It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
The first sentence of Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Tale of Two Cities,” is one that has stood the test of time.
Even though I’ve never read it the title has always intrigued me.
“A Tale of Two Cities” aptly sums up what I am about to tell you.
Normally I talk theory, concepts and tactics.
Not today. Today it’s just a good old-fashioned story, but one that might resonate with you.
Over the years we’ve all seen people change.
Some for the better, some for the worse.
This story of two friends begins back in the early 80s.
I was living in a 3-bedroom semi-detached house in Stock-on-Trent with my mother and father.
We had a garden out back with a greenhouse that allowed my father to grow peas and green beans.
There wasn’t much near our house and everything closed around 6pm.
I attended a small school and clearly remember having four close friends and a “girlfriend.”
Then one day I was told that we were moving to the Philippines.
I had no clue where that was but it seemed like it was a big deal because I was told that I would have to get a few shots before going there.
It didn’t really sink in till my last day at elementary school.
My mother said that the school would be holding a farewell event for me which sounded pretty nice.
I just didn’t realize the entire school (all grades) would be there to wish me well.
“Good luck Adrian” the banner read if I remember correctly.
I was ushered up on stage in front of the entire school and the principal proceeded to say that they all hoped I’d be ok and they wished me the best of luck on my journey.
Now I’d seen students come and go at our school but we’d never had an assembly before for just one student.
But there I was. Standing on stage shaking the principals hand and wondering what the heck was going on.
My new life was about to begin and I had no idea where it would take me.
Life in the Philippines was, for lack of a better word, surreal.
The Sun. Crystal clear waters. Big houses. Fantastic.
And school…I absolutely loved it. Even if I didn’t really have any real friends there the first year. The teachers were just great and for the first time in my life I felt as if I belonged.
I might be making it sound like paradise, but I assure you it wasn’t always easy.
Blackouts, random TV shows, typhoons, security and lack of basic goods that we were accustomed to were just some of the issues that we had to deal with on a constant basis.
Each year, during the summers, we’d go back home and see our friends and relatives but the distance did take its toll, especially on my friends.
Kids just don’t keep in touch and over time I lost touch with all of my close friends save one.
From the age of 8 to 16 we’d meet up almost every year and I’d get to spend one or two days with him each time.
We shared the same hobbies.
We had the same sense of humor and despite a year passing by it felt as if it had been just a few days.
One year we even managed to meet up in Orlando and visit the amusement parks there.
I did write.
He did call.
Our mothers kept in touch from time to time.
But we lost touch.
I’ve even tried to find him on FB but to no avail.
Though at the age of 13 we were like long lost brothers, it was then we both started to change.
I knew I had to gear up for college while he seemed to be living for the moment.
He took up smoking, big time…and even then he could still outrace me. He was always a better sprinter than me.
Unfortunately from the age of 16 my life centered around Asia and America and I haven’t seen him since.
Then one day my mother told me that he had gotten himself into some trouble.
Drugs. He was in rehab.
And even after he got out it wasn’t finished. His dealer had found him and threatened both him and his girlfriend.
I remember my mother telling me about that when I came back from an afternoon pick-up basketball game.
I was in my 2nd year at college at the time.
My life was full of hope, excitement. His, not so much.
Five short years ago he was popular with the ladies, was a good athlete and seemed to have it all. Me, I hadn’t even had a girlfriend and was just your average student.
I wondered where things went wrong for him.
But then my parents said something that shocked me. They said, “That could have been you.”
I laughed when they said that because I hated smoking and would never do drugs.
“You never know Adrian…had we stayed in England it’s very possible you could have ended up just like him.”
I’d never thought about it before, but that fateful day when I boarded the plane to the Philippines changed everything.
Today I may not be a millionaire (yet) but I have a wonderful wife, an incredible son, I have my health, good friends, incredible clients, and everything to live for.
The apt we live in is small in terms of Western apartments but it’s cosy and simply put, I’m happy.
Two people, two very different lives.
The point I’m trying to make is that you just don’t know.
Our lives take the most incredible twists and turns.
And though it is true that our experiences are greatly influenced by people we meet and the environments in which we live.
The more important factor is how we let those experiences affect us.
Not all negative experiences create negative emotions.
When I was walking around the emergency center after the tsunami (which you can read about in chapter 1 of my book, iSucceed. All you need to do is sign up for Insiders and I’ll send it over to you), all I could think of was how lucky I was to be alive.
There were other people who could only think about how much they’d lost.
There are highs and there are lows in life.
The highs pretty much have the same effect on us all but it’s the negatives that show our true colors and resolve.
I’ve been offered cigarettes, I’ve even been offered cocaine…I was curious…even tempted but I turned them down.
My life could have ended up very differently.
I don’t know what ever happened to my friend but I hope he was able to get his life back on track.
Life’s too short to live with regret.
We must accept the consequences of our actions and move on. As my mentor, Jim Rohn, said, “Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons.”
We can right our wrongs; it’s just that some wrongs that much more effort.
If you know of someone headed down the wrong path, I hope you’ll lend a helping hand because you never know when you might need one yourself.