Friday, December 4, 2015

December 4th... I got shot... Chiraq got released... Fred Hampton was killed... WHY?

This is different from my other blog posts... way different.  I'm not worried about tarnishing my professional reputation.  the thing about this post is that the things I discuss here have helped shape me.  The things that I have had to overcome mentally from being the victim of gun violence have given me an unquenchable thirst to help other people.

December 4, 1993... It was my senior year in high school.  Two of my very close friends sat in the car outside of my home while I put my overnight bag in the trunk.  We had just come from a party at Hales Franciscan High School, and I was going to crash at T. Cook's house and leave for work at Footlocker from there the next day.  The trunk of the car was raised and I was organizing my things in the cargo space as I was approached by a guy with a 9mm handgun.  Since the trunk was up, he didn't notice my buddies in the car.  Just writing this now has elevated my heart rate.  Twenty-two years later, I can still feel the slight chill in the air.  I can see the evil in the eyes of the guy who was pointing the gun at my chest.  The laughter inside of the car made him realize that I was not alone.  He walked to the passenger side back door and tried to break the window with the butt of the gun.  He then let off three rounds towards my friend in the back seat.  My friend in the front hopped out the car and started running.  I crawled around the car so that I could put a barrier and some distance between me and the shooter.  As I stood up to take off, I could hear and feel several shots whizzing by me.

Imagine a runners stride... my right hand is in front of me about 2 inches from my face.  A bullet crosses my face and goes straight though my right hand.  Had I been a millisecond faster, the bullet would have gone through the back of my skull.  Whenever I look at my right hand, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to still be alive.  I was mad at God for a long time because of the whole ordeal, but I realized that it was a necessary part of my evolution.  I will not go into full details right now, but I know that it is a major reason why I am the way I am today.  This experience helped to shape my ideologies about life.

Chiraq.  Long before the film was shot, I was shot.  Long before There were auditions for this Spike Lee Joint, the name was uttered in the streets of Chicago by the people who live here.  In January of 2012, I remember one of my fellow spoken word artists calling me to let me hear a piece that she wrote called Welcome to Chiraq.  For those of you who may be confused by the term, it basically means that Chicago is a war zone just like Iraq.  The original use of the term was in reference to gang and gun violence in our city streets.  However, Chiraq has its fair share of police brutality as well.  The recent shooting by police of nonthreatening civilians has been heart wrenching.  It's not just "black on black" crime anymore, it's simply murder across the board.  The film simply exposed the rest of the world to the term which has been used for years before the thought of the film ever surfaced.  Politicians tried to fight the name of the film, but they didn't try to fight the cover up of the murder of 17 year old Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.  The death and cover up of this kid has done far more to hurt the reputation of the city than the title of the film has.

As my heart and mind are bombarded with emotions and frustration, I sit here typing.  I don't totally understand what has happened to the city that I love.  Yes, it was rough 22 years ago when I was the victim of an attempted carjacking.  My thought process lead me to believe that things were going to get better though.  I had this idea of a utopian city full of love, prosperity, and opportunity.  I do think that those things exist in Chicago, but there is also a dark side.  I don't want to go on and on about my feelings on the topic, but I will share a few things that I think are key in the training and development of this murderous mindset... in no particular order.

I can't even make this a black culture vs white culture thing.  Hip Hop music has transcended the color lines.  What I do know is that the music of today is poisonous to a degree.  What do I mean by this?  Well, people learn things through spaced repetition.  Music that is derogatory, promotes killing and the use of drugs, degrades women, condones irresponsible behavior, and uses extreme vulgarity gets planted into the minds of the people who listen to it.  Once it is learned though spaced repetition (listening to it over and over) the subconscious picks up on it and begins to do two things.  First, it commits the words to memory to be recalled without thinking or effort.  Second, it desensitizes the listener to the harshness of what the words are actually saying.  In other words, it normalizes all the behavior that is talked about in the music.  There are studies done on the effects of music on the brain, and how it even alters behavior, mood, and emotions.  This programming of the mind by way of music, in my opinion, is a serious part of the problem.  If they are popping Mollies and killing people in the songs, then it must be ok.  Even if the listener isn't inspired to go out and physically do the activities, they are less sensitive about it when it happens around them.

