From the moment he first laid eyes on her he knew. This was the one. The person he was going to marry and with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life.
She was strikingly gorgeous and, floating across the width of the gymnasium, her laugh was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.
He knew she hadn’t noticed him but that didn’t matter. She would be his wife.
The year was 1943 and Bert was 13 years old.
The next day he went up to her and introduced himself. She told him her name, politely excused herself and left.
In the ensuing weeks, his efforts at engaging her in conversation were constantly rebuffed.
On several occasions he offered to walk her home from school and each time she refused.
He offered to carry her books. She refused
He invited her to a movie. She said no.
So he invited her again.
And each time the answer was the same.
He discovered her date of birth and brought flowers to school for her on her birthday. She thanked him and walked away.
For more than two years his attempts to gain her friendship were rebuffed.
And with each rejection Bert became more determined.
He somehow knew that if he could just find the right approach she would say yes.
And finally, after years of failed approaches, success.
He tried a radically different technique. He sent her a telegram.
Delivered to her at school during recess.
Her name is Mary and she read the telegram to me over the phone when she called last week.
It seems Mary has been reading this blog and our topic over the past two weeks, the Habit of Extreme Flexibility reminded her of that special day in her life all those many years ago.
Bert’s telegram had melted her heart and she had agreed to go out with him. After their first date they had become inseparable – childhood sweethearts – and had married in 1951 when she was 20 and Bert was 21.
In 2011 they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They raised four children who have given them nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Mary told me that Bert exemplified the Habit of Extreme Flexibility in everything he did. Failure did not exist in his world. Whenever his attempts at doing something did not meet his expected success he simply regarded the result as valuable information about what does not work and creatively looked for different ways of getting what he wanted.
He applied the Habit of Extreme Flexibility to all three of the businesses he started. He constantly spent his time being dissatisfied with his results and trying new and creative ways of enhancing them.
And he instilled this habit in each of his four children who have “left our nest and gone off and created wonderful lives of their own.”
Bert strongly believed that there is no such thing as failure – there are only opportunities to try different ways.
On Christmas Day last year Bert passed away. Another victim of prostate cancer.
Mary told me that he fought boldly and that shortly before he died, with a whimsical grin on his face, he opened his eyes and said that he hoped he could stick around long enough to find a way to beat this disease.
I could hear the smile and love in Mary’s tone as she read me that telegram she received so many, many years ago.
“Dear Mary, I will love you longer then you will be able to say no to me. You may as well give in and go to a movie with me. Please say yes. Love, Bert
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.
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