Lesson 15: I’ve Learned that sometimes you sprint for the goal line, and sometimes you fall back and punt.
If you know me at all, you are probably a little surprised that this I’ve Learned installment is starting with a sports metaphor. It’s not that I don’t like sports. Watching football with a group of friends is always a blast.
When I am at home alone, though, sports seldom get much airtime. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the games. Instead, I think the game loses some of the thrill without an audience to share it with.
But this is not a post about sports.
No, I’ve come to a realization this month. Lately, it seems like I am having them all the time.
April Was Dismal
To be honest, I’ve been a little depressed most of the month. It takes a lot to get me down, but seeing my low blog numbers for April as I passed my six month anniversary – it was more than a little disheartening.
I have no intention of quitting. However, May has been largely a wash. There haven’t been as many posts as I had planned, and social media has not gotten the attention it deserves.
Something clicked yesterday while I was putting some new flowers in a bare spot in one of my front flower beds. It’s an unusually dry area and the soil is poor. The best thing I could do is dig all the soil out and replace it with good soil and be more conscious of watering frequently.
I was at the garden store earlier in the day. There into my view came an Ice Plant. Perhaps I’ve seen the plant before, but the name was not familiar. Removing the plant tag, I read how the plant loves direct sun and dry, sandy soil. Instead of replacing the soil, perhaps there is a plant that will thrive in what I already have.
So, I purchased and planted the Ice Plant. In the future I will try to comment on its progress.
That silly little plant got me thinking about my blog. I do my best thinking in the yard and probably that’s why I like to be out there so much. Anyway, it dawned on me, April was a bad month, but that hardly means I should scrap anything.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of stopping this blog. But, I have been neglecting it most of the month.
So, That Didn’t Work
This will probably sound very egomaniacal, but please bear with me. I started this blog for me and to share me, Wolfe Butler, with the world. I felt like I had some things to say that maybe someone else would enjoy or benefit from reading.
Then I fell into a bit of a trap. I started reading other blogger’s success stories, big income reports and “expert’s advice.” Imperceptably, I became obsessed with SEO, catchy titles and appropriate blog lengths.
I’m not saying those things are not important. They certainly are, and especially if you hope to make a real income from your blog.
I didn’t start a blog to make an income. If that happens, wonderful, but it was never my purpose.
Without realizing it, I had started sprinting for the money goal line. The end result started to blind me to everything else. I lost much of my joy in the process.
I can’t help but think that is at least part of why my traffic dropped off.
The readers I had were likely not interested in which title was the most captivating or which post had the best keywords. They were coming around because they were interested in what I had to say. They were interested in me.
With blinders on, I lost some of me – what readers were responding to in the first place.
The View Is Different Back Here
One of the best things that happens when you step back is that your view changes. Up close, I’ve been obsessing about that barren dry spot in my flower garden. However, when I walk back to the road, that spot is barely noticeable because the rest of the garden is flourishing and full of color (and too many weeds at this point.)
It’s time I do the same thing with my blog. Obsessing over SEO and page ranking, etc., it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my readers.
So, I am making a commitment. Though I still plan to share my blogging journey, I hope to never become obsessed with stats again. The numbers may go up or forever stay flat. Neither will change my purpose.
Three people recently really helped me with this realization, even though they probably don’t realize the impact they had on me.
One, the amazingCaron Allen, author of theDottie Manderson Mysteries, has been a perpetual cheerleader both on my blog directly and on Twitter. I’m sure I owe many of my Twitter followers to Caron’s efforts to help promote me and my blog.
Two, the incredibly sweet Kristy Jo Volchko, author of Mall Hair Maladies, which I reviewedrecently, gave me the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on her site. Even though that interview just posted, the experience did a lot to bring back my joy.
Three, someone I don’t know very well but hope to going forward, Drew J. T. Smith, author of Zodiac Awakening, made a touching comment on Twitter about something he had read recently in my current work-in-progress. He even said he had read everything in the tale so far.
Now, I didn’t ask these three people why they have helped me or why they are reading my work. I’m pretty confident, though, that if I did, none of them would say anything about SEO or page ranking. These wonderful people are reacting to me, Wolfe Butler, and the works I am most proud of sharing.
