Ambition and Perseverance

We are at Point A. This point is different for all of us. It could be horrible or just okay. But whatever it is, it is not Point B. Point B is where we really want to be. This is the green grass on the other side of the hill. And like our Point As, all our Point Bs are different.

To be successful in this life, we need a Point B. If we are going to get where we want to go, we must have an aim.  We need a coordinate to plug into our GPS. A map is good. It will show us the way to get where we want to go. However, a GPS is an upgrade that can give us a quicker route, keep us updated of traffic conditions, and let us know of any obstacles to avoid.  A GPS is real-time feedback.

A book will get you down the road, but can it compare to a good mentor?

If you are new to fitness and wanting to get in shape, imagine how much time a personal trainer can save you.

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

Bill Bradley

Ambition is the path. It points to our intended destination. And persistence is a vehicle, albeit an incomplete one. Persistence is an unrelenting pursuit  from A to B. On a map, it would be as the crow flies. Instead of taking the road up the mountain with all the switchbacks and additional length, it is going straight up and through the cliffs, streams, and forest.

Persistence is when someone comes up with a possible solution to a task or problem and then stubbornly sticks to that process, regardless of whether it’s flawed or inefficient.

Rich Diviney, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance

According to Diviney, persistence is one third of the more desirable attribute of perseverance. What are the other two?

Tenacity also means formulating a solution to a problem, but then constantly assessing its effectiveness.

Fortitude is the mental or emotional strength, or both, that allows a person to persevere.

Rich Diviney, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance

Persistence is good, but it is not enough to get to where we want to go. We need tenacity when persistence won’t work. We need fortitude because life is a battle, and we must be able to endure the strains it puts upon us. To get to where we want to go, we need ambition and perseverance.


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Questions, Answers, and Political Divisions

Tony Robbins said, “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.” It is such a beautiful idea, but what happens when questions are not allowed?

We live in a world where everything from food, freedom of religion and speech, and what can go into a person’s body has become political. If you find yourself in the minority, your freedom is at stake, your ability to make a conscientious decision becomes limited and can even be taken away. And your questions? Questions to those on the opposite end of the spectrum are frowned upon, condescended, and even censored. No one wants to live under a tyrant, and yet many of us have no problem tyrannizing those who dare disagree with us.

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.

Richard Feynman

Are the days of open dialogue gone? Do we no longer try to understand the differences of others? It is far easier to shut down the voices opposition than it is to come to an amiable solution. Rather than have a moral backbone, would it be preferable to go over to the majority where there is less opposition? Rather than trying to formulate the questions that determine the quality of our lives, should we only rely on the answers given to us that cannot be challenged?

I am not saying that one side is right and the other is wrong. What I am saying is that we should do the research and try to come up with the questions that can lead to improvement. We might not be able to find the answers now, but at least we are willing to seek them out.


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The Light in the Dark

Another night that began with what seemed an endless cycle of tossing and turning. The clock on my nightstand lies face down. I neither want to see the time nor the light emitting from it. Even with no known light source coming from the room, my eyes can still detect enough light to make out shapes and figures.

There have been times when I have felt my soul to be in complete darkness. Times, when at my lowest, I did not know if the light would ever shine on it again. I dug the hole, placed myself in it, and then covered it over with dirt. No ability to escape and no hope of salvation.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

Desmond Tutu

Despite my self-inflicted darkness, it turns out my soul is like my eyes. Somehow, it adjusts to the darkness and is illuminated by a light within. My soul refuses to remain without hope.

I want it to be dark when I sleep, but I don’t want my soul to be without light. Solomon said whoever digs a pit will fall into it (Proverbs 26:27). If I keep digging a pit for my soul, I will eventually fall into it. The key is to learn what I did to get into that situation and to try my best to not repeat that folly.

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Better with Love

When you love a game, it can consume your thoughts. You find yourself learning the rules, learning the strategies to help you become better, and learning how to counteract and defeat your opponent. When it comes to a game, winning is the end goal. And winning, also known as success, comes easier to those who love the game.

 The same application of love can be utilized in one’s occupation, hobbies, art, and faith. It also applies to one’s relationships. When you love something or someone, you want to become better than you were yesterday in relation to the object of your desires.

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho

Better is, well, it is better. When I become better in one aspect, I can utilize that same formula to other areas of my life. My love for knowledge and understanding in one subject can spark growth in others as well. When Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” he hit the mark spot on. If we put our hearts into it, if we truly love what we are doing or pursuing, then we are getting the most out of our education. Everything becomes better with love.


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Proverbs 18:22 A Good Wife

Do I deserve to be so fortunate? Of course not. And if it is not something I deserve, then it must truly be a blessing from God.

He who finds a good wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22

 Today marks the 17th year of marriage with my wife, Bethany. Through the ups and downs, the good times and the hard, we have gotten stronger every year. Life would be a lot less interesting without her in my life. Certainly, I have found favor from the Lord.

