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Published:September 27th, 2006 06:38 EST
A Potentially Shocking Experience

A Potentially Shocking Experience

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

When I recently received the beautiful new plaque displaying the San Antonio Express-News column regarding our shop`s 50-year celebration, I was reminded of the day we hung the plaque for the 40-year anniversary.   What happened reaffirmed some basic facts regarding optimism.

After selecting the perfect " wall space, I started looking for the necessary items for hanging the plaque.  Ah!  On a shelf in the storage room, I found a hammer and a screw.  Don`t laugh.  Doesn`t everyone put a screw in the wall with a hammer?

After a few taps, the screw went through the sheet rock, hit something solid and stopped.    Persistence was to no avail.  The screw had gone as far as it was going.  I went to work on a customer, and decided to turn the project over to a barber who was more of a handy man than I (though that`s not saying much).  Even he made no progress.

J.B. finally walked in the storage room on the other side of the wall we were banging on, and stepped back in the shop with an announcement.  I think I know why you fellas aren`t getting anywhere, " he said.  You`re trying to drive that screw into the breaker box on the other side of the wall. "


When I began hanging the plaque, I was so optimistic.  It wouldn`t take but a minute and I`d have the article nicely displayed.  Then, when the other fellow took over, my optimism was given new life.  Yet, the sad truth is, no amount of optimism could have kept us from making a terrible mistake had that screw gone through the breaker box.  Optimism is no substitute for know-how and expertise.

Often we are puzzled by many failures in tasks and careers because the individuals seem to have knowledge, experience and expertise.  Yet, the answer often lies in the lack of optimism and other positive attitudes.  On the other hand, we often mistakenly think that a person can do anything if he or she just believes strongly enough and throws oneself into the task.  Unfortunately, with either approach, unless a J.B. comes along we might be in for a shock.

BARBER-OSOPHY:  To succeed you must be optimistic about the goal AND about mastering the knowledge and expertise necessary to accomplish it.  

Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "A HUMAN BECOMING - A Life Changing Voyage," and is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal. He speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker. Visit his website at

BARBER-OSOPHY is now an interactive site.  To comment on this column, or any  related topic, simply go to the barber-osophy blog at