Lucy, Hold the Ball
As Charlie Brown did so many times, I am going to fall back and kick the ball. Like Charlie, I may fall flat on my back. Even so, I have found my way back to joy, and I think that will resonate with readers.
I am very open to suggestions. If there is something you really liked or really hated or even just thought was okay about my blog or writing, please share it with me. I want to connect to people. I want to connect with you.
All the blog ranking stuff will come. Or maybe it won’t. If Caron, Kristy Jo and Drew are the only people I ever touch, I am happy with that. My goal was to reach someone.
Thank you for reading!
Until next time….
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Success takes time. Time requires that you be patient. Patience is not always easy to achieve, but it is possible.
The last few weeks have truly tested my mettle and patience. A severe chest cold knocked me on my butt. Then, just when I thought I was going to recover, the pollen explosion sent me spiraling back down into agony. To add insult to injury, a freak storm did damage to my property this week.
It is very difficult to write meaningful content when you feel terrible. It’s almost impossible to write coherent material on cold medicine. To keep you from thinking I had slipped into a pattern of heavy drinking, I chose instead to take some time away from my blog and be patient.
And I missed it terribly!
With everything that has been going on, though, I have been reminded of an important life lesson.
Success rarely comes quickly, so you must always be patient. You must never stop trying.
Independent or Stubborn?
Independence is a key attribute of many successful people. Unfortunately, being independent sometimes feels incompatible with patience.
I can only imagine that I gave my parents quite the fit. They did their best to raise me properly, but I didn’t always make it easy.
I taught myself to ride a bike, and refused help even when both arms and legs were skinned, and I had suffered more than one groin injury.
Learning to tie a tie, learning to shave and learning how to care for injuries are all life lessons I taught myself. On more than one occasion, I suffered injuries that should have been addressed by a doctor, but I never told my parents. Instead, I set out to treating them myself with the plan to tell someone only if the wound got worse. Fortunately, that never happened.
It’s amazing I survived childhood.
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Independence and Patience
Being independent should not be a negative trait. In fact, it often leads to ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s not surprise that so many leaders and inventers were independent people.
Learning to be patient tempers the independent spirit. Patience teaches you to wait and keep trying. It makes you understand that failures aren’t fatal, and that sometimes goals can only be reached with the help of others.
Both of my parents were incredibly stubborn, so I come by my need for independence quite honestly. My wife constantly picked on me about it.
Being stubborn has its strength. In the end, I learned how to ride that bike, even how to ride no handed. I survived all my injuries. My ties now always feature an elegant Windsor knot. I have shaved more times than I care to remember.
Every lesson was finally learned by being patient.
As a child I did not fully understand, but success only comes when you refuse to stop. You may not reach you goal today. However, if you are patient, tomorrow just might be your day.
You can read more about why you should never give up in the following post.
The question, then, becomes, “Is it worth it to be patient?” You bet it is.
My debut novel, Getting Home, is not really my first novel. In fact, I have five other complete novels that I wrote as a young man.
I can’t explain exactly why I never pursued anything with those stories. The writer brain is often a harsh critic, so I never fully imagined that I could make a living with writing. Often I thought that no one would connect with my writing, so there was no point in sharing it.
Last year, I changed that mentality. I decided to throw caution to the wind and tossed Getting Home out into the world. It is definitely not selling at a pace to provide me with a living, but it did set a ball in motion that will eventually get me to that point.
This month’s Tale of a New Blogger post hasn’t gone live, yet. That’s partly because I am very discouraged by April’s numbers. Being sick much of the month is no doubt the reason for poor numbers, but it’s still disheartening.
That said, there is no intention on my part to give up. Six months in, I am still loving my blogging journey. I love planning, writing and illustrating blog posts. Sharing my current Work-in-progress – Paradise – gives me great joy. Recently, I was even inspired to write some new poetrywhich you can read below.
Success takes time. Keep reminding yourself of that fact.
There’s no reason to finish that line. You have all heard in many times before when someone was trying to encourage you to keep going. Maybe it was because you missed the mark of the goal you were aiming for. It’s a very true statement.
So, how do you keep going?
First, be sure to celebrate the small victories.
