“Life is Hard. Then You Die.” 51

So Why Don’t You Just Give Up!

Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.
— David Gerrold

When I was 32 years old, I was considered a loser.

I’d been striving to be a rock star on the hard streets of Hollywood, working whatever job I could find to support my wife and two young daughters, but no doubt about it, the future didn’t seem all that secure.

The theme was, “Why can’t you be a success?” and a secondary theme was, “Why don’t you go back to school so you can get a real job?”

And the truth was I’d done a lot of things without a huge amount of measurable success.  Pretty much I’d been doing all the things that were interesting and creative and fun and not worrying too much about how I was going to support a family now and in the future.

So my wife convinced me to go back to college.

And I decided — against her better judgment — if I was going to go back to college, I was going to major in music.

Just for the record, that’s NOT the optimal route to supporting a wife and family, but that’s what I decided.

So I started back to school …

But there were problems!

First of all, I played a little guitar (not very well) but that was it.  Zero piano skills, didn’t play another instrument.

I could sing, but I was a bass/baritone and couldn’t tell you the notes on the bass clef.

What can I say … I was fearless.

I was a bit out of place.

First of all, most people starting college for a music degree are 18 years old, not 32.

I had a wife,  two young daughters, a full-time job and a couple part-time ones and was carrying a double load of courses.

I was also in a hurry.

The day that I started, a brand-new music professor lead the choral program.  He was fresh from receiving his — still wet from the press — doctorate at the University of Oklahoma and as far as we understood, he seemed to think he knew everything in the world about choral music.

And he wasn’t afraid to let you know.

Setting himself up as head drill sergeant he plowed through the ranks of the choral department like a tank, leaving bodies everywhere.

He intended to raise the standards of the choral program and make a mark for himself in record time.

Proudly displayed on his T-Shirt was the saying …

“Life is hard. Then you die.”

At first I was convinced that he was determined to make everyone’s life very hard and then possibly to kill them off one by one, but then my perspective changed a bit and I discovered that he was a lot like me.

He was a little scared I think.

This was his first big position and he needed to be outstanding.  He was trying to do that very hard.

Along the way he alienated big chunks of the staff and students, but he learned quickly a little humility can go a long way.

Eventually we both relaxed enough to breathe.

And I found him to be amazingly supportive of me and my Quixotic efforts to learn something about music.

For as long as I was willing to try, he was willing to support me — all I had to do was keep trying.

That wouldn’t have been true of everyone.  Dr. Belan was amazing at taking me exactly where I was — with zero skills — and moving me to a higher plain.

Eventually, I finished a 4 year degree in two years, by really scrambling, and then went on to a graduate degree studying with Dr. Belan, but it wasn’t easy.

Along the way Dr. William Belan was an amazing support to me.  He challenged me every step of the way and showed me that perseverance and quality  are valuable beyond measure.


Thank you Dr. Belan.

Dr. Belan has been been teaching choral music for over 30 years at California State University, Los Angeles and directs one of largest choral conducting graduate degree programs in the United States.

He’s a pretty amazing man.

So many times along the way, I could have quit in an instant.

I think it was partially my desire not to let Dr. Belan down after all of his support that kept me going through 6 years of studying when it wasn’t easy to juggle the jobs, the family and the kids along with getting my degrees.

Today I got requests for help from two desperate people.

They are both living in situations with seemingly hopeless prospects.

They believe they will not be able to make it without my help or at the very least they want me to take their pain away.

Of  over 60,000 people who are members of my sites, come to my live events or subscribe to my newsletters, many of them are going through terrible times.

There’s a 10% Chance of Awful Things Happening to YOU this Weekend.

For any given weekend, I project that 10% of all of the people have something major go wrong in their lives, such as the lost of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, serious accident,  etc.

The list goes on.

That means in my family that 6,000 people are having a major problem right now.

And I want to help.

Maybe the t-shirt has it right.  “Life is Hard. Then We Die.”

Life is certainly hard at times.

But even if it were true …

What good does it do to give up?

What can the world gain if you stop short of your goals?

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching.” In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.”

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.

F. W. Woolworth was not allowed to wait on customers when he worked in a dry goods store because, his boss said, “he didn’t have enough sense.”

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

You know the list goes on.

Do you want to quit 3 feet from the gold?

