Stretching Your View

In our daily world, most of us have become use to seeing the same ole visual images caped in different clothing:

 

  • The same tribal office work colleagues in dressed different apparel
  • The same neighborhood that transitions in different seasons of the year
  • The same apparel of clothing we have in our closet, but we mix and match them according to the weather
  • The same usual routes we drive around our neighborhoods, yet we may drive different streets when road construction impedes our way
  • The same summer visits with family and friends
  • The same summer vacation destinations

 

Yet very few of us will desire frequent changes in life.  I heard a church sermon some years ago and the topic was “Do You want to be a Pioneer or a Settler?”  Here are some key highlights I remember from this sermon:

 

  • Pioneers are pacesetters; they pave the way for others and find themselves often exploring new territories
  • Settlers’ mission are to reach a point and stay at the place forever

 

Early in my adult life, I once had the belief that I would “settle down” and: (1) earn a formal education; (2) become satisfied with a level of wealth; (3) get married and have children; (4) work a traditional 8 to 5 job with benefits and meager vacation days.  I accomplished at least three of the above four ‘settled’ objectives.

 

But later in my life, I always wanted something much better.  I didn’t know exactly what it was specifically, but I always attempted to stretch my view….my mental view that is.

 

Stretching your mental view causes you to:

 

  • Think harder
  • React faster/often to issues stirring in your heart
  • Question or Challenge the Status Quo
  • Pray even more
  • Question the law of humanity
  • Have a sense of understanding the world a little bit better

 

Traveling around the world excites me, especially when wanting to meet new people!  Having simple conversations with others allow me to become better as a listener.  The sound waves and pitch patterns of various human voices echoing through my ear canal creates a hunger for knowledge and understanding.

 

I believe the opposite of ‘not’ wanting to stretch your mental view can lead to:

 

  • Stagnation
  • An unwillingness to learn, which can close your mind to an ever changing world
  • Isolation
  • Being Argumentative

 

Because I have such a passion for making a different in my world, I found several ways to “Stretch My View”

Local View

Global View

  Take in a new ethnic restaurant

See an independent film

Take a foreign language class

Help at a refugee crisis center

Study world history/cultures

  Travel to a different vacation spot each year

Have dinner in a home of locals

Sign up for global affairs events

Go on a short-term mission trip!

Let’s go people and do some good!

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Pressing On!

It’s not unusual to find yourself in a conversation with someone who spends much of their time talking about past issues and then concludes the talk by say “I’m just going to press on!”  When you happened to meet that same person again, they will resurface the same ole past issue.  And as they continue to mouth off their frustration with no ending in sight, your brain neutrons are scampering to form the question – “I thought you said you’re pressing on?”

In these situations, it may be hard to resolve the ‘past’ issues before you can press on.  It is those past issues that will:

  • Prevent you from truly ‘moving forward’
  • Eventually resurface into a larger problem
  • Delay any progress in fulfilling your passion in life

How can one deal with ‘past issues?’  The answer is simple: ANSWER IT!  There is usually a word that typifies the issue.  For example, let’s say you were involved in a bad relationship and you don’t know how to get past the issue.  The goal is to remove yourself from the situation and ‘press on.’  You might say, we’ll just leave the relationship – most will do that.

However, the odds at keeping a positive new relationship will falter because of dealing with similar issues that may be that of past relationships.

I discovered a way to deal with ‘past’ issues properly, first:

  • Identify the problem within the relationship
  • Come to (self) terms of the problem
  • Learn and discover why the problem persisted
  • Embrace and utilize tools to heal from the problem
  • Develop a plan to “press on”

Identifying the problem and addressing them may take some time to complete.  But the process is one that give you satisfaction and redirection to fulfill your passion.

Your passion to help others may be found in the example of your past!

Dash’in Toward Your Passion!