Building a house is an excellent analogy. The first step in building a house is finding the right property and then the right location on the property.
Next, the site is leveled out and the foundation is constructed.
Sometimes, it is weeks and even months later before the framing begins. After the framing, the home is dried-in, or in other words, the roof is complete and the exterior doors and windows are all put in place. From the dried-in stage, many more weeks can pass before there is further progress.
Every goal is very much like building a house. The foundation is the bedrock of your future. It’s based in patience.
Each step could be likened to the framing of walls, building a roof, or adding doors and windows.
The point is, each step is integral to the final goal of having a complete home.
Writing a book, or any worthwhile project for that matter, is also not a steady forward moving process. Time and necessity (and sometimes illness) may force you to back away for a while. Writing yourself into a corner can take some time to overcome, often because difficult choices have to be made to correct the problem.
And editing. Ugh! Editing is murder. Ask any writer, and they will all pretty much tell you the same thing. Editing is the worst.
Yes, I am sliding a little off topic.
My point is that the final success of building a house or writing a book is built on many smaller successes along the way. That’s an important life lesson.
Celebrate Little Things
Take the time to celebrate the completion of the little steps, and it will be easier to be more patient until you achieve victory. Each mile marker is a move up to the top of your mountain. Celebrate each one.
Now don’t get my wrong, I didn’t see any contractors or homeowners celebrating when the framing or dry-in process was complete. But they could have.
Celebrate when you complete that chapter or word goal. Pat yourself on the back when you rework that particularly difficult passage. Sing from the rooftops when you finish editing a section of text.
OK, maybe not the last one unless you don’t have any neighbors nearby. I wouldn’t want any of my dear readers to be carted off to a padded room somewhere.
But you get my point. Each success is just that – a success. It’s too easy to get fixated on the long-term goal and fail to see the progress being made. Own that success and let it empower you to continue moving forward. By being patient, it will come.
But I’m Still Discouraged…
Some of you might be saying right now that despite the small successes, the ultimate goal seems too unattainable, so maybe you need to quit.
Stop. That. Thinking. Right. Now.
Or, if you absolutely have to have a pity party, give your permission to have that party today. However, that permission has to come with a condition.
Tomorrow, you have to get up with renewed vigor and dive back into whatever project you are working on. If you are writing, get back to writing. Are you are editing? Then keep editing, even through the tears and anguish that inevitably come with it. If you are building a house, go on to the next part of the building process.
For the time being, though, don’t think about your final goal. Instead, decide what the next step in your process should be and focus on that. If it’s writing 500 words or editing a chapter, that is now your goal.
Reach the goal. Celebrate. Pick the next goal. Repeat.
The big goal will come if you are patient and work hard.
You got this.
Yes, it’s true, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But when it was completed, what an amazing masterpiece it turned out to be.
Your work will be no different.
Until next time…
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Everyone strives to have a happy family. Today’s world throws a lot at families that makes this an ever challenging goal.
You have likely seen the good news posted by some “experts” that divorce rates are down. Unfortunately, those reports are only telling part of the story. While it is true that divorce rates (at least in the US) are dropping, the truth is that the rate of people getting married is dropping faster.
But divorce isn’t the only problem. With so many distractions and time stealers in this digital age, many children and teens are feeling forgotten and unloved.
What can you do to ensure that you have a happy family? Here are 12 steps you can take:
Lesson 13: I’ve Learned that friends may come and go, but family is forever and must be cherished.
1. Talk to Each Other
Communication is most effective when there is a true sharing of feelings and words between family members. Getting all family members to talk is sometimes a challenge. Teens especially may tend to be closed off and silent.
The matter is not hopeless. Take the time to change a few of the things you are already doing and communication will flow more freely.
Talk when you are together.
No doubt there is time that is spent sharing meals or taking trips in the car of by public transportation. How are you using that time? If you are on your phone the entire time, there is no strengthening of the family.
Instead, take that time to talk to your family. Ask questions of each other and listen carefully as they speak. Try not to react too quickly, even if you hear something from your youngster that upsets you. Stifling them will only lead to more silence.