Call me old fashioned, but I know that kids who grow up with both parents in a loving home are less likely to become a threat to society.  Yes, there are some exceptions.  In the inner cities of Chicago though, and in communities around the world, there needs to be a stronger male presence.  When I talk about family, I don't just mean immediate family either.  I have several friends that I grew up with who were from single parent homes, but they still were raised by the village.  Proper guidance by responsible adults at an early age can put a kid on the right path.

I've seen the difference between people that had resources and people who did not.  I've seen the difference in kids that came from schools with computer labs and state of the art equipment, and kids that did not.  Some may argue that everybody has an opportunity and work hard and make a name for themselves.  That may be true to a certain degree or extent.  Think about it like this though... If you had to plow a field would you want to do it by hand, or with sophisticated machinery that will do the job better and faster? It seems that there is more of a focus on individual advancement over collective advancement.  The cream always rises to the top.  The playing filed is not always equal though.

The service sectors of our cities are getting away with murder... literally.  Politicians have power without compromise.  Police have authority without accountability.  I think that government is necessary.  I know that there have been political leaders that had great intentions and wanted to serve the people that put them into office.  I know that there are policemen and women out there that honestly care about the communities that they are assigned to.  The flip side of it is that the ones who abuse their power get away with it far too often.

A friend of mine made me aware that I got shot on the same day that Fred Hampton was killed.  He was shot to death in 1969, and I was shot in 1993.  By no stretch of the imagination am I comparing myself to him.  What I do know is that some of the challenges that he faced and fought against back in the 60's are still prevalent today.  Change starts with you though.  People think that they can not make a difference, but that is a lie.  One man or woman can make a difference if they decide to.  When they do, it catches on.  When enough people stand up for what is right, what is wrong will be challenged and destroyed.  One becomes the few... the few become many... many become the masses... change happens!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Here's a vine...

Here is a status post I put on Facebook a few days ago. I received several messages about it following the post so I thought I would make it a blog entry and write a little more about the topic as well:

I'm good at masking my pain. I'm not a complainer, and I don't think that FB is a diary... At least not for me. I do think that by sharing some of my experiences that some people may benefit. I've been feeling kind of "blah" lately. I just realized that I'm a couple of weeks away from the 20 year anniversary of the evening I was shot right outside of my home in Chicago. I'm happy to be alive to talk about it, but I battled with post traumatic stress disorder. With all the books I've read, and my positive outlook on life, I often ignored my feelings and just pretended that life was grand. Here is the reality I've come to understand though: Life is like a GPS device. You have to know exactly where you are in order to map out the route to your desired destination. It is okay to acknowledge your feelings, but it is not ok to wallow in them if they are less than desirable. I saw that I was in mental quicksand. The key was not to acknowledge it, and then look for the vines nearby to pull myself out. It may take all the strength that you have, but you can pull yourself out too! Here's a vine for you. I hope it helped.

Right after I posted this, the "likes" and comments came in. What moved me the most were the private messages and texts that people sent me. I've come to realize that my life is not my own. My experiences are examples of what to do, and in some cases, what not to do. I think that one of the major problems that people face in life is that they compare themselves to others. They do in when they try to measure success. They do it when they look at how their family functions. They do it in almost every area of life. An area that is often neglected is measuring how many challenges a person can overcome, or how huge of a problem a person can handle. I was once told that the size of the leader is determined by the size of the problem he or she can solve. 

Personally, I have a tendency not so share what I'm going through publicly until it is over and I can teach a lesson from it. Unfortunately we live in a society where people like to see other people suffer. When a shark senses blood in the water, it preys on the bleeding victim. My recommendation is that you have a select group of people that you can talk to in strict confidence about what you're going through. I never discuss issues with negative people. I want people in my life that will help me focus on my solutions and not my problems. All successful people still have problems. We still overcome various obstacles. The key is to face them boldly. Does it suck at times? Definitely! Will you get tired? Absolutely! Will there be pain and tears in some cases? Without question! Can you handle it? Beyond a shadow of a doubt!

