Things Change

Posted on September 15, 2016 by Robert Ringer Comments (31)

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The next time you find yourself anxious or distressed about a business or personal situation, you’ll find it to be enormously helpful to think about a reality of life that seems to escape people who are constantly stressed: things change!

This reality began to hit home with me in the late seventies, following a meeting with about a half-dozen of the top brass at Harper & Row Publishers (forerunner of today’s Harper Collins). Harper was a mainstream, 150-year-old company at the time, and neck and neck with other publishing giants such as Simon & Schuster and Random House.

My soon-to-be wife happened to have been with me at that meeting, a meeting that turned out to be a bit contentious. A couple of the big shots in the company were being especially uncooperative with my proposal for a long-term relationship that involved my publishing other authors’ books, though the tone of the dialog was civil.

After about an hour, my wife and I said our goodbyes and departed. At lunch, we discussed what had transpired at the meeting, and she made a comment that has proven to be remarkably insightful. “You know,” she said, “as I looked around the table, I thought to myself, ‘For all we know, most of these people won’t even be with Harper & Row a year from now.’“

I didn’t think much about her comment at the time, but within a few weeks my wife began to look like a prophet. The president of one of Harper’s top divisions, who had been at the meeting, left the company, and the vice president who had given me the most grief at the meeting was fired.

Within a few months, two more executives who had been in attendance bit the dust, so only two were left standing. Thankfully, with a large dose of persistence, I was able to get one of the remaining two to support my plan. (The other, who was his superior, ended up retiring shortly after we launched our project.)

As result of all this change, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to make publishing history with Harper & Row. With the company’s backing, I republished a book that had sold only about 10,000 copies before running out of steam. Through a full-page national ad campaign funded by Harper, I was able to market the book to No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for fifteen consecutive weeks.

When the smoke had cleared, that once-dead book — Crisis Investing — had become the top-selling non-fiction book of 1980. And through my relationship with Harper & Row, I was able to publish a number of other New York Times bestsellers over the next couple of years.

It goes without saying that all this astonished the mainstream book-publishing industry. More important, it indelibly fixed in my mind the philosophy that you have to keep pressing forward when you believe in what you’re doing, because the landscape changes every day. If you’re patient, you’ll find that many of the obstacles that seem so insurmountable have a tendency to simply melt away or disappear with the passage of time.

If you are now stressed over some business or personal problem, benefit from my personal experience by keeping in mind that what you see in front of you at this particular point in time is only a snapshot of today’s circumstances — and that those circumstances are not static.

People get fired … they change jobs … they die … friends become enemies … enemies become friends … rivals go out of business … irritating humanoids move away … teachers and coaches retire … nuts fly airplanes into tall buildings and change a thousand and one things about day-to-day life, even creating new opportunities for alert entrepreneurs … the Internet is invented … Amazons, Googles, and Facebooks appear out of nowhere. The list is endless.

Since that historic meeting at Harper & Row, I can’t count the number of times I have witnessed this phenomenon in both my business and personal life. As a result, whenever I’m feeling stressed over a situation, I make it a point to take a deep breath, relax, and remind myself that circumstances will change. Change (which includes death) is the one thing about life that is certain.

The certainty that tomorrow will be different than today is what motivates me to keep moving forward. And the nice thing is that in the vast majority of cases, tomorrow’s circumstances turn out to be much better than they might have been had I not kept moving forward when things looked bleak.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

31 responses to “Things Change”

  1. TN Ray says:

    Very true. As Roger Miller once sang, "good ain't forever, and bad ain't for good".

  2. Muthuswamy N says:

    A king ordained that any one from his State should do something by which he should always be happy and never unhappy. Whereas all his ministers and others in power and position failed, a layman came up to the king and presented a ring in which this sentence was inscribed: "Even this will pass away"!

  3. Bruce A says:

    Some really excellent insights, Robert!

  4. Palo says:

    Thanks! So True!

  5. Larry says:

    Gives one hope no matter today's circumstance!

  6. Scott theczech says:

    As the world around me changes, my greatest challenge is to effect positive change in my behavior and life.

  7. Marte says:

    My Mother was famous for saying "This too shall pass," and we had an old friend who always said "It's a short road that has no turning."

    The down side of that is that the good things change too – so we'd best enjoy life to the fullest each day.

  8. larajf says:

    I carry a stone with "This too shall pass" etched on it to remind me as well when I start to worry about something.

  9. Bob says:

    Thanks Robert. I am facing possible layoff soon and this makes me feel much better about it.