Imagine walking on a seashore of a beach and you discovered a decorative gleaming long neck glass bottle with a removable cork. You pulled the cork and instantly, a smoky shaped Genie figure oozed out the neck of the bottle. The Genie tells you that he has mystical powers to make your life easier. Much to your amazement, the Genie then say that he’ll grant and fulfill two of your greatest wishes! Would any of your two wishes be something you passionately want to do in life? Or would both wishes be self-gratifying desires.

In reality, the good news is that you don’t have to look for a Genie in a bottle, our heavenly Father can be relied upon to fulfill the desires of your heart. From the moment you came into the world, you were molded and wired to do something for greatness. You have unlimited wishes you can request – just seek Him first!

So why is it that most people feel like they’re trapped in mundane work; unable to move toward that ‘thing’ they really want to do? What is keeping individuals away from their passionate work? And why can’t they just start today and dash or sprint right into it?

Most will give you responses that leads to financial security or the fear of not having sufficient earnings to live. Others will say they don’t have enough time; especially if they have a young family, ever increasing job responsibilities, church/civic duties, continuing higher education, and yes, yard work.

Many will know their passion(s), but stay clear away from it because of the above excuses. Only a few will break beyond those reasons and plunge into the challenge to dash toward their passions. Those same few will also delay gratification just to balloon their [at-the-start] non-generating passions. The pursuit toward your passion can start of shaky and difficult; yet gratifying enough to keep you up during the wee-hours of the night! Comedian and National Syndicated Radio DJ Steve Harvey said “Your career is what you’re paid for. Your calling (passion) is what you’re made for.”

Wondered if you began to channel your energies to pursue your passion? Many famous people did…and the moment they decided to advance toward their passion; their personal finances substantially increased, their network of influence grew, they were able to impact the lives of people wherever they traveled, and they grew spiritually in the direction that God led them.

So what’s stopping you again? Can you move from “I wish I could…” to “I will become…?”

Your passion(s) is/are waiting for you…run to it!

The Pressure to Find Purpose In Perilous Situations

On a balmy Saturday morning (last weekend), I triumphantly marched through the thickets of farm grass toward the most challenging event I’d ever experience in decades.  At the request of my best friend, I signed up to participate in a 5K Mud-Crusade Race!  Yes, imagine the scene of a quasi-triathlon environment of cross-country running, over-coming water challenges, and mastering several muddy obstacles.  The event’s website asked this question to interesting candidates:

“Do you enjoy testing your mental and physical limits to see how far you can push them?”

Well…I wasn’t eager to say ‘yes’ right away, but I felt moved to take the challenge.  The place of the event was held on a huge farm just outside of Atlanta.  The man-made race course was built on a cow pasture and portions of the race patterns weaved in and out of tree covered areas.  You can feel the excitement of others ready to get their ‘mud’ on!  Before our run wave time of 9:30 a.m., my friend’s work colleagues welcomed me to their team, which was called “The Mile High Group.”  In our brief interaction, I attentively listened to some of their previous mud race stories and was encouraged by the support of completing the race as a team….well….maybe that was all in my head.

Two minutes before the signal of our race time, we wiggled our way toward the middle of the pack.  The blast of the siren startled everyone and we began the race speeding down a long slope like wild gazelles in the Serengeti of Africa.  Upon the horizon was our first obstacle – a 10’ wooded wall barrier.  Of course, the challenge was to jump upward against the wall, hurdle quickly over and jump down.  Your truly mastered it fairly well with the help of my team’s encouragement.  Leading up to the fourth obstacle, we face our first watery/mud infused obstacle.  You may view the actual race course in the embedded YouTube link below to get a sense of what I had to go through.  After achieving that obstacle, my clothes, shoes, socks were soaking wet – feeling like I’ve gained ten more pounds while running.