As odd as it may sound, I'm grateful for living through the experience of getting shot. Napoleon Hill says "Every adversity carries with it a seed of equevilent or greater benefit." I know that to be true. That experience helped shape my character. It altered some decisions I had to make. Ultimately, it lead to me writing a book that hit best seller rankings on as well. There would be no 31 Amazing Life Leasons of Joshua Stokes, no poetry CDs, no speaking engagements, and a ton of other things in my life that came about from that one life altering (life threatening) event. Psychologically it was tough to deal with. Tough doesn't equal impossible though. Jim Rohn told me not to wish for less problems, but to pray for more skills to be able to handle them. Big or small, ever challenge you face is a stepping stone toward your ultimate success. Go... Fight...WIN!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Don't buy your own excuses...

Here I sit... a little after midnight... I should be sleeping, but I had to get this out. Earlier this month, I celebrated another birthday. I am happy to see another year. Birthdays are always interesting to me because of the reflection time that I spend thinking about how the last 365 days were. Did I hit my goals? Did I inspire as many people as I planned to? Did I increase my wealth so that my daughters will be taken care of? Did I spend enough quality time with my family... etc., etc...

The main question I found myself asking myself was "Mel, did you buy your own excuses?" It was a tough question to ask, and an even tougher question so answer. In my college days, I joined a fraternity. We had a little saying about excuses that said "Excuses are tools of the incompetent that build monuments of nothingness. Those who specialize in them are seldom good for anything else." Just the thought of me buying my excuses as to why I had not done what I intended to do with the previous year of my life brought me to tears. Sensitive? Possibly. Over-reacting? Um... I don't think so. When I came to grips with who I am and what I am designed to do, I told myself that I cannot let anything get in the way of that... including myself.

Let me slow down for a minute and explain. I don't want you to think I am beating myself up. Just like I would not want you to beat yourself up. This is not about a pity party. This is about you living up to your FULL POTENTIAL. I had a great year. My first book as a solo author accomplished Amazon best-seller rankings in December. There were other things that went extremely well, but that was one of the major highlights. I won't bore you with the details of my life... let's get to the meat and potatoes of this post (although I'm a vegetarian).

Why is it that we don't do what we can or should be doing? I am listening to The Science of Personal Achievement by Napoleon Hill, and on this audio series he talks about how he met Andrew Carnegie and was commissioned to write what we know of as Think and Grow Rich. When Mr. Carnegie asked Napoleon Hill to go out and interview some of the most successful people in the world, he told him that he would have to do so with  no financial support what-so-ever from him. All Mr. Carnegie would do wold be to make the necessary introductions, and the rest was up to Mr. Hill. Mr. Carnegie wanted Napoleon Hill to document the "philosophy" of successful people. What was it that they all had in common? What made it work for them. At the time, Mr. Hill was flat broke. His first thought was to reject the offer. His mind told him that it wasn't possible. He posed a beautiful question on the audio series as he tells the story. He said...

"Why is it that when a human being is presented with an opportunity, the mind usually automatically goes into thinking that it cannot be done?"

I think this answer is because we have developed the habit of buying our own excuses. The easy way out is just that... EASY! This is especially true when it comes to goals that others don't know about. The ability to quit on yourself without the rest of the world knowing is one of the primary reasons that people don't live into their greatness. The mind is as powerful, or as weak, as we want it to be. The picture I posted in this blog is of a gentleman I read about today. Maickel Melamed is a 38 year old man with muscular dystrophy. It took him nearly 17 hours to finish the marathon, but he didn't buy his own excuses as to why he couldn't do it. With the odds stacked against him, he set out to prove a point to himself. His mind was made up, and he forced his body to be in alignment with his decision. I'm sure that he could have thought of twenty million reasons not to run the marathon. Yet, all he needed was one reason powerful enough to make him spring into action and do it! He didn't buy his own excuses. Neither should you.

What are you up to in your life? What is is that you should be doing, but you aren't doing it because of an excuse that you sold yourself? What would life look like if you went after it anyway? How would that make you feel? You are more powerful than you think. Don't buy your own excuses... they cost you too much anyway.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A necessary topic... Last Will and Testament

Mortality is a topic that we often avoid.  Nobody likes to think about their final days on the planet.  We would rather live it up right now, and take tomorrow as it comes.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying the moment.  However, the people that you love most have to deal with your affairs after you transition into the after life.  I've watched numerous friends and family members pass away without a will.  I even had to drive to Wisconsin with my family to pull one of my cousins off of life support.  There are some documents that are needed to help ease the pain of the people you love.