Thoughts Corresponding with Desire

Call it the Law of Attraction, the manifestation of desire, or simply faith. When it is set firmly in the mind, when the thoughts all but consume one’s soul, then it is only a matter of time before it becomes reality.

Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires.

Orison Swett Marden

I have no doubt this is true, but it has not always worked for me. Does it make it less true? Of course not. Then what went wrong? I failed to stay true to the course. Instead of one singular purpose fixed continuously in my mind, I deviated. I floated from one to the other and then to many more. I became a hobbyist dabbling in a multitude rather than an expert in the one. What good is faith in an undisciplined mind?

Now is the time to go back to the plan. I don’t need to rewrite it; I just need to execute it. I was not designed to be a multi-tasker, so I must stop pretending to be one. One focus, one task firmly and habitually set in my mind. That is enough to set the wheels in motion to becoming that which I desire.


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Happiness-Freedom-Courage

So many long for happiness, yet so many have yet to find a true and lasting form of it. Some would blame others for their inability to obtain it. Others would look for cheapened versions of it that only lasts a few moments before the rush dwindles and fades away.

Happiness is found within each of us. We cannot trust others to provide it for us. We must determine what it is and then work to discover it.

The secret to happiness is freedom…

The secret is freedom. But what is freedom? Is it the ability to do whatever one pleases? Would this not make one a slave to his desires? Freedom must go beyond base pleasure. It must speak of a higher nature, something more meaningful.

When I think of freedom, I think of the ability to operate without hindrance towards one’s goal. Freedom to pursue happiness.

and the secret of freedom is courage. -Thucydides

Simply stated, one cannot be afraid to take calculated risks. There is a chance of failure. Even the safest bets can go awry. But this should not deter us from trying. After all, our happiness, and our freedom, is on the line. If we fail, we should pause. We should look to see what went wrong and what can be done better. And after this moment, we get back up and try again. It is an endless cycle until we hit the mark, until we find the happiness we seek.


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Truth and Toleration

This week I started the book The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. One of the first segments that caught my attention was the author’s initiation into Tai Chi Chuan. The master of the studio, William C.C. Chen noted as a world renown Grand Master, was teaching brand new students. This is a task normally assigned to junior instructors, yet here was the master performing a task many would assume was beneath him.

Recounting this act was to illustrate the humility of the master, but I interpreted it differently. The master was the closest to the purity and truth of the art form. The beginners were the most ignorant. The master did not disdain these students, but out of love for his art had the desire to illuminate those in ignorance. [I know, I might have read into this passage a little too much.]

Marcus Aurelius said, “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” I try to live up to this as much as possible. Daily, I struggle to become a little better than the day before. It is no easy journey, but it is the one I have chosen. It has become my truth of what I must do to become the person I want to be. I encourage others to take up their own journey, but I do not demand it of them. And for those with no such desire, I can understand their decision and sympathize with them along the way. Tolerant with others, strict with myself.

The closer people are to the truth, the more tolerant they are of the mistakes of others.

Leo Tolstoy

Closer to the truth equals greater understanding. It equals greater tolerance for those who may be farther away from it.  Like the Tai Chi master, it is done through love for others. It is done out of love for the truth.

Tolstoy’s words also serve as a warning. This is not righteous indignation. When we find ourselves defending our platforms without an open mind or a desire to achieve a peaceful conclusion, we become less tolerant. We find ourselves on the road to psychological and even physical bullying. We become extremists with the desire to force others to our truth. As detestable as this practice is, we see it in almost every aspect of our lives from friends and family to social media and news. And the only thing we can do to prevent us from going down that road is to be not like that.


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Be Content and Rejoice

One of the last things I do before I go to sleep is say a prayer of thanks. I am grateful for friends and family, breath and life, health and love. I have food, shelter, and the means to provide for my wife and son. Sound of mind, body, and soul.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.

Lao Tzu

Of course, I want more. But in truth, I have more than I really need. If I only pursue the latest and the greatest, I will be a slave to every new generation of “stuff.”

I have so much, and that is enough. For this I am thankful. Truly, I am blessed.

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Just Say No

No. When I say it to my son, he gets upset. He doesn’t like it because his request is something he wants at the time. But what kind of parent would I be if I said yes every time?

People don’t like hearing the word no. They believe their request is reasonable. What they are asking is to their benefit. To tell them no is inconvenient for them.

It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. -Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

If I am always saying yes, then I find an inability to get my own work done. It is difficult because I want to be nice. I want to be helpful. But doing so keeps me away from my goals, goals which are designed to benefit me and my family. I must learn to say no.

Maybe not for everything. Certainly not if I have nothing else going on.

Over the last few weeks, I have realized just how far behind I am. I had too many irons in the fire and was not making any progress on any of them. Would this have happened if I said no more often?

“No, I cannot watch your dogs, so you can have a spa day.”

“No, I can’t go to the winery for an afternoon of drinking and socializing.”

No. It is not that hard to say. I just need to get better at saying it.


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