Line In The Sand

I’m 62 years old now, married, and have 2 grown children. As of recently, I am an avid listener of the TNQ Podcast. I now believe that I may have the honor of being one of first civilian members of Team Never Quit, way before the TNQ Podcast started. Allow me to explain and share my never quit story.
In 1991, I gave up corporate life and pursued my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I loved start-ups and had some great success. Going into 2008 I was on top on the world. I owned 3 businesses, each very different, and thus I thought myself very diversified. Two of the businesses were mature and had no debt and awesome cash flow. The 3rd was a start-up dream project that was just starting to become profitable. I was blessed with a home on the water in Florida, a dream come true. I spent lots of time in the out islands of the Bahamas. We had bought an awesome beachfront lot for our dream vacation home. I owned boats and planes (I logged my first time at age 9 with my dad), so getting to the Bahamas was easy and fun. Man, I thought I was so smart and had it all figured out. I was on my way to achieving my dreams and my goal of retiring before age 60.
Then my world crashed and burned. The banking collapse in late 2008 and economic crisis came out of nowhere for me. At first I thought, we’ll be ok, we’ve diversified and I’ve been through some pretty tough times before. But one by one, each business simply lost its customers. Reserves ran dry and partners left. There are many other details that are unbelievable and would just take me too long to explain. Suffice it to say, it was my “perfect storm”.
Bankruptcy and financial ruin ensued since in those days, it was difficult to find people’s help with filing for bankruptcy. It was a devastating and extremely humbling experience. It was like a bad dream. We quite literally went from not really needing a budget, to at times, barely being able to buy hot dogs. I couldn’t get a job. Creditors were relentless. The economy was in a shamble and nobody was hiring, especially not an over 50 guy with over 10 years of being his own boss. I had some new business ideas, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t start a new business because I had no money. I had so many low moments. I can’t even list them all. At one point I was helping my son move a long distance to start his first job and his career, being just out of college. At one point we stopped to re-fuel the U-Haul Truck. We were about mid-way there. I literally had an anxiety attach thinking my debit card would bounce and we’d be stuck there. I prayed so hard and I can assure you, that we only got to our destination by the grace of God.
By the end of 2009 it looked hopeless. I was in a dark, negative state of mind. I was blaming everybody but myself. It was my partners fault, the banks fault, the governments fault, and on and on. It was one giant pity party. I had let my wife, my kids and entire family down. I was embarrassed and humiliated every day. I had thoughts of doing something really stupid one day. But I snapped out of it and realizing that I was being a coward by blaming everybody else and giving up. I said to myself, this is not me. I’m not going down that way. My family depends on me and I’ve got to fight through this somehow. I suppose this was a never quit moment for sure, but there was a bigger one to come.
Going into 2010, I got reconnected with God and got some help from some good folks. I started working out with a group of friends, Monday through Friday. In August, a friend took me into his executive recruiting business. His business was starting to have some activity again and he knew I needed to make some money. I worked hard and learned the business, and started making some pretty good commissions as an independent contractor. I was sure the comeback had begun. Along the way I read two books that had a profound impact on me. Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and The Blessing of Adversity, by Rear Admiral Barry Black, a Navy Chaplain and Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. I cried in the middle of Lone Survivor. It was as if I was there. But, that book turned some big lights on for me and motivated me. So much so, that I wrote a letter about it and sent it to my kids and also some friends. I’ve attached that letter in its original form.
The recruiting business was good but very up and down. It was kind of feast or famine. Don’t get me wrong. We made some pretty good money, which we desperately needed. But at the same time, it provided a lot of false comebacks. By 2014, the inconsistency was wearing on me. The famines were becoming longer than the feasts. Fear of going backwards was setting in.
In 2014, I ran across a YouTube video of Marcus giving a speech to the University of Alabama football team. When he told the story of being basically paralyzed from the waste down and shot 8 or 9 times it was just incredible. He said he was lying there dying and basically feeling sorry for himself. Then he snapped out of it and said to himself “The mission’s still on, so get up and let’s go”. The only problem was he couldn’t get up. So he reached out and drew a line in the sand, and told himself that he was going to crawl over that line and if he was still alive he was going to draw another line and do it again. He did this for seven miles! Hearing these details of his story had a profound impact on me.
Going forward, during my many ups and downs, I would use that story to keep myself going. Every setback I had, and there were many, I used that story to keep me going. As I would run around the water front before sunup, I would imagine that the lines in the sidewalk were my lines in the sand. I used that to just get by one day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time throughout the tough days.
