Four months ago, I received an email from a customer who had purchased one of the eBooks that I have written. The email said…
“I can’t download your eBook. Every time I go to the download page, I get a message stating that you haven’t been notified of my payment yet and to check back later. But my payment already went through.”
That’s weird, I thought. I checked the system and the payment had indeed gone through. This had never happened before. I concluded that it must be a fluke. So I just emailed the customer directly with the eBook as an attachment. Done.
Or so I assumed.
Later that day, I received another email from a new customer who couldn’t access the eBook. The next day, yet another one. And before I knew it, every single customer who was purchasing this particular eBook, was suddenly not able to download it for some reason.
I had a problem that needed fixing.
For one week straight, I tried to use all of my relevant knowledge to figure things out but I made no progress. I emailed every online service that was connected to my product and I asked for assistance, but nobody had any idea what was wrong. I tried again for another week, spending 4-5 hours every single day on the issue.
Then I enlisted the help of two friends who are experts in solving a variety of digital product problems…but even they, after two weeks of trying, could not come up with any solution either.
So, I just left it. A customer would purchase my eBook, they wouldn’t be able to download it, they’d email me and I’d email them back with the product as an attachment. This went on for three months. Every ten days or so, I would spend a full 7 or 8 hours trying to see if I could come up with a fix but, of course, I never could figure out what was happening.
Flying to Goa
Last week, I suddenly decided to fly from Bucharest to Goa, India, partly because of the harsh Romanian winter and partly because of the very cheap airfare that I found. I boarded my first flight, from Bucharest to Dubai, and I was happy to see that the plane was empty. I had a nice sleep the entire way as a result, all stretched out over three seats.
Upon arrival at the Dubai airport, I entered the terminal building, went to the food court to eat a sandwich for dinner and then sat down at a cafe for a coffee.
When I received my coffee, I had fifteen minutes before my next flight – Dubai to Goa via Mumbai – would start boarding. So I pulled out my laptop to quickly check my emails.
The first email I noticed was from the company that acts as the payment processor and marketplace for the eBook I was having trouble with. It was a short email but by the time I finished reading it, my face was burning slightly and it felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach.
The email read, “It has come to our attention that customers are unable to download your eBook once they purchase it. Please fix this issue within the next 12 hours or we will remove your product from our site and it can not be sold through us again.”
By the time I would reach Goa, take the 1.5 hour taxi ride to Palolem Beach, check in to a beach hut and try to find strong enough internet…and then somehow fix this problem that neither I, nor anyone else, could fix over the previous four months…more than 12 hours would most certainly pass.
That meant that I had 14 minutes to fix this issue or else I would lose this eBook. Without this particular company, I would lose a great deal of the marketing that has made this eBook popular. And if that were to happen, sales would be reduced drastically and as a result, any income earned from it as well. Just like that.
Now Boarding Flight AI894
I’ll be damned.
It took me exactly four minutes to fix the problem. I then made two test sales and everything worked perfectly.
I closed my laptop, enjoyed the final half of my coffee, shook my head in disbelief for a few minutes and walked to my gate, just in time to board the flight to India.
The Most Reliable Way to Succeed
That’s pretty much how life works. We can always get things done.
But when our backs are not up against the wall, when we don’t have a dire need to make something happen, when it’s not a now or never situation, it’s difficult to summon up the determination and effort we really need to advance towards a particular goal.
We might think we’re putting in the effort needed, but we’re not.
I thought I was doing everything I could to try and fix the problem above over the course of four months, but clearly I wasn’t. When I really needed to fix it, when I had no other choice but to fix it, when I could not afford to fail, I figured out the issue and fixed it…in four minutes.
This is how it goes for travel too. If we want to travel, in whatever form, and we struggle to get there, it might be because we’re too comfortable, we’re not really in a situation that leaves us no choice but to make it happen.
When I decided that I wanted to travel indefinitely back in 1999, I had less than $1500 USD to my name. I just made the decision while traveling in Southeast Asia but I didn’t have a plan at all. And as the days passed, I quickly realized that it was all up to me.
My money would run out soon and if I wanted to achieve this goal of long-term travel, I had to start achieving it, not in three months, not in one month…right now.
I had no other choice. Again, I could not afford to fail.
I talked to everyone I met, brainstormed like crazy and soon found a way to make a little money to keep me going until the next step, a way to make money that I never even knew existed until I had no choice but to find a way…and that’s pretty much how these 15 years of travel have happened. It’s gotten much easier over the years of course, but it’s all possible because I was left with no other option in the beginning.
And without that kind of pressure, I don’t know about you, but I tend to get lazy, I procrastinate, I convince myself that things aren’t possible. Time drags on, I don’t make progress, I get frustrated, and often times, I just give up.
It’s the determination that makes the difference and for most human beings, the most certain way to summon up the amount of determination required to achieve something, is to have no other choice but to succeed. I think it’s also why humans can suddenly lift cars to free someone trapped underneath or perform other amazing feats in intense situations that we ordinarily wouldn’t expect someone to be able to perform.
They have no other choice.
Were you ever in a similar situation? Did you achieve something when you had no other option?
Is there something you’re struggling to achieve these days?
Solution: For those interested, the problem was quite simple. I use a website called ejunkie.com that provides customers with the download link for the eBook. And in my ejunkie control panel, I had entered the link to my download page in the wrong section, something that I guess can be easy to do given how confusing the ejunkie control panel can be. The wording in the two sections is so similar that I can see how nobody would figure it out. But it had been working perfectly before so I’m not sure how the link suddenly ended up in the wrong spot but at least it’s fixed now!