A Living Will & Health Care Power of Attorney basically tell people what to do in the event that you are incapacitated.  For example, if you are in a car wreck and you end up on life support, the documentation listed above puts someone in charge of your affairs, and gives an outline of your wishes such as a "do not resuscitate" order, or how long you want to be on machines that keep you alive.

A Last Will and Testament is basically the love letter for the people you leave behind.  If determines who gets your cash, remaining assets, and who raises your children when you and the other parent are no longer alive.  For people with kids, this is REALLY important.  I read a story about how so many kids became wards of the state of NY until a judge decided who would raise them because both of their parents died in the 9/11 tragedy.  I don't know about you, but I don't want some man or woman that doesn't know me or my family deciding who gets my kids when I am gone.  To get all of the documentation done by an attorney that knows the laws in your state, and is suitably proficient in estate planning, it could easily cost you around $1,200 to get done.  I've found a SIGNIFICANTLY LESS EXPENSIVE WAY to get mine done, and the wed link below will give you more info on how you can get yours done as well:

I found some other interesting info on what happens if you die without a will. I have listed it below:

What happens if I die without a Will?

First, a little context is required. If you own any property when you die, then your surviving spouse or family will need to go through a legal process called “Probate” in order to legally wind up your affairs, pay off your debts, and transfer your remaining property to surviving family. The Probate process applies whether you have a Will or not. The only way around the Probate process is to own all of your assets through a Living Trust, but that’s a whole different story…

If you have a valid Will, then the Probate process plays out according to the specific wishes in your Will, which should include details about who is responsible for administering your estate (the “Executor”), who is guardian for your minor children, who gets your assets, and whether those assets are left outright to people or in creditor protected trusts, just to name a few considerations.

After that little bit of background, we can go on to the answer to the question…

If you don’t have a Will, then the Probate process plays out according to default laws in the state(s) where you own property (note that if you own property in multiple states, then different state laws apply to the different properties). Think of these default laws as a generic Will template provided by the state. Contrary to one popular belief, states don’t automatically take all your assets if you don’t have a Will. However, the end result of the Probate process under default state laws may not be anything close to your actual wishes.

Specifically, here are some examples of how the Probate process may be more confusing, costly, and inconsistent with your wishes if you don’t have a Will.

1. Without a Will, your family must agree who will be the Executor of your estate, and this can cause tension and power struggles.

2. If you are survived by minor children and there is no other living parent, your family and the courts must determine who will be Guardian for your children. This can cause an even bigger conflict.

3. Without a Will, state default laws determine who gets your assets, and this may not be consistent with your wishes. For example, certain state default laws can force your assets to be divided between your surviving spouse and your children (even babies). In addition to being inconsistent with your wishes, this can create additional costs and complexities in the Probate process.

4. Without a Will, you miss the opportunity to create one or more trusts to protect assets for your family or friends against creditor claims, including claims by a divorcing spouse.

5. Without a Will, the Probate process can be more costly and subject to more oversight by the court system, which must play a larger role due to the absence of specific wishes from the deceased person.

If you die without a valid Will in place, then the process of winding up your affairs will be more confusing, costly, and contentious for your family. Most likely, the end result will be inconsistent with your wishes.

For less than a dollar a day, you can have access to a team of attorneys to handle not only your will, but other areas of your life as well

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The boomerang of Karma, and a whisper from God

 I was traveling on business mid February if 2011, and I just so happened to leave my laptop in the airport. I thought that it was a lost cause, and just when I was about to give up hope (a month later) I got a call telling me that it was found. My friend Kyle went and picked it up and shipped it to me! Another friend told me "What goes around, comes around... good or bad." That was her way of saying that I am one of the good guys.
The odd thing is that I had been looking to purchase a new lap top (I really really really want a MacBook Pro), but for some reason I just never bought one. something kept telling me to be patient. For the things that I do with music and videos, I need a Mac, but it's not something that I will die without if I don't get one tomorrow. Every time that I would go online to look at them, and even when I went to the Apple store with the hopes and aspirations of getting one, I was always "told" to wait by my gut.