In 2015, a big business setback happened. The recruiting business that had kept us afloat for a few years, was coming to an end. About six months of hard work went unrewarded as deal after deal fell through at the last minute and then all of a sudden we just had no pipeline. No business. No income would be coming in for at least 6 to 9 months in a best case scenario. I was falling back into a dark place again. I just couldn’t believe it. I was on a run one morning, again before sun up. The weight on me at that time was crushing me. I broke down and fell to pieces. Then I looked down at the line in the sidewalk. At that moment, I talked to God and I said, “I’m not quitting. I’m never going to quit. I’m going to make a comeback with your help. But I need you to drag me across that next line. I just need a little break from this. If you drag me across that next line I’ll be able to get up and go again.” God and Marcus got me through that day. They got me across that line and many more that would follow. In late 2015, I landed a new job and things have been pretty solid ever since.
I believe God used Marcus to get me through these times. I know he did. So I’m thankful for God and for his great love and for Marcus, who continues to inspire me. I’m also thankful for the blessing of having the most incredible wife on earth. She stood by me and still stands by me. She’s a rock.
Today, I feel like I have put the work in to make it out of those dark times. And I’m committed to continue to put the work in that will get me to the finish line with honor. I feel spiritually and mentally fit. I’m more physically fit than I’ve ever been. I’m current and sharp in my business skills and still driven to learn new things. I now feel my best days are ahead of me. I no longer worry about how I’ll ever be able to retire. I love work and will work until God decides it’s time to stop and even then, I’m sure he’ll have some other type of work for me. I will work hard like it depends on me and pray hard like it depends on God. I am never out of the fight. I will cross that finish line with honor . I will accomplish my mission.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I left out a lot of stuff to try and keep this from being too long. But I think you’ll understand enough to know the impact that Marcus had on me, when I needed it the most.
I love the TNQ Podcast and I think it’s so needed today. I think everyone could benefit from it and I sincerely mean that. Rut is an awesome host, and together with Marcus and the Wizzard TNQ Rocks! It gives us the inspiration and motivation we need to persevere in life and to persevere with honor to those that mean the most to us. It always gets me fired up!
Thank you guys and may God bless you and your work.

Letter to my family and some close friends –
I recently read two books that I found to be very impactful. The first was Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell. This is a story of a Seal Team mission that went bad and the author was the ‘Lone Survivor”. The second book was The Blessing of Adversity, by Barry C. Black. Rear Admiral Black was the 62nd chaplain to the U.S. Senate and prior to that served 27 years in the Navy and was chief of Navy chaplains. I felt both books were related in some strange way and it took me quite a while to figure it out, so I wanted to share this with you.
Lone survivor is a story of Seal Team 10 and a 4 man team that went deep behind enemy lines in the mountains of Afghanistan. This sniper team’s objective was to sneak in, take out a Taliban commander, and then sneak back out undetected. Needless to say, to be successful stealth was critical.
On their way in they unexpectedly encountered 4 Afghani goat herders. These men were unarmed. The concern was that if they let them go they might tell the Talban about the Seal Team and compromise the mission. A debate ensued about whether to kill the men or let them go. In the end, due to the rules of engagement, U.S. laws and their Christian beliefs, they reluctantly let them go. Soon thereafter, the Team was ambushed by over 100 Taliban fighters.
After the initial firefight, the Team decided to fall back. The only way out was to jump off the side of the mountain! They literally jumped down a steep rocky cliff and slid hundreds of feet through shale and rock. Once stopped, they took cover and continued the firefight. This maneuver was repeated several times. In all they descended 1,000 feet! Along the way, they were injured by the falls and they were each shot several times, yet they fought on. Yes, you heard me correct. They were each shot several times and kept fighting. In the end, 3 were killed and only Marcus Luttrell managed to survive and escape. He was shot 7 times. This 4 man Seal Sniper Team managed to kill over 60 Talban that day.
What kind of men can do that you might ask? It is evident that the Seals are no ordinary soldiers. Their training is what makes them incredibly different and incredibly tough. Many that don’t understand, think that Seal training is some kind of pointless super military hazing. Yes, it is very tough, but, it is tough with a purpose. It is designed to develop soldiers that fight like Marcus Luttrell’s team fought.
Consider the central paragraph of the philosophy of the U.S. Navy Seals:
“I will never quit. I will persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”
This is not just words in some manual and their training is not some type of military fraternity hazing. These words are ingrained in them and reinforced through their training until they become an integral part of their being. This is how they can be shot 7 times, jump off several rocky cliffs and still keep fighting even when grossly out numbered.