http://youtu.be/NTIl-3jEgBU

Nearly three-fourths the way in completing this course, I survived the crossing of a large stream of water that was ‘thigh’ high in some spots.  At that point, I felt completely exhausted and with no more energy to move further.  I eventually became ‘the’ last runner of “The Mile High Group.”  And while I could hear the recurring support chant of – “Come on Jerry, let’s keep going!” – the team grew farther and farther away from me.  Feeling overheated and barely able to walk, a medic cart from a distance sped closer to investigate the situation.  The driver asked me a question if I needed attention and I said “I may need to go to the Medical Tent.”  The person looked at me puzzled and said “Well Sir, you’ve already completed three/fourth of the race; you’re almost at the Finish Line?  Don’t you hear the music in the background beyond these trees?

I became insulted of the mere fact that he would rebut my request!  I wanted the medic to follow MY instructions.  My facial reaction toward him had the look of either one of three sitcom characters:

1)      The evil ‘fish-eyed fool’ look of Aunt Esther (Sanford and Son); or

2)      The ‘bigoted’ look of Archie Bunker (All in the Family); or

3)      The ‘serious-I’m gonna-beat-your-Butt’ look of James Evans (Good Times)

Instantly and kindly, I bartered with him by saying – “I just need to sit down on the seat within the cart for a minute.”  He agreed; in seconds he told me he was going to walk down the course path and see if anyone else needed medical attention.  So he left me all by myself in the golf cart while other runners ran past me.  The pressure simmered in my mind – do I simply quit or should I risk my health to complete the course?  Minutes went by and my friend came back to see if I was okay.  He obvious thought something had happened to me.  The outer crust-hardcore of my being voiced out to him saying “I’m alright, just go on and find the rest of the team…I’ll be fine.” But the inner-soft feeling of my being mentally said “We need to finish as a team dagnabit!”  He left to join the rest of the team.

Alone and with no one to continue to sing the chant “go ahead Jerry, you can do it,” thoughts of encouragement started to activate my brainwaves:

1)      “Winners never quit and quitters never Win” by Vince Lombardi

2)      The passage of scriptures found in the Old Testament where King David left alone in a cave had to encourage himself.

3)      The charitable organization that would receive proceeds from this race – Semper Fi Fund – an institution to support our wounded troops and their families.  I couldn’t give up on them.

4)      The 400+ blog followers who read positive/encouraging principles I share every week.  I couldn’t give up on them as well.

5)      The statement from the medic driver – “Well Sir, you’ve already completed three/fourth of the race; you’re almost at the Finish Line?  Don’t you hear the music in the background beyond these trees?

6)      The famous British track Olympian – Derek Redmond – came to mind.  We all remember the visual of him in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games where he tore his hamstring in the 400 meter race.  Unable to complete the final lap, he made that heroic attempt to run on one leg.  And while the race was over, he forced himself to cross the finish line.  Emotional as he was, his father broke from the audience stand to join him on the track…they both cross together.  He certainly was my hero while sitting in the golf cart.

The last thing that increased my adrenaline further was the witnessing of a group of ladies dressed in black leotard pants and red tutus!!!!  Happily prancing passed me and possessing a jovial spirit – I had no choice but to get up and complete my purpose to cross the Finish line!  Slowly I arose from my cart seat and made an agreement to my body – that I would just walk the rest of the way and complete the remaining obstacles.  It took a little bit of time for me to get to the Finish line….BUT I MADE IT!

It always seems impossible until it’s done!” – Nelson Mandela

Reconstructing Your Wound to Find Your Wholeness

For some folks, finding and discovering the purpose in your life may be easy and self-rewarding. With effective child rearing and reinforced support systems, a young person could set their goals beyond the stratosphere of success!

But for those who haven’t discovered their purpose just yet, life situations from the past could keep individuals from moving into their true destination. Those life situations may stem from unwanted hurts, broken promises, unforgiving people, etc. Without professional counseling or family intervention, some wounds left untreated may haunt a person for a lifetime. And the reoccurring scabs of those wounds can prevent a person from become whole once more.

