John had been selling vacuum cleaners door to door for the past three weeks. It was very discouraging. No one had bought one yet, so John spent most of his time sitting in the car wishing that someone would buy.
He finally made himself get out of the car and carry the vacuum up to the nearest door. After ringing the bell, he stood there for a long time thinking to himself.
“There’s probably no one at home. And if she is home, she’s probably not interested in vacuum cleaners. In fact, I’ll bet she has wood floors and never uses a vacuum cleaner. She probably a slob who likes to keep her floors dirty. What’s more, she probably hates sales people. When I try to sell her something, she’s going to call me all kinds of names, and then I’ll be embarrassed. I’ll be so embarrassed I’ll be too upset to eat. And then because I don’t eat, I’ll start to get sick. And then I won’t be able to go door to door, so my career as a salesman will be over. All because of this nasty woman yelling at me.”
Mrs. Smith had been repotting her plant that morning when it spilled dirt all over the carpet in the living room. And when she pulled out the vacuum cleaner to clean up, it made a loud crackling noise and stopped working. Mrs. Smith was just wondering when on earth she would find the time to go out and shop for vacuum cleaners when she heard the doorbell ring. Mrs. Smith debated whether or not to open the door. She was mortified that someone might see dirt all over her carpet. But eventually she decided to open the door. To her surprise, there stood a vacuum cleaner salesman!
John saw Mrs. Smith opening the door and decided then and there that he would not allow her to embarrass him into being sick and jobless. “Fine!” he shouted at her. “Go ahead and keep your dirty floors! I’ll just take my vacuum cleaner somewhere else!” And he walked back to his car.
So many times we misuse our imagination, our God-given creative gift, to fantasize about all kinds of horrible scenarios. That’s our ego, a scared little child, wanting to protect us from getting hurt by preventing anything from happening in the first place.
Have you ever imagined something bad that might happen and then found yourself actually upset about it? About something that never really happened and was only in your imagination? I do that sometimes, but only every time I’m facing a big opportunity. I’ve learned that the more I can stay out of the future in my mind (which isn’t real) and stay in the present moment (which is real), the better the outcomes are. And, the more I will enjoy the ride.
Steve Johnsen is a marketing strategist, a business coach, and the Founder of Cloud Mountain Marketing. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 best-seller, 5 Easy Steps to Make Your Website Your #1 Employee.