February 2011

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We All Have Faced Some Adversity

I haven’t met a person yet that has found a way to truly live carefree 100% of the time. I’ve talked with multi-millionaires (at work), the extremely famous, and the extremely talented, even near geniuses… all of them still had problems that came up through the course of their lives (and continued to come as long as they are alive). Thus, the conclusion I came to was that regardless of status, age, race, class, or gifting… adversity has no respect of person, it will forever be a part of this human existence.

Adversity Reveals Our Core

Be that as it may, I am thankful for this truth. Not because I am a hater and want everyone who has ever walked the face of this earth to struggle as I have struggled. Nope that’s not it at all. I’m excited about this fact because I know that it is adversity (not prosperity) that reveals the core of a person. I believe Francis Bacon said it best:

While prosperity best discovers vice, adversity best discovers virtue, and the virtue that comes from adversity is fortitude. The good things, which belong to prosperity, are to be wished, but the good things, which belong to adversity, are to be admired. Therefore we know not of our own strength that has not met adversity.

Francis Bacon

Adversity Will Strengthen You

As each of us face another day in which we probably have yet to reach perfection in every area of our life… smile! Let us embrace the fact that we are being sharpened (not shattered) by the pressures of life. All things are working together for our good! Once the pressure is released from our current situation we will not only know our existing strength but also become acutely aware of new strength that was born out of the process of being sharpened. So, I conclude by asking “will you embrace the qualities of steel -or- those of glass?”

The same hammer that breaks the glass, also sharpens the steel. -Bob Johnson, Ex President of BET

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So, how come in life do we often veer off course in a desperate pursuit to reach our destination? How do we manage to get lost?

DISTRACTIONS

If life was a mall and your destination was Macy’s, before you can arrive, there are many distractions along the way. The illuminated path that leads to the store is full of aggressive, annoying sales people who entice you to buy the latest and greatest cell phone phones, curling irons, moisturizers or flashing belt buckles. There are pretzel vendors whose sweet aroma calls to you as soon as you enter the mall doors. Not to mention the store that just happens to be playing your song as you pass by its entrance that draws you in.

You Are Here

Photo by Ramasamy Chidambaram

There is also a 50% sale at your favorite shoe store. Then off you go to the 12 minute massages and the peaceful waterfall that flows through the food courts. It’s a trap.

Seconds became minutes and minutes became hours. Valuable time has been wasted. Before you know it you are lugging around bags you were never meant to carry. While shopping you fulfilled temptations that soothed away, temporarily, the issues that bugged you before you came in. You covered up the stench of disappointment with perfume and hide true emotion behind designer labels. The lights, the sounds and the smells captivated your attention and kept you from reaching your ultimate potential. You’re distracted.

DIRECTORY

Even in the midst of confusion and distractions there is a form of peace. The peace comes from a guide, a map, a directory which not only shows you where you need to go but also exactly where you are. The challenge is the directory is stationary. You can’t take it with you. All you can rely on is your memory and hope to encounter another along your journey. Life is full of signs just like this. Just don’t let the distractions keep you from seeing them.

THE SPARK!

The best way to reach your destination is to know exactly where you are going. That all starts from having an idea of  where you are and who you are.

Do you know where you are?

Here’s what I see on your map.

You are stuck somewhere in between potential and promise.
You are capable of doing some amazing things in your life. You can’t stop now. Life is a never ending pursuit of improvement.

There are many obstacles on your journey.
I see a 90% clearance rack blocking you from obtaining what you really desire. Is that “distraction” really worth it?

There are winding hallways intentionally designed to disorient you and throw you off track.
Don’t be discouraged by shortcomings or temporary set backs. Mess up, get up, and find your way. Failure isn’t the end. Failure is used as a tool of misdirection.

Each and every day we are living we will be tested and tempted to do things that will distract us from reaching our goals. The good news is whenever we get lost or out of place all we have to do is look for the directory. You are here!

How do you get there?

This post was written to challenge each and every one of us to take a honest look of where we are in our lives. By taking this honest snapshot of our current predicament we are able to better prepare ourselves to reach out and grab a future we never imagined. I hope you enjoyed this post because it has challenged me to take an honest look at myself and I am now more focused than ever.

Make today the best day of your life!

Why is it that instinctively people cleave to what is?
 
Why does it take heartache, pain, suffering, disappointment, frustration, sickness and a long list of other negative connotations for “us” to admit that change is necessary? I cannot count how many times I have held on to the very thing(s) that I needed to let go of the most because I believed that I couldn’t live without them. Of course, it is not just me. This is a universal truth that starts early in our development as people.
 
Case and point:
My daughter is one of the most beautiful people I have ever encountered. (No, I am not just saying that because she is my daughter.) She is only three years old and, like most girls, already has a nurturing spirit growing inside of her. Everything that she has she tries to love. She already has favorite outfits, favorite toys, and even a favorite blanket.

This blanket is a simple knit pink blanket that was purchased for her before she was born. Out of the twenty or so blankets she has, this one just seems to be the one she holds the closest.
 
It almost feels like she’s the female Lionel from Charlie Brown. I see her dragging that blanket around from upstairs to downstairs, downstairs to upstairs. Then I look again and the blanket is being dragged from the den to the bedroom, from the bedroom to the living-room.

I see her sitting and eating with it, trying to brush her teeth with it, and even jumping right out of the bath to run to it. She won’t turn it loose! It get’s washed multiple times in the course of a week yet it manages to almost always be dirty from “something.”

The Blanket has to GO!

Most of the time my issue with the blanket is just the way it looks. It went from a bright-glowing-pink-soft-fluffy-feeling blanket to a stale-flat-pale-gritty-feeling blanket in three years of endless dragging. Normally I just shrug my shoulders and laugh at the thing but of late my daughter has had a cold.

Any parent will tell you that germs from sneezing and coughing can get into the things the child has contact with and cause them to stay sick longer instead of getting better.

So, grudgingly, we forced the blanket out of my daughter’s regular rotation. Of course, she wasn’t pleased. It was change. It was something she loved, knew was hers, and had established familiarity with. However, since the blanket is gone she has a better chance of getting over her cold faster and not getting sick again.
 
She doesn’t know it but the garment is part of what was keeping her trapped in a state of sickness. Her legitimate excuse: she’s three years old!

What about us?

We, as adults, know a lot of things that are keeping us from our true purpose, true potential, or even, true happiness but we won’t let them go. We have friends, habits, and guilty pleasures that keep us trapped in a state of sickness, frustration, disappointment, suffering, and/or pain and we’d rather keep them close because they are familiar.

I guess this whole post is to remind us that sometimes CHANGE is beautifully necessary. Releasing our security blankets is a tall order but a necessary step for us to grow into what we’re destined to be.

It is time for us to take inventory. It is time for us to change. Even in the winter of life change is possible.

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