Thus far in this series, we have covered a great range of different emotions and personality traits that exist in all of us. This next one trait however, is one of my very favorites. Let me get right to it my friends. Determination is one of the key elements to success. People have pushed themselves to unimaginable heights of achievement, greatness and accomplishment because they were highly determined.
I can think for example, of my dad who came from very difficult and meager circumstances. He lived in the segregated South where because of his skin color he had to endure a restricted life. His life was also arduous because of his family were all sharecroppers which meant daily, back breaking work in the cotton fields and around area. Education and higher-minded aspirations were not in his future. At that time, very few people of color made it past high school.
But my dad told me that different high school teachers and a few other people told him that he was very smart – he was gifted with a high degree of what most of us call common sense. One expression of his intelligence and passion could be seen in his ability to quickly learn about, fix and improve mechanical devices. Things such as lawnmower engines, cars, trucks, tractors etc. were devices that my dad could work on and fix very readily. This is something that would serve him in his future.
As my dad got closer to his high school graduation, he had to make a choice about his future. He could remain in the small town where he was located and live out the rest of his days there or he could take the vocational test for the U.S. Army and go to Vietnam. Obviously, since I exist, he chose the Vietnam route. My dad took a chance you see. He made a choice to go not only outside of himself and the only life he ever knew, but he went into an arena where he had a high likelihood of horrible injury or death. I mean, he chose to go to war for a government that had allowed him to be oppressed and treated as a 2nd class citizen and a 3rd rate human being.
But the power of determination is just that strong. A person who is determined to be something greater than what they are, who possesses a primal focus on success will go to any heights and endure anything to see their goal attained and their dreams realized. Howard Thurman once said, “At the core of life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.” No statement could be truer of what my dad had to do to become the person he is now. He wanted to live as a man, a man that could enjoy the same respect and freedoms of every other person. But he knew that where he was physically would not allow that. So he made the choice and left his hometown, went into the Army and had adventures and growing experiences in both Europe and Vietnam.
His tale is the story of many people that we all know. It may be one or both of your parents; it could be a teacher, a friend or it may be you. The power of determination is amazing. Large, heavy objects can fly into space because of the desire, the will of people to make it happen. We have seen diseases and plagues defeated by the willpower of those that wanted the world free of such plights. Never take for granted the life that you have – if anything, your circumstances can help elevate or catapult you to greater heights. The power of determination is immense and far-reaching. Tap into what you have, reach for those dreams and goals and stay in the fight until you have won. Remember, your life is a gift – share it generously and wisely.
P.S. The next post will be the conclusion of this amazing seven part series. We will conclude and then stay tuned as I make you an amazing offer.
I stand at a unique point where I am going to make some changes that are basically scary. It’s hard when you’ve done something for a while and then realize that you have to adjust or alter your path. That “difficulty” brings with it something that many of us hate to admit exists; but good people, I feel a bit of fear. That’s right, I gots me a case of the ole fashion “fraidy cat” syndrome. I mean let’s face the fact that we all enjoy a regular schedule, consistent actions and working towards a goal. It’s even better when we are doing something that brings us joy and growth but there are times when we also grow to a certain point and we need to change.
Fear is not neither bad nor good according to many people. If nothing else, it is simply an emotion and like all emotions it is how we allow are actions to be dictated or affected that determines a state of things being good or bad.
My fear is actually based on the possible reaction of a good friend and mentor that I must spend a little less time with in order to further pursue my dreams and career choices. But more to the point, I fear that my friend wont be so understanding of why I am doing this. But I remember in a great speech that Les Brown gave he talked about times when you must go and find your volcano and conquer it. Well I’ve found mine and it’s time for me to go after it and claim it.
When I was probably 3 or 4 years old, my dad let me hang from the side view mirror of his old Chevy pickup. This was the 70’s so the truck had metal rods that held the mirrors to the truck doors. Well I would climb up and hang onto the support rods and begin to cry when I wanted to get down but was afraid of falling. My dad would tell me that I would turn red and cry profusely and finally when I had nothing else left in me except tears and fear, I would fall. Now the ground was only 8 inches from my feet and I was shocked and scared. I would pick myself up, dust myself off, wipe my tear stained face and runny nose and guess what? Climb up and do it again. That’s right. I didn’t learn my lesson the 4 to 6 other times that I did climbed up and fall.
