Are you listening to the brave voice in your mind?

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage is an outward demonstration of inner strength. It is the choice to persevere even when you are scared. It is the willingness to look fear in the face and still act.  

Sometimes our most courageous act is stripping all the non-essentials away and focusing on what matters. Every day we have an opportunity to show our bravery in this regard. Every day is the chance of a lifetime to make the bold decision to act in a manner that demonstrates what we genuinely believe. Listen to the voice in your mind and if you weren’t successful today, be brave tomorrow.

To see courage, go watch the last hour of the race…

“Each time we face our fears, we gain the strength, courage, and confidence we need to move forward. It’s far easier to change things than to change people. The real survivors in life are the ones who have the mental fortitude to press on even when the body wants to quit. Even if you don’t finish ‘first,’ you still need to continue on until you cross that finish line.”

P.M. “Chief” DeMarks

The people that always impressed me the most at the Ironman races I competed in weren’t the Uber fast athletes that were finely tuned speed machines. I was impressed by the everyday person who took on the mental challenge of completing one of the most grueling endurance events while also earning a living, taking care of families, etc. Those competitors always motivated and inspired me with their spirit of “never giving up,” no matter the pain, fears, or doubts. If you are ever in doubt of the human mind’s strength, cheer during the last hour of an extreme endurance event. You will see some fantastic displays of fortitude and courage.  

Starting is easy.

Quitting is easy. 

Finishing is hard. But that is when the real value is created…

A bit of butter scraped over too much bread…

“Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”

Josh Billings

One of the most profound lines from J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” is uttered by Bilbo Baggins. “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

I have always loved this line, probably because it hits so close to home for me. Butter spread too thin doesn’t add much value to the bread. How much of our lives do we waste trying to spread ourselves too thin, attempting to “do more,” and instead of creating more value, we end up barely making the impact we are truly capable of delivering.

Rather than trying to cover and be everything, perhaps we should learn to use less bread? Maybe we simply need to learn to say “NO?”

Think of it this way; how does the bread taste when it has too little butter on it? Does it create an appetite for more? Instead of accomplishing our desire to “do more,” we might just be turning people off to what we have to give…

Thanksgiving Daily…

 “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

Henry David Thoreau

What if we all expressed our gratitude and thanks 365 days per year? How different would the lives of those around you be? Daily thanksgiving could change the world…

Change your outlook, change your world…

“Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant.”

Tony Robbins

What expectations are you placing onto others which can be replaced with gratitude? How can you spend today showing appreciation for what they do for you instead of what you can get from them?

When you exchange your expectations and demands of the world and others and CHOOSE to be grateful, your entire experience of life changes; others’ perceived wrongs and injustices lose their power and the hold they have over your heart and mind. 

Why would you choose any other way to live?

Have you been vaccinated?

“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.”

Roy T. Bennett 

Positivity and gratitude are the vaccines necessary to ward off the effects of fear, doubt, and worry. It is a vaccination that requires a daily dose but when taken regularly can have miraculous results. Have you taken your shot today?

Are you planting seeds that will matter?

“If you’re going to think, then you might as well think positive. Remember, positive thoughts and actions are seeds that will produce positive results.”

Robert Tew

Where could your life use more positivity? What is preventing you from planting the seeds of change in an uplifting and confident manner?

Life is too short to waste any of it; dwelling on the negative cannot generate a positive return. I find this question to be the one that can invariably break me free from a negative cycle and embrace the positive. “Will this thing that has me upset or frustrated matter one year from today? More importantly, if I choose to handle it well, COULD it matter one year from today?”

Seek the beauty in your life…

“Live your life with purpose. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Be yourself and don’t wait for the approval of others. But most importantly, have a positive and humble mindset no matter what situation you are in. Count your blessings, not your problems, and you will realize how beautiful your life truly is.”

Troy Amdahl

In today’s world, it can be easy to focus on what we don’t have and what we want instead of merely being thankful for the multitude of things we do have.  

The practice of daily journaling and reflecting on our gifts is one of the most profound and beneficial habits that you can ever embrace. Intentional though on what is truly important rewires your mind to focus on the positive and the good.  

To keep my list from being generic or repetitive, I frame my question this way.  “What has happened in my life over the last twenty-four hours for which I am grateful?”  No matter what, there is always a positive answer to this question.

Will today be the investment that generates positive returns in your future?


“Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.”

William James

Today is the only November 21st, 2020, that you will ever have the privilege of living. How are you going to choose to spend this valuable gift of time?  

