Obstacles Teach You Well!

December 22, 2011

I haven’t posted since October because of many other demands on my time. But as a result of the many visitor comments to provide a new article, I’ve decided to weigh-in now with the second installment on the role obstacles serve in our lives.

In the last post titled Let Obstacles Be Your Guide, I shared that obstacles are those sign posts we experience in life that indicate where we’re headed in life, and, in many instances, they let us know how close we are to our given destinations. In this particular article, I would like to address the second role obstacles are designed to play in our lives.

As you journey through life in pursuit of a dream or a particular goal, you will invariably encounter certain setbacks that will slow your progress or, in some cases, bring your travels to a screeching halt. While many people view barriers to progress as undesirable obstructions, you must see them as the necessary tools they are.

Every person comes to earth with a unique mission to fulfill. And along the path of your specific destiny, God has strategically placed certain obstructions in your path in order that you may engage them with your mental faculties. Understand that you will never experience a problem on earth for which you have not been given access to its solution…whether that solution is within you or near at hand.

Think of obstacles, trials and setbacks as fueling stations that we pull into in order to fill up with the necessary fuel to power our travels to the next stop.

The obstacles we face in life do not surface to frustrate us. Rather, they arise to cause us to have to think through them in order to manufacture the needed solutions to break through to get beyond them. For once we do, we resurface on the other side much wiser and much stronger in our character for having done so. So, the benefit to you is twofold. You come through with a  newfound wisdom you didn’t have before. And you gain strength in an area where you once had a weakness.

As we set out to pursue the greatness that calls to us from within, we have no way of pinpointing the many fault lines in our character or locating undetected fears that exist below the surface of our being. Trials and obstacles are designed to raise to the surface every internal defect that has the potential of undermining the foundation that is intended to support our weighty dreams and aspirations. Without certain trials, you will never know how fragile your foundation truly is until the weight of your success begins to destroy the ground beneath you.

For this reason, never seek overnight success because the foundation that supports it has not had time to properly cure. Neither does quick success allow for the proper fortifying ingredients to be mixed into a foundation that is poured overnight. While we are all tempted to want to enjoy instant notoriety and acclaim, I caution you to refuse to buy into its appeal.

There are many lessons you must learn along the route to you fulfilling your prescribed mission in life. Trials, obstacles, and setbacks are the teachers that arrive on the scene the moment the student (YOU) is ready to receive instruction.

As you travel the road to greatness, the obstacles you face will only increase in magnitude and difficulty. But don’t fret! Because the wisdom and strength you gain along the way will keep each challenge you encounter in its proper perspective…always being achievable. Every Goliath you face on the battlefield has certain vulnerabilities you must discover. Once you unravel its defenses, you then are freed to move on to the next one. In this manner, you are thus equipped with the proper wisdom, maturity, and appreciation to enjoy the prize that awaits you at the end of your travels.

Let Obstacles Be Your Guide!

October 12, 2011

This post is the first in a four-part series of follow-ups to the previous one titled ‘GOLIATH and you…’ In that particular discussion, I mentioned the four purposes that obstacles serve. In this one, I want to address the first role obstacles play in your life.

By definition, an obstacle is a hindrance or impediment in the path of one’s progress. Obstacles interfere with a person’s desires to achieve some particular goal or aspiration in life. They can be material objects or mental barriers. Either way, they stand in the way of one’s pursuits. And getting by them presents a dilemma.

 Facing opposition in any form requires the expenditure of time and energy…and in some cases, money. The output needed to hurdle most obstacles will, to a degree, produce some measure of pain and discomfort. Let’s be honest! No one likes pain. And we all try to avoid it, if at all possible.

But, I want to caution you not to attempt to avoid the obstacles in your life, for they signal where you are headed.

Let me explain by way of an example.

After I graduated from high school many years ago, I knew I wanted to continue my education by attending college. Obtaining a college diploma was very important to me, and I knew it would offer a gateway to a destiny I wanted to enjoy. I would eventually enter and graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in ’84. To this very day, the diploma serves as a priceless reminder of the great education I received at one of this country’s premier academic institutions. But…

While I’m proud to be part of “The Long Gray Line” of figures like of Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, Bradley, and Grant, my college dreams were nearly sidelined by something in between day 1 and graduation. ACADEMICS!!!

