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Archive for Inspirational

Queen Latifah, The Buckeye Bullet and a Shark @Thanksgiving 

With your Thanksgiving meal just around the corner, here are a couple of stories to help you stay focused on your family and not on the challenges and obstacles we all face.

Have you ever seen the movie, “The Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah, Timothy Hutton and LL Cool J? It might be something you want to watch with your family when you’re all stuffed from a good meal and too tired to do anything else.

It’s the story of a 30-something single lady who was misdiagnosed with a brain disease. She’s given about 2 weeks to live, so she cashes in all her money and goes on an exotic vacation.

She doesn’t pull her punches with the people she meets and is surprised to find that she could be herself and still be liked.

Through some miscommunication that she doesn’t correct, the people she’s met believe she’s an up-and-coming entrepreneur who is very well to do. Toward the end of the movie Timothy Hutton finds out that she is a “nobody” [his words!] and calls her out.

She apologizes if she has offended anyone and explains that she is dying, she cashed in all her savings to go on this fabulous vacation. . .

“You know how it is. You keep your head down and you hustle and hustle. Then you look up one day and wonder, “How did I even get here?”

Is this where you are?

Have you been hustling every single day, head down, eyes on the to-do list for the day or the week and not paying attention to how quickly life seems to be passing you by?

Hustle . . . Action . . . Power . . . Application . . . Enterprise

These are all good words. They are the way toward achieving your goals.

BUT, when you do them at the exclusion of activities that balance your life, you are in danger of developing bad health habits and losing relationships.

You don’t have to make the choice between your definition of success and good health or great relationships. You can have all three.

It takes balance. It takes becoming inspired. It takes inspired action.

Don’t just put your head down and plow forward. Look up! Take a look at where you’re going and who you’re going with.

Sometimes the journey we’re taking starts out with challenges and obstacles not of our own choosing .  .  .

Born in Oakville, Alabama, in 1913, the Buckeye Bullet was the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of slaves. He was a sickly child, often battling pneumonia. But, at the age of seven he was still expected to carry his weight in the family and was picking up to 100 pounds of cotton each day.

When he turned 9, his family moved to northern Ohio where life was faster paced and school was a challenge. Once in high school, he made a name for himself and became a nationally recognized athlete.

In college, he dominated his sport, winning all 42 events in which he competed one year, setting a world record that stood for 25 years and making the Olympic team, set to participate in Berlin, Germany, 1936.

At those Games, he won four gold medals and broke two Olympic records, one of which stood for the next 25 years. After he won the event, that now confers the title of “the fastest man,” Hitler stormed out of the stadium.

Back home in the US, Jesse Owens received a chilly reception from his own country as well. Not surprised by this country’s hypocrisy, he made this statement, “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.”

Jesse Owens is one of this country’s best athletes, in any sport. He overcame physical illness, injuries, hypocrisy, prejudice and discrimination. He excelled at sports and later went on to run his own successful public relations and marketing firm.

When you imagine the challenges that Mr. Jesse Owens overcame in his life, you probably won’t be able to fully appreciate the obstacles.  But if you can stop and imagine what it would be like to have the inspiration, desire, drive and commitment to achieve the goals that he did . . . .

And then understand that we are all born with the same abilities to face challenges. Our obstacles are different. Our goals are different. But we CAN achieve those goals by tapping into the ability to become inspired and do the work to achieve them.

It isn’t where you started or where you are today that matters most . . . but, the actions you are willing to take to make your tomorrows a reality.

Thanksgiving is a day and a season for giving thanks for what we have. Whether it’s a roof over your head, a hot meal on the table, running water in the bathroom or a bounty you hadn’t imagined you could achieve, we all have something to be thankful for.

But, to be thankful, grateful and fully appreciate the gifts we already have, we also have to have a positive attitude. This does NOT mean being a positive thinker, convincing yourself that something that isn’t real has already happened. But it does mean seeing your life in a positive light so you can see the opportunities and take advantage of them .  .   .