All the best,


Ken McArthur

Best-Selling Author and Producer

The Impact Factor Movie
The Impact Masterminds
The Impact Action Plan Workshops

P.S. Here’s the addresses to find me on Twitter and Facebook …



About Ken McArthur

Ken challenges us to realize we ALL have an impact – whether we want to or not – on thousands of people who we touch in our day-to-day lives by demonstrating that simple things make a HUGE difference. The popular host of a series of live events that bring together top-level marketers, entrepreneurs, business owners, corporations and non-profit organizations to create multi-million dollar joint venture relationships – he creates incredible, intense impact for product launches and multi-million dollar profits in surprisingly short timeframes. Regularly asked to speak at leading marketing events, he has managed product launches ranked in the top 400 sites on the Internet. Ken McArthur is also the creator of AffiliateShowcase.com, a pioneering affiliate program search engine and directory system and the founder of the MBS Internet Research Center, which conducted the world’s largest survey ever attempted on the subject of creating and launching successful information products. Not satisfied to concentrate entirely on large organizations, Ken also works with select individuals to help them create a decent living utilizing the power of the Internet. Ken was the official mentor for Sterling Valentine as he took his launch from ZERO to over $100,000 in less than 8 days. Ken and Sterling documented the process as a “proof of concept” for Info Product Blueprint a massive home study course that is the “bible” of info product creation. Ken offers top-level coaching and mentoring programs designed to help individuals, corporations and non-profit organizations reach masses of people using the techniques, tactics strategies and systems that he has developed specifically to help people spread their ideas, products and services around the globe.

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51 thoughts on ““Life is Hard. Then You Die.”

  • David Yorka


    You” hit me right where I live” with this well crafted motivational story, commentary and fantastic quotes. Outstanding!

    I am very grateful to have connected with you in this “give up” season of my life.

    I vowed to drive yo Denver if that is was my only option. My wife suggested taking the train –“wow” what a great idea.

    “I get knocked down six times, I get up seven.”

    ~Chinese Proverb

  • Linda Curtis

    Ken, I personally feel like I am 3 ft from the gold and I refuse to give up!

    I have been in survival mode my entire life. I have overcome many upon many traumatic experiences to become a compassionate, forgiving and loving person. I actually recently created a humanitarian project to share unconditional love with the world. If you knew my story you would wonder how is this possible. I stay focused on the fact that I am here for a reason and I must fulfill that purpose. My struggles have made me the strong person I am today and I strive to empower others to tap into their inner strength.

    Three feet from the gold….and closing in, lol!

    My favorite quote: “You've come a long way baby!”

    Thanks for bringing Tobri to us, it will empower us all to connect with one another and share our healing messages of love and acceptance.

    Healing the world, one person at a a time!
    Linda Curtis, Founder

  • rodney grinnen

    Hi Ken

    yes life is hard, the real bad thing is we do not find it out when we are young, because know it all then. I

    you find it out when you are on your own for the first time. Life is what you make , if you learn from doing

    and apply it to your life , life can be fun.


  • KenMcArthur

    Great comments Linda and many thanks for your kind words. If we knew the lives of the people around us we would probably be amazed and a lot more sympathetic. People who overcome all odds on a daily basis are amazing.

  • Joemcvoy

    Hi Ken,

    Look forward to meeting you in Denver next weekend!

    I've only been bankrupt once and had 5 or 6 failed businesses, but that's OK. I've had a couple multi-million dollar successes too – just a shame that the successes and the failures didn't come in the right order;)

    Will just keep trying until the worms get us! Wouldn't have it any other way.

    Hopefully, the next time I make a couple million I'll figure out how to keep it!


    • KenMcArthur

      So many times people think success is a constant uphill climb. We all have successes and failures and not necessarily in the order we would expect! They don't say, “Life has its ups and downs” for nothing.

  • Matt

    I share your experience in deciding to study music later in life. I learned how to read music at the age of 18 … one year before becoming a music major … Jazz and Contemporary Media Music (U of A) with performance major/minor in Piano and Voice. I played professonally for 2 years and worked my way through law school doing gigs on weekends. Now, 30 years later, I still have a rock an roll band. That's the beauty of music … you can PLAY for a living … it's not Work. That's what I admire about your internet and joint venture activities … you also are PLAYING for a living and touchng many lives …. Blessings to you!

    • KenMcArthur

      Hey Matt. There are MANY incredible musicians in the jvAlert Live, Impact and now Tobri family. Music is one of those incredible ways of reaching people on every level and having an impact like nothing else can. Great to have you here!

  • Dohertys

    Hi Ken,

    My initial reaction is “What the …”
    This shouldn't be coming from Ken McArthur.

    I would have bought that tee shirt two years ago but after turning 60 I decided I ain't dead yet so I had better change direction. I am taking the plunge.

    It takes a while to turn a ship around but it is fun watching your old inner furniture smash itself to bits and disintegrate knowing new stuff is on the way.

    Keep your eye on my Tobri pages as I move joyfully forward. My two areas will be personal development specifically The Law of Alignment, and The Psychology of Change – Small business specifically, equipping affiliate marketers to face outwards and become consultants to offline businesses.


