“Commitment is the ultimate assertion of human freedom.” – Deepak Chopra
When I was a teenager, my younger brother had a friend who lived a few blocks away from us. He was born out of wedlock. His family was poor and they struggled financially. He was the oldest among three children. He never really knew his dad. Rumors flew that the father abandoned the family when he was just baby. I felt really bad for him because most of the kids in the neighborhood usually picked on him. They viewed him as a useless imbecile.
One day, he came up with this idea to open a barbershop. He quickly started working on his idea. He secured a location. There was an abandoned piece of land in the central part of the neighborhood. We usually referred to it as, “No man’s land.” He asked permission from the owner to put a shop on it, and he promised to take care of the land. The owner agreed. He then gathered scraps and used flat-boards from local carpenters. He built a shed. He cleaned up all the land and created a walking path to the shed. He put up a sign, “Barbershop Opened.” I was shocked just like many other kids. I couldn’t ‘understand how he could open barbershop without any formal training. It just seems impossible. He had also never cut anyone’s hair. Somehow, he had this drive to cut hair.
For several weeks, no one showed up at the shop. He remained confident that people would come. We used to laugh at him because this idea was insane! We thought he was just seeking attention. Some people even threw rocks at the shed. They made fun of him. He never really cared about what people thought of him. He would even invite people to come hang out at the shed. No one was interested to join him at the shop. You would rarely find any one near the shop. The shop itself was seen as an amusement. Day in and day out, he stayed in the shop by himself. Sometimes, his younger siblings would occupy the shed. At the end of each day, he closed the shed and went home. It was like he ran a business. This went on for a while.
One evening, a woman came to the shed with her son. She asked, “Who is the barber?” The guys at the shop laughed and pointed at him. He raised his hand and said, “It is me.” The woman was astonished and confused because he did not look professional. She asked, “Are you sure you can cut hair?” He responded, “Yes, I can.” He got up and grabbed one of the chairs in the shed. He placed it behind the kid and asked him to sit on it. He pulled out some old scissors. It was the only tool he had. It took him a while but he managed to cut the kid’s hair. He was soaked in his own sweat. The woman was impressed and made a deal with him. She asked him to be the barber of her children and cut their hair every few weeks. He was excited about the opportunity and thanked the woman. The woman paid him and left.
Since that day, he grew the business. He visited homes and promoted the business. He targeted mothers with younger kids. Some of the clients referred other clients through word of mouth. He got busy. He became good at it and became popular. He went from cutting children’s hair to adult hair. He built up a huge volume of clients.
His price was so reasonable that it attracted many families. He earned enough money and bought real barbershop accessories: clippers, combs, mirrors, brushes, and so on. He completed his barbershop and made it very attractive for families. He even had electricity.
It became a popular destination for many of his friends. It was a true transformative experience to watch him create this business on his own. According to Deepak Chopra, “It releases all the energy you possess and enables you to take quantum leaps in creativity.”
He was the first kid amongst his peers to actually earn money. He even financially supported the mother. Some of the kids who laughed at him became his fans.
This particular story has been an inspiration to me for many years. Many of us have goals and dreams we’re afraid to commit to. We have allowed the noise in our heads to be so loud that it blinds us from seeing beyond ourselves. When you set your intention and commit to it, there is truly nothing you cannot achieve.
My brother’s friend started with an idea, which was his intention. He committed to it. No one believed him. Over time, he reaped the results. He became successful. We all can be like him. Stop thinking that one day magically, somewhere, somehow, your dream will appear without any effort. Don’t dwell in the rivers of instant gratification. When you set your intention and commit to it, I bet you there is nothing you cannot achieve.