“Things themselves touch not the soul, not in the least degree,” wrote the emperor Marcus Aurelius, to himself and to me; “nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul. But the soul turns and moves itself alone, and whatever judgments it may think proper to make, such it makes for itself.”
When this struggling young stockbroker, attempting to build a practice by cold prospecting, first read those words more than 40 years ago, I knew I’d never suffer “the pain of rejection” again. Because the emperor had disclosed to me that I was creating the pain in my own mind. I accepted finally that I couldn’t repeal the law of large numbers, and magically cause multitudes of people to say “yes” instead of “no.” But I had acquired the power to change the way I experienced “no” from a bitter personal rejection to what it was and is: the one indispensable means to my desired professional end.
I never looked back, and when you read my book about prospecting, The Game of Numbers, you’ll discover this epiphany at its very spine.
Around the same time, I read Emerson’s essay “Compensation,” in which he averred that honest, intelligent effort directed toward trying to find, acquire and truly help a potential client could never be lost, even if the person to whom I was directing that effort turned it aside. He seemed to be saying that the noble effort was somehow being stored up, and that if I just kept prospecting, I would find the great client who would not only accept it but deserve it.
The next day, I went into the office and fired my largest client – who also happened to be the most malignant source of stress in my professional life. I redoubled my prospecting efforts, and well within a year found the great client promised me by the Sage of Concord, and half a dozen similar clients. This story – and much more important, this law of the universe – will also be found in The Game of Numbers.
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (and the complementary Golden Sayings of Epictetus) are thus, for me, inexhaustible resources of resilience, as are Emerson’s “Compensation” and “Self-Reliance.” The former two are routinely available in used copies of the Harvard Classics edition (along with Plato’s account of the trial and death of Socrates). Used editions of Emerson’s essays likewise inexpensively abound.
For perhaps twenty bucks including shipping, you might find that these four resources change your life – as they surely did mine.
© 2014 Nick Murray. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission. Nick highlights new books, articles, research findings and academic papers in the “Resources” feature of his newsletter, Nick Murray Interactive. To download a sample issue, visit www.nickmurray.com and click on “Newsletter.”