Thinking You Can Win

Some of the ancient philosophers were not believers in hope. They felt it gave someone a false sense. Though I appreciate their insight, I will continue to choose hope.

Like many, I am a fan of sports. I love to engage in athletic contests where I can pit my abilities against an opponent. These are contests of strength, endurance, skill, heart, and mental acuity.

When I have the opportunity, I love to watch others compete. I love the feel-good stories of individuals who found success after facing insurmountable odds. Who doesn’t love the underdog or the Cinderella? Who doesn’t love seeing the poor kid from the bad neighborhood overcome all the bad breaks life has thrown at him?

Winners, especially the ones who win consistently, all have one thing in common. They all believe they can win. They all had hope in coming away victorious. It doesn’t matter if it was the kid on the street or the rich kid with all the advantages. The ones that believed in themselves and believed they could win were the ones who eventually won.

Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.

Richard Bach

There are many keys to winning. You must train. You must learn. Without the work, you leave it all to chance. But winning in life is no game of chance. To win consistently, you must train in the virtues of:

  • Wisdom: learn the game, the rules, the strategies, and your opponent.
  • Discipline: a day-after-day diligence towards your goal.
  • Justice: to play within the rules ethically, to be a champion in your conduct despite the actions of others.
  • Courage: to be brave, to push yourself beyond your known limits.
  • Hope: to believe in yourself even when others doubt you.

Winning consistently only comes to those who believe they can.


Feature photo by Capstone Events on Unsplash

Really Go After It

Consider the following:

  • The healthiest body you could possibly have. One that is functional for your age, looks good, and is free of pain.
  • Financial security that allows you to sleep peacefully at night, enjoy life, and not fill you with anxiety when paying your bills and feeding your family.
  • Friends that elevate, encourage, and push you to excel.
  • A purpose in life that is more than a job. One that provides meaning, abundance, and fulfillment.

Wow! Those four may only be the tip of the iceberg, but for many, just one would make a life-changing difference. However, those same people might think even one is an impossibility. But if others had figured out how to do it, why can’t they? Why can’t you or me?

Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer’s words should be a mantra. It should be a reminder of what is humanly possible. If you want it bad enough, you could have it. But there is a catch. And that catch, well, it is a big one. You can attain your heart’s desire…

If you really go after it.

There is no middle of the road. There is no, “I really want it, but…” you must go after it. It must be all-consuming, all-pervasive, and have you go all-in. if not, then all you have is a desire without anything to show for it.


Feature photo by Richard Felix on Unsplash

Tragedies and Goals

It was another weekend where not enough got accomplished. As per usual, one of two things happened. I either over planned more than I could get gone or I under planned. In this case, I failed to plan.

 I usually make my weekend plans on Thursday or Friday. But this week, I got busy. And I got distracted. The result? When the weekend came around, not enough got done. I took too much free time and worked on tasks of lesser importance. I failed to make clear goals which in turn got me no closer to my high, hard goals.

The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.

Benjamin Mays

Yes, it was just one weekend. There will hopefully be more in the future. And though I look at it as a tragedy, it doesn’t even compare to what Dr. Mays stated as the real tragedy: having no goals to reach.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have goals. I probably have more goals than I wish to admit. But what is a goal if it is not planned and executed? A pure fantasy. The bad thing about fantasies is they don’t get us closer to our intended destination. Instead, they consume valuable time. And time, as William Penn once said, is what we want most, but what we use worst.

I know I need to do better. My hope is to reach my goals. If I don’t improve my planning, I run the risk of not seeing them come to fruition.


Feature photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

The Aligning of the Stars

The sun moves through the galaxy at about 450,000 miles per hour. It is just one star in a multitude of stars scattered throughout the universe. Imagine all the stars moving at that speed. And yet, to us, they seem to stand still.

All the ancient megaliths that were designed around the sun and stars have been correctly aligned for thousands of years. Like us today, those original builders were going off what seemed to be fixed points during the seasons. If they would have placed their blocks any place they pleased, none of their monuments would have lined up to the sky. Instead, they used mathematical precision and years of study to place those blocks in the exact location they intended.