The Blessing of Adversity (which I have now read 3 times by the way), helps us to find our God-given purpose in life’s troubles. The bible teaches us that in this life, there will be trouble. It doesn’t say there may be trouble. It says there will be trouble. I have learned a lot in the past few years during the economic crisis that cost us so dearly. And, I might add, I am still learning. I have learned that all things don’t happen for a reason. I have learned that God doesn’t cause these types of events, but he is really good at using them to give us a good slap on the back of the head to get us back on track. Going through troubles is the only way that we can be refined. Some compare it to making a saber. The steel has to be broken down by fire in order to reach its hardest and strongest form. As we emerge from our “valleys” we will be smarter and stronger in our faith. This can only come from experience in dealing with adversity. There is no other way, because as someone once said to me, “we don’t even know what we don’t know.” We learn best through adverse experiences. They humble us. They give us a wake up call that lets us know that we just might have gotten a bit off track. They deepen our knowledge of God. They enable us to see God’s faithfulness to us. Through all of this we become better able handle the adversity that we surely will face from time to time and do so with strong faith. Because of this, James tells us to rejoice when we face adversity. This was a strange concept to me 3 years ago. No so much today.
So where’s the tie-in between the two books, you must be asking by now? Just like Seal’s must be trained to excel under adverse conditions, so must we as Christians. God’s plan for us is to live a life of faith and then join him in heaven for eternity. That is really our only mission. We have to make it through the troubles of life, the valley’s if you will, and make it to the end. Along the way he’s given us a few rules to follow and some instructions. But we need to be trained to get through the valleys of this journey. Our “Seal” training comes from dealing with our adversities. This is how we are trained and how we make it to the end in a way that makes God proud of us.
I decided that I needed to write my own philosophical statement. So I borrowed a bit from the Seals and a bit from Barry Black and came up with this:
I will never quit. I will persevere and thrive on adversity. I will control my doubts and I will not complain, about anything, ever. My God expects me to face my challenges with courage. If knocked down by life’s troubles, I will get back up every time. I will be thankful for the blessing of adversity and draw on every remaining ounce of strength to honor God. I know my destination and I will fight the good fight and I will cross the finish line. I am never out of the fight.
As new challenges arise, I will recite this code to myself and draw upon my experiences to keep my faith and my determination strong. I hope in the future that this will help you in some small way.
The course is hard but it still steers. Always work hard to keep yourself on course.
With love,

References of interest (added over the course of a couple of years after first writing this letter):
I will never quit. I will persevere and thrive on adversity. I will control my doubts and I will not complain, about anything, ever. My God expects me to face my challenges with courage. If knocked down by life’s troubles, I will get back up every time. I will be thankful for the blessing of adversity and draw on every remaining ounce of strength to honor God. I know my destination and I will fight the good fight and I will cross the finish line. I am never out of the fight.
1) King David succeeded because he never quit. The account of his anointing as king is recorded in 1 Samuel 16 but he didn’t become king until some fifteen years later. During that period he was relentlessly pursued by the most powerful man in Israel at the time, King Saul. But David didn’t give up. He persevered. And from his troubles he produced memorable poetry and music, which make up much of the book of Psalms.
2) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.” (2 Corinthians 4:8 LB).
3) “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4)
4) Joseph persevered after being sold into Egypt and Paul persevered through imprisonment.
5) “he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).
6) James reminds us that those who doubt will receive nothing from God. (James 1:6-7).
7) Re: Doubts and how complicated they can be, C.S. Lewis wrote, “We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us: we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” By conquering our doubts when facing our troubles, we prepare ourselves for God’s best work in or lives. – Barry Black.
8) After interpreting the dreams, Joseph thought he would soon be released from prison in days. Yet days stretched into weeks and weeks into months and the months into two years. But Joseph never complained. He passed God’s test, proving that he was qualified for higher blessings and could be faithful with greater responsibility.
9) God expects us to approach our difficulties with courage. The Bible is filled with examples. Moses, lead more than a million people out of Egypt. Gideon faced armies from three nations with only three hundred men. Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls in fifty-two days, despite opposition and grave dangers. David refused to be intimidated by Goliath.
10) Jesus speaks of courage in John 16:33, “I’m telling you these things so that you might have peace. In this world, you’ll have pressure. Take courage, for I have overcome the world.”
11) Like Paul and Silas, who sang in prison (Acts 16:25), we must develop a toughness that enables us to ride out life’s storms with faithful obedience.
12) We must bear pressures, challenges, and sorrows in our lives because Christ our Savior bore them. We honor Him by carrying crosses such as the ones He carried – humility, persecution, misunderstanding, hardship, testing. And if we are faithful in meeting pressures with faith and courage, secure in the knowledge that Jesus has already won the victory, then we’ll be able to find blessings in our adversity and celebrate our troubles. – The Blessing of Adversity, Page 118
13) We know the ending and we know our destination. “Take courage for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We must endure to the end. “those who endure to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13)
14) In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Author: Rob