are willing to teach you the secrets that made THEM successful.

They’re a lot like the wannabes bikers run into everywhere they go.  A guy in a plaid shirt and blue jeans wanders up and cocks his head to one side.  He nods his head once or twice and says, “Yeah.  That’s some bike, man.  I used to ride an OLD HARLEY when I was a kid.  Yeah, but I ain’t rode in years, y’know, ‘cause I lost it over on Stateline Road.”   I’ve always wanted to toss him my keys and say, “Go for it, man.  Show me what you’ve got.”  For those who’ve special talents or skills, and have ever been a victim of the kibitzer bird, you know what I mean.

Those who can, do.  Those who can’t kibitz those who can.  I’ve never been impressed by wannabes that seem to gravitate towards those who can. Those who can are a special breed that are close to my heart, for they’re the type that will take a chance in one great all or nothing run for glory.  They’re gamblers and rogues, renegades and revolutionaries, hustlers and flimflam men.  They know the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line, but a series of twists and angles that eventually gets you to where you want to go.

 These are the true magicians of the world as we know it.  Most will never step in a “magic circle,” wave a sword or deliver an incantation in flawless Latin.  Their litanies are magic still.  They control their own destiny and quite often that of those around them.

My advice to anyone who would become a master, either in the world of business or any world of their choosing, is “Go for it.”  Have the guts to take a chance.  Follow your instincts whenever possible and most often you’ll find that they’ll serve you well.  If things don’t pan out, go at it from a different angle.  Keep trying.  If the goal is worth the effort, the reward is sweet.  “If we’re going to tread on thin ice, then we might as well dance.”

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