They used observation and science to calculate the best places to build. They aligned themselves and their monuments to the stars. They did not wait for the stars to move to them.

Modern humans, unlike their ancestors, have developed a different belief system. Rather than going where the stars are optimally located, they want to wait until the stars are aligned to them. They want to believe their time will magically appear without any effort on their part.

Those same people look at anomalies like Gates, Musk, and Bezos and wonder how they got so lucky. And though fortune did play some part, they did not idly stand by and wait for the perfect alignment of the stars before they acted. Like the builders of old, these modern builders put themselves into the best positions possible.

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

I am a big believer in destiny. We all have it, and we all have the power to capitalize on it. But destiny will not simply come to us. Instead, we must move toward our destinies. The stars will always be aligned. What we must do is prepare ourselves. We must do the work and be where we need to be when we need to be there. We can choose to meet our destiny, or we can watch it go by.


Feature photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Climbing Mt. Vision

We are what and where we are because we have first imagined it. -Donald Curtis

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. -Buddha

A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances. -James Allen

We become what we think about all day long. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout the ages, the message has been repeated over and again. You are the product of your thinking. In our youth, our imagination ran wild with the possibilities of what we could accomplish. Somewhere along the way, as we aged, we became more “responsible” and put away those childish dreams. However, reigning in our imaginations did not halt the fact that we are still the product of our thoughts.

In Pushing to the Front (click here for free e-book), Orison Swett Marden wrote, “We lift ourselves by our thoughts, we climb upon our vision of ourselves.” Mt. Everest is but a molehill compared to the vision I have imagined for myself. I don’t know if I will ever get to the top. Regardless, I will never stop climbing. Consider Marden’s words and elevate your level of thinking. Take your imagination to the heights and begin your ascent to Mt. Vision.


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Choosing Hope

There are a few philosophers that would speak of the futility of hope. They say to trust in it is a dangerous thing, and one would do well to stay away from it. I disagree.

Logic will tell me that the sun will rise tomorrow. The earth will continue its path and spin until the darkness becomes light. This may be true beyond the shadow of a doubt. But when I go to sleep at night, it is with hope that I may see another day.

Logic will tell me that I will reap what I sow. But in the Bhagavad Gita, I am instructed that my entitlements are only to the work and not to the fruit. I will do the work and sow the seeds, but it is with the hopes of a harvest that I go into the fields in the first place.

Despite the belief of others that hope is a waste of time, I will continue to hope. It is an integral part of my life. Maybe it is foolish to hope that things will get better. But I can’t help it, my nature is one of optimism. I will do my best, and I will hope for the best. And if it doesn’t work out, oh well, at least I tried.


Feature photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

The Summer Within

After work, I enjoyed my walk to the car. It was in the upper forties and partly cloudy. Not bad for a winter’s day. On my way home, I called my little brother in Oklahoma. It didn’t take long before we started talking about the weather. He said it was cold, real cold. The high temperatures were in the single digits with a hope of getting above that sometime in the next week. The forecast for the night called for 12-16 inches of snow. This was the conservative projection as most of the models called for much more. Ouch!

In the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter. In parts of North America, it is the coldest it has been in decades. The winter is cold. It is dark. Life slows down, and in some instances, comes to a standstill. The winter doesn’t offer us much hope. Our only hope is that it will pass.

For many, the winter came in the Spring of last year (2020). A virus came and forced us into isolation. The economy slowed down, in some cases, it came to a standstill. Just like a seasonal winter, we huddled indoors separated from the ones we loved. We looked out our windows, waiting for the day we could finally reemerge from our hibernation. Some of us are still waiting.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

In the depth of winter, some were able to thrive. They realized that life must still go on even in this time of darkness. And no matter how cold it got, no matter how isolated they were, there was still an incredible warmth within them. When others lost hope, they forged ahead.

Winter comes and winter goes. Eventually, even the worst winters will past. We can all find the invincible summer within us. We can cultivate the heat and the force that gives life to us and those around us.

