One of my favorite summer reads has been The Third Door by Alex Banayan. Banayan takes us through an intriguing journey of interviewing some of the world’s most successful people. As a young college student with no real connections, this was an impressive and inspiring feat for anyone who has a seemingly impossible vision. I am not a big fan of most self-help books because I find them to be a bit mundane. I enjoyed this book, however, because it was creatively filled with success tips, but in a story format. I could not put it down for two days straight, and I finished it feeling highly motivated.
Without giving too much away (so you still go out and read the book), The Third Door emphasizes that in life, there is always a way. Whether you are let in through the front or have to sneak in through the back, the path is there. Successful people are defined as those who are desperate enough to keep looking for this path even when they are told “no”. In the beginning, Banayan did not have a sphere of influence that could secure him interviews within seconds. There was a lot of persistence that came with acquiring most of his contacts. It did get a little easier as he met more and more people who wanted to help him accomplish his goal, but the road to achieving it was long. There were times as I read the book that I wanted to scream. I felt myself comparing my personal struggles to his shortcomings, and I wanted him to win so badly. Not every interview request had a happy ending, and I appreciated the reality of his story. Sometimes the story does not go as planned, and there is not a crowd or a reader cheering you on in the background. It is just you, your vision, and a sense of hope that maybe you just have to try one more time.
After reading this book, I began to reflect on my own personal “third door” experiences. One that stuck out to me, and probably one of the most necessary moments of my life, was my trip to Ghana in 2018. Although this was my parent’s birthplace, I had not visited the West African powerhouse in over a decade. I am not sure why I had such a strong urge to be there, but I decided to go alone and explore for myself. At the time, Adu (CEO of Adu Clothing Co.), had asked that I take a couple of his pieces to Ghana since his designs were heavily influenced by the culture. He said to “make something happen while you are out there.” I remember feeling this pressure to do the extraordinary, but it was a daunting task. I did not know many people in Ghana outside of my extended family, and even then, they had not seen me in years. Nonetheless, I boarded the plane out of Atlanta with this sense of purpose, so I told myself I was going to meet Kwesi Arthur and give him an Adu shirt.
At the time, Kwesi Arthur was an artist that was constantly on repeat in my playlist. He was a Ghanaian rapper gaining worldwide notoriety, and as the perfect person for our target audience, I named him my primary target. I said to myself repeatedly that I was going to meet him, and I told my cousin who was hosting me during the visit of my plans. He and his wife laughed and were honestly intrigued by my mission. They could not understand why I was so consumed by this goal, but I knew that I had to prove to myself that I could find a way and do anything I set my mind to do.
After two weeks in Ghana, I finally met him. I handed him and his entourage Adu shirts and took pictures with the artist that I was so fixated on meeting. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but it really did not matter. The fact that I had to meet him and finish my mission outweighed anything else, and I learned so many things along the way.
1. Talk about the goal daily.
Talk about it so much that it annoys your closest friends. There is power in the tongue, and if you do not obsess over it, it will start to decrease in importance. During my trip, I mentioned my mission incessantly. In almost every conversation, I found a way to insert my need to get some merchandise to Kwesi Arthur on behalf of my client. Although your circle may be limited, you begin to multiply your reach just by sharing your goals with people that may get you a step closer.
2. Some doors are broken—keep trying.
On your path to finding a way, you are going to encounter a lot of broken doors. To me, these are things or people that seem like opportunities but end up being the complete opposite. In my case, this was one of the studio engineers that invited me to the studio to finally make it happen but ended up never responding to my messages and flaking at the very last minute. I felt a bit embarrassed because I told my cousin and his wife that I finally found my “in” just to come back home nowhere closer than I had started! These broken doors are discouraging in the moment, but they are the proving grounds of your seriousness. If one broken door can derail you, you do not want it bad enough. Keep trying! I was constantly driven by the possibility that the next time could be the right time and that was enough to move forward.
3. Always be prepared for your moment.
You never know when all your efforts and labor will be rewarded, so always be prepared for your moment. I would hate for either of us to be at the gate of success and fumble because we let our guard down. When you have a mission, stay focused on that goal. Be ready to make sacrifices that will put you in the perfect position—anything to ensure that all your preparation was not in vain. The day that I finally met Kwesi Arthur, it was at a festival where a member of his team said he had a performance. I was so nervous, and I did not say a word to anyone about this potential moment. I had learned my lesson from the last botched mission, and I refused to allow myself to get excited for nothing. This time, however, my text did come, and he asked me to meet them backstage during Kwesi Arthur’s set. It is such a surreal feeling when you can taste your full-circle moment. When every conversation and plot lead to the final door. After his set, they directed me to his car where I was able to give Kwesi Arthur the shirts, Adu’s contact information, and take a picture (of course for evidence). The entire transaction took place in no more than ten minutes, but regardless, I was fully prepared.
4. Perspective is Key.
I wish the story developed further from that moment I gave Kwesi Arthur the Adu gear. I wish I could say he posted a video of him rapping to his millions of followers and that was the day that my client experienced the best sales to date. But I cannot. I eventually left Ghana with the exciting news to share with Adu that I did exactly what I said I would do, but the harsh reality was that it really did not amount to much. Perspective is key because I still see the trip and the experience as a success. For subsequent projects and clients, I was empowered with the proven truth that I was a go-getter.
The word impossible began to lose meaning to me once I realized that if I could envision it, I could make it happen. Take some time to reflect on three “far-fetched” or “crazy” ideas that you have thought about when it comes to yourself or your business. Out of the three, seriously consider one idea from the list that you are willing to find a way to accomplish—no matter what. Then, find a way.