So much of the precious time we have in our lives is spent waiting for some envisioned future to come true instead of realizing that the future we create in our minds is purely dependent on how we choose to spend our time today.  

How do you want to live on 11/21/2020? Will you spend it waiting for something or working on what you want to become?

In life are you the iron or the anvil?

“We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.”

Tobias Wolff

Can you imagine who you would be today if you had never been tested or challenged? Those things that are our most significant challenges at the moment are merely the building blocks of the person we are supposed to become. Without them, we are only a shadow of the person we were created to be and can’t serve others in the fullest capacity.  

Embrace the opportunities to persist; those moments are the crucible where something extraordinary is being forged.  We can either choose to be the iron being crafted into something beautiful or we can choose to be the anvil, unmovable and unchanging.

hot iron steel glow
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pause. Detach. Observe. Reflect. Learn.

“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.”

C. S. Lewis

One of the most profound things I have learned over the past few years is that you don’t have to wait until something one is experiencing becomes “history” before you can learn from it.

We are all capable of detaching ourselves from the moment and observing in a non-emotional and rational manner. The experience might indeed be a brutal teacher, but if we can teach ourselves to learn “in the moment” instead of waiting for hindsight, we will be much better off.

Learning to pause, detach, observe, reflect, and learn might the most important skills you ever develop.

Are you asking the right questions about life?

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”

William Arthur Ward

The richness of this quote is in the questions it brings to mind. These are just some of the questions that I pondered as I read through. What questions come to mind for you?

The adventure of life is to learn. –  What have I learned today, this week, this month? What efforts am I taking to continue the experience of learning?

The purpose of life is to grow. – How have I improved myself over the past year? What areas of my life need further growth and development? Where is my purpose leading me to grow in new and different ways?

The nature of life is to change. – What changes in my life am I please with, and what additional change is needed? Because change is constant, how do I become more at ease with the changes going on around me?

The challenge of life is to overcome. – What significant challenges have served to frame the person I am today? Where have I fallen short, and how can I pick myself up and start again?

The essence of life is to care. – Am I demonstrating care and concern in my outward behaviors towards others. Do people know that I care?

The opportunity of life is to serve. – How much of my life is dedicated to serving others versus serving myself? What should this ratio be? What options do I have to help more?

The secret of life is to dare. – What great adventure is right there just waiting to be embraced? What secrets are waiting to be unlocked if I can only dare to dream big enough?

The spice of life is to befriend. – Who are those friends that have added to my “spice of life?” Am I giving the same value in return?

The beauty of life is to give. – When this life is over, what will people remember about me? What things I had or what gifts I gave to others. How much of myself can I give away?

Don’t give up now…

“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”

Matt Biondi

How do you know when it is time to stop? Have you ever quit something too soon? Close your eyes. Think of three things you acknowledge that you gave up on too soon in life. How do you know? What lessons can you take from this in hindsight?  

What trials are before you that might challenge you to the point of quitting?  What questions do you need to ask yourself to ensure that five, ten, twenty years from now, you won’t think of this decision as being the one where you quit too soon?

You might be on the verge of the most significant moment of your life. Don’t quit now…

What are you stealing from others by not being yourself?

“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.”

Honore de Balzac

How comfortable are you in your skin? Are you living your own real and authentic life? How much time and energy do you spend “playing a role” instead of being the person you were born to be? Do you even know who it is you were created to be?

Answering these questions is hard. Being brutally honest with yourself is challenging beyond belief. It can be much easier to “go with the flow” and be the person others expect you to be, but what is the cost of doing this? What are you giving up? If you aren’t at ease in your skin, how do you expect anyone else to be at ease?

Perhaps another way to think of this is to consider what you are stealing from others by not being your true and authentic self. If that doesn’t make you ill at ease, I don’t know what will…

Because of faith, you can have hope…

“Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

Helen Keller

Hope – Seeing what isn’t there – yet…

Hope – Feeling that you are on the right path, even when no evidence exists to substantiate that fact.  

Hope – Achieving the impossible comes as a result of persevering through the doubts and the trials.

Faith – What gives hope its legs…

True wisdom comes from giving…

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

Epictetus

This might be one of the best definitions of wisdom I have read in a long time. The wealthiest people I know are those who are satisfied with what they have. These same folks are the ones that always, and continually seek to find ways to serve more, do more, give more. They are indeed the wisest people that I know.

We all have the opportunity to give, serve, and help those that aren’t as blessed as we might be. At the end of my life, I would prefer the measure of my success here on this earth to be in what I have given to others, not gained for myself.  

