It is Spring Break and the family is down in Pensacola, FL. We are down here to finally lay my Father-in-Law to rest at Barrancas National Cemetery. We will be down here for a week enjoying our time on the beach with many of my wife’s friends and family.
It is the first day. We are not at the beach yet, so I have a little time to write. Or at least I think I do. The words are not coming. I am allowing myself to be distracted and using it as a sad excuse for my inability to put my thoughts into words that make sense.. This struggle is self-induced as my mind is not fully into what I am doing.
Leaving for a week comes with a cost. I think of all the other things I could be doing. This is a problem. If I am thinking about all the other things, then I am not present here. As important as I believe some of these tasks to be, they really are not compared to being present. I can’t bring this unnecessary baggage with me on this trip. If I do, I will not be able to enjoy myself. I will not be able to be here wholly for my family.
More presence. I must calm my mind and remember why I am here. This week, my schedules and plans do not matter. Can my mind be here and not somewhere else? I don’t know, but it is something I will be working on this week.
If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win. –Carl Lewis
Feel like you are going to lose even before you begin? It doesn’t matter whether it is in business, sports, or any venture you undertake. If you think you can’t win, chances are you won’t. But you can choose to:
Figure out what it takes to win.
Exhaust every option available to you.
Learn as you go.
Practice, practice, practice (builds confidence).
America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, put it brilliantly, “I haven’t failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If you are doing things the conventional way, the established norm of everybody else in the field, you may have to change it up. Break away from the pack and set a new trend. If it fails, try another way. Keep experimenting until you find a working model.
To win right this moment may not be possible. But if you are patient, you can victorious. All you have to do is understand the game. Know your competition. Don’t quit.
We are all capable of doing more than we think we are can, but a self-defeating attitude and a lack of preparation is a recipe for failure. Prepare, practice, and persist. Do this and you can win.
If at first you don’t succeed, before you try again, stop to figure out what you did wrong. –Leo Rosten
How often have I looked into the future and viewed that great achievement of my imagination? I could smell it, visualize it, almost reach out and touch it. I would imagine how great it would be to accomplish it. The vision would often continue in my mind for a few days, even for weeks. And then, it would fade. I wouldn’t write it down. I wouldn’t plan it out. I wouldn’t begin the work. It was only a dream, one of many.
The vision is a mountain. It is tall and majestic. In all its glory, looming large within the scopes of my imagination, I would never be able to move it. It is simply too big. Or is it? I can take away a bit at a time. It would be hard work. It would take time. But time and work equals results. If I broke it down into small milestones, the pieces would be more manageable. With the right plan and persistence, that dream could be a reality.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away a small stone.” –Confucius
Do you love what you do? What if your life’s work is far from being complete? Do you still love it? Do you love the process even in the midst of the struggles and the lows?
What if the money is really good, but you hate it? Is it still worth it? Maybe. But how long will you last in a profession you hate that pays really well? Wouldn’t it be more fulfilling to follow your passion than to follow the money?
In the Bhagavad Gita, we hear, “You are only entitled to the action, never to its fruits.” Your life’s work may never offer enough compensation. You may not even see any in your life time. But a person truly following the work they love will not be hindered by the lack of fruit.
I honestly did not love what I did. I always thought of my job as a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities. But recently, I have come to love it. The work is time-consuming, physically demanding, and often very frustrating. It is also a key part in the formation of who I am becoming. It is where I do most of my thinking. My work, my ten hours a day spent building cars, has somehow become my muse. And now this job, which I thought was keeping me from doing that which I love, is bringing me closer to my life’s work. Because of that, I can say I love what I do.
“A life’s work should be based on love.” –Ray Bradbury
I was given way more than I deserved as a youth. Most of it, I ended up squandering. I was selfish and irresponsible and didn’t know that often the most valuable rewards come from the most valuable work.
When things come easy, there is a tendency to take them for granted and not show the appropriate appreciation or gratitude.
Getting out of shape was easy, getting back in not so much. I am truly enjoying this journey, because it is hard and takes a tremendous amount of discipline. I will never forget where I came from, never forget this journey, and never go back to the way I was.
My own suffering in life I can deal with. It is my burden to bear, and I am just thankful to have the gift of life. The hard part is seeing those that I love suffering and knowing there is very little I can do to help. Those loved ones are truly dear to me and have great value.
There are days when you wake up and you are just not feeling it. Everything is slow, including you. Those days suck. You want to go, but seem stuck. Even coffee isn’t doing the trick.
That’s how I felt this morning. I felt lazy and unmotivated. There are so many things I want to get done today, but I just can’t seem to get going.
What do you do?
Well, there is really only thing any of us can do. We gotta move. It doesn’t matter if we are moving in slow motion. Just moving a little will create momentum. It may be hard, but as Mr. Marden says, “Effort is the only means of improvement.” If you want to improve, put in the effort. Go.
Activity is the law of growth; effort the only means of improvement. Whenever men have obeyed their lower nature and ceased to struggle to better their condition, they have deteriorated physically, mentally, and morally; while, just in proportion as they have striven honestly and insistently to improve their situation, they have developed a larger and nobler human type. –Orison Swett Marden, Ambition and Success.
Imagine a strong warrior. He has no weakness. His attacks are well chosen and executed with purpose. There is no chinks in his armor, no weakness in his defense. He doesn’t panic in difficult situations. He is calm and does what is necessary.
In ancient times, the strength of a city was determined by the strength of its walls. If the enemy could penetrate the walls, they could invade the city and plunder its wealth. Protection came from the wall. The stronger the walls, the greater the protection.
A city breached and left defenseless are those who do not control their temper. –Proverbs 25:28
It is hard to think clearly when you are angry. Anger is like a bad drug that impairs your ability to make good decisions. Allowing your anger to control you weakens your defenses. It allows your enemies, whatever/whoever they may be, to penetrate your walls. Once the damage is done, it is difficult to recover. Repairing broken walls is no easy chore.
With a calm mind, our ability to make good decisions improve. Not making irrational decisions means no reparations have to be made. We can always move forward without any damage control impeding our progress. We can be like the strong warrior who moves with precision and strength.
The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength. –Marcus Aurelius
Prone to anger? Find a way to control it. If possible, step away from the source of the problem and observe it like an outsider. Often, it is a misguided perception of the issue that allows our anger to form. Rather than react in anger, we can detach from the situation and figure out how to correct it. This is strength.
There is one guy who dresses way too good for the work he does. He dresses like a boss, but the quality of his work is substandard to that of an average employee. He tries to look the part and to talk the part, but sadly his looks do not match his actions.
There is another guy who has taken this to a whole new level. Skinny growing up, he wanted to change his appearance. The drive was so intense, and his internal substance was so under-developed, that he began doing steroids. 20 years later, he is still doing them. His vanity has extended into other parts of his life. He has the over-sized house, the way too expensive boat, and of course the brand new, jacked-up truck that completes the image he is hoping to achieve. He is looking for validation but is missing something on the inside.
“Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.” –Kurt Vonnegut
Are these two on to something? Can we just pretend and then become what we pretend to be? Or is it something more. Could be that Vonnegut was referring to something deeper, something with more substance.
Outward appearances without the internal substance will only leave us only as pretenders. It is our character and our actions that define us. And although it is easy to see the vanity in others and even criticize it, can I be this critical of myself? I need to keep my own vanity in check and be the harshest judge of my actions. Humility should always be at the forefront.
One acts rich but has nothing; another acts poor but has great wealth. -Proverbs 13:7