Monday, February 25, 2008

Get back in the game

Life can often hand us some pretty serious setbacks. These setbacks can come in many different forms. Maybe it is the ending of a cherished relationship. The people that we love can sometimes decide that they do not feel the same about us. I have seen many people go through this kind of anguish. It can often be the worst kind of hurt. Or maybe we lose our job. This form of anguish can be equally severe, but it is different than not being loved in return. Life may hand us a setback in the form of physical problems or sickness. It could be financial problems, problems with our kids or family members. Setbacks can come in the form of depression or other mental and emotional problems. It can come in the form of the death of a loved one. Regardless of how the setbacks come we can only be sure of one thing, they will come.

So what do we do when the setbacks come. I think that is as different as the people facing the problems. However, I found that the best way to handle setbacks is to make sure we get back in the game as soon as possible. By this I mean we have to keep moving forward. I am not suggesting developing a cold heart or a distant uncaring nature. I am suggesting that we do all we can to keep the positive things in our lives going. I see so many people give up on life when they face a major setback. They become so overwhelmed with grief that they lose track of the many positives in life. People often get stuck in feelings of remorse, guilt, fear, vengence, retribution, melancholy, anger, sadness, and host of others, that they have a hard time getting re engaged in life.

I have suffered from this many times in my life. I have been through things and just did not know any other way to handle them. I would see other people go through things and seem to have such a strength about them. They seemed to hurt but they had a knack for going on. I don't know if they ever got over what they were facing but they seemed to get through it. As I studied these people the magic that they seemed to possess was that they made themselves get on with life. This helped me to come to a realization for myself. These people didn't necessarily get over it, but they do get through it. They were able to get through it by getting back in the game. The game of life. They did things to bring meaning and purpose to life. That may have been through their vocation, their religion, their family, or by starting something new. They sometimes took on challenges that they wish they had taken on before. The big thing is they got back in the game.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying that grief and sorrow are wrong and I am not suggesting that I have some ability to be stronger than anyone else. I am just saying that I have noticed how others appear to be able to overcome major life problems. The trick seems to be having the ability and strength to hurt, and yet, get back in the game. To constantly move forward. Check out the following quote. I think it sums up the point hat I am trying to make.

Many of us unconciously create drama in our minds, expecting the worst from a situation only to have our expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Inadvertantly we become authors of our own misfortune. And so we struggle from day to day, from crisis to crisis, bruised and battered by circumstances without realizing that we always have a choice...What if you began to expect the best from any situation? Isn't it possible that you could write new chapters in your life with happy endings?...Suspend your disbelief. Take a leap of faith. After all, what have you got to lose but misery and lack?
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Sunday, February 24, 2008


As I was searching the blogosphere today I noticed an uncanny theme in numerous post. The theme seemed to center around believing in oneself and in your own abilities. Many of the post talked about recognizing your own strengths or having the values of an innocent child. Both of these are great ideas, but I could not help wondering why is there so much to say on believing in oneself and returning to childhod values. As I thought on this I came to the realization that it seems as we grow older the complexity of life seems to weigh us down.

I commented on a post at Trevor Gay's Simplicity site where he has a lively debate going on in regards to Complexity vs. Simplicity. Some people feel that they must be challenged by complex arrangements in life. Without this complexity they feel as though they are not challenged and feel bored. Others feel that they must have simplicity in their life or they become over burdened. I suppose when you think about it both are right. I need both in my life. I need the challenge that the complex presents. However, the challenge to me is to be able to break it down to simpler steps that I can master and gain control over. I am often guilty of taking on to much and becoming over burdened. When I become over burdened that is when I begin to struggle and wonder about my abilities. The struggle often comes from comparing myself with others who have been successful in similar sitations and marveling at their accomplishments.

I think it is like that with a lot of people. Life is often so fast paced that many times people can't keep up with everything going on in their lives. They view others that seem to achieve in similar situations and compare themselves in unfavorable ways. When the challenges become to great we often long for simpler times when we did not compare ourselves to the accomplishments of others. Back to the time when we met challenges for what they were, something to be learned from and built upon. When we were children we did not always know to compare ourselves to the rest of the world. We had our own little protected view of things and that was just fine. Failure was not defeat.Failure was met with the encouragement of those around us to keep trying. Every little accomplishment was applauded by those around us. We were encouraged to do more and try harder. Somewhere along the line as we grow older that level of support wanes and we become responsible to ourselves for our own encouragement. We can become critical of ourselves and others. The competition of life is on.

When you feel that the competition of life is bearing down on you try to remember to celebrate your accomplishments. Try to keep things complex enough to challenge your sense of adventure, but at the same time, keep life simple enough to enjoy it. Keep encouraging yourself and others to try a little harder and make a big deal over small accomplishments. And remember, "Until we take how we see ourselves (and how we see others) into account, we will be unable to understand how others see and feel about themselves and their world. Unaware, we will project our intentions on their behavior and call ourselves objective" Stephen Covey . Try to see yourself in view of your strengths. Never mind the comparisons with other people. There is always going to be those who do certain things a little better. You are that person in many instances. Each of us have our talents and strengths. That is what makes the world a beautiful place. Concentrate on what you do well. Celebrate all your strengths and be happy for your weaknesses. This is where true growth lives.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What is success?