Never a wasted moment…

“This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Merely spending a quiet moment at the end of the day reflecting on what might have made the day even more impactful; is enough time spent on the past. This time is precious; it is time spent learning and growing, so tomorrow will be even more powerful.

Make tomorrow better by actively learning from today. The precious and finite time you have to spend tomorrow is worth it.

To make progress you must have a clear sense of direction…

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are going.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

How do you know you are in the wrong place if you don’t have a clear sense of where you want to be? How can you tell if you are going in the wrong direction if you don’t know exactly where you want to be in the future?

You can either choose to wallow in misery about where you are today or, you can invest your energy and time into creating the roadmap to get to where you want to be. 

The direction is everything; if there is no clear sense of direction, there can be no progress. 

Leaders serve others before self…

“There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, tha makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” 

Alexander Hamilton

The ability to serve a cause, a higher and greater good than oneself, is the ultimate demonstration of commitment and sacrifice. By definition, when you are helping others and putting yourself second, you demonstrate a type and quality of leadership that is all too rare in today’s world.  

A leader’s ability to achieve long-term success is correlated with their desire and ability to serve others before themselves. Those leaders are my heroes.  

How will you choose to play the cards you are dealt?

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”

Randy Pausch

It can be natural to look at the cards in your hand and wish they were different. You can undoubtedly stare at the five of hearts and imagine what it would have been like to get the ace of spades instead. But lamenting what you didn’t get won’t help you with the cards you do hold.

Worrying about what you don’t have only serves to steal joy from the gifts and blessings right under your nose. Learning to appreciate and celebrate those gifts, recognizing to millions of other people the cards you hold are priceless beyond measure, enables you to experience the greatest freedom in life.  

‘And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? ‘ Luke 12:25-26 

Will the seeds you plant today bear fruit?

“If we could unfold the future, the present would be our greatest care.”

Edward Counsel

It is intriguing to consider that we are all outcomes of decisions that our grandparents and great-grandparents made decades ago. Who we are, and more importantly, the lives of the people we will influence were shaped by others’ decisions.

Similarly, the decisions we make today will shape and influence the lives of the children and grandchildren we may not even have yet.

Every decision we make has an impact and consequences for both ourselves and those we love and influence.

Therefore today is the garden we are planting for tomorrow. Tend to it carefully. Be careful to plant vines that will bear fruit and not thorns.

landscape photography of green leafed trees
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

What scares you more; failure or mediocrity?

“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”

Bruce Lee

What I like about this quote is that it puts the focus on the fear of failure. It is the fear of failure that is our real enemy. Never trying something because you might fail or setting low expectations to ensure you don’t fail is a dangerous precedent to develop in your life.  

Consider this; failure might be the best possible thing that EVER happens to you because it becomes the catalyst event for further learning and growth. When attempting something great, failing might be the very thing that propels you forward to something even better. Not having the ability to stretch and risk failure is a recipe for perpetual mediocrity.

Would you rather set great expectations and fail, or low expectations and achieve them? 

The first step is done in faith…

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes it is best not to see the whole staircase that lies in front of us. The number of stairs or the steepness of the climb might intimidate us into not starting at all.  

The most powerful thing we will ever do is seize the opportunity to take that first step in faith, trusting that it is taking the action that truly matters.  

What important decision lies before you? Have faith, take the step, trust your choice.

If you want to build a better tomorrow, focus on today.

“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.”

Bertolt Brecht

One thing we must all accept in life is that nothing stays the same.  Change is both inevitable and constant. Recognizing and accepting this fact is the key to building a life of resiliency and focus.

When we see the change as benefitting us, we look forward to and are excited about the transformation going on in our lives. We view change as motivating and can easily live “in the future,” looking forward to new experiences.  

When we view change and its impacts through a lens we perceive as unfavorable, we lament the differences and wish things “could go back to the way they were.” In this case, we desire to “live in the past.”

Acknowledging that change is continual enables you to focus on what you can control in the present moment today. You can’t do anything about the things that happened yesterday, last week, or last year. But you can focus on those things that you would want to view favorably when today becomes history.  

You can’t control what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or next year. But today, you have a choice to focus on those things that will be the seeds of future change. Your decisions today will either pay dividends or become an anchor that weighs you down.  

Focusing on today and the fantastic gift you have with this present moment enables you to become resilient when things don’t go your way. Today is an incredible “one time only show” that you can only spend once.  

Understand that change is constant and continual and spend today in a manner that will make tomorrow an immense blessing to both yourself and others.

notebook
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Create 10x returns in the lives of others…

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Revealing to someone else their own riches is akin to creating and unlocking the secret of the compound interest rates in another person’s life. 