West Point evokes a great deal of respect in America because of its rich history and because of the many outstanding leaders it has produced since its establishment in 1802. Getting one of those highly prized diplomas was a goal I wanted more than anything. Or so I thought. 

I can vividly recall the thrill and pride I felt on my first day as a Plebe (name given to West Point freshman). I arrived in the Summer to attend what is called Beast Barracks. While the physical rigors of Beast Barracks were challenging, I rather enjoyed the newfound mental and physical discipline I acquired. But when that phase of my first year training was completed, I then progressed to the most trying ordeal of my life, up to that point.

I embarked on an academic regimen I was not prepared to handle. Where I graduated near the top of my high school class, I found myself sinking academically the majority of my freshman year. Many times I thought about quitting because I was not accustomed to being challenged and tried by fire in this manner. Had it not been for the ceaseless encouragement from my father and older brother to hang in there, I would have quit my first year. But their constant support provided the strength I needed to go the distance.

My point is this…

I wanted a highly regarded West Point diploma. That was my goal. But I never factored into the equation the many academic obstacles standing between me and my objective. Understand this! Those obstacles were not indiscriminately placed in my path. No! Those astronomically high hurdles were strategically placed in the path of every would-be suitor bold enough to try and pluck one of those expensive pieces of paper from that lofty tree. The Dean of Academics does a superb job of protecting the academy’s prestige and reputation. While I hated it then, I love his sentinel duties now…no longer having to be subjected to them.

In fact, the relatively high attrition rate and difficulty of making it through a four-year West Point experience is the very thing that gives weight to the diploma.

You must understand that the obstacles in front of my goal simply allowed me to see I was traveling in the right direction.  If it were easy, I would have to question whether I was at the right school or not.     

Whenever you set sail to achieve something worthwhile, there is a providential hand involved that prescribes the very trials and obstacles you will face en route to your destination. When you experience those difficulties, don’t balk and complain. Instead, recognize the setback for what it is…a signpost in the road to keep you on track.

Whether your aspiration is to sing professionally, become a world renown painter, win gold at the Olympics, or simply climb Mount Everest, recognize that the obstacles you experience will be the guiding indicators that let you know you’re still on the right course to achieve your dreams.  

Something magical happens when you spend time in front of an obstacle, but that’s for another discussion. For now, just accept the fact that obstacles to success are a necessary thing.

Please post your comments, as I am always eager to know your thoughts!

 

GOLIATH and you…

August 31, 2011

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Biblical story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17. In this classic underdog tale, we read about how David, a mere boy at the time, dares to fight toe-to-toe with the seasoned, battle-tested Philistine champion, Goliath who stood about 9-ft 9-inches tall.  The story goes that twice a day for 40 days, Goliath would taunt the entire Israelite army, demanding it to put an opponent on the field to settle the matter of victory once and for all.

For fear, no one dared to take Goliath up on his challenge. That is until…

As was his custom, David would take food to his three eldest brothers who were Israelite soldiers in king Saul’s army. On this fateful day, David arrived at the camp to hear a loud war cry, as Israel’s soldiers maneuvered into their battle positions. Immediately, David ran in the direction of the excitement, and that’s when Goliath began to make his usual taunts.  Young David was amazed to see the entire Israelite army paralyzed by fear because of one  man, albeit a giant of a man.

In verse 25 of that chapter, David overhears soldiers talking about the reward that the king would give to the man who would face and kill Goliath. To the victor, king Saul would give: (1) great wealth, (2) his daughter in marriage, and (3) total tax exemption in Israel for his entire family. You would think such a reward would be incentive enough to cause at least one of the king’s veteran soldiers to step forward, but it did not.

Long story short… When David heard about the reward, he was shocked that no one accepted the king’s offer. In the end, he stepped up to the plate, let his sling fly, and hit a home run with one smooth stone right in Goliath’s forehead.

The victory captured the king’s attention; king Saul wanted to know just who this boy’s father was. From that point forward, David was known as the man who killed Goliath and brought victory to the nation of Israel.

And your point is…

Let’s face it, we would all like to reap the benefits of living on the mountain top without having to expend a lot of effort to do so. Right! No one in his right mind wants to suffer deprivation of any kind to get something else, if at all possible.

But we all know nothing worthwhile comes to us without having to offer something of value in exchange. To achieve any measure of success in life, you must be willing to pay a premium cost to enjoy it. At some point, you must surrender time and/or money as ransom for the things you desire most in life. No escaping that fact.

But the truth remains… Most are unwilling to hurdle the obstacles that stand between them and their goals.

Understand that all obstacles are barriers first to the mind. And after the mind accepts them as such, the body must comply and halt progress. Did you get that? How you view the obstacles in your life determines whether you advance, stand still, or retreat.

You may want to question the worth of your goals in life if there exist no formidable obstacles between you and them. They do indeed serve a valuable role along the journey to you reaching your goals in life. Obstacles serve four important functions:

1. They are indicators of where you are headed.

2. They act as pit-stops to allow you to gain necessary wisdom.

3. They help you to know the value of the prize you seek.

4. They serve as great qualifiers to screen out unworthy suitors.

I will speak in detail about each of these four roles in upcoming posts, but for now simply know that obstacles are very valuable to your success.

You were born to be great, but greatness will never be handed to you without first proving your claim to it.

I would love to know your thoughts. Please post a comment!

Are You Benefitting Much From DRAFTING?

May 3, 2011

Competitive racers from all sports can appreciate the benefits of “drafting,” especially when competing against the forces of headwinds.

Drafting is an aerodynamic principle that results when vehicles, runners, birds in formation, or objects traveling inside the slipstream or wake of the lead object expend less energy than the lead object, while maintaining the same speed.  Drafting is used most often by cyclists, auto racers, speed skaters, over the road truckers, and track runners in order to reduce the effects of wind resistance.

You may be asking, “What does this have to do with me and my business?”

There are times in life when traveling in the wake of another person’s success is ideal. Until you can gain traction and establish a following in your chosen field of endeavor, you may need to draft off the success of giants in your industry. It’s done all the time.

Have you ever noticed that across the street from almost every McDonald’s is a Burger King. This is not accidental. Burger King owners know that McDonald’s is very selective about location, and they also know that McDonald’s spends considerable time and money to analyze traffic flow and gather neighborhood demographic information before a store is built. So, once McDonald’s decides to build, Burger King feels safe taking up residence across the street, knowing that the industry leader has already done its homework.

When I wrote Dare To Discover Yourself a few years ago, I enlisted the support of an author by the name of James Riddle to write the forward to my book. James is the best-selling author of The Complete Personalized Promise Bible series. I was simply drafting off the success he enjoyed as a very successful published author.

The “social proof” value of his endorsement is priceless and has paid dividends many times over.

Identify leaders in your industry and determine how you can travel in the slipstream of their success and fame. With the advent of certain social media tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and StumbleUpon, your industry’s giants never have to know that you are even benefiting from their lead position.

Remember this…

When you stand amid towering giants, at some point, you too will get noticed.

Would love to know your thoughts by reading your comments!

 

What Do You Have In Common With This Man’s Talk-show Guests?

April 18, 2011

What do you have in common with Jerry Springer’s talk-show guests?

The Jerry Springer show debuted in 1991. When the show first aired, his focus centered on political issues. But amid sagging ratings, the format was changed in 1994 to take advantage of the fact that there was a bigger appetite for sleazy entertainment.

To garner ever increasing ratings, he fed his audience a daily smorgasbord of contemptible behavior such as adultery, prostitution, transvestism, baby-momma drama, and a host of other socially unacceptable behavior. To cast the widest net, his staff brought in guests that tended to be young, disenfranchised individuals with minimal education. At some point in the show, his audience expected to witness the all too familiar on-stage brawl.

It is said that we are known by the company we keep. And who you CHOOSE to hang around says more about you than the other individuals with whom you associate…because where you spend your time reveals what you intend to do with your life.

Environment is everything. Certain environments are conducive to allowing you to see the endless possibilities that exist in the world. While others reveal nothing but barriers to success.

