Tony Papajohn

Who I Am in Seven Short Stories and a Few Odds and Ends
1 My First Success Memory

Here is my first success memory. I was eight years old.

For the first two-thirds or three quarters of the school year, I floundered. I had a very difficult time with the arithmetic part of daily quizzes.

I finally made a breakthrough. For the rest of the year, I got a perfect score every day.

With a couple of days of school left, the principle visited our classroom. My teacher called me to the front of the room and said “This boy has tried so hard.”

I remember this as if it was yesterday even though it has been a while since I was eight.

To this day, I look back on that younger version of me with fondness, appreciation, and admiration. He gave me a success memory that still resonates decades later.

In college, a chemistry professor told me “It takes you a while to get it. But when you get it, you really get it.”

He was right.

So here’s the lesson: Remember your past successes.

Even if a much younger version of you achieved the success, the feeling of success still resonates to this day.

2 Laughing at Dead Jokes

I was a minister. I taught Sunday lessons for almost 13 years.

For just over four years, I taught at a church that met in a funeral home. I had a great time making fun of the funeral home.

I told what I called “dead jokes.”

Here are few examples:

  • I love this little church. It’s the church… to die for!
  • I’m so happy to be with you. I feel like I’m the luckiest stiff in the morgue. And we’ve got one right down the hall!
  • This year, I think we should have a church cruise. We could go with… “Club Dead!”
  • We’re the only church in town that can hold its picnic in the cemetery. For us, this works!
  • I notice some people won’t come to church because this is a funeral home. Well, you might say we got rid of the… “deadwood!”

A lot of people were upset that the church was meeting in a funeral home. That’s why I made fun of it.

So what’s the lesson? Laugh!

And here is one more thing.

Some people have asked me why I use so many quotes from others. I find it quite natural.

A minister often takes a bible quote or bible story and turns it into a Sunday lesson. Conversely, a minister can draw inspiration from an event that happened during the week, add a bible quote or a bible story, and craft a lesson.

In a sense, I do the same thing with every post on this website.

3 You Spent How Much?

Here’s how I got the idea that led to Mind of Success.

I meant an engineering professor at a real estate class. She confided in me that she had spent over $50,000 for real estate education and had yet to make a single deal.

My immediate reaction was “Really? How interesting. How do you do that?” I was intensely curious.

You see, I’m interested in human nature. I’m intensely curious about why human beings, be they saints or sinners, do the things they do.

I have always been curious about how people gravitate to their life situations and level of success. What got them there and why did they not end up somewhere else?

In high school, I worked in a car wash. I always wondered how some people drove nice cars and others did not.

The few minutes I spent with this professor led me to believe there must be many others (and there are) in the same circumstances. I thought “This is an opportunity that suits me.”

That’s one reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.

What’s the lesson? Follow your instinctive curiosity. You are intensely curious for a reason.

4 Was This Place Haunted?

I acquired a four-bedroom, three-bath house for $10. I stood to make as much as $45,000.

This was promising. Then I did just about everything wrong.

In fact, the only things I did right were:

  • Keep talking myself into success.
  • Replace directional “bandit” signs every day.

Lots of things went wrong. I suspect I invented new ways to screw things up.

In fact, so many things went wrong that I have even wondered if the house was built on the site of an old cemetery!

Well, it wasn’t pretty. However, I still made almost $25,000.

Here’s the lesson. No matter how badly you screw up, keep talking yourself into success.

Sooner or later, you will win even if the house you are trying to sell is haunted.

5 Why Donald Trump is My Favorite Billionaire

I gained a valuable insight from The Donald.

I heard him speak at an event. After his talk, I got in line to ask a question.

I was going to ask:

  • What makes you tick?
  • What makes you who you are?
  • Why are you successful and many others are not?

As I was formulating these questions, someone asked Trump about wording in a contract. The Donald exclaimed “That’s exactly the kind of question every one of you should be asking me!”

The thought flashed through my mind “That’s why I will never be of billionaire.” I would never think to ask Donald Trump about the wording of a contract.

I wanted to know how his mind works.

Why? I am far more curious and passionate about how the minds of successful people work rather than the strategies they use to make a lot of money.

Certainly, strategies are important. However, they are not my focus.

So what’s the lesson? Know thyself.