The effect that a negative stimuli in our lives has will have long term consequences on our success.

Consider the marine biologist doing a research experiment with a shark.  The shark was placed in a large holding tank where several small bait fish were released. As expected the shark attacked and ate the smaller fish.

After the shark was accustomed to getting those small fish, the scientist placed a strong piece of fiberglass into the tank, creating two partitions. The shark was on one side of the partition and the small bait fish were released in the other side.

The shark quickly attacked the small fish but slammed into the divider and bounced off. The shark repeated this behavior every few minutes. In the meantime, the bait fish kept swimming, unharmed, on the other side. After about an hour, the shark gave up.

Over the next several weeks the experiment was repeated several dozen times. Each time the shark got less aggressive in his attack on the bait fish. Eventually the shark tired of hitting the divider and just stopped attacking altogether.

At this point the divider was removed and the marine biologist discovered that the shark did not attack.

The shark had been trained by his environment to believe that the barrier existed between himself and the bait fish.

Over time, YOU are trained by the negative people in your life that you cannot achieve what you want.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what you have and what is yet to come. You CAN achieve what you want when you look past the influence of the negative and focus on the positive.

So, today, while you’re sitting around the table with family, friends and the people who mean the most to you in life, remember that what you experience is only a function of how you perceive it.

 

Make a decision to see the positive, act on the positive and start the holiday season with heart of thankfulness and gratitude.

 

The Lies People Tell About Setting Goals

My goals have never included watching my business reduced to rubble and my debt soar. Instead, they were common goals, like supporting my family, raising my children and keeping my home safe.   I’m a single mother whose business took a strong nose-dive in February 2008 when the rest of the economy crashed. Suddenly, my income was less than half and my expenses seemed to take off like an air force fighter jet.

I had always worked for someone else. Now I had my own business and the paychecks weren’t consistent. In the past I had always been successful at work. Now was a different story.  I was like the shark in a marine biologist’s experiment. The scientist feeds the shark small fish and the shark eats them voraciously.

Next, the biologist inserts a clear Plexiglas partition. The feeder fish are released on one side and the shark attacks. Time and again he butts his head against the Plexiglas. Soon his efforts grow less aggressive. Over time the biologist is able to release the fish in the tank and the shark doesn’t try to attack those on the opposite side. He thinks the partition is still there. After not achieving success so many times, he just gave up.

I spent years rebuilding my business to a point where I could once again support my children. And, in those years of butting my head into the Plexiglas in my life, I learned something important about the goals I set and how I could achieve them.

My business involves networking with other business people. More times than not, I received a resounding “No!” to requests, comments, networking attempts and even gifts. At some point in this four year journey I considered quitting.

Popular business people promised to do things with me and then backed out. Others asked me to produce for them, thanked me for the great work and then backed out of their end of the deal. And still others took what I proposed and ran with the idea themselves.

It was more than just a little discouraging.

Four years later I have an education I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else and learned lessons I can use in other areas of life. But, there is one lesson that brought me through the lean years and keeps me strategizing through the good ones. It’s the one lesson on which everything else is built. And, you may not know it, but it’s the one thing that everything is built in your life too.

If that one thing is solid, then you’ll move toward your dreams. If it’s built on sand, then you’ll soon find yourself sinking, wondering what in the world could be going wrong.

It took me two years to figure out that I needed that one thing to make the rest of my life thrive. But, I can’t tell you what that one thing is, because it will be different for you than it is for me. You might jump to the conclusion that I’m talking about what motivates or inspires you, and you’d be partially right.

But not totally. Because there’s more to just what motivates you or inspires you that will drive you. Motivation is great, for as long as you can “feel it.” Inspiration is better, because it runs deeper and stronger. But this one thing is what drives you.

Day in and day out it will drive you to get up every morning and work through the day.  This has been a concept that’s difficult to describe or put into words. And, for that reason, not many people find their driving force.

In the movie City Slickers, three friends vacation together each year. This year they go on a supervised cattle drive where Mitch (Billy Crystal) discovers that one thing in his life. Terrified of his midlife crisis, he’s forced to face dangerous conditions and comes to terms with aging.

But we aren’t always forced to find that driving force in life. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of a life changing experience that pushes our face in the one thing we don’t want to face.

I call it a luxury while it FEELS like a hard, rocky obstacle standing between you and your dream. There doesn’t seem to be a way around the darned thing – and until you find the reason, the why, your inspiration and motivation – YOUR DRIVING FORCE – you’ll likely fall short.

That’s because it takes a LOT of strength, courage and stamina to stay the journey. You will get through life without the work – but the rewards will be less inspiring and less rewarding.

Courage doesn’t mean you operate without fear – but rather that you do what is expected even though you feel the fear.

You do it IN SPITE of the fear.

The ultimate lie about setting goals is that you can set goals all day long, but unless you take action, nothing happens.

Without motivation, you won’t take action. Without action you don’t experience the results you want. Without your driving force, continuing to keep your motivation will be incredibly difficult.

It’s a cycle.

We all have that one thing in life that lights our fire, drives us beyond what we thought possible . . .

 

the question is, can you find it?

What’s Next?

 

The beginning of this year is like no other. And January 2018 will be the same – like no other start to any other new year. The country is on edge as we move into this new year, uncertain of what will happen next.

And the same is true of life. What exactly is coming next?  Will this be the year you experience a breakthrough in your health, your job, your relationships or with your children?

Do you have control over what comes next?

If what’s coming is a tsunami, tornado, hurricane or earthquake then the obvious answer is  – no, you have no control.

But what about the rest of life? What about your finances, investments, income level, relationships, health, stress or the myriad of other things that occupy the mind? Do you have control? Do you FEEL like you have control?

The reality is that you both have control and have no control. How that’s possible is an interesting fact of life that has been the truth since Adam took his first step.

In the first place, yes you have control. Psychologists and behavioral scientists have found an equation that helps them help more people and will help you enjoy more success.

Your thoughts create feelings.
Your feelings drive your actions.
Your actions predict your success.

But, while simple, it isn’t always easy. For instance, if your thoughts are at the root of your success in any area of life – how do you change your thoughts?

If your feelings drive your actions, how do you spark the motivation you need to take the right actions?

If actions predict your success, then how do you find the courage to take the right action?

The reality is that you DO have control over much of what happens in your life through your actions. When you make a decision, take an action, there are consequences. Sometimes the consequences are positive and sometimes they are negative. Sometimes the results are what you anticipate, and other times the results are completely different from what you expected.

This is the second part of the equation. This is the part of life over which it appears you don’t have control, but in reality you still do.

How you react to what happens also determines your future. So, although it appears you had no control over the results, you do have control over your reaction.  If there’s a hurricane, fire or earthquake, you don’t have control over the incident – but you do you have control over what happens next.

For example, you want a promotion at work. You do a LOT of research to find what works and what doesn’t to get your boss to notice you. You do all the right things and then some. You research the company, suggest new marketing strategies that garner the company new customers.

In other words, you do it all. The logical result is that you’ll be noticed in a reasonable amount of time and get a promotion.

But the actual result is that your boss is now threatened by your ambition and finds a way to promote someone else, or worse, gets you fired.

It isn’t the result you expected and not the one you hoped for – but it is your current reality. How you react to the situation will determine your success.

Do you bury yourself in your current job and forget about a promotion? Do you quit and start your own business? Do you look for a better job?

What you decide, how you react, is exactly what determines your future.

Two years ago, my youngest son was struggling with being angry – all the time – at me.  I was in a bad place myself, so I didn’t react well at all. Instead of stepping up and setting boundaries for him, I retreated and let it all go.