If you want to go anywhere in life and do anything noteworthy, you must pay particular attention to your environment and the people in it.

If you desire is to chase a dream that has reached its due date for delivery, there are times when you must make the tough decision to distance yourself from certain individuals who do not share your desire to reach for more in life. And don’t waste time trying to convince them of your hopes and ambitions because they will not celebrate where you’re headed.

Therefore, put yourself in atmospheres that will get you steps closer to achieving your aspirations, not further from them. And surround yourself with people who will cheer you on to victory, not those who will seek to pull you back into the barrel at the first glimpse of your moving away from mediocrity.

So, I ask in parting. What do you have in common with Jerry Springer’s guests?

From this point forward, hopefully nothing at all!

I would love to know your thoughts. Post your comments below!

Have You Reached The Tipping Point?

April 12, 2011

Before you can taste the exhilaration of widespread acclaim, you will feel the bitter sting of unmitigated anonymity.

The tipping point is critical to all success. It is the point where we teeter on the fence that separates obscurity from popularity. Getting to this point takes determined commitment and uninterrupted focus.

Because…

The loneliest leg of your journey on the road to discovery is that long stretch when you are just trying to get others to take notice of what you do. During this stage, trying to enlist the attention of others is as difficult as trying to roll a 500-lbs. boulder up a steep hill. It is here where, rather than charging for your product or service, you feel tempted to pay others simply to hear your message or try your particular product.

And this part of your travels, when you desperately pray to be able to cross the tipping point, has the most potential to cause you to thrown in the towel, believing that your dream is not worth to pursuit.

But I want to provide this cautionary note of advice…

The Bible warns that we should not despise the day of small beginnings. There is tremendous benefit in starting small and building up a head of steam. And there is good reason why comedians start their careers performing in small, unknown venues. It is far better to bomb before an audience of 100 folks than a packed 5000-seat auditorium.

The glare of fame is very unforgiving. Once the world takes notice of the priceless gift to humanity you are, little can you afford to be ill-prepared to meet the demands of that hour. By then all the bugs must be worked out and all the wrinkles ironed to smooth perfection. The quiet of obscurity is supposed to provide you the opportunity to ensure that such preparation, training, practice, and rehearsal have taken place.

When starting out in any venture, there are so many things you need to learn, and what you fail to identify and deal with during the foundation-building stages of your development will resurface later to undermine all aspects of your future success.

What you should walk away from this particular blog post understanding is this…

It is vital that you suffer the experience of loneliness prior to reaching the tipping point, when you are the only one on the path.  It is only during this time that the foundation of your success can be properly fortified with the right ingredients to allow you to withstand the pressures that accompany greatness.

Understand that once you cross over the tipping point, pushing boulders up hill will no longer be your problem.

Your challenge will then be trying to slow the pace of the massive success that grows without any effort on your part and which offers you no “me” moments.

So, despite how near or far you are from that tipping point moment, use your present obscurity to fine-tune those talents needed to perform like a pro once the glaring lights of fame begin to shine on you.

Would love to know your thoughts, so please leave your comments!

 

 

Are You Crippled By The Fallacy Of Social Proof…?

April 8, 2011

…when it comes to believing in the value of what you have to offer.

Social proof plays an important role in helping us to know how to act in situations where we have no prior information to draw upon to guide our decision making. Advertisers use the phenomenon of social proof all the time in their commercials when using famous celebrities to pitch new products. They know most people base their purchasing decisions on what well-known people purport to buy and use.

When it comes to YOU as the product, relying on social proof can be a crippling thing.

Launching a dream is a daunting task, in and of itself. Rest assured, self-doubt will be the first to arrive on the scene the moment you attempt the herculean task of lifting a mighty empire from the kingdom of the mind and setting it down firmly in society.

But the situation is made worse when we wait for the approval of others as an indication that our goals and dreams are worth the undertaking.  If you wait on others, namely family and friends, to get excited about your dream, you will never start the journey.

Have you ever tried to retell a funny joke that was side-splitting when you heard it, only to have the person say, “I don’t get it.” Your dream is that exact same way.

Others will never be able get it until they can see it for themselves.

