WHO WERE YOU?

We often hear gurus all over telling us that our pain can be our greatest teacher. It can be rather hard to listen to when you are watching them climb into their private jet and return to their own island. I am not inferring that the rich have no problems, or that their advice is any less valid because they have wealth. If we are being honest, hearing that kind of advice from someone who has the appearance at least, of not being in pain can be hard to listen to.

 Shortly after the year 2000, as my study in self-improvement was just beginning, I had a moment that in reflection helped me grow substantially. When I was going through it, however, all I could tell you was it sucked. That is how life is sometimes. Steve Jobs said we can never connect the dots moving forward, only looking back. Sure it would be great to know how your current struggle is going to pay off in the future. It certainly would make going through it a lot easier. I guess that is where something called faith comes into play.

Back to my personal story and how it can benefit us all. Shortly after 2000 the United States Postal Service, the fine edifice where I step most of my waking hours informed me although I was a model employee, due to declining mail volume my hours would be cut to about 10 a week. What made matters better is that to receive these hours I would have to be available Monday through Saturday from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. making it near impossible to find a second job to make up the lost hours. Luckily for me, about a month later they did realize I was an employee worth keeping and found a position for me.

Here is what really threw me, I found myself not knowing what or more to the point who I would be if I left the Post Office. That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but at the time I had been working there 13 years, roughly 50 hours a week. It became a part of my identity. In a world of corporate downsizing this can be an all to common situation. It is not limited to jobs either. Think of the end of a relationship. You fell in love and were perhaps in love for a great deal of time. You shared everything, they were not only your lover, but your best friend. All of that is exactly how it should be. What happens when that is gone? The person leaves, be it through walking away, cheating or even passing away. You feel as though a part of you has died. What then?

Just like the loss of a job, it is an end of a relationship. No matter how intense or good the relationship is, job or person, it is a weaving of two paths. Trying to keep this in perspective is one way to help us carry on. I am in no way inferring that this is an easy thing to do. The better the relationship, the more it will hurt. Even in that pain you must remember to balance that with gratitude. You had great moments some may never experience. Maybe that man that seemed so perfect for you turned out to be a no good snake. Maybe he even slept with your sister…or your brother for that matter. The fact remains you still received moments of joy and bliss out of the relationship. The fact they ruined it by being a snake simply means they gave up the right to experience more of those moments with you. Maybe someone you loved passed away? There are no opportunities to share more moments no matter how much you both would have loved that. It is time to realize how rare having someone like that in your life is. Reflect on those memories when they come up not as a sense of loss or that you will never have them again. No, reflect on them with gratitude you had the opportunity to share that with them. Maybe even offer up a word of thanks to their memory for such loving memories. Again, not saying or even imagining any of this is easy. Pain is something we get through day by day.

Lastly, and this is what helped me through my job challenge, is have people in your life that have known you before that job or relationship started. An old friend is a gift that is more priceless than gold. When I was feeling a loss of identity, I called up my good friend and former bandmate, Russ. We have know each other since we were around 13 years-old. I asked Russ a simple but bizarre question, “Who was I before the post office?” Not only did he remind me of that, he even offered some ways in which I may have lost myself due to the post office. Good friends can tell you ways in which you kind of suck without being too hurtful. \

Discovering there was a person who existed before and more important separate from, the job (again this can work for relationships as well) helped me in two important ways. First, it made me determined to keep who I was separate from what I did for a living. This can also be helpful in a relationship. Margie and I are amazing as a couple and people recognize that, but we each have our own personal identities as well. For example, if you want a great cake for your special occasion you best talk to her. Need a speech written? More my forte. The second way in which this liberated me was I realized I was free to decide who I wanted to be as a person going forward, despite whatever foolish actions the Postal Service may take. Who you are should never depend on what you do for a living or who you happen to date. Those things have a great influence on you and it is your job to make sure it is a positive one, but at the end of the day it is you who decides who you are going to become.

