Robert Edward Ted Turner Jr, is the billionaire founder of one of the world's most popular television stations Cable News Network (CNN). He has several achievements under his belt. In mid-1991 he became the first media personality to be voted Time Magazine's Man of The Year. The turning point in his life came in 1963. In that year his father, Edward Turner Sr, a renowned businessman specialising in outdoor billboard advertisement committed suicide. Turner the senior committed suicide ostensibly because he was bankrupt and his business was in dire straits. He could not see a way out of his predicament and discouraged decided to terminate his own life prematurely. Edward Turner Jr took over this very same business and within a few years turned it around into a multimillion dollar business. When he took over the family business Edward famously declared to his family, "Hold on to my coattails and one day I will take you to the stars." In the late '60s Turner bought a number of loss-making television stations, which held little promise. He named one of these stations WTCG-17. This was an acronym for Watch This Channel Go. There was not much business so the channel specialised in repeat comedies, cartoons and sports.
It did not seem to be going anywhere, but Turner was so bold as to declare to the world, "Watch This Channel Go." It is this channel, which eventually became CNN in 1980 after going through a series of name changes.
Upon the inception of CNN Turner declared, "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event... and when the end of the world comes, we'll play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' before we sign off." Since that day CNN has never been switched off, not for a minute. True Ted has had his discouragement, but he has remained steadfast. What lessons does this true life story hold for us?
No one is immune to discouragement
That Ted Turner, a billionaire, sometimes gets discouraged teaches us that no one is immune to discouragement. Discouragement is one of the most prevalent afflictions to blight human beings.
Discouragement comes when things do not go as expected. It becomes worse when there seems to be no way out. It is a disease that shows no favoritisms in that it afflicts both the great and the small, the rich and the poor and the successful and the failures. How one manages discouragement has a great bearing on what one achieves in life, and how far one goes. Discouraged Edward Turner the senior committed suicide, but faced by the same situation and even worse his 24-year-old son creatively navigated through the tempestuous circumstances.
Choose to be a bouncer and not a splatter
When it comes to how people respond to discouragement two distinct groups of people can de identified. The first group is called the SPLATTERS. When the splatters fall and reach rock bottom they stick to it and they never rise again. The problem with the splatters is not in them being discouraged, but in their unwillingness to come out of that discouragement. They fail to heed the age old counsel that says that the problem is not with the falling, but in remaining prostrate on the ground. These are the people like Ted Turner Sr who commit suicide when faced with discouraging situations.
The second group is called the Bouncers. These people face discouragement like other people, but they rebound like tennis balls from their discouragements. The major difference between the splatters and the bouncers is that the bouncers realise that there is an advantage to being rock bottom. The advantage to being at the bottom is that there is only one way left open to you, and that is upwards. It is always important to be cognisant of the fact that no matter where you are, and how low your spirits are, there is away upwards and out of the predicament.
Discouragement is a personal issue not a circumstantial one
There is no situation that is hopeless, but there are people that choose to be without hope. There are people that choose to be slaves of despair, and there are also people that choose to be slaves of hope. Discouragement does not come from the circumstances, but it comes from how one interprets those circumstances. The first step towards defeating discouragement is to realise that its source is in you, but its excuse are the outward circumstances vexing you. To successfully defeat discouragement one needs to address the internal distress, which is the source as well as the external circumstances. The situation that made Ted Turner Sr commit suicide was the same situation that Ted Turner Jr, with less business experience, triumphed over. The problem was therefore, not in the situation or the circumstances, but in their respective attitudes of heart. Discouragement is a product of an internal conversation based on external observations or even presumptions. The problem is that often our presumptions and observations mislead us, particularly when we are under pressure.
Dr Martin Lloyd Jones, one of the greatest English heart surgeons, noted in his seminal work, Spiritual Depression, It's Cause and Cure: "Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself."
The situation always has a voice that shouts loud. In every situation there are two voices - that of the situation and yours. When you are discouraged, you wake up in the morning and immediately you are bombarded relentlessly by streams of thought. Without your invitation these thoughts assail you and they start talking to you through your inner voice. Although these thoughts and internal conversations are not invited they need your permission to continue vexing you. There is a time to listen to yourself and there is also a time to talk to yourself. If your internal conversation is leading you into a downward spiral, it is time to do a lot more talking to yourself than listening to yourself.