Has there ever been a time in your life where you had that funny feeling... or a voice in your head that directed you towards a particular path? More times than not, our inner compass (the voice of God, conscious, or spirit) guides us or gives us direction without us even acknowledging it. To take it a step further, that small voice gives instructions on how we are to help our brothers and sisters as well. I can't tell you home many times I've given away valuable possessions just because "that voice" told me to. I stopped counting the number of times that I've called friends just to check up on them because "that voice" said that I should. If we learn to get in tune with "that voice," we can help ourselves and our fellow man (or woman) achieve great things in life. It is up to you to work on listening and responding. Take a look at this short video I did for another pastor here in Illinois. I think it will get the wheels turning.

So the story continues... Later on that year I am visiting friends in AZ. Actually, one of my best friends in the world. At any rate, a group of us were sitting around talking. One of my friends in the group is a film production guru. I've seen some of her student projects that are better than some things produced my major motion picture studios. I just so happened to bring up that I wanted to make the switch from PC to Mac. She says "I have an old MacBook Pro under my bed at home you can have." I inquired how muc she wanted for it, and she gave it to me with no charge. I had to get the screen on it fixed, but it was waaayyyy less than purchasing a new Macbook Pro. A week later, my dreams became reality and I had my new machine! I think, better yet I know this happened for a few reasons.

#1... When a person does good deeds, they are rewarded by good deeds. This is where the boomerang of karma comes into play. I try my best to be kind. I give because I have, and I have because I give. It is a cycle that just won;t break.

#2... I knew what I wanted, and I focused my thoughts on what I wanted often. What you think about, you bring about. When your mind dwells on a particular thing, you are actually calling that thing into existence. Good or bad, your mind will harvest what you plant. It will become a reality the more you dwell on it.

#3... I had a firm belief that I deserve what I want out of life, and I am always looking for opportunities to come my way. So many people have desires, but they don't believe that they deserve what they want. I KNOW i deserve what I want from life, and I am constantly putting myself in places where I can get what I want. A person has to be willing to take the risks, open their mouths, go out on a limb if need be... whatever it takes. The only thing worse than failing is not trying at all. How can a person catch a fish if they never cast a line in the water?

So remember, listen to that inner voice, and always do good deeds when you can. In return, you will have a joyous life filled with moments of gratitude and rewards from your good deeds.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Most people won't do it...

A few years back, I was introduced to an audio CD called The Strangest Secret. A gentleman by the name of Earl Nightengale recorded it way before I was born. The words of the recording are timeless! From now until infinity, what he spoke of on that recording will be true. There is no way of getting around it.

Later, I found the same recording in writing! Did you know that the brain processes what you read and what you hear differently? Well, I read the words of the exact came recording I listened to years ago, and it had an even larger impact on my life! Some may argue that it was because of the personal growth I had experienced between hearing and reading it. While there may be some validity there, I think that the main reason I was hit harder by it the second time around was because of the mental processing that it took to read the words of The Strangest Secret.

Here is where the rubber meets the road...

The reason that I entitled this blog entry "Most people won't do it..." is because most people that come to this page won't take the time to read what I am about to lay out before you. This one piece of material is partially responsible for my success. Who knows what impact it may have on you. The only way to find out is if you read it... but most of you won't. No further delay is necessary. Please read, enjoy, and put into action Earl Nightengale's Strangest Secret.

The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightengale

Do you know what will happen to 100 individuals who start even at the age of 25, and
who believe they will be successful? By the age of 65, only five out of 100 will make
the grade! Why do so many fail? What happened to the sparkle that was there when
they were 25? What became of their dreams, their hopes, their plans ... and why is
there such a large disparity between what theses people intended to do and what they
actually accomplished? That is ... The Strangest Secret.
Some years ago, the late Nobel prize-winning Dr. Albert Schweitzer was asked by a
reporter, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?; The great doctor was silent a
moment, and then he said, “Men simply don’t think!”
It’s about this that I want to talk with you. We live today in a golden age. This is an
era that humanity has looked forward to, dreamed of, and worked toward for
thousands of years. We live in the richest era that ever existed on the face of the earth
... a land of abundant opportunity for everyone.
However, if you take 100 individuals who start even at the age of 25, do you have any
idea what will happen to those men and women by the time they’re 65? These 100
people believe they’re going to be successful. They are eager toward life, there is a
certain sparkle in their eye, an erectness to their carriage, and life seems like a pretty
interesting adventure to them.
But by the time they’re 65, only one will be rich, four will be financially independent,
five will still be working, and 54 will be broke — depending on others for life’s
Only five out of 100 make the grade! Why do so many fail? What has happened to the
sparkle that was there when they were 25? What has become of the dreams, the hopes,
the plans ... and why is there such a large disparity between what these people
intended to do and what they actually accomplished?THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
First, we have to define success and here is the best definition I’ve ever been able to
find: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
A success is the school teacher who is teaching because that’s what he or she wants to
do. A success is the entrepreneur who start his own company because that was his
dream — that’s what he wanted to do. A success is the salesperson who wants to
become the best salesperson in his or her company and sets forth on the pursuit of that
A success is anyone who is realizing a worthy predetermined ideal, because that’s
what he or she decided to do ... deliberately. But only one out of 20 does that! The rest
are “failures.”
Rollo May, the distinguished psychiatrist, wrote a wonderful book called Man’s
Search for Himself, and in this book he says: “The opposite of courage in our society
is not cowardice … it is conformity.” And there you have the reason for so many
failures. Conformity — people acting like everyone else, without knowing why or
where they are going.
We learn to read by the time we’re seven. We learn to make a living by the time we’re
30. Often by that time we’re not only making a living, we’re supporting a family. And
yet by the time we’re 65, we haven’t learned how to become financially independent
in the richest land that has ever been known. Why? We conform! Most of us are
acting like the wrong percentage group — the 95 who don’t succeed.
Have you ever wondered why so many people work so hard and honestly without ever
achieving anything in particular, and why others don’t seem to work hard, yet seem to
get everything? They seem to have the “magic touch.” You’ve heard people say,
“Everything he touches turns to gold.” Have you ever noticed that a person who
becomes successful tends to continue to become more successful? And, on the other
hand, have you noticed how someone who’s a failure tends to continue to fail?
The difference is goals. People with goals succeed because they know where they’re
going. It’s that simple. Failures, on the other hand, believe that their lives are shaped
by circumstances ... by things that happen to them ... by exterior forces. Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and
crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take — it has a
definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there.
Now let’s take another ship — just like the first — only let’s not put a crew on it, or a
captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just
start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all,
it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach — a derelict. It can’t go
anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance.
It’s the same with a human being. However, the human race is fixed, not to prevent
the strong from winning, but to prevent the weak from losing. Society today can be
likened to a convoy in time of war. The entire society is slowed down to protect its
weakest link, just as the naval convoy has to go at the speed that will permit its
slowest vessel to remain in formation.
That’s why it’s so easy to make a living today. It takes no particular brains or talent to
make a living and support a family today. We have a plateau of so-called “security.”
So, to succeed, all we must do is decide how high above this plateau we want to aim.
Throughout history, the great wise men and teachers, philosophers, and prophets have
disagreed with one another on many different things. It is only on this one point that
they are in complete and unanimous agreement — the key to success and the key to
failure is this:
This is The Strangest Secret! Now, why do I say it’s strange, and why do I call it a
secret? Actually, it isn’t a secret at all. It was first promulgated by some of the earliest
wise men, and it appears again and again throughout the Bible. But very few people
have learned it or understand it. That’s why it’s strange, and why for some equally
strange reason it virtually remains a secret.
Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor, said: “A man’s life is what his thoughts
make of it.”
Disraeli said this: “Everything comes if a man will only wait ... a human being with a
settled purpose must accomplish it, and nothing can resist a will that will stake even
existence for its fulfillment.”
William James said: “We need only in cold blood act as if the thing in question were
real, and it will become infallibly real by growing into such a connection with our life that it will become real. It will become so knit with habit and emotion that our
interests in it will be those which characterize belief.” He continues, “ ... only you
must, then, really wish these things, and wish them exclusively, and not wish at the
same time a hundred other incompatible things just as strongly.”
My old friend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale put it this way: “If you think in negative
terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will achieve
positive results.” George Bernard Shaw said: “People are always blaming their
circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get
on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want,
and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Well, it’s pretty apparent, isn’t it? We become what we think about. A person who is
thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that’s what
he’s thinking about. Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn’t know
where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion,
anxiety, fear, and worry will thereby create a life of frustration, fear, anxiety and
worry. And if he thinks about nothing ... he becomes nothing.
The human mind is much like a farmer’s land. The land gives the farmer a choice. He
may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn’t care what is planted. It’s
up to the farmer to make the decision. The mind, like the land, will return what you
plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant. If the farmer plants two seeds — one a seed
of corn, the other nightshade, a deadly poison, waters and takes care of the land, what
will happen?
Remember, the land doesn’t care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance
as it will corn. So up come the two plants — one corn, one poison as it’s written in the
Bible, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land,
but it works the same way. It doesn’t care what we plant ... success ... or failure. A
concrete, worthwhile goal ... or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on.
But what we plant it must return to us.
The problem is that our mind comes as standard equipment at birth. It’s free. And
things that are given to us for nothing, we place little value on. Things that we pay
money for, we value. The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true. Everything that’s really worthwhile in
life came to us free — our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our
ambitions, our intelligence, our love of family and children and friends and country.
All these priceless possessions are free.
But the things that cost us money are actually very cheap and can be replaced at any
time. A good man can be completely wiped out and make another fortune. He can do
that several times. Even if our home burns down, we can rebuild it. But the things we
got for nothing, we can never replace.
Our mind can do any kind of job we assign to it, but generally speaking, we use it for
little jobs instead of big ones. So decide now. What is it you want? Plant your goal in
your mind. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make in your entire life.
Do you want to excel at your particular job? Do you want to go places in your
company ... in your community? Do you want to get rich? All you have got to do is
plant that seed in your mind, care for it, work steadily toward your goal, and it will
become a reality.
It not only will, there’s no way that it cannot. You see, that’s a law — like the laws of
Sir Isaac Newton, the laws of gravity. If you get on top of a building and jump off,
you’ll always go down — you’ll never go up.
And it’s the same with all the other laws of nature. They always work. They’re
inflexible. Think about your goal in a relaxed, positive way. Picture yourself in your
mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you
will be doing when you have reached your goal.
Every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts. We are where we are because
that’s exactly where we really want or feel we deserve to be — whether we’ll admit
that or not. Each of us must live off the fruit of our thoughts in the future, because
what you think today and tomorrow — next month and next year — will mold your
life and determine your future. You’re guided by your mind.
I remember one time I was driving through eastern Arizona and I saw one of those
giant earth-moving machines roaring along the road with what looked like 30 tons of
dirt in it — a tremendous, incredible machine — and there was a little man perched
way up on top with the wheel in his hands, guiding it. As I drove along I was struck
by the similarity of that machine to the human mind. Just suppose you’re sitting at the
controls of such a vast source of energy. Are you going to sit back and fold your arms
and let it run itself into a ditch? Or are you going to keep both hands firmly on the
wheel and control and direct this power to a specific, worthwhile purpose? It’s up to you. You’re in the driver’s seat. You see, the very law that gives us success is a
double-edged sword. We must control our thinking. The same rule that can lead
people to lives of success, wealth, happiness, and all the things they ever dreamed of
— that very same law can lead them into the gutter. It’s all in how they use it … for
good or for bad. That is The Strangest Secret!
Do what the experts since the dawn of recorded history have told us to do: pay the
price, by becoming the person you want to become. It’s not nearly as difficult as
living unsuccessfully.
The moment you decide on a goal to work toward, you’re immediately a successful
person — you are then in that rare group of people who know where they’re going.
Out of every hundred people, you belong to the top five. Don’t concern yourself too
much with how you are going to achieve your goal — leave that completely to a
power greater than yourself. All you have to do is know where you’re going. The
answers will come to you of their own accord, and at the right time.
Start today. You have nothing to lose — but you have your whole life to win.
For the next 30-days follow each of these steps every day until you have achieved
your goal.
1. Write on a card what it is you want more that anything else. It may be more money.
Perhaps you’d like to double your income or make a specific amount of money. It
may be a beautiful home. It may be success at your job. It may be a particular position
in life. It could be a more harmonious family.
Write down on your card specifically what it is you want. Make sure it’s a single goal
and clearly defined. You needn’t show it to anyone, but carry it with you so that you
can look at it several times a day. Think about it in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way
each morning when you get up, and immediately you have something to work for —
something to get out of bed for, something to live for.
Look at it every chance you get during the day and just before going to bed at night.
As you look at it, remember that you must become what you think about, and since
you’re thinking about your goal, you realize that soon it will be yours. In fact, it’s
really yours the moment you write it down and begin to think about it. 2. Stop thinking about what it is you fear. Each time a fearful or negative thought
comes into your mind, replace it with a mental picture of your positive and
worthwhile goal. And there will come a time when you’ll feel like giving up. It’s
easier for a human being to think negatively than positively. That’s why only five
percent are successful! You must begin now to place yourself in that group.
“Act as though it were impossible to fail,” as Dorothea Brande said. No matter what
your goal — if you’ve kept your goal before you every day — you’ll wonder and
marvel at this new life you’ve found.
3. Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you
render. Most people will tell you that they want to make money, without
understanding this law. The only people who make money work in a mint. The rest of
us must earn money. This is what causes those who keep looking for something for
nothing, or a free ride, to fail in life. Success is not the result of making money;
earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our
Most people have this law backwards. It’s like the man who stands in front of the
stove and says to it: “Give me heat and then I’ll add the wood.” How many men and
women do you know, or do you suppose there are today, who take the same attitude
toward life? There are millions.
We’ve got to put the fuel in before we can expect heat. Likewise, we’ve got to be of
service first before we can expect money. Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be
of service ... build ... work ... dream ... create! Do this and you’ll find there is no limit
to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.
Don’t start your test until you’ve made up your mind to stick with it. If you should fail
during your first 30 days — by that I mean suddenly find yourself overwhelmed by
negative thoughts — simply start over again from that point and go 30 more days.
Gradually, your new habit will form, until you find yourself one of that wonderful
minority to whom virtually nothing is impossible.
Above all ... don’t worry! Worry brings fear, and fear is crippling. The only thing that
can cause you to worry during your test is trying to do it all yourself. Know that all
you have to do is hold your goal before you; everything else will take care of itself.
Take this 30-day test, then repeat it ... then repeat it again. Each time it will become
more a part of you until you’ll wonder how you could have ever have lived any other
way. Live this new way and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you
more riches than you may have dreamed existed. Money? Yes, lots of it. But what’s more important, you’ll have peace ... you’ll be in that wonderful minority who lead
calm, cheerful, successful lives.
Start today. You have nothing to lose. But you have a life to win.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Circumstances don't define your life...

