Tuesday, December 7, 2021

On the importance of "minor incidents"......

      At that time New York still had one of the finest public-school systems in the country.  I was enrolled in the local school, and on my first day there something happened that taught me a very important lesson.  It was the classic new-boy situation; I was teased and taunted, and the hazing went on most of the day.  I finally turned to the biggest of my tormentors and said, "All right, meet me outside."  Everybody knew there was going to be a fight.  When school was dismissed, a gang of kids was milling around by the steps of the back yard, waiting.  My opponent was waiting too.  I was frightened, but there was nothing to do about it.  I took of my coat and started running down the stairs at my enemy.  My seeming eagerness must have startled him, for I noticed that he wilted just a bit.  The fact is, I was expecting to get knocked down and was rushing in to get it over with, but when I saw him flinch, I gained new courage.  He gave up after one or two punches.  This minor incident was soon forgotten by almost everyone but me; it taught me a lesson that latter applied in business every bit as much as it did in a high-school playground:  If you show hesitancy or fear, you may already be half-defeated.  If you put on a bold front, and fight with everything you have, you can win.  Moreover, once you have won a few battles, you are usually left alone:  in the jungle, no one thoughtlessly attacks the lion.

-William Zeckendorf, The Autobiography of William Zeckendorf:  The autobiography of the man who played a real-life game of Monopoly and won the largest real estate empire in history

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