In closing, remember that you are not a victim in your life, but a creator. We may not have control over the actions of others and how it can impact us, but we do have complete control over how we react and how we can put the challenges to use in our lives. It will not be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

YOUR BELIEF CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

The man in the picture above is Roger Bannister. For those of you who do not know who he is, allow me to share his story and how it applies to you and me. From the time humans began inhabiting the earth until 1954 it was the accepted medical belief that the human body physically could not move at a speed faster than a 4-minute mile. On May 6th, 1954 Roger Bannister broke that record with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.

While that is a cool story it is not what we are going to be looking at today. What is interesting is that fact that since that record was broken, over 20,000 people have run a sub 4-minute mile. This total also includes high school kids. How did that happen? Did the human race suddenly become faster all around the world? The obvious answer to that question is no. So what changed? Every runner prior to that fateful day in 1954 walked up to the starting line with the belief that it was not possible to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Every runner after that day was blessed with the belief that it indeed was possible.

Do you see the difference that a change in belief can bring? For thousands of years nobody ran a mile faster than 4 minutes. Yet, in the 60 or so years since that was proved possible 20,000 people have done it! All it took was one person to not listen to the ‘facts’ of the day. That changed the world forever.

What beliefs are limiting today’s world? Let me share a personal story with you. I firmly believed that I would never accomplish all that I have done. Can a person who almost did not pass high school English class, who was in fact told by the teacher, “I pray you will never have a career in writing.” Go on to write and publish 2 books, create a blog with over 1000 posts and followers in over 100 countries on 6 continents? Can that same person create a YouTube channel that along with live seminars, can help people improve their lives all across the globe? I would never think so, but I did it.

How did I overcome my limiting beliefs to accomplish all of this? One of the main reasons is that I am blessed with an amazing and beautiful soul to share my life with. My lovely lady Margie not only believes in me and the work that I am doing, but pushes me to improve both professionally and personally. I never would have believed that there was another soul in this world who could balance being both encouragement and accountability. If you told me that on top of those two amazing skills she would be the most beautiful woman I have ever met, and being caring, creative and driven in her own right, I would find that extremely hard to believe. If you told me she would fall in love with me and we would share a life filled with many adventures that we faced hand in hand, I would have never believed you. All of that has come true, leaving me to often wonder how so many of my beliefs could be overcome.

What are some of your limiting beliefs? Is there someone in your life that supports and believes in you? Do you, like Roger Bannister, have the strength to not listen to the critics and maybe even the scientific facts of the day? What are some beliefs that could change the world if proven wrong? History is full of people who denied conventional wisdom to defy the odds and change the world. If someone tells you something cannot be done, remember Roger Bannister, the Wright brothers and countless others who would not give up until they were proven right.  

YOU ARE ALLOWED

A lot of people think they can only be considered a success when they achieve their goals. That is not even close to true. Being someone who loves the process is just as important as achieving your goals. You can set a great example in several ways. Let us take a look at a few of them.

First is your ability to stay focused and moving forward. Some people call this ‘drive’ some people call it ‘persistence’. Whatever you call it, managing to go through the process day after day can inspire others to do the same. A lot of individuals I know have a hard time staying focused, especially when they are not seeing results. Seeing someone who continues to put the work in despite the results not being visible right away is inspiring. Think of that person who is struggling to get in shape, but still shows up at the gym every day. Personally, I find those people inspiring.

Another way to  be a masterpiece while you are a work in progress is to show how you handle adversity. Everyone can be smiling and positive when the chips are going their way, but when the wheels fall off and things start going downhill that is when a person’s true character is revealed. Someone who can handle obstacles while staying calm, motivated and positive is a masterpiece!

Lastly, do not give up. It was Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player who said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” If Babe Ruth would have given up every time he struck out, he would not be the masterpiece of professional baseball that he is now. Believe in yourself. Not only will you be a masterpiece, but you may inspire others to do the same. 

THE ONLY QUESTION YOU SHOULD ASK WHEN TRYING TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

What area of your life are you working to improve? Is it your finances? Perhaps you are working to get in better shape? Maybe you are looking to take your relationship to the next level? No matter what area of your life you are looking to improve, there is only one question you should be asking. That may sound crazy given all of the different topics we touched on above, not to mention the thousands we haven’t mentioned that you may be working on.

