Monday, March 18, 2013

When to Hold 'em and When to Fold 'em

My past life...

Been reading a post on ModelMayhem about giving up on photography:

I have committed to photography full time now and it seems as though I will never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Looking for any encouragement from full-time photographers and would love to hear about any rough times they had and how they got through it.

And as I was flipping through some of my older blog content I found a post about an Avedon quote about Maniacs.

I read it and was fired up to write a similar post. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, "You gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em" and perhaps that's a greater lesson than just learning pure persistence.

Here's an example of knowing when "to hold 'em".

It took me 16 hours for me to finish Ironman NYC.

At no point during the race did I think to myself to quit. Not even when I discovered mid-race that my 2 tylenols dissolved overnight because of the rain. Not even when I had to diarrhea in a port-o-potty (yes, I crossed that off my bucket list). And not even after dehydration and gastro-intestinal issues rendered me a cramping-hobbling-walker for most of the last 20 miles of my race.

Was I afraid I wouldn't make the 17 hour time limit? Absolutely. Was I going to stop even if they told me I wasn't going to finish within the allotted time? Hell no. Why? Because I was in no immediate risk of hurting myself and I really wanted to finish the race. Sure, I was in pain but by the 12th hour, if you hadn't been carried away in a stretcher, chances were that you were going to be okay. Earlier that day a middle-aged Japanese man had a heart attack during the swim leg of the race and died. Later, a woman cracked her head on the asphalt during the bike leg of the race. She left a huge pool of blood in the middle of the course and was severely injured. Many others were taken to the hospital for dehydration etc. but those were the more serious problems.

Conclusion: A quick cost-benefit analysis revealed that the risks of substantial bodily injury were minimal enough for me to push through the pain and finish a race that I had prepared nearly a year for.

Now don't get me wrong. I've failed in lots of things throughout my life. I've failed relationships. Failed to fix things; mechanical and spiritual. I've let plenty of people down including myself.

But failing and surrendering are two totally different things. Failing is temporary. Surrendering is forever.

But sometimes you've gotta know when to fold 'em. Even when you don't want to. Even when you aren't a quitter. So here's an example of surrender.

In early 2000's I managed a "talent"; a maniacally high-horsepower one-off BMW that wound up in a several magazines and car shows. She (Bertha) was famous in the BMW/European car community and I was basically her "agent". As her fame grew over time so too did the problems. Mechanical and even worse, electrical problems surfaced. Problems that had very deep-rooted causes. Causes that would have eventually required rewiring the entire vehicle with "brain" and sensors. And like a Grammy award winning singer on drugs, Bertha desperately needed a lot of time in "rehab".

As the problems got worse, the funds got scarce. Eventually she spent more time in "rehab" with the mechanics than she was even up and running. Over time I realized she was basically on "life support" and it was bleeding me dry (emotionally and financially) just to keep her alive. It consumed so much of my time and energy trying to fix her that I had trouble sleeping. I eventually realized that she was dragging me down with her and that if I didn't cut my losses, there wouldn't be anything left of either her or me.

So I pulled the plug in 2007. Donated her to charity and where she was most likely scrapped her for parts.

I surrendered.

To this day she remains my biggest failure. And though it sounds like I'm trying to be funny, I assure you I'm not. That experience left me scarred. The fact that I surrendered and decided not to fix her, sometimes haunts me in my dreams. Because once you surrender, it's over. There are no second chances. No going back. No reconciliation. What's done is done and you live with those decisions for the rest of your life. And so I struggle with that decision to surrender because deep down inside of me, I feel like I should have kept trying. That I could have still fixed her. That given more time and resources, I could have made it all better. So the fact that I'll never get that opportunity to makes things right, makes me hurt deep down inside.

But that's the emotion talking. Logically-speaking I was in way too deep and if I didn't cut the cord, I wouldn't have gotten out alive. Because you have to look at what you're gambling with. At first it was just a little time and a little money. But by the end it was a lot of time, a lot of money, and even my psychological and physiological well-being.

Conclusion: Don't throw good money after bad. Don't bark up the wrong tree. You gotta know when to hold 'em and when fold 'em. I'll add more cliched sayings later when I think of them. But remember that surrendering is forever.

Sounds dismal but consider this: Bertha taught me everything that I knew prior to LUCIMA about managing a talent. I am grateful for that experience and those learning lessons. Because without ending my journey with Bertha I could not have started LUCIMA.

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