Helping someone discover their hidden gifts or talents will create a lasting impact that will extend far beyond the individual you enabled. Just like $1,000 invested when a person turns 18 grows to be worth almost $90,000 (at 10% growth) by the time they retire, the investment you make in others will expand over time. One CRITICAL difference is that the impact isn’t limited by market returns or by the original investment amount. Because you are enabling another person, the returns can generate at an exponential rate.  

Because one person’s life is changed forever, they impact 1, 100, 1,000, 10,000 others throughout their lives (or even more…).  

Invest in others, not just by sharing your earthly blessings but also by building a 10x impact by unlocking other people’s talents and treasures. The return on your investment might be eternal.

crop man drawing on whiteboard during financial training
Photo by Malte Luk on Pexels.com

Creating tolerance is an antidote to ignorance…

“Genuine tolerance does not mean ignoring differences as if differences made no difference. Genuine tolerance means engaging differences within a bond of civility and respect.”

Richard John Neuhaus

The danger of tolerance is that you are intentionally creating an opening in your mind for both understanding and a potential perspective shift. It is far easier to be intolerant and dogmatic about what you believe than to be open and understanding.

But when you genuinely open your mind to the perspectives and positions of others, not only do you create fertile ground for growth in yourself, you also unlock the power of “we.” The collective skills, talents, and capabilities of a group will always exceed those of one person. Learning tolerance and understanding unlocks tremendous potential, both in yourself and in others.

Besides, by overcoming intolerance, you, by default, begin to remove ignorance from your life.

Frame tomorrow by asking this question today…

“No one rises above who he or she has been without first having fallen down. The best time – in fact, the only time – to make a real change in your life is in the moment of seeing the need for it. He who hesitates always gets lost in the hundred reasons why tomorrow is a better day to get started.”

Guy Finley

At the end of every day, I ask myself the question, “What would have made today even better?” Sometimes my answers are superficial; sometimes, they are incredibly enlightening. What I have learned by asking myself this question over the years is that it allows me to “tune in” to the day’s efforts and pragmatically assess how I spent my time. This practice helps reset my mind and refocus my energy on defining how I want to finish tomorrow.  

Understanding the need for change is what allows you to embrace the effort needed to make the shift. Try asking yourself this question at the end of every day for a month and reread your answers the following morning. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Can you watch the needle?

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.”

Dale Carnegie

As a young child, I can vividly remember having my right thumb slammed in a door when I was six or seven years old. I don’t recall all the details of what happened, but one thing that stands out as clearly today as it did when it happened. Specifically, it is the image of the doctor using a syringe to numb my finger in preparation for stitches that looms so large. I can remember seeing that needle disappear into my skin like it was yesterday.  

That one event served to generate a healthy distaste of needles that I carried forward into life. It was only many, many years later, that I decided to face my fear and donate blood. Because I was not too fond of needles, to say the least, I decided I needed to overcome this irrational fear and watch the technician when they drew blood. Fortunately, I didn’t pass out due to tremendous pain or suffer a great shock by watching the needle penetrate my skin. I barely felt it at all.

The fear that had prevented me from giving blood for years was irrational and unreasonable. All it took was facing it head-on and choosing not to let fear control me. To this day, I still watch anytime I get a shot or give blood to remind myself of how powerful fear can be and how important it is to take control of your fears instead of letting them control you.  

What fears do you need to face today?  

close up view of person holding a vaccine
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

What are you afraid of?

“Action cures fear, inaction creates terror.”

Douglas Horton

Isn’t it amazing how choosing to take action can seem to stop fear in its tracks? Just doing something, anything, creates the momentum necessary to move you forward and slows or halts the spread of fear.

Action mobilizes, fear paralyzes…

Where do you need to take action today? Why are you waiting?

To become bold, you must make the bold choices…

“When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.”

W.J. Slim

What is the downside of bolder action? If the choices are genuinely even, then the risk/reward for each should be the same. However, this question’s very nature highlights that a “bolder” decision carries an additional risk or the potential for failure.  

Below is a picture of the many definitions of “bolder” from www.dictionary.com. Many of these definitions resonate and apply within the context of the quote, but perhaps a different question to ask yourself when you can’t make up your mind is, “Which of these choices will inspire my soul to put in the extra work and minimize any risks? Which of these choices will have more meaning to me in five years?” 

Perhaps an even better question is, “Which definition of bold do I want to leverage to define who I am as a person?” 

Courtesy of Dictionary.com
%d bloggers like this: