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.