What is this million-dollar question we should be asking? The question is simply this – What can I do? That might not sound so profound, but trust me it is. When my job seemed to be on the edge of collapse, my personal life was in shambles and everywhere I looked there seemed to be negativity I asked myself that question. My job had slashed my hours due to corporate downsizing. There were a lot of people in my life that were not treating me well. Everything I seemed to watch on the news, read in the newspaper or see online was filled with negative vibes.

At first I did what most of us do – complain. Why was my job at the post office so mismanaged that they could not come up with a better solution for an employee who at that point had never even called in sick? I even contemplated writing the television stations to inquire why they could not throw in a few more positive items on the nightly news. While it might have helped me vent for the time being, in the long run I would be right back where I started. In fact, I might have been even more frustrated because my job would not change their tactics, the news has to sell and is not likely to get positive anytime soon.

The point of this is that waiting for other people and circumstances to change is not only pointless, but can add to your frustration as well. I’m currently looking to get in shape before my well-deserved Jamaican vacation. I could wish all day that pizza didn’t taste so good and complain that the weather is too cold to do much outside, but none of that will help me get into better shape. I will show up in Jamaica looking like something that should swim in the ocean and not be laying next to it. I had to take control of the situation. I had to limit (because it was national pizza day yesterday) my consumption of delicious pizza. I had to make it to the gym where it is still warm enough to run inside.

This works great for getting in shape, but what about other items? Wish you lived in a cleaner city? You could begin by making sure your own yard looks pristine. You could begin to advocate for tougher laws for littering. Do you have a boss that is less than pleasant? You could complain and maybe even try to ‘get back at them’, but chances are you would only make your situation worse. It would make more sense to find out some of their interests so you could discuss such things with your boss. You could actively search for a new job or position in the company. You could take some classes to advance yourself elsewhere. You could learn and do some new relaxation activities when you get home.

The truth is the only control and power we have is over ourselves. What most of us fail to realize is how powerful that is. Even simply changing a perception can bring a different outlook to your life. You have complete control over your thoughts and actions. We have very little, if any, control over others.

Next time you are faced with a challenge of any kind, begin by asking yourself, “What can I do?” You will be amazed at how much control you have over your own life. By actively doing something yourself instead of complaining and waiting for others will bring you a sense of joy as well.

1 THOUGHT TO HAVE EVERY MORNING

One thought I like to keep in my mind is that something good is going to happen every day. Actually I phrase it as a question to myself, “I wonder what amazing thing is going to happen to me today?” Luckily Margie is aware I often speak to myself and seldom finds this alarming.

As I drive to work, while at work, on the way home and all throughout the day I repeat this question again and again. I note when something good happens and wonder, again sometimes aloud, if that was my good thing today.

Sometimes I don’t find a miraculous event and wonder maybe an event happened far away that day and I will learn about it at a later date. I begin to imagine what that may be. Perhaps a large publisher is looking to publish my next book. Maybe a company or event has just decided that I’m the keynote speaker they need. Maybe what I wrote just touched the life of someone who needed it.

Let me tell you what all this thinking does. First, it focuses my mind on searching for the good. Second, my mind is spent visualizing amazing events that could happen in my life and filling my spirit with excitement. Sounds like a pretty good day, doesn’t it? This is all accomplished by starting they day believing something amazing is going to happen.

DO NOT WAKE UP IN NEUTRAL!

This is one of the pillars my teaching is based off of. It never ceases to amaze me how many people wake up and wait to see what kind of day it will be. If the traffic is bad – bad day. If they arrive at work on time – good day.

Let us stop giving away our power. We have a choice to wake up determined. To wake up and say “this is going to be a great day no matter what life throws at me!” Or “I am going to kick ass today and nobody is going to stop me!”

Yes, this may sound ridiculous to some, but it really can change your whole outlook for the day. Enough of those days strung together and you changed your life.