What is success? According to the dictionary, success is a state of prosperity or fame. Success is very relative. Consider the homeless person.Certainly attaining a one-room suite with an efficiency kitchen and money to buy food would make this person feel very successful. Success is alsodefined as the favorable outcome of an attempt or endeavor.Should we be able to attain a status such as Bill Gates, that would certainly define success wouldn't it? You may feel that it would, but notnecessarily to everyone. Every rose has its thorn. Bill Gates is wildly successful in his endeavors; however, a status of that nature certainlywould require a lot of upkeep. He must stay on top of his game to stay there. Even Donald Trump can end up in bankruptcy. Do you really need toreach a Donald Trump or Bill Gates status to be successful and happy?Success means different things to different people. There are persons that would only consider themselves successful if they were to attain amulti-millionaire status. However, I don't believe that this is the case with the average person.I believe that success to the average person has another definition. The definition of success to the average person is FREEDOM. Freedom from being a slave to the 9 to 5 doldrums in a job they hate....Freedom from worry over bills......Freedom to spend quality time with their families andloved ones. One would not have to be a multi-millionaire to achieve this level of success. It depends on what makes YOU happy. Would you behappy in a two bedroom home that is paid for, driving a car that is dependable and paid for, while having the cash to meet expenses and have thetime to do the things you and your family enjoy, whether it be golfing, sporting events, travel to the beach, or entertaining your friends at home? Or could you only feel succesful with a ten bedroom home, a new car every year, the newest fashions to wear, dining at the finest restaurants?Both are levels of success to someone. Which is it for you? Obviously the first level of success can be fairly easily obtained, and woulddefinitely be less stressful allowing more time to be spent enjoying your success. Although the second is a very lavish lifestyle, it certainlywould require more effort to get there, and more effort to maintain it. We've all heard about the lottery winners who become bankrupt in afew short years because they didn't attend to their finances.Success is usually thought to be referring to a financial situation. As you can ascertain from the above examples, that is not alwaysnecessarily true. Success is very personal. What would it take to make you truly happy? It depends on your priorities. Is time with familyand friends without stress most important to you? Or is an outward show of wealth more important to you, even if it means less freedom?We have all seen the cartoons of the "successful" businessman living on the antiacids to try and control his ulcers. Is he truly successful?Maybe yes, but at a price. Consider this situation: the businessman (or breadearner) of the family is very successful in a financial sense.He has a fine home, is transported to his destinations by his personal driver, a loving wife, two beautiful children. The American Dream, right?Then look deeper. He spends everyday from 7am until 9pm at the office, or with clients. The wife has to have a life too, so she lives herown separate life attending luncheons, shopping, etc. while the nanny raises the children and the housekeeper feeds them. The nanny teaches the baby to walk, to say its first word.Really think about success. Success equals happiness right? Is this family successful? Anyone with children knows the joy of a toddlertaking its first step or saying its first word. I do understand that not all persons are interested in raising a family. They claim to be perfectly happyremaing single and childless. That is why I say success if relative to the individual.Think about your own personal situation. We instantly think that success means the mansion on the hill with a limo driver and a housekeeper.However, I don't believe that it takes that much to make the average person happy and successful.

Take Bold Action

Having the willingness to take action is one of the most powerful leadership tools I know of. Every great leader that I have ever studied or known had the ability to take action and to be decisive. By taking action leaders often make mistakes. However, it is this ability to take action and work through mistakes that sets them apart. Mistakes, setbacks, and failures are not viewed as things to avoid. Great leaders see these as opportunities to learn, grow, and get better.
The only true failure is the failure to act on an opportunity. I like the following quote by William Hutchinson Murray. I think it sums up the point very well.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
~ William Hutchinson Murray

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Whom Will You Love Today

Love always begins with the person closest to you. It does not begin with nameless and faceless people. It begins with those you sweat and struggle with--those who frequently disagree with you and put you down. That is why it is so hard. It is easier to love the world than your closest relative. The world is general. Your relative is specific. The world is vague. Your relative has character...Whom will you love today? ... It won't be easy. Love is never an option.
Jim Smoke

I really liked this quote. It goes along with a post from Liz Straus over at successful blog. She discussed the idea of being friends and sometimes not noticing little things from day to day and changes over time. She wondered that if you fail to notice these things can you call yourself a friend. I believe that not only can you call yourself a friend I think it somewhat natural that we do these things.

Those we are closest to are the ones we tend to hurt the most and the ones we take most for granted. They are the ones we let down the most. They are the ones we show our worst and often give them our worst. But, on the flip side, they also get our best. The nameless and faceless people will almost always get our courtesy and a kind word, but then we are off. We are off to share the rest of our lives, both the good and the bad, with those that we love the most.

At the end of the day I'll take those that love me. I'll trade all the kind gestures and sentiments to be with the ones whose character I know and trust. I'll take their company even if it is not warm and fuzzy or even if they are not on their best behavior. I'll take them with all their warts and wrinkles because they have taken me with mine. I am not saying that it is ok to behave in this fashion. I just know that it is a strange part of human nature.

Maybe the thing to do is to take some time to reflect on this matter. Maybe each of can learn to spread extra courtesy to those closest to us. Maybe we can take time to pay attention to specifics and learn more about our loved ones our friends and their character. Maybe we can take time to notice little things and changes in those close to us. If we do, then maybe our relationships can be a little richer as a reward.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Where Are You Going?

The world stands aside to let anyone pass who knows where he is going. David Star Gordon

Successful people do not always have the most education or even the most business sense. They very often have one dominant quality. They know what they want and they believe that they deserve to have it. With this attitude in tow they tend to set about achieving what they want. I don't know if things just seem to work out for them as much as they just seem to have the perseverence to stand the test of time and trials. They don't easily give up or change their goals. They know what they want and are willing to do what it takes to get it. That may well be the greatest success secret that there is. You must first of all know what it is you want and truly believe that you deserve to have it. So, let me ask you the question, where are you going? Victor Frankl said that if you have a big enough why you can overcome any how. In other words, if you have a strong enough purpose you will be able to overcome all obstacles. If you know what you truly want the how to accomplish it will eventually come.

Do you know what you really want and can you make the world stand aside while you go after it?