Fortunately there are people who are determined to become whole again. I believe being whole again gives you a sense of rejuvenation. Once you find the center of being whole, the navigation and directional compass for your life becomes clearer and the challenge of developing your purpose becomes even stronger.

I recently watched a video clip that features a well-known urban rapper called DMX. Now in his 40s, this very troubled/complex individual was looking to ‘fix’ his life with the help of an acclaimed empowerment legend – Iyanla Vanzart. The entire video clip is 90 minutes long – shocking, powerful, uncut and very intense. I encourage you to watch this without any distractions! The ending of it is disturbing for the rapper, BUT for his eldest child Xavier played throughout the video, he will eventually find his wholeness.

After you watched the clip, do a self-examination of yourself. Do you have relationships that need mending? Are you ready to examine that wound you left untreated and plan for surgery to remove the anger, hurt, and outrage still embedded in the wound? Are you ready to unlock the door of heartbreak so that you can walk into your life’s purpose? If so, be ready to become whole again! Start now!

Let’s go people and do some good!

The Purpose Equation: Idea + Implementation = Impact!

I get excited when I hear the wonderful ideas people dream up – especially if the idea develops into something that could impact the lives of others.  But once the conversations are over and days/weeks/years go by, I wonder why people don’t move into the next phase to implement their ideas.  Thomas Kuczmarski (Kuczmarski and Associates – http://www.kuczmarski.com), a Chicago consultant specializing in innovation, wrote a contributing article in Fortune Magazine several years ago.  He stated “Only one of every 20 or 25 ideas ever become a successful product – and of every 10 or 15 new products, only one becomes a hit.”

Those whose product becomes a “hit” mostly likely followed the “Purpose Equation”

Idea  +  Implementation  =  Impact

Idea

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word idea: any conception existing in the mind / thought or notion.

We conjure up ideas all the time…at work, at home, watching the news, reading a book, over lunch with friends, from an overnight dream, etc.  Ideas can: (1) make you money, (2) change an existing process by making work easier for you and those around you; (3) satisfy other people; or (4) create a movement.  Probably 90% of us (including myself) have dreamt lots of ideas at some point in time, but do we act on them? Do we have the courage to implement those ideas?

Implementation

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word implementation:  to carry out / execution, or practice of a plan, or method.

Out of that 90% Idealist group, few of us will embark on the journey to implement the idea by first evaluating the cost.  “The Cost” mean: (1) how much will it take to finance this concept; (2) how much allocation of time will I need to promote this concept; (3) how much will the idea consume my everyday life – will it cause me to be away from family and friends; and (4) how many people will this idea benefit?  You might even evaluate the pros and cons of your idea.  Probably a brave 8% of us will venture into this level.

Impact

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word impact: to influence; effect.

Few have reached this level because they strongly believe their idea will make money, change a process in their professional work, satisfy other people or create a movement.  At this point, you have to erased all doubts in your mind and simple embrace the “No Fear Zone Attitude.”  You have to weigh the cost and seek good counsel.  You also have to forecast the possibilities on how your idea will make an impact to your inner circle, where you live and eventually to the world!  You have studied those in the business on where you want to do well.  The more you get people to be convinced by your idea, the more passionate you become. Probably 2% of those will reach this status level.

I recently watched a local news report of a young father whose 1 year old son died of heart failure.  It was an un-expectant event and the parents had no idea why their son died.  Through their own health examination, the wife had some kind of rare heart condition that she was not aware of.  Months later, the young father heard the plight of another married couple who lost their teenage son of an apparent heart ailment while playing on a football practice field.  This led the young father to do something about this and he created an organization to help young kids get proper heart check-ups.  During the recent 2013 Final Four Collegiant Basketball Tournament in Atlanta, his organization along with a team of physician registered 350 young kids to get a ‘free’ heart examination with another 100 on the waiting list to be examined later this month!