6 I Never Became a Physician, but…

When I was in high school and college, I wanted to be a physician.

That never happened. However, I do have a comforting, soothing, and supportive bedside manner… if I say so myself.

And I have some evidence to support this. Besides my years in ministry, I helped my parents recover from three major surgeries between them.

And I was my father’s caregiver at the end of his life. If you have never had the experience, it is an extended meditation on the transitory and ephemeral nature of life.

Eighty-seven years previously, a doctor or perhaps a midwife helped him into the world. I just helped him out of it.

One process is the reverse of the other. They are two ends of the same cosmic stick.

So one way I see my work is helping people out of an old self and into a new self. Metaphorically, this means to “die and be born again” in terms of failure versus success thinking.

I know that may be too religious, spiritual, mystical, mysterious, spooky, weird, “out there” or whatever else for some. Well, it’s who I am and how my mind works.

Deal with it.

So what’s the lesson? A dream denied still leads to a destiny fulfilled.

7 When It Is Not Good to be a Boy

I like to say there are times in life when it’s good to have been born a boy. The following is not one of them.

Some time back, I suffered a groin injury. To make a long story short, I didn’t take care of it properly, reinjured it, and neglected it on top of that.

This was dumb. Really dumb.

However, that’s what I did. And, in the words of the Immortal Bard, “What’s done is done.”

True. Nevertheless, that was then and this is now.

I have been doing a variety of stretches for quite some time. And I’m making substantial progress.

The standing joke among my friends is I want to win the gold medal for the high hurdles at the Munchkin Olympics. I’m pleased to report I am getting closer all the time.

This is my attitude:

  • I made this mess.
  • I can unmake it.

So here is the lesson. If you screw up, take responsibility. Do something about it.

Enough said?

And a Few Odds and Ends

Favorite Movie: Citizen Kane. Sheer genius. It was 40 years ahead of its time.

Honorable Mention:

  • Scrooge with Alistar Sim. It’s not Christmas unless I watch it yet again.
  • The Godfather
  • The Matrix
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • City Lights
  • Conspiracy
  • The King’s Speech
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Once Were Warriors
  • Casablanca

Favorite Author: Shakespeare. The 4,000 characters of the Shakespeare cannon express every emotion of human existence. They tell the story of being human.

Favorite Success Book: The Bible. Particularly the Parables. You could outlive Methuselah and never run out of things to say.

Favorite TV Show: The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan’s cult classic still makes you think. Been a fan since it was first aired.

Honorable Mention:

  • The Twilight Zone. Sometimes cheesy. Sometimes preachy. However, sometimes, Rod Serling got it right.
  • Star Trek. Often enough, silly. However, sometimes nothing short of sublime. At their best when they did not rely on a new gizmo to save the day and use science fiction to tell a story in a compelling way.

Favorite Recording Artist: Enrico Caruso. The best that ever lived. Fortunately, he was born about the same time as the phonograph.

Honorable Mention:

  • Enya
  • Jussi Bjorling
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Cecila Bartoli

Besides being a huge talent, Signora Bartoli bears a striking resemblance to Mary, my first love. We have known each other since 5th grade. I have sent her a birthday card for some years.

Favorite Composer: Mozart. We won’t see his like any time soon.

Honorable Mention:

  • Beethoven. And the guy was deaf! You couldn’t make this up.
  • Vivaldi
  • Bach

Historical person I would most like to meet: Jesus. Well, he would have answered to “Yeshiva.”

Honorable Mention:

  • The artists of Altamira and Lascaux. I’d love to know what they were thinking and why they did what they did.
  • Plato. I’d like to know where he got the idea for the cave.
  • One of the guys who build the Great Pyramid. He could tell a tale or two. And they would not be about the alien guy in “Stargate.”
  • Cleopatra. She did not look like Elizabeth Taylor. However, she could speak 9 languages and had a most captivating speaking voice.
  • Theodora. One of the most unusual women of history. A story you could not make up. She must have been formidable.
  • Abraham Lincoln. Been to his home and grave a few times.

Place I would most like to visit: The Pilbara. A desert in northwestern Australia featured in “Japanese Story.”

If I wasn’t doing this, I would be… a singer. I studied voice and opera for two years. It is up there with ministry on my list of unhappy loves.

So that’s a little about me. Someday, I hope to learn a little about you.

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