In Memory of Walter (He Got What He Deserved)

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 11.59.05 PMI’ve been asked many times to name my favorite writer, or my favorite book, or the one piece that really did it for me.

The answers all come from the same source: Writer: Stanley Herz.

Book: “Conquering the Corporate Career.”

Piece: Chapter One.

I should mention that Stanley Herz is my dad. Back in 1986, he self-published a business book. I was 14, wide-eyes and in absolute awe. I still remember seeing it on the shelves of Waldenbooks, thinking, “Wow! That’s my father!”

Even now, nearly 30 years later, I consider the opening chapter one of the most important life lessons I’ve ever received, and one I try and follow as best I can.

Hence, I bring you Chapter One of my favorite book, “Conquering the Corporate Career” (currently ranked 6,873,146th on Amazon!) …

Although I made it a point to disguise the identity of anyone I refer to in this book, there was a certain individual who had so doomed himself to an abysmal life of anonymity that for me to disclose his name will give him the one bit of attention that had so eluded him during his lifetime.

This individual had become so comfortable in his routine that he summarily rejected any opportunity to attempt anything new or different. He merely lived to exist. One might perhaps have taken pity on him when aware that he was a victim of his own upbringing. I understand that his parents were every bit as cautious and fearful as their progeny.

Most people choose their adult roles to provide both the tangible pleasures of life and daily psychological fulfillment. This individual seemed to have achieve neither. His day was one of predictable pattern. Every minute knew what the next would bring. If he were still with us today, I would know what to expect.

This comfort of familiarity pervaded every aspect of his lifestyle. His living quarters were no different from when he passed on from when he first moved in. He had his favorite foods and was quite content not to vary his diet. He chose not to make new friends or meet new people, shunning the companionship of those he was not already at ease with. For exercise, he simply paced back and forth by himself. I wonder if in his peripatetic meanderings, he ever stopped to think about how the excitement of life had eluded him.

I would not have taken any notice of Walter (indeed his real name), except for one incident that occurred just before his demise. When I attempted to remove him from his cage to clean it, he refused to leave, huddling in the corner. I suppose one should not have expected too much from a guinea pig.

But how many people are little better off than Walter? How many individuals choose conveniently to nestle in the corner of their self-constructed cages of familiarity and habit? How many individuals pass up new career opportunities only to remain in slow-track, but “safe” positions? How many people fail to add fulfillment to their lives by taking prudent risks and stretching to new levels of obtainment?

Every person has the capability to expand to new horizons. No human being should confine himself to a cage.