Losing is a choice…

“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.”

Mary Kay Ash

Winning is a choice.  But then, so is losing.  

I was watching game four of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Dodgers on Saturday night.  In the bottom of the 6th inning the Dodgers scored four runs to take a 4-0 lead in the game with only 9 outs remaining for the Red Sox to try and come back and win the game.

The night before the Dodgers had won the game with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the 18th inning to win the game 3-2!  (the longest game in World Series history).  So a 4-0 lead going into the top of the 7th inning was a commanding lead.  But the Red Sox players are professionals and they are winners and they didn’t panic.  They chose to overcome.  The Red Sox scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th, and then another run in the top of the 8th to tie the game.  

Then in the top of the 9th they went on a rampage and scored 5 more runs to move the score to 9-4.  But did the Dodgers give up?  No way.  They lost the game but not before scoring two more runs in the bottom of the 9th.  Final score 9-6.  I love that neither team quit.  They just keep slogging it out. 

My point is this.  At any point someone could have decided “this is too much, we can’t win, I need to quit and rest myself for another game.”  But that isn’t what champions do.  They win, they persevere.  They rise to the challenge and if they lose, they get up and they try harder.  Failures quit.  Winners don’t make that choice.  

Someone has to win a game in the end, but no one has to quit…

A battle won vs. a battle worth winning…

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

Margaret Thatcher

This quote is a great reminder for me of the importance of discipline and perseverance.  It speaks to the importance of staying diligent and not resting on your laurels.  Just because you have done well and won a battle doesn’t mean it will stay won.  You must be disciplined and focused or you might find yourself fighting the same battle over again.  

However, if you have found yourself fighting the same battle more than once was it because the battle needed to be fought or because you wanted to fight it?  The watch out  is to make sure that we are focused on winning for the right reasons.  Is it about winning the battle or is it just about winning?   Has ego come into play and clouded our judgement?  

Discipline and perseverance are outstanding traits, as long as they don’t become a mask for stubbornness and ego-centric efforts.  Make sure you know why you are fighting.  

 

 

 

Creating a better future takes perseverance…

“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”

Queen Elizabeth II

When I look back on some of life’s hardest moments I realize by persevering those moments helped to create a far better future than I could have ever dreamed of at the time.  The future, even though I didn’t know exactly what is was going to be, was worth the struggle.  Understanding this now makes any struggle or challenge a little less daunting.  I know that God has a plan and that my role is to be faithful and work hard to overcome any challenge.  Giving up and choosing to show a lack of faith in Him and HIs plan is never an option.

What hard times in your life became the platform for your better future?  How does knowing this change your outlook today?

 

Do not be afraid…

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Rosa Parks

The minute that you let the fear of being wrong, of failing, or of making a mistake paralyze you you have already lost.  You will make bad decisions when you are trying not to lose or if your decisions come from a place of fear and doubt.

Taking action is what allows you to break free from fear.  You don’t have time to focus on being afraid if you are making decisions and implementing those actions.  So what if you make the wrong decision?  What if it gets worse?  That’s okay, if you have a bias towards making decisions and taking action you can make another decision, you can learn and get better.

Did you know that “Do not be afraid” or “do not fear” is written in the Bible 365 times?  One of my favorite verses (any many others folks I am sure) is Psalms 23:4. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Make up your mind to make up your mind.  Decide to address whatever it is that makes you fearful and take action.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

Comfortable being uncomfortable…

“Grit is not just a simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again.”

Sarah Lewis

I have tremendous respect for people with “grit.”  The dictionary defines it as “firmness of character or indomitable spirit.” In fact, entire books have been written about the subject.  (this is just one example, there are more but this is a particularly good one)

I respect those with “grit” not just because they have resilience and are able to grow through almost any circumstances with grace and aplomb, but because they are comfortable being uncomfortable.  I think that is why this quote resonates with me so much, because it is hitting on what is so important for growth and success in today’s world.  If you want to improve, you have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable regularly.  The world is changing so fast that becoming comfortable can be the first step towards complacency.  From complacency is a short and slippery slope to irrelevance…

The other part of this that I like so much is because it highlights the “invisible display” factor.  A person with “grit” doesn’t have this trait to show it off for others.  It is a real and internal attribute that helps them get through the tough stuff of life.  It frames how they approach the world.  The people that I have know who have a strong bent towards this trait don’t walk around showing or telling others how “gritty” they are.  They are simply comfortable being uncomfortable and have relentless drive to overcome any challenge or situation, without letting that impact WHO they are and what they value.  

Are you comfortable getting, and staying, uncomfortable in order to grow and learn?

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Who do you want on your bus?

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”Oprah Winfrey

It is easy to find people that will make you a priority when it is to their benefit, but what about when you really need them to help you? Do you have a list of people that you know would answer the phone and help no matter what?  

I am a person that struggles to reach out to others at times “because I don’t want to be a burden” and because I was taught growing up to be incredibly self-reliant. That doesn’t get it done when life and leadership gets tough.

You need to have people there that will support you and know that you will support them, no matter what.  I am reminded of one of my favorite verses in scripture when I read this quote.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Hebrews 17:17 ESV  Having that friend and brother (or sister) to rely upon is critical in life.  

I challenge you to think about these two questions and cultivate that list of folks that you know will get on the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

  1. Who is on your short list to call when you are challenged and need help fighting a battle?
  2. Whose list are YOU on?  Who knows that they can call on you anytime for anything?

Embrace the suck…

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”

Seneca

How easily we understand the need to change our body by challenging it with difficulty.  We get up early, we go to the gym, we push out just one more repetition on the bench press.  We know that by challenging the body we become stronger.  Embracing the suck is what we do to get stronger physically.  It’s easy to do because we have a goal we are striving to accomplish.

It works the same way with mental difficulties of course, but those aren’t as easy to embrace.  I’m not talking about learning new things and seeking new knowledge, that’s different.  I mean the times when life is challenging us, when things aren’t going our way.  Those difficulties aren’t as easy to embrace as strengthening opportunities, until you set aside emotions and personal pride and truly seek to learn from whatever challenge life has thrown your way.  That’s when the breakthroughs happen.  That’s when we get stronger…

Though I Walk Through the Valley…

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.”

Winston Churchill

This quote made me sit back and think and ask myself some tough questions.  Would I rather be on the mountain or in the valley?  Where am I now?  Which experiences have given me the greatest growth?  Well the obvious answer is that I want to be ON the mountain.  I mean we all would right?  But that is surface level and as I really challenged myself to think through this and what the implications were for me personally I realized that the pursuit of the mountain, while motivational and inspiring, haven’t been as personally or professionally impactful on me as my times in the valley.  I need the valley to push me out of my comfort zones, to get real and raw with myself and make the necessary changes to grow as a leader.

But the valley experience alone doesn’t create growth or maturity.  Upon more reflection  it dawned on me that even during tough times, even during periods of real challenge it is so important to always keep an eye on the horizon to the mountain in the distance.  It might seem so far away but it is critical to look up, check that it is still there and remind yourself of why you are pushing through the hard stuff to get out of the valley.

Rick Warren has one of my favorite quotes regarding overcoming pain (the valley).  In it he says “Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.”  This strikes a chord for me on many levels.  Ultimately it is about how you can anchor your vision on  the mountain, your ministry, the future impact that you want to have on others, and then lean forward to embrace the suck and seek to wring every drop of learning from the experience of being in the valley.  I wouldn’t trade away a single valley experience.  They are just too important for growth.  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil…”

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dusty

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