Phones and other electronic devices are wonderful tools for staying connected to the world around us. They can likewise be large impediments to family communication. Checking text messages or social media alerts when a loved one is speaking will not show them that you care about what they are saying.
Set times for your family that are media free. Turn off phones or put them in another room during family dinners or when your teens come home from school. Take that time to listen to your family uninterrupted and you will draw closer.
Family communication often cannot be scheduled. Your teen may want to talk late at night when you are ready to go to sleep. A younger child may want to tell you everything as soon as you pick them up from school.
Do your best to make yourself available to listen even when you are tired or have other things to do. Granted, you cannot stop every action to give your loved one your full attention. But if they see you making a consistent effort, they will feel valued and more likely to talk again later.
You can read another post about choosing your words carefully in this post.
2. Forgive Each Other
The silent treatment is a go-to response for hurt feelings in many families. This treatment may go on for days and even weeks when one family member refuses to forgive another for some offense.
As a result, this wall creates division in the family. Work hard to forgive each other quickly.
Sometimes it’s a matter of just asking yourself a few questions. Will what hurt me matter in 10 years? Is an apology necessary, or can I just overlook the offense? Am I being too sensitive?
Forgiveness means letting go of resentment and the offense that hurt you. It doesn’t mean that you need to pretend the offense never happened or should minimize it.
Holding on to resentment damages not only the family but you often on an emotional and physical level. It can create a rift in the marriage and distance parents and children.
This means if there has been a wrong committed, you should take the time to sit down and talk it out. Both of you should listen as the other explains their point of view. Then, do your best to move forward. Don’t continue to bring up offenses that you have forgiven.
3. Be Loyal to Each Other
Loyalty is at an all time low in this world. Too many people are quick to throw away relationships at the first sign of difficulty. This lack of loyalty is why divorce rates are high and why less people are getting married.
You chose your spouse for a reason. Continue to show each other proper consideration and love and your loyalty and commitment to each other will grow. Decide in your hearts that you will stay together come what may.
Take divorce and separation off the table from the start of the marriage. Divorce rates were lower in times gone past for that very reason. Most people did not consider divorce to be an option.
Family loyalty starts with your mind. How do you think about your spouse? Do you imagine someone else may be a better fit for you? Are there times you regret your marriage?
If any of those answers show weakness in your relationship, take action now to strengthen ties with your mate. Schedule time together and work on open communication. Examine what areas of your marriage are creating stress and then work together at fixing them
Children that are raised in an environment where their parents are loyal and committed to each other grow up to have strong relationships both with their parents and with their future families.
4. Support Each Other
The expression goes, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” Your family is your most important team.
For a couple, this means changing a mindset from “What do Iwant to do?” to “What would be best for us to do?”
A family should be more than just a bunch of people living together. Make a united front on dealing with money, making family decisions, and child rearing.
Some couples try to keep separate lives in many respects and then wonder later why their marriage failed.
Work toward the success of your team by always working together.
5. Plan With Each Other
Closely associated with teamwork is setting goals. For a plan to be most beneficial, it involves flexibility, planning and plenty of hard work.
Both family and individual goals should be encouraged. Plans may involve necessary things like nutrition and exercise, or a reward to work towards like a special family vacation or weekend trip.
Decide as a family what things you would like to work toward. Pick a realistic deadline and set out the steps that will be needed to reach your goal. Think of any hurdles that may come up and how you’ll be able to overcome them.
In addition to family goals, help your children to set personal goals. Achieving goals can produce more happiness, stronger friendships, and more self-confidence among family members.
6. Value Each Other
Valuing your spouse includes showing them respect. Expressing value is demonstrated in how you interact with your family. Do you frequently criticize each other, or are compliments more common? Are you quick to listen to each other, or do you walk away from or dismiss conversations?
Strengthening your respect for your spouse and family members is a very internal process. Meditate on a list of qualities about your mate, perhaps even writing them down. Then tell your spouse why you appreciate those qualities.
Think too of how you would like to be treated. What actions make you feel valued and appreciate? Think of several areas and have family members do the same. Then take some time to discuss what everyone came up with and how you can do better as a family.
7. Lead Each Other
Parental example is a vital step in achieving a happy family. Leading involves not only stating what you think should be done, but making sure you are doing the same thing yourself.