In this life, we have choices.True, you didn't get to pick your parents, race, gender (at birth), and some physical features. There are circumstances that you don't get to choose, but you do get to choose how you respond/react to them. That's what Elizabeth Keckly did. Here is something I got off of wikipedia about her:
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (February 1818 – May 1907)[1] (sometimes spelled Keckly) [2] was a former slave turned successful seamstress who is most notably known as being Mary Todd Lincoln's personal modiste and confidante, and the author of her autobiography, Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Mrs. Keckley utilized her intelligence, keen business savvy, and sewing and design skills to arrange and ultimately buy her freedom (and that of her son George as well), and later enjoyed regular business with the wives of the government elite as her base clientele.After several years in St. Louis, she moved to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1860. Utilizing both perseverance and an ability to ingratiate herself with those of influence, she was able to distinguish herself among notable women of society in the nation's capitol who sought out her dressmaking skills. Among her clients were Varnia Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Anne Randolph Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.Keckly's relationship with the President's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln was the most noteworthy as it was distinguished not only by its endurance over time but the nature of the association. A mutual respect and trust was established between the two women and Keckly was not only dressmaker to the First Lady, but an invaluable confidante to Mrs. Lincoln in times of emotional crisis.
That's a general overview of her life. Yes, she was born into slavery. what this brief paragraph didn't tell you is that she was sexually abused at the age of 5. She was forced to take care of an infant at the age of 6. She learned how to sew at a young age, and when the family that owned her got into financial trouble it was her dress making that kept her and 16 other people fed. Yes, she bought her freedom. For her and her son actually. She went trhough a lot to make freedom a reality though.
So here is what you need to think about when you want to complain about your life, your circumstances, or anything else. You were not born into slavery in the 1800s.Yes, there may have been some things that happened to you that were out of your control. The key is to get busy controlling the things that you can. The harder you have it, the more you will appreciate whatever it is you are going through once it is over.
Your circumstances do not define you. They simply show the world who you really are. You can be the type of person to complain and give in, or you can be like Elizabeth Keckly and fight for what you belive in until it becomes a reality!