The young father converted his sadness into success.  He is a great example of the Purpose Equation!

So in summary:

 

Are you ready to innovate   your IDEA?

Ask yourself: Is it supposed to make money? Will it make a   difference in the workplace? Will my idea satisfy other people? Will it cause   a positive movement to change my local surrounding, neighborhood, country or   world?  If you answered “yes” to one or   more of the following questions, then go to the next stage.

Have you weighed the   cost to IMPLEMENT your idea?

Ask yourself: How much would it financially cost to invest in my   idea?  Do I have enough time in my week   to spend on my idea?  Can I balance my   life where I can still spend time with family and friends? What are the true   benefits of my idea and would people buy into it?  

Are you ready to make an   IMPACT?

Ask yourself: As it relates to my idea, have I changed my   mindset to erase all levels of fear and doubt?  Am I good at selling my idea to those   who’ll benefit from it?  Am I prepared   to receive slow or instant results   of my idea?  Have I done enough to   research my target audience, spend time with wise counsel, prayer, and   prepare for IMPACT?

The Purpose Equation formula becomes evident by constantly working on your idea 90% of the time plus implementing the idea 8% of the time which will result in 100% impact!

Let’s go people and do some good!

Succeeding Through a Time of Sorrow!

As always, my weekly goal was to write about how one could bridge their passion with purpose, but I suddenly learned of an unexpected event that forced me to express my thoughts concerning the loss of a dear friend back in Michigan.

Most people will agree with me that we can’t be certain of our longevity here on Earth.  While some individuals may experience an unplanned shorten life, others are fortunate to live a long healthy life.  To me it doesn’t feel right that the imbalance act of death is favorable for some but not for others.  It seems that we all should be given an opportunity to live a long/healthy life.

I so appreciate seeing the many Facebook comments and references about John L. – our friend, father, brother and confidant.  Its time like this when we need to comfort each other as instructed in the Bible – “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5)

A good friend of mine John L. passed away this week and tried to find solace in his passing.  I can go as far back in time when he, another schoolmate Tony R. and I were creatively talented in art class.  Mr. Woods (the Art Teacher) always complimented us on our adolescent drawings and made us feel that we were the Renaissance trio of Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo (Simoni) of our times!

When most boys discover bondable friendships through sports, my friendship bond with John started through the work of art.  I don’t believe we ever attempted to single out one or another in art class; there was a sincere respect on our parts to draw comparisons and contrasts to the uniqueness of our finished art production.

We continued a friendship throughout the entire school years at Walter F. White Elementary School and later at River Rouge High School.  In all occasions, John took every advantage to perform the solo act of setting the comedic tone when it was time to have a good time.  When in high school, John went on to become more involved in sports while I focused my direction on academic pursuits.

After high school graduation, we would only see each other occasionally when I came to Detroit to spend time with my family.  It was extremely comforting to me when I learned that he desired to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  While maintaining his witty attitude, he was sincere about gravitating toward a meaningful life to know Christ and wanted to devoted more time to study the Bible.

Two years ago would mark the last time I would sit down with John along with other friends.  Oddly at that very moment now locked in my mind, he reminded me about the days of Mr. Wood’s art class.

How do I succeed through this period of sorrow?  First – knowing that God still remains on the throne and His plans are designed in mystical ways to deposit a lesson for us all.  Second – I usually find a way to honor loved ones who leave us so soon.  I believe you can always find metallic luster of precious diamond qualities lying beneath the soul of an individual.  For John, I felt he had a gift of making people feel better about themselves [especially after a good laugh]!  Prayerfully I’ll plan to share my stories of John through courses of mentorship programs, donate to charities [in honor of him] that brings joy to various children hospitals, my speaking events, future international mission trips and maybe join with other high-school alumns and create a foundation in his name.  I’m sure he’ll be please to know we’re doing something good versus nothing at all.  What about you?

Let’s go people and do some good!