For example, you may want to teach your children that lying is wrong. Will you later ask your child to tell an unexpected visitor that you are not home simply because you don’t want to speak to that person? Or will your teen hear you call in sick to work when you are not sick?
Think about the guidelines that are important to your family. Do you have rules about what movies or video games can be played? Are there friends you want your kids to avoid? Does your family value words like “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry”? How do you act in these areas?
The way you live your daily life will affect the way your family lives theirs. Show your family how they should live by the example you set.
8. Instruct Each Other
Every family has a core belief system. For many this involves honesty, strong work ethic, and politeness.
To have a truly happy family, these areas must be clearly defined and effectively taught.
A good work ethic can be taught from a very young age.
Give your child chores to complete and make sure they follow through. Chores not only teach responsibility but the importance of doing things for others. Learning to care for what’s important creates stronger and more independent adults.
Standards for politeness should also be taught to the very young. Saying “please” and “thank you” and learning to share are essential lessons. Set the example in these areas and your child will more likely follow suit.
9. Trust Each Other
Trust engenders confidence and consistency. Believe in your family and that they will do the right thing.
Learning to be trustworthy is not an automatic process. Teach your children the relationship between trust and freedom. A teen that respects a curfew will be more likely to receive occasional exceptions.
Teach your children to be honest at all times, even when they might upset you. Show them the consequences when they are not honest. Set the example in being honest yourself.
In addition, patience adds to contentment. Rather than giving your child everything they want when they want it, teach them to work towards something and to wait until the right time. Teaching patience can go along with teaching how to handle money and the importance of savings.
Lessons should likewise be taught about being reliable. Teach your family to follow through. Dependability is sadly lacking today. If you assign a chore, see to it that it is completed. If your teen commits to doing an activity, make sure they do it.
Again, set the example. Show that you are dependable in the way you treat your job and commitments. If you make social plans, make every effort to stick to them. Demonstrate your patience by telling your family something you want and then let them see you patiently work toward it.
10. Strengthen Each Other
Standing up for what you believe in is the key to identity. Core beliefs, moral character, and ethical standards all shape that identity.
Help your family develop their identity by assisting them to discern their weak and strong areas. What traits stand out? Which traits need improvement? Consider aspects like generosity, punctuality, and work ethic. Make sure your young one knows their strengths. If they have trouble coming up with a list about themselves, tell them what strengths you see in them.
Teach conviction. Does your family follow a moral code? What is the basis for that code? Why should it be supported?
Have a family discussion about identity. Remind your children that they have both a personal and family identity and that their actions affect both.
11. Work With Each Other
Many devalue hard work. Some have a “gimme” mentality and expect to be taken care of and served.
Teach your family to be industrious. Show them the value in learning to do new things. Help them to feel pride in a job well done. Whether it is homework, a job, or household chores – look for ways to be more do better and more quickly. As skills develop, so will work enjoyment.
Learning balance is about finding the right middle ground between laziness and overworking. Take time for recreation for your family, but also show them how you complete the necessary things first.
The world is a big place. Even small actions can have a mighty effect. Show your young ones how even small chores benefit others. As they grow, this lesson will carry with them and help make the world a better place.
Demonstrate your work ethic by doing more than expected. Show your children how to take pride in their work and that there is often more to a job than just completing it. Taking out the trash is important. Cleaning up any mess that might be created in the process is the extra step.
12. Guide Each Other
Discipline is on the decline. Crime and violence are increasing. There is no doubt there is a connection.
Your family should know that there is right and wrong and that consequences result from doing the latter.
Discipline and guidance are more than yelling and spankings. When your child does something wrong, sit with them and explain to them why it was wrong. Help them to see how the bad conduct affects others. Affirm your love for them while helping them to understand the importance of reasonable rules.
Guidance comes into play with you spouse as well. Is one of you working too much? Are budgets being properly followed? How much quality time is being spent with the family?
It’s too easy to develop blinders to the things you are doing. You should be willing to talk, and listen carefully with an open mind if you are corrected.
Discipline must be consistent. If something is wrong, it is always wrong, no matter where you are or who you are with. Just like the law is always the law. Speeding is speeding whether you see the police or not. Family rules should be the same.