Your dream offers a private viewing to you alone. Therefore, it is your responsibility to get excited about the screening of your future condition, because what your mind reveals is real indeed. And you must be the first to buy into that…long before anyone else does.

In the beginning, Walt Disney suffered a great deal of angst trying to convince others of his vision. And when no one else could envision what he saw, he chose to move forward, despite their doubts. Once he gave us the tangible proof of the empire in his mind, then and only then did millions climb on board with their endorsement.

So, my friend, you must believe in YOU when no one else does. And you must be committed to investing in your dream long before anyone else signs up to support you. Laugh and joke about the private viewing of your personal production. For a brief moment in time, you will be the only one to get it. But once you deliver the tangible proof of your excitement, they too will laugh and rejoice.

So, don’t allow social proof to determine when to set sail on your voyage. Be the first to believe in YOU.

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

 

 

Are You Fully Unwrapped?

April 4, 2011

NO, that’s not what I meant!  Please, keep your clothes on to read this.  🙂

As a gift to humanity, you came into this world fully complete, with a wealth of priceless treasures already inside you. Why not let those things finance your journey through life?

Understand that…

From the moment you were born, you entered a race to discover all the unique talents and abilities you inherited at birth. If you choose not to compete, you’ve already chosen to lose in this race called LIFE.

But unlike most gifts that are presented, it is left up to you (the gift itself) to unwrap yourself to learn all the valuable things you’ve been given to share with us. Therefore, it is completely up to you to probe and investigate your entire being to discover the priceless treasures of your mental and physical estate.

Your WORTH is fully self-contained within you. So, stop looking outside yourself to find self-worth and validation. Nothing outside you can offer those things.

Finding the sum total of your worth is much like going to the supermarket and shopping for the many items that make up your shopping list. God has invested in you so many different kinds of abilities, all in one grocery cart, that will ring up as PRICELESS upon checkout.

And He is looking to see what you do with what He’s given you.

Have you been passionate from your earliest recollections about …singing, dancing, writing, speaking, comforting, painting, drawing, encouraging, healing, cooking, baking, managing…etc. Your strong passions hint at your purpose. They are the trace clues that suggest where you should devote the bulk of your time and energies.

The bottom line is this. You are the sum total of your worth.

And…

Your unique gifts, those that compliment your passions, are the ones you should hone to razor’s edge sharpness, as they are designed to aid you in constructing an empire based upon a blueprint in your heart. And when you use them to support your life’s mission, you will derive a measure of fulfillment that can be found no other way.

A full audit of your worth would prove impossible, as a final tally would reveal an owner’s equity surplus that can’t be determined in one lifetime. Think about how Walt Disney’s legacy continues to fund his estate long after his exit off the scene in 1966. If his empire is continually earning billions annually, when can we ever really put a final cap on his true worth?

Your uniqueness is supposed to bless you along your journey in life, not frustrate you. Embrace your passion and those gifts you’ve been given and they will reward you in return!

Just saying!

Would love to know your thought. So, please leave your valued comments.

Talk soon!

What Comes First?…

March 28, 2011

The title of this post is not a reference to that age old question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Instead…

The question hits a little closer to home. I simply want to ask you, “What came first, your worth or your value?” How you answer this question is very important because it sets the premise for nearly everything else you do and reach for in life.

What do you mean, dude?

Because we use the terms worth and value interchangeably in conversation, the razor thin difference in meaning is often overlooked. One precedes the other and actually defines it existence.

Let me give you an illustration of the difference between worth and value.

Farmer Sherman, nearing retirement age, wanted to get out of the farming business, altogether. Devoting so much time to his profession and seeing so little of the world, he wanted simply to sell his 350-acre farm and spend time traveling. His asking price for land, buildings and equipment was a modest $1.5M. Since the farm had been in the family for generations and had no mortgage, he believed that getting the asking price would wipe out any small debts he owed, while leaving him plenty left over to sail the seven seas.

After being on the market for one and a half years, farmer Sherman decided to come down on his asking price just a bit. He was devastated, however, when coming all the way down to $300K still produced no buyers.

