Life is filled with choices – some are easy to make, some are much more difficult – some have little significance, others will be life changing. Augustine faced a difficult choice – one that would definitely be life altering. He stood and pondered his choice as he looked in the pawnshop window at the handgun for sale for $29.00, knowing that he had just enough money to afford the gun and bullets. His choice was – spend his last money on the gun and end his misery by committing suicide – or not? He was thirty-five years old. How had it come to this?
Named after his Italian grandfather, Augustine was born in 1923 to Silvio and Margaret. Growing up in Massachusetts, his mother taught him to read before he was two. “One day you’ll be a great writer.” she often told him. He wrote short stories for her, became editor of his high school yearbook and upon graduation he planned to attend the renowned Missouri University School of Journalism. Before that could happen, his mother died suddenly in their kitchen as she was making lunch for him and his siblings one day.
Rather than attending university, he took a job in a paper plant for two years prior to enrolling in the U.S. Army Air Corp – it was then 1942. He became an officer and flew thirty missions over Germany in World War II. He was a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator where one of his crew members was none other than the soon to be famous actor, Jimmy Stewart.
Once home in the States, he soon realized that there was little demand for bomber pilots in the private sector. He tried his hand at becoming a writer, but with no success after six months he turned to selling insurance. He married, had a child, bought a house and began a downward spiral. There was a great deal of travel – lonely nights which he spent drinking in bars. He had become, in essence, a derelict and an alcoholic. His wife divorced him, his child was also gone and he had little hope in his profession.
Choices. He moved on that night – rather than buy the handgun – ending up in a public library, surrounded by books. He was drawn to the self-help, success and motivation genre and read several books that night and in following days. He began to spend his time in libraries rather than bars. One book really captured his imagination – Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.
So impressed by that book and its co-author W. Clement Stone, he applied for a position with Combined Insurance Company of America where Stone was president. Augustine was hired. At the same time he had met a woman who had more faith in him than he had in himself. They were married. Entering this new chapter of his life being guided by new principles, strategies and beliefs quickly led to success. Within two years he was named sales manager. He submitted an article to Stone’s internal company publication – Success Unlimited. In a ten year span, that submission led to him being named editor of the booklet, which led to him converting it to a national magazine, which turned out to be an enormous success.
Choices. At 52, he shocked everyone by resigning from his position – he was determined to answer his calling to become a writer. Over time he had developed the premise for a book – the story of a camel boy whose employer gifted him ten scrolls which together contained the key to success. There was one ‘small’ problem which Augustine had shared with his wife – he didn’t have the content for the scrolls – he didn’t have the words – he was blocked.
One night his wife, Bette, heard him clacking away on his typewriter. When she woke, he was still typing away. She brought him coffee and left for work. She returned home to find him asleep – exhausted from nearly 24 hours of writing. The scrolls were completed – as was his first book. The Greatest Salesman in the World went on to sell well over 25,000,000 copies.
Augustine would author a total of 22 books with combined sales over 50 million copies. He would also become a powerful and popular speaker earning the National Speaker’s Association Master of Influence Award and admission into the CPAE (Council of Peers Award for Excellence) Speaker Hall of Fame. These are incredible accomplishments indeed – and they were made possible because of a choice – the choice that Augustine “Og” Mandino made outside of that pawn shop – the choice to not give up, the choice to become a fearless brand.
Fearless Brands are persistent
Og Mandino has touched millions of lives. The man that was so near rock bottom that he almost took his life, made a choice which impacted the world. The Greatest Salesman in the World‘s ten scrolls – written in 24 hours – embody a lifetime of learning, faltering, striving and ultimately not giving up.
The Scroll Marked II – “I will greet this day with love in my heart” – is the only one which needed to be reworked and it was Bette, Og’s wife, who urged the edit. Ironic in that this was also the only scroll which mentioned love – and Bette was the person who taught Mandino to love himself.
There are so many significant and powerful lessons to be learned from Og Mandino -most are delivered directly by him, in his writings and in his talks. However, there is much to learn from the man himself about building a personal brand – about becoming the best person one can be.
Don’t give up – One of Og’s many quotes states “…For now I know one of the greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win.” I believe this assumes that one’s efforts are built on authenticity, wrapped in passion, pursued with talent and relevant to those you will serve. With those assumptions – be persistent – your efforts will yield success.
To achieve success, prevent failure – What is success if not a lack of failure? Mandino’s scrolls state that failure has a common definition – “Man’s inability to reach his goals in life, whatever they may be.” Therefore, reject failure – success will follow.
Become a slave to GOOD habits – How does one reject failure? According to Og, one need only become a slave to GOOD habits. Know your purpose, your skills and your relevance and engage only in those activities which further your vision. Eliminate bad habits by replacing them with good ones.
Choose wisely – Just as Og Mandino had a choice to make outside of that pawnshop in 1959, so we have choices to make. The wise choice is not always the easy choice – actually, it’s more often the much more difficult option. Always be humble enough to seek advice and council from a trusted and knowledgeable person should the right choice not be clear.
Will building your fearless brand transform you into a world-renowned author and speaker? Will you touch the lives of millions? Yes – if that’s your calling. However, it’s not for most of us. We will find success – as we define success – if we follow the example of Og Mandino the man and learn from the brilliant lessons he has shared.