when the house burns down …

Recently, I “uninvited” back to the party someone that had let me down — an admin person – someone whom had nothing to do with sales or production, but this person betrayed my trust.

I noticed yesterday a banner this person had put onto their skype:

“it was not until my house burned down did I see the moon more clearly…” old zen saying

Life is one big learning experience … of course we will make mistakes and do things we regret — however, it is up to us to learn from these mistakes, improve and climb higher.

Last week … I had to demote two talented people that I am personally very close to both … but for the past 6 months or so each has completely underperformed — instead of terminating them like I would anyone else, I demoted and lowered the salaries of each of them.

One of the guys that got demoted – seized the challenge … emailed me telling me that he “understood” and would prove his worth … and nearly instantly the guy sold and seems to have woken up. I respect this attitude.

The other guy, one of the most talented people that has worked for me … however, has sold only once in the past 7 months, massive turnover of staff on his teams, and more importantly he has not led by example… instead of seizing my challenge and proving … he quit. A quitter … this attitude disgusts me.

It’s so easy to talk about becoming great. It’s so easy talking about what we are going to do …

but at the end of the day, if we “underperform,” and our proverbial house burns down, one has to accept the consequences.

we can quit climbing … and turn around and try and find another mountain like most people do …


we can see the moon more clearly … and gain focus from this new “light” and keep on climbing….



2 thoughts on “when the house burns down …

  1. voxbacchus

    Reading the most recent blog I think I have a different interpretation on the zen quote you wrote about and i think if you re-look at it you have the chance to introduce a decent parable from our time in tokyo.

    I dont think this is about making a mistake and moving on, per se. Nor is it about quitting exactly. I think you have hit half the nail on the head. Let me explain:

    The quote, i believe, is meant to convey the fact that when an individual obssesses with something that is in turth inconsequential or ephemeral, they see only that and exist only for that; it is not until the inconsequential is destroyed that the more important ‘truth’ is revealed. in this case the house is a metaphor for ego, the moon is enlightenment.

    when i read the quote i was reminded of the time your lead sponsor blew out, you moped over lunch at the loss of your ‘house’. A couple of glasses of jasmine tea later and a slight reminder that the day wasnt over (and that you should stop being a pussy) you went back and sold a lead and a co-sponsor (effectively you saw the moon clearly). The rationale here is that you lsot the inconsequential (a lead sponsor that you didnt really have – cant lose what you dont have), this ‘loss’ spurred you into action and allowed you to actually realize the two new sponsors. Moreover, had the lead sponsor closed, you know you would have taken a Vocal-tech meeting for the resto f the day thus cheating yourself out of both a great story and the extra sponsor. You had spent so much time believing that it would come that you momentarily forgot what you were actually capable of.

    Another example would be it wasnt until you lost your ‘great’ job with Marcus that you started Naseba.

    I guess my interpretation on the blog was that the focus here is not on quitting and moving ahead with life, but rather on how people need to reflect on what is really important and ignore that which is not. And it is this reflection that ultimately causes the house to burn and the moon to shine clearly. The message in the blog is still a good one: get on with it. The message in the quote however I feel is: quit worrying about the dumb stuff and the rest works itself out. Similar but slightly different.

  2. surely that friday afternoon you refer to had one of the biggest impacts on my professional career …

    for the reader – voxbacchus is my old boss and best friend – someone who knows me better than anyone else.