What are you counting on? A simple and straightforward question. It reveals more about you and I than meets the mind.
The things we're counting on reveal our identity.
Maybe you're counting on someone to make you happy. Maybe your counting on that quarterly bonus. Regardless, these things shape our identity without notice. A subtle defining that happens slowly over time. Identity should be formed by the immovable or at a minimum something we're willing to stake the risk on.
Here's a brief list of what I'm counting on:
God's love and understanding
My wife's commitment
My children's love
Friendship of a few
The beauty of gardens
As you can see from my list, there are some things that could fail me. I don't mind because I'm willing to take the risk. And oh, the heart break that could ensue just the same. I feel alive here.
Don't count on what is fleeting and temporal. Marketing often bugs us to the contrary, but that's just selling something we really don't need.
In the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, wellbeing is often measured by an outcome. For example, did you lose the amount of weight you wanted or did you hit your financial forecast? This approach is pretty easy. It's a did you or didn't you proposition. I'm proposing a different approach, a different way to measure wellbeing. Specifically, life is a series of twists, turns, elation's, and disappointments. It's very much like a dance. Imagine a tango here.
For some, measuring growth like a dance could cause more than a few heads to explode. You may even tune me out from here on, but it doesn't change the fact that life has the final say in things. I've never met anyone who ignored the dance of life and came out well.
Five things here to measure growth in your life:
Are you moving forward? Even if it's small steps, are you moving forward?
Are seeing the world differently? Change is measured in seeing things differently. By the way, many will laugh at your new view of things.
Are you wanting to give up? Fatigue is a sure sign that growth is happening.
Do find yourself less interested in applause and validation? Healthy disinterest is a key measuring stick.
My daughter started junior-high this year. It goes without saying, I'm not sure how she got to 13 so quick. Regardless, she decided to try cross country as a sport. I was a little concerned. She showed me that my concern was unfounded. The sport helped her in multiple ways and her team went undefeated. A good first year.
The story that I write about tonight revolves around a chance meeting and something a boy said to me.
At a meet a couple of weeks ago I met a boy who must have been 13. I didn't get his name. But he left a mark (see the quote above) on me. I wasn't expecting the response he gave. I only asked him how his race went.
"I will do better next next time. No excuses."
Those words still reverberate through my soul. We adults would do well to put his words into practice. It's clear we live in an age that carries many questions. Figuring out life can seem like a rel=”youtube” target=”_blank” title=”How to solve a Rubik's Cube”>Rubik's Cube or trying to figure out some complex riddle. For many, life is not what was expected or wanted. We're like that person trying to open a door used to open, but now seems permanently stuck or locked.
This is not a post about a boy's response and how it can change everything. It is about a foundational principle that can carry you to figuring out much. Sort of like a star in the northern sky that confirms your position on a dark sea. It really gives you hope. In the end, you'll go further with this approach in your life, while leaving excuses to those that never really wanted to change anyway.
Life is difficult. The idea that it was supposed to be easy originated with the same folks who gave you the idea of "retirement." Not many will admit to easy, but humanly speaking, we tend to like things to go our way. No indictments here, just looking in the mirror (seeing me).
So what's with the african-american notation? I am always inspired when I meet someone who comes from my culture and wants to achieve through a timeless principle like responsibility-true responsibility. Far too often, the narrative speaks to a different approach. I'm not condemning anything here, I'm lifting something up, namely a young man's intention.
"I will do better next time. No excuses."
So what have I learned from that boy?
There is a next time, Lord willing.
Doing better next time implies that I made a mistake or failed in some way and I've earned the right to try again. It's OK.
My losses need to be in lights, just like my successes.
Failing to take responsibility (true responsibility) is akin to avoiding learning.
Reflection, wherever and whenever I embraced it, has been a faithful friend. Reflection gives you the opportunity to see what went right and what went wrong.
The below video clip was shot a couple of years ago. The relevance continues, especially in these upside-down times we find ourselves in. We're in a place where recognizing talent is essential. And by the way, it starts with your soul and the art of searching people.
I could write further on this, but check-out the video clip for more.
The above is a scene from one of my favorite films, Dead Poet's Society. The clip lasts for about 2 !/2 minutes and is well worth the watch on many levels.
There are two lines from this scene that are a part of me:
"Forget them" and "Don't forget this."
Each of those lines create a powerful dichotomy. We must forget some things and some people. And yet we must never forget some things and some people. Knowing the difference means everything.
Our media addicted culture thrives on forgetting what's important. Like the firefly driven and enslaved to the light. We just can't remember because we fail to choose what's worth our time. We fail to know and understand what's most valuable. By the way, our culture rarely supports this approach.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've pissed off more than a few people due to my indifference to what I believe to be not worth my attention. It was never via harsh words or actions, just a quiet stance for what I know is worthy.
Now, who's worthy of forgetting? The critics, the naysayers and the dead (those who still breathe and yet show no real life). People or things that always find a way to find what's wrong can be dangerous. Many have given up because of the voices who laugh and chide. Don't let them win.