  10. Jon says:

    "Don't you know you can't do that?" is the mantra of the non-creative world. Our job is to opine "Oh yes we can!" and then proceed to show them how.

  11. Reality Seeker says:

    Great advice.

  12. TheLookOut says:

    Thanks again Robert very sage advice. Time will heal most wounds.

  13. Serge says:

    Of course taking action can change things up a bit.

  14. Rock Roach says:

    Yes and I might add,when things are going well,always kind of look around and see what else might become available once one's circustances might change.In other words,don't rest on your laurels.

  15. Fidel Cantu says:

    I had a mentor say to me.!

    " This to Shall Pass,
    If i get off my Ass."

  16. Mike Saxon says:

    I'm hoping for some change in Washington … and that the Clintons just go away.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      There may hopefully be some change in DC (same result for the republic, however, is likely), but only death can chase the Clinton menace from our midst.

  17. Robby Bonfire says:

    I consider this column the most ~helpful~ wisdom I have gotten from RR, since reading WTI countless times.

    And because of the wisdom contained in this piece, I am going to modify something I have been doing for years. I maintain and frequently update a list I call "S.O.C." which stands for "stream of consciousness." What S.O.C. is, is a list of every topic and situation I find keeps coming back to my thoughts, be it related to finance and increased income goals, church and social matters,investing, health concerns, my three cats, etc. For everything I am dealing with and focused upon I am going to allocate space for specifics as to how each life-department situation changes without manipulation by me, in addition to updates as to how I effectively or ineffectively handle these matters.

    This is exciting to me, to now understand that the resolution to many problems and challenges is forthcoming on its own, with little or no help from me. This is tremendously encouraging as regards the near-term and distant future. Things WILL all work out, and maybe the less we force-feed untenable situations, the better the outcome we will experience, at that.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      I think it was Mark Twain who wisely opined that most of what we worry about never comes to pass, but at the time of our anxiety, it is often hard to imagine that. I am continually amazed when things work themselves out without any direct input from moi, so your reminder is well-taken.

    • Reality Seeker says:

      "I consider this column the most ~helpful~ wisdom I have gotten from RR"

      Wow! You've been part of this small community of commenters for years. Is the above really the most helpful you've gotten from RJR? That's a really nice compliment.

      One of my favorite insights on life, attitude and time is from Thoreau.

      "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains." — Thoreau

      Thoreau articulated more wisdom in a few sentences than most of us can scribble out in an entire column. No offense to RJR's best selling advice, because RJR has mastered making complex, timeless wisdom really, really enjoyable to read and think about.

  18. Jim Hallett says:

    Good column (as usual), and I never knew you published Crisis Investing, a book I bought in 1979, and first introduced me to a man I still respect and follow, Doug Casey. To keep moving forward when fear or loathing or bleakness is present is what often separates the successful from the "might-have-beens."

  19. Phil says:

    Thank you again!

  20. Phil Colbert says:

    "nuts fly airplanes into tall building"? No plane crashed at Shanksville since there wasn't a shred of debris or airplane parts, no plane crashed into the Pentagon, since there was no debris or airplane pars or bodies, and no plane crashed into the WTC since thin aluminum doesn't slice through hardened steel buildings like butter and vanish without a trace. Missiles hit the WTC, as no live feeds shoed airplanes, only digitally altered videos released later.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Good to see that you, Phil, are a thinking person that refuses to accept the b.s. story of the govt. about 9/11. I do not claim to know exactly what happened (the full story), but I know there are over 50 glaring errors (LIES) about the govt. version. The WTC (including Bldg. 7 – NOT hit by anything) was set with dynamite and no passenger plane hit the Pentagon or the ground in PA (what became of those passengers is beyond me, but I am sure the orchestrators of the ordeal just eliminated them as collateral damage – notice that all 4 planes that day had very small manifests compared to typical flights, so they had to dispose of fewer people). We need a real investigation, but then the professional liars and murderers that control the govt. would not tolerate such an investigation, or they would dummy one up – a la the 911 Commission "fairy tale" report.

  21. Ernie Zelinski says:

    In the same vein:

    'Thrive in adversity.
    Success and prosperity will come naturally."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

    "When you do work that matters, the crowd will call you a fool. If you do something remarkable, something new and something important, not everyone will understand it (at first). Your work is for someone, not
    everyone. Unless you're surrounded only by someones, you will almost certainly encounter everyone. And when you do, they will jeer. That's how you'll know you might be onto something."
    — Seth Godin

    "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition.
    Small people always do that, but the really great make
    you feel that you, too, can become great."
    — Mark Twain

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