But one day…

While trying to pull up an old tree stump, something amazing happened. As he and a few farm hands were just about to free the last stubborn tree root from the ground, a big geyser of the blackest water started spewing all over the place. After all the commotion had died down and everyone finished spitting out the foul tasting water, someone shouted, “Hey, this stuff is oil.”

Guess what happened next?

The table quickly turned, as the news spread quickly.

Word went around all the surrounding communities that farmer Sherman had hit the big one by finding oil on his property. The sale sign came down, and people poured in from all over to buy the place. A foreign investor even threw in a bid of $35M, sight unseen. In the end, farmer Sherman ended up maintaining the ownership rights to his property. However, he did hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to sell the mineral rights to the land for a whopping $280M, with a 5% residual interest in all oil revenues and any other minerals discovered on the property.

What’s my point?

The ‘worth’ of the farmland was just as priceless before the discovery as it was afterward. Just because no one knew that the oil was there diminishes in no way the worth of what was always there. You see…worth is intrinsic, and it is not diminished by surrounding conditions. And neither does our ignorance of the truth or existence of certain things take away one iota from the worth that God has assigned to the creation of a thing.

Worth (yours included) goes in at production. The manufacturer assigns worth based upon his cost to bring a particular thing into existence. There are many factors that determine worth, but the overall effect is that…once assigned, it remains forever.

Value on the other hand is very different!

The value of a thing (to include your value and mine) is determined by how many others in the marketplace also want a particular item. You see, Mr. Sherman’s asking price went from $1.5M all the way down to $300K simply because no one saw, at the time, that the property’s value was equal to what he was asking. Therefore, it just sat there.

But when oil was discovered on the property, all of a sudden, the perceived value changed. In this changed situation, farmer Sherman was then able to renegotiate the terms and conditions of his offer.

You’re probably asking, “What does that have to do with me?”

Everything!!!

Because when you don’t know your WORTH, you will compromise your marketplace VALUE. You will go to the bargaining table and close on deals that are not in your best interest.

When you don’t know your worth, you wind up in relationships with people you would not otherwise, if you knew the priceless gifts that are in you. Ignorance of what’s been vested in you at birth will cause you to accept incomes and wages that are way below your actual market value.

So you see, worth precedes value. Worth helps us to set to proper value on the things we take into the market to exchange with others. And if you don’t know your true worth, what price are you putting on your talents and abilities, as you cart them to the market?

I will explore in upcoming posts the importance of knowing your worth and value, because understanding of these concepts is crucial to your not being cheated out of life’s rich bounty.

Remember that what you have is of value to others. They will get it out of you one way or another. Why not give it to them on your terms by knowing your worth so that you can properly set the right value on your wares.

I’d like to know your thoughts. Please weigh-in by leaving your comments!

 

 

 

 

Where Does Greatness Lie?

March 25, 2011

I believe that…

Greatness is merely the by-product of an internal discovery.

Which means you got some digging to do deep within yourself to fish out the greatness the world yearns to one day enjoy in the marketplace.

Your biggest challenge will not lie with your attempts to achieve greatness; it will rest with how you define success and where you look to find it. How you define success will set the azimuth from that understanding forward.

Most people give in to the compelling urge to look outside themselves for validation and esteemed greatness. When this occurs, we set out on the wrong paths in life, chasing all the wrong goals and prizes.

Your true success is attached to a specific purpose. Therefore, all you do in life must serve to fulfill that mission. Once you identify your purpose, the wonderful joy of living will then appear, not apart from it.

When you dive into life fully aware of your life’s purpose and following the prescribed blueprint in your heart, then will you make the biggest splash in society you were designed to make.

It is not about how much money or things we can amass in a lifetime. Rather, it is about completing the assignment you were given to complete. Your unique talents and abilities, the things you are wildly passionate about…offer clues to an amazing assignment you are on earth to fulfill.

It’s funny. When you begin to chase destiny, the other less important things will begin to chase you!

Greatness, therefore, lies with your ability to impact on a wide scale countless lives by taking that small seed of greatness, and all its potential, that is currently within you and then allowing it to harvest in the fertile soil of society. When you do this, those you impact will esteem you as great.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a post!

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