Friday, May 11, 2012
Lessons From My "Life Coach"
Yesterday, I had a rather cathartic conversation with one of my dearest friends of over 25 years. The topics of discussion ranged from our families and personal growth to our journeys through adulthood and our future aspirations. The most significant part of our discussion tackled how easy it is to "get stuck in a rut" and how difficult it can be to get free. The biggest lesson that I learned is that it is possible to have the life that you want if you choose to have it.
Examine your siblings and other family members. Isn't it interesting how brothers and sisters who grew up in the same household can have completely different world views and approaches to living? I remember hearing someone make the comment that "You can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl" and understanding in that moment what the single greatest deterrent to our individual and collective success is: IGNORANCE. I don't mean the kind of ignorance that is played out on "Jerry Springer" or "Flava of Love". What we see on these shows is the effect of one's thinking on his/her behavior. What I am referring to is root cause of ignorance defined as, "the state of lacking knowledge or intelligence;illiteracy; being uneducated or uninformed." Contained in the word ignorance is the word "ignore" which means, "to refuse to take notice of; to overlook, slight, or neglect."
I am a firm believer that once you know better, you will do better. A very wise man once said that, "He who controls the diameter of your thinking, controls the circumference of your activity." The choices that you make in life are limited by the scope of your knowledge base. You have to understand that you have the power to choose and be courageous enough to do it. I would like to offer some quotes that I hope will serve both as sources of inspiration as well as resources to draw upon while you consider the possibilities for your life.
1) "Do for self or suffer the consequences." -Elijah Muhammad
No one is going to improve your lot in life for you. Whether it be your relationships, finances, health, education, or happiness, you have got to go and get it for yourself.
2) "Open confession is good for the soul." -Scottish Proverb
Punishing yourself for past wrongs is non-productive. The only way to set yourself free of your demons is to get them out in front of you. I like to think through and write out my feelings, convey them to the individuals involved, and then run my words through the shredder. Clear the air, forgive yourself and others, and be done with it.
3) "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein
There exists a causal relationship in everything. Trying something new is paramount to growth and maturity. How can you change your reality if you don't change your perception? You cannot have what successful people have if you don't do what successful people do. If I work a job for 20 hours a week at a minimum wage job, then I cannot expect to live the life and enjoy the freedoms of one who works 60 hours a week building his own business. If I eat poorly and spend my leisure time on the couch watching the tube, then I will not have the body of an elite athlete. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If what you are doing isn't yielding the desired results, then do something else.
4) "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." -Albert Einstein
It is important to be present in the moment and make conscious, rational decisions in our lives. Refer back to quote number three. Many of the bad decisions that we make are under duress. In Texas, any legal contract entered into under duress is invalid. This simply means that you get "an out." If you were not in your right mind when you made a bad decision, then the ability to recognize and correct the mistake won't present itself until you settle back into reality. Sometimes that requires help from an outside source. If you were simply uniformed at the time of your decision, educate yourself and learn from the mistake. You will prevent history from repeating itself and break a vicious cycle.
5) "Go do something good for yourself today." -"Anonymous"
While we all have responsibilities to the people in our lives, no responsibility is more important than one's duty to himself. People are often drawn to you because of the benefits they can receive from your skills and talents. I believe that the world is made up of three kinds of people: givers, takers, and those who know how to balance both. A 100% giver usually has nothing to show for himself but resentment because no time is spent on filling his/her own tank. A 100% taker ends up alone and spending all of his time holding on to what he has extracted from others. The balancer is open to what the world has to offer, takes what he is blessed with and "pays it forward," and understands that his quality of life stems from taking care of himself and his happiness. The balancer understands that people will come and people will go. If the people in your circle take from you more than they give, get a new circle.
6) "No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." -Chinese Proverb
This quote is an excerpt from a book called, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. (A huge thanks to my sister, Rosiland, who recommended it to me and my siblings.) The point here is that successful people work harder than everybody else to achieve excellence. You have to be willing to push through uncertainty, adversity, fatigue, disappointment, and even poverty to achieve your goals and aims in life. The formula for work is force times distance. Your efforts (force) count for nothing if you remain stuck in the same place (travel no distance) day after day and year after year. Keep your shoulder to the plow and don't stop pushing.
Each of us is entitled to being wildly happy, having vibrant health, fostering good relationships, being wealthy and successful as defined on our own terms, having powerful spiritual connections, and living peaceful lives. We have to know that this possibility exists. We have to be willing to do the work. We have to be present in every moment. We have to be willing to change the way that we think. We have to choose to be happy.
Be good to yourself. More next time...