    Ronald Doherty

    • KenMcArthur

      Hey Ronald,

      Just passed the big 60, so I'm looking for wisdom! My father is approaching 90 and still exploring the adventures of the world, so I guess I have a ways to go.

      Glad to have you on Tobri making your mark!

      All the best,


  • Amy

    I LOVED your story Ken! I can relate… In 1988 I dropped everything (including a marriage) to go “play” as an actor, singer-songwriter along with managing, promoting and booking original bands. Only I did it from a place of ANYTHING is possible and within a week of a move to Miami Beach I had a cameo spot in a horror film! (LOL) Then I was cast in Miami Vice (which would continue for 2 years). I “broke” into the “exclusive celebrity and socialite” community and about 50% of my friends were international stars. I even dated a rock star, now in the RnR Hall of Fame. I tell you this because I started out with the KNOWING that ALL I HAD TO DO WAS TO “BE” THAT WHICH I WANTED TO BECOME AND THE “BECOMING” WOULD JUST AUTOMATICALLY FOLLOW. I wanted to BE an actress, so I “BE'd” one. I made the connections that an actor would have, got the headshots, went to the exclusive parties and events, go the agents, made friends with and stayed in close contact with the casting directors … etc. And I WAS an actor. Same thing with music.

    Life is NOT HARD and then you die! That is a old worn out wrong view. Life is a BLOCK OF CLAY and YOU are the one spinning it on the wheel. And dying? An impossibility since we are ETERNAL Beings! 😀 The t-shirt needs a re-write!

    Though I really did enjoy visualizing you with long hair schlepping around with your guitar in tow so you looked the part through the streets of Hollywood.

    Where are the (wild and wonderful) pictures?

    Always Love, Joy and Abundance,

  • Matt

    Imagine if you had a team of insurance, financial and legal professionals who could take a portion of the profits from each business that you had … WHILE YOU WERE SUCCESSFUL in each of them … and arranged for that wealth to build in a Self-directed Roth IRA or 401k Plan. Once in the Roth Plan it would grow and be distributed tax free. You could also use that money to invest in other people's businesses and help them to achieve the same goal that you would have achieved …. $200k per year, tax free for life upon hitting age 60. I keep hearing about people making tons of money and losing tons of money (I am one of them) … But I have recently learned that the government, through the Internal Revenue Code, can motivate us to build businesses together, share profits together …. retire together. Do you know anyone who has achieved that goal … putting enough money away, so you would have $200k, tax free for life? To reach that goal, you would need approx. $3M in the Roth, invested in lifetime annuities. I am assembling a Team of experts who can help people design and execute business plans for teams of business owners who work together to use this strategy to help them build their nest egg for a worry-free retirement. Do you think many people would like to learn more about this strategy?

  • Deb George

    Yes! Yes! YES! You and others like you (No, let me correct that; There's only one Ken McArthur.) inspire me to be a better me. Each day I continue to fix me, so that I can help others with their struggles.

    And now I sing. I will survive! For as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive! I've got all my life to live and I've got all my love to give…. I will survive. I will surviiiiive…..!

    And I will achieve my goals.

    Thanks Ken. You Rock!

    • KenMcArthur

      I taught choral music at the junior high level for about 5 years. I also directed a number of church choirs. My last music director position was for Newtown Presbyterian church and ended not long ago.

      While there I was fortunate enough to build a music program which included a music staff of nine professionals, while I conducted major works with orchestra and choirs, managed a concert series and experienced the joy of giving to the church community for over a decade.

      Thanks for asking.

  • Enriquecavestanypardovalcrce

    Lamento que mi comentario acerca de estas consideraciones sea escrito en la lengua de Cervantes y no en la de Shakespeare, ambas muy hermosas y de gran difusión mundial. Me parece muy interesante el artículo, Ken, y lo que deseo es que la traducción de éste que yo envío sea algo mejor de la que a mí me ofrece la “barra Google” del suyo en el que agradece usted al Dr. Belan su ayuda.

    Esa traducción es literal, lo que produce, en español, frases absurdas y risibles tales como la de la camiseta, en la que se escribe en inglés: “Life is hard and then you die” que la antedicha barra Google traduce como : “La vida es dura, luego de su muerte” que en ingés sería ” Life is hard after your death” lo que resulta obviamente absurdo pues si la vida es dura, después de la muerte, no es vida.

    Aparte de estas cosas que son intrascendentes y se deben, como digo, a una tradución literal y automática del ingés al español, entiendo Ken , que busca usted no sólo el éxito sino la sabiduría, actitud inteligente que yo comparto.

    La vida no es dura ni blanda (no hard, no soft), la vida somos nosotros cuando la vivimos y es lo que nosotros hacemos de ella. Y cómo lo hacemos.