Feature photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Three Wishes

A game that is too hard. An assignment that is too difficult. A task that seems impossible. I watch as my son gets frustrated. Like water, he wants to take the easy path.

The hard game. There is a value to games if they challenge you. The others are only timewasters. Too often, Alec plays the easy game. Why? It is easy and they do not challenge the brain. The hard games develop critical thinking, strategy, and cunning. The hard games are frustrating. We have all been there. We have all struggled endlessly repeating the same feedback loop that is destined to fail. But this is where practice comes in. To develop a new skill, you need repetition. To be a master:

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.

The difficult assignment. Some of the math problems, especially the word problems, were too difficult for Alec to figure out on his own. Reading those questions and putting them into mathematical equations went beyond the young third grader’s current ability. But does he have a system for breaking down the problem? Not yet. He could wish that the homework would go away, but even he knows that is not going to happen. If he wants a passing grade, then his only solution is to figure it out. Once again, we have all been there before. All those tedious problems that never seem to go away. They will never magically disappear, but they can get easier. To make it happen:

Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.

The impossible task. [A step back into mythology] For the mighty Hercules to clean the stables of King Augeas, he had to get creative. There was no way he could complete the task in one day by getting down on his hands and knees and scrubbing. Of course, he used his strength to help him get it done, but he also used his brain. With wisdom, he created the plan. With his body, he executed the plan. We will all face seemingly insurmountable challenges in the future, but…

Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.

Jim Rohn

Feature photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Attaching a Value to Can’t

In the book Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey wrote about one of the life lessons he learned as a boy. The first time he was “whupped” was for responding to Matt. He was told that he was not named after a doormat. The second time was for saying, “I hate you.” The third for saying can’t. The fourth for lying about stealing a pizza. It wasn’t the stealing that warranted the punishment but getting caught and then lying about it. What was the lesson he learned from these instances?

I only ever got in real trouble for the using or doing of the words that could harm me. Words that hurt. The words that helped engineer who I am because they were more than just words; they were expectations and consequences. They were values.

Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey

I have written in the past about the value of a name and on the virtue of Justice, which includes lying. But the use of the word can’t, this one hit the mark. Words have value. So, what is the value of this one?

Alec likes to use the word can’t frequently. If it is too difficult, too hard to understand, or requires too much effort, the default statement is, “I can’t.” I have never spanked him for saying this, unlike McConaughey’s punishment, but it has crossed my mind. He is too young to be setting artificial boundaries on his abilities.

Can’t means not possible. The value is concrete. When we overutilize this word, we put too much concrete around us. We put up barriers to what is within our abilities. Can’t is the governor on a Ferrari that reduces the car’s maximum speed from over 200 to 150 miles per hour, it is the speed limit that sets its maximum legal speed to 70, and it is the poor maintenance on the tires that further reduces it down to a safe speed of 30. Can’t is the boundaries that takes a supercar designed for speed and reduces it down to a substandard vehicle barely safe for the road.

Why put limitations on yourself by saying you can’t do it? This word has power, but it is not the kind you want to wield. Instead of saying can’t think of what it would take to make it happen. Maybe it is not possible today. But with the training, effort, and a different perspective, it could be possible tomorrow. As Les Brown said, “Life has no limitations except the ones you make.”

A Fruitful Mind

The dark soil. The kind you can see the richness of without even touching it. And when you do touch it, you can feel its potential. Imagine the years it took to get its composition. Whatever is planted in it would surely thrive.

Then there is the other soil. It is not perfect, but it is not bad either. It can be conditioned to maximize its potential. What you put into it will determine what you get out of it. It will take some work, but you can plant in it and still get good results.

Your mind is like the soil. Most of us are not born with the super-rich mixture, but what we do have is still good. We can condition it and add nutrients to it. And the more wholesome the nutrients, the higher the quality our minds become. You will be able to plant almost anything in it. Once it is planted, keep watering it. Give it plenty of sunshine and air. If those tender shoots start to wilt, fertilize it with some emotion. You are the farmer. It is your job to bring that seedling of hope into a fruitful reality.

Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become reality.

Earl Nightingale