Love Each Other
Love was not included as a step because a truly happy family knows that love is an essential part of all 12 steps. Discipline in love. Speak in love. Forgive with love.
Love is more than just a warm feeling. It’s that effort to always see the good in your family. Peace and calm are fruits of love. Love first, and all the other steps will come easier.
Even in this dark world, a happy family is possible. If everyone works together and keeps love at the forefront, your family will achieve this goal.
Words do real damage. Sometimes we learn this life lesson by things that are said to us, and sometimes by words we say to someone else. Once a word is spoken, it can never be taken back. Even the most sincere apologize will never truly heal the wound.
With this in mind, it is important that we think first before speaking. Especially in a moment of high emotion or anger. Here are three questions you should ask yourself.
One of my favorite stories is about a little boy with a bad temper. Everything I found online says the author is unknown, so I will only be crediting the site where I found the story.
Nails In The Fence – Author Unknown
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
This story illustrates an important life lesson. Words can do damage. Words spoken in anger are like the piercing of a nail. A sincere apology might remove the nail, but the scar is now forever there.
Like the little boy in the story, there is something we can do to make sure we are putting as few nails as possible into the fence. Ask yourself these three questions before you are tempted to say something in anger.
Would I Write It Down and Sign My Name to It?
Internet trolls and cyber bullies have done their best to make social media a hostile environment. The common thread among these harsh critics is that they typically speak anonymously.
It’s easy to say something hurtful or disparaging when you know the words won’t be attributed to you. But if you don’t want your name attached, should you be saying it in the first place? Most likely not.
Take a minute to think the next time you are inclined to write or say something negative. Imagine yourself one, five or ten years in the future. Would you want these words attributed to you in your life story? Would you want them to be the words you are remembered for?
We never know which of our words will be the ones that will stick with someone. That is all the more reason to choose them carefully.
How Would It Make Me Feel?
Next, switch roles for a moment before speaking. How would you feel to be on the receiving end of what you are about to say?
Cruel and heartless comments have become commonplace today. High ranking people in positions or authority are setting the worst example by their careless use of words.
Don’t follow their example.
Would you want to be called fat? Stupid? Crazy? Lazy? Incompetent?
Then don’t say those words to someone else. Don’t post them on social media.
In conclusion, remember the fence as you go through your day. It might take a while for you to stop putting nails in it. Likely you will never stop. But you can reduce the number of nails by thinking carefully about what you are going to say next.
I hope you enjoyed this life lesson. Do you have questions you ask yourself before speaking? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
There are many ways to be taught a life lesson. Often the best teacher is also the most painful. Trials, struggles and adversities can teach a great deal if we can survive them. The key is to never give up.
Quotes are important to me. I love to write them down and refer to them for inspiration and comfort. Today I will share seven of my favorites and how they can help you to never give up.
This writer has had his fair share of struggles and disappointments. Most days it feels like more than a fair share, but we are all living with our own private hell.
Rather than focus on the struggles and negative, today I want to concentrate on how to keep going.
Focus on the Light
A light appears to be at its brightest when everything around it is dark. The trouble is that when things in our lives are the most dark, we often feel we can’t see past the darkness. Light is always there. It might be a small speck in the distance, but it is there.
Look for the light. If you see even a hint of light, focus on it.
Frequently, when things are at their worst, we tend to close our eyes, at least figuratively. Things are so bad, we can’t bear to see anything else. I have been in that darkness more than once. I’m sure I will be there again.
Have you ever watched a sunrise? I don’t mean just the last few moments before the sun crests over the horizon. I mean starting from the dead of night.
The first hints of light are barely discernable. But then, as if by magic, light begins to infiltrate the sky.
Keep looking for the light and you will find it.
It’s Okay to Start Over
I have failed at three businesses. It’s important to me to share that so you can understand where I am coming from.
Many times when everything falls apart, we can’t help but keep trying to put things back together. But sometimes Humpty Dumpty can’t be fixed. And that’s okay. Maybe he shouldn’t be.
Relationships, businesses, creative endeavors all may fail. Sometimes it’s an epic fail. So, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
Many times, it is not really a failure. What may at first seem to be a fail may actually prove to be milestone on the road to your success.
