Thursday, December 16, 2010

Be Strong or Be Stagnant

Once you know who you are and who you want to become (sadly not always the same thing), daily life seems inevitably determined to derail you from achieving your destiny.  Be it self-doubt, inertia, complacency, etc. it seems that there is always some reason to stop trying to be our best.  We may never think of it this way but if we aren't aware that life's daily struggles (and I contend that they are daily!) can tear us down then we experience the natural tendency to give up on our efforts when things get hard. 

The antidote for this common situation is STRENGTH.  If we understand that life is and will always be hard then we can take action proactively to prepare for those moments that might weaken our resolve to fulfill our destiny and instead triumph over mediocrity, stagnation and weakness.

I hate the expression: "Hang in there!"  I believe that we are too full of potential as human beings and this life is too precious for us to simply hang in there on some rope, presumably near the end of it.  We are meant to thrive, not merely survive.  We are meant to experience the thrill of reaching new highs as we push ourselves, or rather pull ourselves up, and the profound perspective available only to those who are actually climbing the rope of life.

I believe that there are several key areas in our individual lives that if we focus our efforts we will find our ability to grow greatly enhanced and our lives richer and of greater worth to ourselves and those around us.  This is hard and precisely because it is hard most people will try and then give up.  That is why true greatness is increasingly rare.  That is why fewer and fewer people are living their best lives.  So, if we want to be our best I submit that the only way to do that is to focus all we can on balancing our lives and mental attitude around the following five elements of strength:

Mental Strength

Unplug your TV/YouTube/iTunes, etc. for a set time regularly and engage in something that stimulates your brain positively.  Call it a "digital fast." 

Read (or write!) a book.  Write your ideas and thoughts in a journal or diary.  Take a class.  Practice a sport.  Learn a foreign language.  Meditate.

This life is loud and full of distractions that sap our mental energy and creativity.  Only as we actively attempt to claw back a little thinking time for ourselves can we ensure that our mental capacity will be able to influence the positive things we must regularly do to become our best.

A weak mind = A life of mediocrity

Spiritual Strength

Don't whine or be negative. Be honest and up-front in your dealings with people in your life.  Know who you are and don't fear being or becoming that person.  Each of us has a purpose in life and our job is to figure out what that is and go become that person. 

Protect your HEART, or SPIRIT, by letting it lead your actions. Wear it on your sleeve.  Your heart shows us and the world who you really are and who you want to become.  Listen to it and ACT!

Physical Strength

Eat right and work out every day.  I don't care how tired you might feel get up and move!  I am convinced that a strong body is an important key to a strong mind, heart, and spirit.  When you exercise control (pun intended) over your body you have achieved something difficult.  That achievement leads to increased confidence in other areas of your life: job, relationships, etc.

Have you EVER regretted exercising?  EVER??!!  I doubt it.  Yet how many times have you experienced the opposite emotion: "I regret not getting off my rear-end today and doing something physical?"  Only you have the power to avoid feeling that regret.


Put others' needs first.  We absolutely live in a "me first" society.  Focusing so much on our own needs and well-being leaves little room to care for others.  The common thought "If I listen to this person's problems then there won't be enough time for them to listen to mine," makes us all terrible listeners.  Terrible listeners make for shallow friends and shallow moments.  The emotional release that comes from truly being listened to by someone who "gets" you and takes the time to truly "hear" you is very powerful.  I hope you have someone to do that for you from time to time but for now, go be that person for someone else.  Your strength to listen will shine through and create dividends of strength for you for years to come.


Get out and stay out of debt.  Save more than you make and exercise restraint in spending.  The USA is the greatest market in the world and all the world's vendors know this.  While that makes for a dynamic and interesting economy it also means that we as consumers must constantly be on our guard from the regular assaults by the many low value products vying for our attention and hard-earned/much-taxed cash.

If we have actually learned anything from the most recent financial crisis and ongoing economic malaise we must change the way we handle our finances individually and as a country or we will be back on Depression's door before we know it.  Avoiding financial Armageddon personally and as a nation is really quite simple: 

1.  Stop getting into debt.  If you (we) can't pay for it with money you already have then don't buy it;
2.  Pay off debt.  Sure we live in ultra-low interest times but owing our creditors, be they some big New York Bank or the Chinese people, weakens our ability to do what we want when we want in the future;
3.  Put your money to work in projects, ideas, ventures, that will produce positive results.  It's not always easy to know what will pan out positively, and patience can often be the difference between profit and loss but follow your gut AND the advice of experienced people and you will increase your chances of success.

Financial strength has been the hardest area for me, and likely millions of others, to master and, sadly, it is only through very painful recent times that I think I, and hopefully many others, have finally figured out how to actually apply this simple, yet difficult, lesson of restraint and prudence.  The trick as to whether we have actually learned the lesson is to act DIFFERENTLY when faced with similar circumstances in the future.

So, when we get through a difficult period and the sun shines again on our financial fortune will you act differently and REMEMBER the hard-fought lesson and get it right this time??


Everyday is your chance to be strong.  You don't simply "get" strong you have to DO something to become strong.  Improving your strength in the above five elements of your life is critical to becoming your best.  It all starts with action and the alternative--a stagnant, uninteresting life--is simply not acceptable to those on the path to greatness.  Go get 'em!

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