Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Selfless Connections

Connections are increasingly vital. Everything from job searching to dating requires all of us to polish up on our interpersonal skills. Although our social connections have implications that far exceed what they used to, we are also ironically in a place where many are only making associations that are self-serving. While this type of networking has its place, how many of us take the time to selflessly be a source of inspiration to others?

By nature we are interconnected. At various phases of our lives we have benefitted from the presence of parents/guardians, peers and friends, and advisors or mentors. As we try to make our mark in the world we aren’t meant to solely surround ourselves with those who give to us. We are also meant to give and influence others without asking for anything in return. Whether it’s neighbors, church members, or even younger relatives, we should impart inspiration into others.

You may not think you have much to give, but encouragement and support make a major difference. If you have stumbled, made some mistakes, and bumped your head a few times, why not share the lessons you learned to make the journey of others less treacherous? If you pursued a career that is difficult, why not offer valuable expertise or guidance to someone aspiring to reach your level? Maybe you didn’t have a parent/guardian, older sibling, or mentor to help you transition into adulthood. Ensure that the young people in your life don’t share that same experience. Your care and concern is not only valuable in the lives of others, but you’ll also be filled with pride and gratification each time you witness someone you encourage overcome fears, pursue goals, and succeed. Uplift the young people in your life. Use your life to launch other lives. Your most meaningful connections often begin when you start from a place of selfless generosity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Being Different

I’ve often felt different. I pictured most people living in a straight line. I viewed them on a path with a slow, yet steady incline. When I pictured my life, there was no solid line. I saw exclamation points. I saw waves, catapults, and smiles. I saw vibrant colors and musical notes.

Before I grasped the greatness associated with being unique I identified more closely with isolation. I felt alone in my view of the world and my place in it. My identification with isolation pushed me further into seclusion because I wasn’t comfortable being so different. When asked about my goals, I gave watered-down answers. They weren’t lies, but they weren’t complete. I feared that others would point out all of the reasons why my dreams weren’t realistic and force me to justify my choices. Essentially, I equated justifying my choices with having to justify myself.

Over the years I’ve come to learn and appreciate who I am. I am now thankful that I’m driven to do more than what my environment and my past would normally permit. This is not something that requires justification. It simply is. I needed to find the courage to not only embrace me—in all of my uncommon characteristics—but also to embrace my enthusiasm for creating a life that is tailor-made for me. What I select to usher in happiness may not reflect other people’s definition of happiness. Thankfully, I am not responsible for ushering in what will bring other people happiness. I am responsible for pursuing what is best for me just as you are responsible for pursuing what is best for you.

You may have a dream that is completely out of the realm of perceived possibility. You may envision a life that is several deviations from what you’ve seen. If you feel it within your being then you owe it to yourself to have the courage to pursue it. Being different is not always easy, but it is definitely more fun to see the world in color and musical notes than straight lines and inclines.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trust Yourself

I’d heard and read about Jeremy Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks, all week. Every report and story referred to him as a basketball phenom so I had to see if his game was worthy of the hype. I watched highlights from a recent game and was thoroughly impressed with his athleticism, court vision, accuracy, and energy. Although his statistics were outstanding, I was even more amazed with his tenacity.

Despite his consistency and record-breaking performances Lin has clearly been overlooked. He wasn’t offered an athletic scholarship after high school and did not get drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) when he graduated from college. He could have used disappointment as an excuse to fail. He could have used the lack of interest from coaches as rationale to stop believing. He could have walked away from his dream. Fortunately, Lin trusted himself more than he trusted the rejection.

Goals are not achieved instantly. Fulfilling your life’s work requires work. It demands that you accept, commit, accomplish, and dedicate yourself repeatedly. People may convince you that you aren’t where you need to be or that you aren’t good enough. The passage of time may suggest that you’re too late. Circumstances may whisper that you should give up or put some energy into “plan b”. After not getting an athletic scholarship and not being drafted into the NBA I’m sure Lin had moments of doubt. I’m sure someone mentioned the need for him to explore other options. On the days when he was passed over I’m sure he was frustrated. Yet he chose to focus on the end goal instead of the uncertainty. He trusted himself more than he trusted his circumstances.

What is your life goal? What sustains your spirit more than anything? What makes you feel the most alive? Don’t be afraid of it and don’t be afraid to believe. Make the commitment to walk into your purpose, not away from it. No matter how hard you have to work. No matter who else doesn’t believe. No matter what temporary circumstances imply. Trust in the strength of your purpose. Trust that you can live the life you envision. Trust yourself more than fear. Everything is possible.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Living with Enthusiasm

Turner Field in Atlanta, GA
A friend and I went on a tour of Turner Field, home to the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team, and we had the most amazing tour guide. He was clearly knowledgeable about Turner Field and Atlanta Braves history, but it was his enthusiasm that was most refreshing. He shared anecdotes not only about the Braves, but about Major League Baseball and the city of Atlanta. His zeal led me to question how I impact those I encounter, even in ordinary situations.

As we go through daily routines it can be easy for us to pay more attention to the stresses that accompany work. It could be an unsupportive boss, office politics, being undervalued, having unreasonable demands placed upon us, and other sources of anxiety related to being employed. As exciting as it may be to work for an organization like the Atlanta Braves, our tour guide has some source of job-related stress, but it was not evident during the time he spent with us. He performed his job with pride and pleasure. On the surface it appears that he was only leading a tour of a sporting facility, but his demeanor left an impression on me.

We aren’t always sure how our behavior impacts others. Our tour guide may think he was simply doing his job, but his temperament will prompt me to be more mindful of my attitude. His energy will remind me to pay more attention when I encounter others in seemingly mundane situations. His appreciation for his job will help me to be more appreciative of my time, no matter how I spend it. While giving me a tour filled with historical facts and figures, my tour guide taught me that living with enthusiasm is more influential than living in a state of apathy. When we elect to live life half-heartedly we reflect and attract colorlessness, and ultimately risk becoming forgettable.