Thomas Edison became famous for saying “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Learn from today and start new tomorrow.
Struggles Produce Strength
This quote provides a life lesson most easily illustrated through exercise. Starting an exercise program can be difficult and painful. But the only way to achieve that beach-worth body is to push through the pain.
Here in Tennessee the weather has started to warm up. A few days ago, I plunged myself into work in preparing my flower beds for spring.
Evidently, I have not stretched the muscles in my thighs and hips for most of the winter. Too much time spent writing, I imagine. After just a few hours spent squatting in the flower beds, I had the pleasure of hobbling around the next few days like an 80-year-old man.
Should I stay out of the gardens? Of course not. My body will adjust again to working in the yard. There might be some pain along the way, but it is worth it in reaching the end result.
If you are suffering through something right now, look for ways to gain strength from this experience.
Difficulties Produce Success
This quote by Samuel Smiles is one of my favorites. You could never reach the top of the mountain without climbing it. Why would we expect any other success to be different?
Let’s think for a minute about marathon runners. No one would just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. The Boston Marathon is just over 26 miles. I’m not sure I could even walk 26 miles. In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t. Some days driving 26 miles requires an effort.
Marathon runners train for months and years. They get up early to run in snow, rain and dark of night. They know the struggle is integral to reaching their goal of completing the marathon.
That’s an important point. Not every marathon runner, in fact most I would imagine, runs with the hope of winning the race. For many the goal is simply to finish the race.
Keep your eyes on your goal. And your first goal should be realistic.
If you were starting a new business, you would never expect to become a millionaire the first year. Yes, it does happen, but it is very rare. Very rare.
Instead, your first goal might be to be profitable. Most new businesses are not profitable for 2-5 years. Being profitable is a very realistic and important goal.
It’s the same for anything else. Yes, you may struggle. It may feel like you are always going uphill. But keep your goal in mind and you will attain success.
Success Requires Sacrifice
Intentionally, I am going to misapply this wonderful quote by Dr. King. While he was talking specifically about pursuing justice for all, the gist of his words can apply to any struggle.
Meditate on a few of the expressions he used. Requires sacrifice. Tireless exertions. Passionate concern. Dedicated.
Success in endeavors or in life does not happen without effort. If life sucks right now, well, I’m sorry. But that is part of life. Giving up now will get you nowhere.
Suffering is an important part of the journey. Many of us best learned empathy and compassion as a direct result of the terrible things we experienced.
Dedicate yourself to reaching your goal. Whether it is achieving a healthy life or writing a book, dedication and sacrifice will be your footholds to your ultimate goal.
Success is a State of Mind
I would have liked to meet Napoleon Hill. Over the years I have collected dozens of his quotes. Many of them keep me going from day to day.
You will never truly fail until you quit in your own mind.
One of my favorite stories is that of Captain Ernest Shackleton and the loss of the ship ironically named Endurance. I may even dedicate an entire post to it later on.
The Endurance was crushed and sunk in the South Atlantic by pack ice. Shackleton and a few of his crew set out in their small lifeboat to reach a whaling station. Terrible conditions forced them to land the boat 20 miles from the station.
With no climbing equipment and subzero temperatures, his small party treked uncharted, snow-covered mountains to reach the station and rescue the rest of their crew. It took 17 days.
None of his crew were lost.
What kept his crew going despite seemingly hopeless odds? They believed their captain would keep his promise to rescue them.
How did Captain Shackleton keep himself going? His primary ambition was to save every one of his men. Failure was not an option. His mind was determined on success.
The mind is more powerful than we often give it credit for. If you believe you will fail, you will fail.
But chance to believe you will succeed? You may just rescue your entire crew.
Refuse to Stop Fighting
Personally, I am not a fan of boxing. I’m sorry if that offends you. But I don’t understand two people senselessly beating each other to a pulp.
Boxing does teach us an important life lesson. The winner of the match isn’t necessarily the strongest or the biggest.
The trait that creates winners in the ring is the refusal to stay down. Hit them over and over and over. (Seriously, why do they do this?) They keep getting up.