But I ask you good people: What lesson did I learn? Is it childhood foolishness or was I simply enjoying the taste or experience of the struggle and the fear to make me stronger? Now I was too young to really believe that the latter was plausible but I find this to be a great teaching point. Sometimes we have to admit that fear is within all of us and how we interact or experience that fear and what it causes us to do defines a great deal of our character. There will be times when all we can do is acknowledge the fear, calm ourselves, strengthen our resolve and act in spite of the fear. Remember! It’s only an emotion and once we are truly intimate with any of our emotions, we can and should act accordingly. The next time fear materializes in a situation (depending on what it is), acknowledge it, become intimate with it and act accordingly. Your life is a gift my friends, share it generously and wisely.
There will be times my friends when things seem impossible. When you can’t understand why everything goes wrong and the world seems to on top of you when you were on top of the world yesterday. I remember many times when nothing seemed to be going the way I wanted it to go. Rather than saying that the odds were not in my favor, it seemed as if I was at odds with favor. All I wanted to do during those times was give up and stay in bed, under my bed – heck I expected the bed to collapse on me if I were under it.
But here’s what I discovered: I not only survived, I made it through and with the right thinking, the correct attitude, I learned and grew from those tough and trying times. In fact, what I gained after those times was wisdom. There is a saying that knowledge is what you know while wisdom is what you act upon. Another interesting axiom states that knowledge is in you head while wisdom is in your heart. But I earnestly believe that wisdom resides within everyone one of us in some form or another. The hardest thing to realize at times is when we should act upon what we know.
When I was growing up, I would at times get a spanking for misbehaving. Now some of you reading this know that the spankings could be quick or they can be drawn out. The impulsive side of me wanted to fight and argue about the punishment. But the wiser part of me knew to be quiet and things got over with more quickly. See wisdom can save us sometimes.
I feel that we don’t always give ourselves sufficient credit for what we know and as a result, we don’t act on it enough. Has there been a time when your uncertainty regarding your knowledge caused you to pause, stutter or not act? What do you remember happening as a result? Was the results of your uncertainty affected you and/or someone else? Was the result of your uncertainty more meaningful or painful because of its effect on you or the other people involved.
Wisdom is a gift that is earned and nurtured over time. It’s inside of you, it can drive you and most importantly, it can define you. And that definition of you can come not from the fact that you claim to be wise or others say that about you but because you act upon what you know. You act wisely.
Your life is a gift my friend. Share it wisely and generously.
Sometimes, we yield to traditions that seem to have been around forever and as with most traditions, many of us honor them but never know why. Now questioning traditions isn’t always a bad thing since most people are naturally nosy (inquisitive for all of you euphemists out there). Yet staunch adherence to history can be helpful or a hindrance depending on the context and we sometimes need to know why we are doing certain things.
Our inquisitive, curious nature can take us a long way at times. Look at humanity in terms of advances in science and technology. Asking why things fall or how is it that birds fly has given us an amazing growth in physics, flight and space exploration. When people wanted to know more about the body or the human mind, the fields of psychology and physiology were born and continue to grow. As people, we are innately curious and ask questions that we hope will allow us to grow and advance. Admittedly, this can really be good old fashion nosiness but again it’s not always bad right?
Don’t be afraid to ask those questions sometimes. Look past the fear or the intimidation of raising your hand or speaking up when you imply want to know why or what’s the reason. Think about it like this: if you were baking cookies and someone said butter or grease the pan before you put the dough in, you may ask and realize that this simply stops the dough from sticking to the pan. But if someone were telling you to not stand behind a bazooka because of the force and materials that come out of the rear of the device, you may realize that your life depends on it.
Now traditions that we adhere to may not be so serious that if we deviate from them, our lives may be at jeopardy. But allow me to share a simple story to illustrate a point: A mom was preparing a ham and sliced a little piece off the end. Her kids asked why she does that and she replied that her mom taught her to do that. She then decided to ask her mom why she needed to trim the end of the ham. Her mom said that her mom taught her to do that. Finally, they asked the great grandma why the ham was trimmed at the end like that and the great grandma simply replied that when she used to prepare hams, her pan was to small so she simply made it fit.
Some of the things we do came about out of necessity or usefulness and there may not be any amazing or deep background behind them. We can follow traditions but don’t be afraid of your curious nature. Inside of every person is that voice, it’s almost childlike in essence, that asks questions and pushes us, guides us to simply want to know why.
Embrace that curious child. Your life is a gift good people, share it generously and wisely.