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?

 

Over. Under. Around. Through.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

What is the point of growth if everything is easy?  If we had an “easy button” in our back pocket we would never grow or improve at anything in life.  Challenges are what force us to become better.  Without them we would be stuck in a rut of incrementalism and fall far short of our true potential.  Obstacles are gifts because they create opportunities for us to rise above the challenge and flex our creativity.  I’ve been most impressed by those that, when faced by an incredible test, rally together and figure out a solution.  

Find a way to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal.  Skill and talent will only take you so far; grit and determination are what carries you over the hurdles that will happen in life.  

The sun always rises…

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

Aristotle Onassis

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Sunrise at Kill Devil Hills, NC

It is so easy to focus on the current situation, our current pains and challenges.  During our times of greatest challenge and strife it always seems like there is no end in sight.  That we are doomed to stay in the darkness, that the sun will never rise.  

 

Sometimes it feels easier to stay there in the dark. To climb out towards the light is just too much work and effort.  But that isn’t why we were created.  That isn’t how we grow and learn and become better selves.  We are surrendering our ability to become who we were born to be when we lose focus on the light. The darkest moments form us, they create in us the will, the desire, the ability to rise above and become a new and better person.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 ESV

No matter how dark the night the sun always rises.  Where do you turn your focus during the dark moments?  How do you refresh and refocus yourself?

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…

One step forward…

“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

Abraham Maslow

Growth is uncomfortable if you are stretching yourself.  It’s fun right?!  It’s exciting and it’s scary.  But in a good scary kind of way.  The kind of scary that makes your heart beat fast and your palms sweat.  Like the first day you drove a car by yourself.  Or the first time you had the courage to pick up the phone and call your crush and ask her out.  But what if we never did?  What if we were always safe? Safety scares me more than growth.  Because “safe” means stagnant, or complacent or perhaps death. I mean, what if we still thought the world was flat?  That would have been the “safe” choice back in the day…

What do you think?

 

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…”

On being intentional…

On being intentional…

“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.”

Mark Udall

This quote really resonated with me today as I reflect on the power of a great team, and on the power of a great mountain to climb.  It isn’t the small hills that stir my soul, nor is just the sheer challenge of the mountain.  It is the impact of what the climb means.  How the lives of others can be bettered because someone chose to climb, to show the way, to build a better world.  It is the risk of the fall.  It is being bettered by something bigger than me.  Yes, I am speaking in metaphors but it works for me today.

When I look up at the mountain in front of me there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the only way to conquer it is to be intentional, to create a plan, build a team, know the risks, anticipate the rewards, and doing everything in my power to be ready for any challenge that mountain throws at me.  Happen to the world or the world will happen to you.  Be intentional.

 

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