“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  -Helen Keller

For me, one of those things that makes me suffer is schizophrenia.  I’m recovered but at times it still irritates and annoys me that I hear voices.  They are not always friendly and at times they can be downright bad.  What good can come from a voice that regularly wishes you’d die?  The answer, I’ve found, is to thank God everyday, for everyday that I’m above ground.  Life is a blessing, and like any other person on the path of lifelong learning, I seek to improve.

And I am making improvements.  They’ve been coming slowly, but they are definitely showing up in my life as a result of my hard work.  I am a very grateful person and I am always being blessed as a result of being grateful for what I have.  And, because of my gratitude, I am finding new things and more things to be grateful for.  For example, my job is a blessing.

I came on with my company about a year and a half ago, and I started at the bottom.  It just so happened that the store I was working in needed good people to run it so the opportunity for growth was there.  And I’ve seen growth.

On my birthday in 2016 I got a dollar twenty five pay increase.  You may be saying, well, that’s not much at all, but for a low paying part time job, that’s definitely a step in the right direction.  Along with the raise I was also given more opportunity.

My company was aware that I had an interest in sales, that really I loved sales and wanted to be a part of it.  They have been telling me since I started working there that I’m great with the customers.  I do love the our customers.  And I’ve had the privilege of driving the companies box truck on deliveries and various other places and on these trips in some cases I’ve needed rides back to the store.  On these rides back I was driven by who is now the president of our 3 stores.  We had the opportunity to have conversations about life and I expressed the desire to get back into sales at some point.  At first they recommended I try something with my spare time as the job is only part time and they are flexible with hours.

But as time went on the company needed a salesperson.  They needed someone who would be able to expand business and develop new relationships.  So the conversations I had with our president were remembered and they decided to give me a shot at being a salesperson.

So I’ve been doing some work as a salesperson.  Up to this point I haven’t been dedicated on a consistent basis to sales because the store needed me to do the work of keeping it running.  But with one of the other people chosen to be a salesperson deciding that the job wasn’t for them, my company decided to let me have another territory, another store.

There are 3 stores in all, and now I had two of them.  I was the salesperson for two of the three stores and my job was to build relationships.  I was to take free samples of our products around to businesses that have a need for our food and build relationships with them.

Just yesterday I was informed that the president was excited about this new role I was taking on, and that I should be the person to take on all three stores!  I went from being a salesperson at my home store to taking on all three stores in the company!  This position also comes with the title of Sales Coordinator, which is a big step up from just being an associate.  I don’t believe this would have happened if I hadn’t taken the leap into sales in 2010 after I lost my job.  I don’t believe this would have happened if I hadn’t been self educating myself on the topics of sales, leadership, and self improvement.  And this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t first taken the step to just take an hourly wage and forget about sales for a while, while I worked for a steady paycheck.

More good news is that now with 3 stores to sell for, I may also get another hourly pay increase!  At least that’s what they told me today.  I don’t know how much, or when it will happen, but another hourly increase wouldn’t even included the bonuses for successful selling.  I am growing and improving at my little job and I never expected this kind of opportunity when I first started.

Needless to say, I’m excited.  But the work has only just begun.  Sales is a lot harder than just working at the store, cutting the meat and making sandwiches for customers.  I’m going to have to work my butt off for any success and even if I work hard success isn’t guaranteed.  I’m going to have to work smart, develop myself, add value, and act with integrity.  I’m going to have to keep learning… learning about how to build long term relationships with healthy businesses.  I’m going to have to make a success of this opportunity, because failure just isn’t an option.  Success must be my destiny.

So I’ve built my character along the way… especially being a schizophrenic and at one point totally dropping the ball on my responsibility to my wife and children.  I have struggled to work and now that I’ve made a success of myself as an hourly employee I’m being given the opportunity to make a success of myself in sales.  And I have a lot going for me when it comes to my company supporting my endeavors.  I have all the tools for success.  I just have to make it happen.  But as for now, my success in sales has yet to be seen.  I am successful at working a job and growing with a company, and I have that as an asset going into the responsibility of this position.

And there is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to grow as a result of the suffering that comes along with sales.  People say no, they don’t want to talk to you, their short with you, they don’t have a need.  But some people, and I know this for sure, will buy. I just have to find them and demonstrate to them that I am the best at what I do, and that they will benefit by working with me.  My struggle will continue and it can and must lead to success.

But the value I can get from my suffering… the suffering of being a schizophrenic, the suffering of being someone who smoked for 14 years, the suffering of being a husband and a father (where the good vastly outweighs the trouble), the suffering of being in debt, the suffering of spending just as much or more than I make, all of it I can learn from and benefit from, for the highest good of all concerned.

The value of suffering, from whatever your going through, is that it gives you a story to tell.  The stories of going from the bottom to the top are nearly endless when you look up stories of successful people.  You know the story, they start poor, with nothing, aspire to rise above their circumstances and end up changing the world for the better.  They become a blessing for a massive number of people.  Take Tony Robbins for example.  He came from a family who didn’t even have the money to put together a thanksgiving meal.  He swore he would make a better life for himself and look what he’s accomplished!  Granted you can find those stories of success, but they are not common.  It takes a lot more than just hard work to be someone great, and to live a life that’s to your designing.

But to find your value in your suffering, let it make you great.  You came from somewhere that no one would want to come from, and despite your challenges you can make something great of yourself.  And I believe whether you fail or not, whether your successful or not, is entirely up to you.  I believe God will help us when we ask for the help and are deserving of it.  And we are deserving of it when we are working hard and learning, and continuing to grow.  In the name of not only ourselves, or our families, but in the name of adding value to a massive number of people.  When we aim to make the world a better place, and take massive action to make it so, we are stepping into our power.  We are leaving a legacy, we are contributing.  We are making lives better.  We become a blessing to others.  And none of this would be possible without suffering.

So really, it just can’t be done without suffering.  And the more you go through, the better your story will be.  So although suffering isn’t fun or enjoyable, it should be welcomed.  As someone who’s optimistic I would say… “This too shall pass” and you’ll be better off for it.  Squeeze every ounce of value out of your suffering and make the most of it.  When you reach your success, you’ll be happy you had those character building times that made you who you are.  As for me I’m going to take my suffering and make the most of it.  I’m going to stop spending more than I make, and I’m going to save more.  I’m going to commit to quitting cigarettes and be one of the 10% of schizophrenics who don’t smoke (according to wikipedia, 90% of schizophrenics smoke).  I’m going to pay off my debt in the shortest amount of time possible.  I’m going to give more to my family and to my church.  I’m going to start exercising again and make the most of my gym membership.  The change of becoming a non-smoker has taken me 14 years to begin to translate into reality, so I don’t expect all these changes to happen overnight.  I am optimistic however, and I know that if I keep working hard, keep learning, keep improving, it’s going to pay off.  The future is bright, despite my challenges.

If you would like to share your story of struggle, and the value it gives to you, then leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.  Here’s to your success, and to benefiting from whatever your going through, for you, your family, and for the rest of the world.  Thanks for reading.  Bless and be blessed.