    Yo estoy en una edad en la que pienso en la muerte con tranquilidad sabiendo que es algo inseparable de la vida y pienso en ello con la frase de Tertuliano:” Nada muere sino lo que nace. El nacimiento es una deuda con la muerte” “Nothing death but it to be born”. Birth is a owe to death”

    Tras estos filosóficos pensamientos, lamento declarar que no quiero dejar de fumar pues no soy un fumador compulsivo (no fumo cigarrillos, fumo en pipa “like Popeye and Rip Kirby”) y si bien no favorece mi salud, eso es seguro, tampoco la deteriora demasiado.

    Gracias por leer este largo y aburrido “post”

    Un cordial saludo

    Enrique Cavestany

    • KenMcArthur

      Enrique, he usado traductor Google para traducir su mensaje, pero sería bueno que alguien con excelentes habilidades de Inglés y español podría traducirse tanto en mi blog y su respuesta. Tal vez alguien como voluntarios. Tengo la sensación de que tiene mucho que decir. Gracias por su respuesta.

  • Cankut

    I do not think that life is very hard.It is actually 'us' making it hard because of our endless demands and passion.Less thing we need easier it gets.In addition,if we are not desperate against the obstacles on our way,it is easier to achieve our goals.People should sometimes underestimate the life to be happy.

    • KenMcArthur

      No doubt we can make our lives more difficult than necessary.

      Unfortunately, some bad things about life don't have any relation to doing thing right or wrong. Babies have congenital heart defects, bodies and minds fail, we choose to take one arbitrary action and it results in changing our life. Some things we control and others we don't. Wanting less and giving more is a great place to start though.

  • Michael_Barrett


    You seem to be connected to a 'feed spring' of interesting life experience bubbling effortlessly into your life stream. I love the gentle slight of hand that leads us to alternate outcomes than we anticipate in your stories. It is a pleasure to watch your 'movie' and experience it vicariously through your eyes. You are a craftsman at story telling.

    Great post.


  • Nans913

    No one ever told me life would be easy. I was told work hard and succeed. I did. Now I know I could have worked less and enjoyed more. go for it. Enjoy and value today for today.

    • KenMcArthur

      I was asked today how we can make life easier.

      I suggested:

      – Try wanting less and giving more.

      – Taking it one step at a time.

      – Thinking of others first.

      – Focusing on the important stuff.

      – Taking action all the way to completion.

      – Solving real problems and sharing your solutions with the world.

      I could add …

      Worry less and enjoy more.

  • E C Dumchus

    This quote struck me as a good response, I think it is an apt reference to what Ken is trying to do:
    “I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
    I awoke and saw that life was service.
    I acted and behold, service was joy.”
    Rabindranath Tagore

    I prefer to think of life as a joy and a privilege.

    When I was younger, I spent a lot of time studying mysticism, spirituality and religion. One thing that struck me was the different viewpoints that seem to exist as two poles:
    1. The world is suffering, and the realm of the devil, to be endured so we can earn our reward in heaven;
    2. The world is a gift from God and to be celebrated and enjoyed.
    I prefer the second.
    I know things seem hard sometimes, everyone experiences loss of some kind in their life, but I find consolation in the thought “Everything changes.”

  • Bill Whetstone

    Ken, I always knew in my heart you were an old hippy! I never got that far. I was redneck with long hair who never could afford a mullet or a guitar. So I cut my own hair and made my own guitar. Life is hard but it's worth a virtual reality. thas a line I wrote in a song called Jericho, I'll sing it for ya someday in honor of Dr. Belan.

  • Shari Thomas

    i can’t count the number of times I’ve failed, even to the point of being homeless. Now I’m on the cusp of something greater than I could ever imagine… I didn’t get there by standing still, or by giving up. No, I’ve gotten here much like Ken, only on different paths. I got my degree in Music early in life, have never taught the subject, rather I chose to go into business.

    Yes, life is hard. Life is not fair. You must fight, scrap, scramble, and make new plans for your next step every day of your life. If you’re lucky and have an incredible support group, then you have little reason to give up. If you don’t have that support group, create one. It may be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, at your Church, or even among your bowling league or golf club. Just do it.

    You are the leader of that support group. It’s called support to lift you up, pick you up, and bring you back to reality. But you are the one who creates the actions. So again… just do it.

    Thanks Ken, for allowing me to work for you at the point when you were first making your mark online. It was an honor, and a privilege.

  • mobileHolly


    Thanks for sharing you story. If we were statisticians, and plotted out good days and bad days, and good years and bad years on a chart, we might be amazed at what we find. Often the best years come after the worst ones. Sometimes, we don’t even know what changed, it’s just suddenly “better.”

    The sky clears up and we can see the sun again.

    Like your professor, it helps when there is someone to lead the way. Thank you for being that leader. Good leaders bring hope, and this post has a whole lot of hope in it!

    Be well, and thank you for being in my life.