Life is often like a dirty boxing opponent. It breaks the rules and hits you in the most sensitive areas.
Keep getting up.
The end of a relationship might flatten you.
Keep getting up.
Closing a business may be devastating.
Keep getting up.
Serious health conditions may overtake you.
To the extent you can, keep getting up.
You got this. I believe in you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this life lesson from the I’ve Learned series. What keeps you from giving up? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments.
If we keep our minds open, everything that happens in our lives teaches us valuable life lessons. Great things, bad things, mediocre things – each has its own type of life lesson to teach.
I’ve Learned is a life lesson series born from little scraps of paper I have scribbled on and collected over the year. In each post, the main lesson is discussed with real life examples from my personal life.
The series kicks off here with Lesson 1. It’s an important life lesson to learn. If everyone tried to #BeTheGood, so many other painful lessons would not be needed.
Lesson 1: I’ve learned to be the good I want to see in the world. #BeTheGood
Seeing The Wrong
As much as I try to be a good and positive person, I cannot help but admit that I have some character flaws. I love to rant, to give advice and to point out mistakes. Well, really the last one is more of an obsession/compulsion rather than something I love.
Ask anyone that knows me well, I tend to be too vocal about the wrongs I see around me. I’m the crazy guy sitting near you at a conference or seminar. When the speaker mispronounces a word, I’m the one that has to say it correctly outline.
You know me. You will likely turn and give me a disapproving. On the inside, though, you are applauding me internally because you also caught the mistake.
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Set The Example
Life has taught me that the best way to affect real change in the world around me is to set the example. Telling someone to do something can be effective. Showing them how to do it makes it more likely they will later do it themselves.
Many Christians will regard this as the Golden Rule, and surely it does match Jesus’ life lesson words found in the Bible at Matthew 7:12 –
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.”
What would the world look like if everyone applied this one simple rule? I mean really applied. There would be no political parties tearing each other apart. Race would never be an issue. Mass shootings and terrorism would not exist.
I can’t help but think that if this one simple rule were followed, the world would be a very different place.
Look through the news headlines on any given day. Imagine how the stories would have changed if this was applied by all.
Hearing and Doing
We hear the Golden Rule repeated often. Sometimes we are sitting attentively on Sunday morning while the Bible is read. At other times, the message is conveyed in popular films likePay It Forward or the Love Comes Softlyseries or shows likeWhen Calls the Heart. (All three are excellent if you haven’t seen them already. I especially like When Calls the Heart.)
How, though, can you and I really apply this concept?
One way to apply this life lesson is to lookfor ways to help others.
Are you walking in or out of a store or business? If others are nearby, take a moment and hold the door for them.
Do you see the older woman loading her car with groceries? Offer to return her shopping cart for her.
Do you have a friend suffering a need but unwilling to ask for help? Give some help anyway.
Creating positive change in the world is about action and not intention. Yes, it is important to make sure we are not doing bad things or making the lives of other worse. Equally important, though, is to make sure we are actively seeking ways to make the world a better place.
Start Where You Are
Look around the area you are right now, whether at home or in public somewhere. Is there something on the floor or ground that needs to be picked up and thrown away? Is there someone nearby that is having a bad day and needs a smile or a hug? (It’s probably not a good idea to go around hugging strangers, but you get the general idea.)
At home, is there something that needs to be done, like taking out the garbage, washing the dishes or doing some laundry? Even if it is not something that it your responsibility, #BeTheGood and do something to help out.
One of the things that had made my dear wife the most happy was when she came home after a long day and found I had surprised her by making dinner or finishing the laundry. Those gifts meant more to her than any jewelry, flowers or chocolate ever did.
Of course, none of us can force others to change. Any attempt at change will only be temporary if it is not in the individual’s heart. So, I challenge each of you as I challenge myself, #BeTheGood you want to see in the world. Do something today to make someone’s life better or easier.
Wouldn’t it be great if #BeTheGood were the biggest trending hashtag of the year? And wouldn’t it be even better if that was because people were not only using the hashtag, but more importantly, were creating change in the world by the good they are doing? After you have done your good for today, come back and leave a comment of your experience to encourage the rest of us to also #BeTheGood.