Daily Inspiration: Personal Success – “Your best story is the one you have yet to share!”


“Your best story is the one you have yet to share!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

It’s book week! Each day this week, Futurist Jim Carroll has been featuring one of his books. He’s written 39!

In this final post of the week in which I’ve been sharing a few stories about a few of the books I’ve written, let me tell you about The Lion’s Den, a Soviet vs. America vs. China Cold War thriller novel that I wrote at the age of 15.

Simply because I wanted to avoid an entire high school term on poetry.

It’s yet to be available in print, but since I still have the manuscript, I plan to one day get it an ISBN and get it out there. My wife tells me I can take on this project when I retire, and since I might never actually do that, it could take a little while!

The book is a US-Soviet Cold War-style thriller that involved a global crisis; there were nuclear explosions, fascinating and complex spies, geopolitical maneuvering, and yes, even a sex scene. Not a bad effort for a 15-year-old kid! Back in 2012, on Christmas morning, my family gave me a fully formatted manuscript ready to go to print – typed in from the original typewritten manuscript by my wife Christa, and with a fabulous cover design by my son Willie. The back cover copy tells a bit more about this remarkable project.

With that, I offer up the inspiration that sometimes the best story is the one yet to come!

And since I am in full-on reminiscing mode, let’s start here with the story of how this book came about. What prompts a kid to write a full-length novel at the age of 15?

Well, to start, I think I was always a bit of an oddball and a problem student, never fitting the norm in terms of behavior or age. For example, I was quickly moved out of Grade 2 through Grade 3 and into Grade 4 over a short time – I always thought that perhaps the teachers just didn’t like me! This process resulted in some challenges a few years later as all the girls reached puberty and I was a much smaller, 2 years younger tiny kid. I’m pretty easy to pick out in this photo, for example.

Later on in high school, I had little interest in much other than having a good time, avoiding sports and gym class, and running the high school radio station CKWR. I would take great joy in blasting out Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep albums to the jocks, knowing that all they wanted to hear was disco. (I’m in the front, right, since I was the Station Manager.)

It also meant that rather than participating in sporting competitions and such – the normally expected behavior of most young teens – I was busy being Evil Knieval, the daredevil stunt rider popular at the time – riding a tricycle over a complex ramp structure while on a tricycle at the school variety show. I mean, why not?

With all this, I managed to get through the complex voyage of high school just after turning 16. My mother insisted I get my hair cut for graduation, so my long flowing beyond shoulder-length hair was mightily trimmed back. This photo came shortly after that traumatic experience.

From that point, somehow, I managed to get through my B. Comm degree in but 3 years rather than 4, meaning that I finished my last university class and headed towards graduation at the age of 19. There was a lot of time spent on pool and darts and a bit of continuous misbehavior. To this day, I remind my good friend, Keith Croucher of my prowess at these two key skills. I’ve also let my sons know that I DID earn quite a bit of money fleecing others when I could with this skill set. (I guess I could count this as a sporting skill of sorts.)

Why do I tell you all of this? You might get a sense by now that my focus on innovation as one of my core keynote topics comes about naturally. I regularly preach from the stage that success and opportunity come from not fitting the norm. I guess because I have lived this type of life since early on, the message comes from the heart. I rebelled, refused to fit the established norms of behavior, and early in my life, found the methods in the madness of my teen years to find an outlet for my creativity.

I digress.

Back to the book.

The impact of all this odd and often rebellious behavior was that I often did not do the things I was expected to do, and often found myself in a bit of trouble while doing so. My gosh, there was a lot of fun that ensued along the way – and one story I can share involves the time I was accosted by the school Principal for not attending History class. I was in the radio station room, busy DJ’ing, spinning some Aerosmith out to the airwaves. I guess he had decided he had enough of my truant behavior – I had only gone to the actual class once and showed up only for tests. He decided to accost me. I asked him what my mark was so far,  and I remember him looking into the folder he had which I supposed was full of documentary evidence of my rebellious spirit.

He sheepishly replied ’98.’

I gave him a rather blank look, turned away to put the next ’45 on the turntable, and ignored him as he walked away. In my view, what was the point of going to class when there was so much more fun to be had?

Around that time, my Grade 11 English class teacher announced that we would be spending the entire next term on poetry, something that I perhaps thought might be as exciting as watching paint dry. At the end of the class, I walked up to him and told him that I had no plans to come to class or to participate in such studies, given that it would be so boring and that I hated the idea of wasting time! I think he had me figured out by that time, and rather than admonish me, offered me up a challenge – what might I suggest I would do to earn my mark for the term?

Flippantly, I responded, “I’ll write you a novel.”

So I did.

Two and a half months later, I walked in and handed him – I think much to his surprise – the manuscript for The Lion’s Den.

I remember that the very day that he challenged me, I went home, took out the family typewriter, rolled in a piece of paper, and started banging away at the keys.

You need to keep in mind that this was long before the era of personal computers and word processors and such. I quickly learned the art of utilizing small dabs of WhiteOut and the backspace key to correct my mistakes.

In fact, by the time I started writing the book, I had already penned numerous short stories while in Grade 10 – another way of avoiding the boredom of the classroom. Two of them survive to this day; one, with the innocuous title of Lift, Carry, Dump, tells the story of a complex relationship between a son and his garbageman father. Looking back, it covers the complex dynamics of how to truly define life success. For that, I earned a mark of 180 out of 200.

I guess I liked to write from an early age!

Back to the book. At some moment in time, I ran out of white paper and only had this weird green paper available, so I ran with it! What is evident when you look at the manuscript is the lack of corrective typing – I was on fire as I banged away at the keyboard, somehow working hard to get the story that was inside my head out onto paper.

On the last day of the term – poetry class! – I turned in my manuscript, a full-length Cold War spy thriller!

To my astonishment, many years later my wife discovered the manuscript within the detritus of my vastly disorganized life. She had started dating me at the age of 27 and was rather mystified, I suppose, by this rather odd man that she had met. Unbeknownst to me, she started reading the novel on the subway on her way to and from work – and then told me about this fact when she finished the final chapter. Perhaps this, among other signals, was giving her some idea that perhaps a life with me might not involve the normal, staid, boring progression of things. Adventurous, she stuck with me (a fact I marvel at to this day!)

Some years later, she retyped in the novel, word for word, and had my son design a cover – and in  2012, presented it to me for Christmas.  I think I cried with joy.

We still have the files. Someday, I will take the manuscript, clean it up, and have my wife properly format it for Amazon. We’ll get it into print, and make it available for sale.


Because, in my mind, perhaps your best story is the one you have yet to share!



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.