Finally, I realized that I wasn’t doing myself or him any favors, and sought help. Three visits with a therapist was all it took for me to see the light and step up to the plate. Six months later he was a completely different young man and this Christmas we enjoyed the best three weeks together we’ve had since he was 12.

Of course, he matured in those years as well. But, if I had continued to abdicate my role, I’m not sure how it would have all turned out.

I didn’t have control over his teenage angst, but I did have control over my own actions – which in turn affected his actions.

The question now is – what’s next?  What comes next week, next month and in the next six months will determine the success you experience in the next year. Not all actions have an immediate reaction – but you can be sure that every decision you make has a consequence you’ll experience.

The important part of the equation is to control your thoughts and control what you’re thinking. How you do that is a challenge for another day. But, knowing the path that leads to success is the answer to half the problem!

 

 

Facing the New Year Fearless

Starbucks becomes my home away from home during basketball season. It’s a good thing I can work anywhere there’s an Internet connection or I wouldn’t be able to take my daughter to practices and games.

Some people call it the “internet lifestyle,” but realistically it’s been available since typewriters became portable . . . although laptops and wireless access to the Internet does make it significantly easier.

However, while more challenging, working at home has given me opportunities. I do differentiate between working FROM home and working AT home. To me, working from home has meant taking meetings outside the house, racing against traffic to pick up products or delivering services in the geographical area.

I prefer to work AT home, where I don’t leave the house unless I choose to. I like the flexibility it has given me, the ability to do things with my children and even the late nights doing exactly what I love.

I like being able to say, “I do what I love and I love what I do.” It has been a gift from God to be able to develop my business and company in these past years – and I hope to grow it even further this next year.

But, the truth be told, I’ve only performed the ACTION needed to make these gains in the past two years. Before that I was floundering – never sure each month how I would make it all come together. As persistent as I was in my belief it COULD be done, I was just as inactive in my ability to MAKE it happen.

Life ends up teach us lessons, not always the way we want them, or the lessons we think we need to learn. I was no different.

While I had the ability and knowledge, I also carried around enough fear to ensure it wouldn’t happen. I would never be successful as long as I believed the little voices in my head.

And then, two years ago, I came to an amazing conclusion that I knew in my HEAD but had never fully embraced in my HEART. I was no different than the successful writers and marketers I saw all around me.

I had the same knowledge base, or knew where to get the knowledge.
I had the same desire.
I had the same abilities.
I could make contacts.

In other words, I had the foundation, but I continued to lie down and take what life dished out each month without getting up and fighting back.  I had been crushed a number of different times by life, but it wasn’t a reason to give up.

This all hit home the other day when I was at a basketball game with my youngest daughter. She was sitting with her team, getting ready to warm up during halftime of the game before hers. Her coach was sitting in the bleachers with his family.

In the past weeks I had the impression I had irritated the coach in some way. Two years ago I would have ridden out the season, thought about it each time I saw him, and never did anything about it. Not now.

I asked to speak with him privately, asked if I had done something to bother him and said I just wanted to be sure the air was clear between us.

I didn’t get my head bitten off. I didn’t fall over and die. He didn’t start a rant. We worked it out.

I’ve found the more things in my life I address fearless, the better the results and the happier I am.

Becoming fearless about social and business situations has been a journey I took with Jesus and I’ve been blessed all along the way. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I am a much better person today than I was 2 years ago – and more successful by worldly standards.

As we face this coming New Year there are some important facts to remember that may help you to achieve more of your own success, improve your relationships and enjoy more of your everyday life.

It Just Takes Two

  1. Whatever doesn’t kill you really WILL make you stronger.

I’ve been struggling over the past six years to put a significant loss in my life behind me. Finally, this year I’ve realized that while I may have thought the pain would kill me, it didn’t. But, it has made me stronger and better able to help others facing the same situation.

The pain doesn’t go away, you just learn to move through it.

  1. Unless it really will kill you – in REAL life, not your imagination – you have nothing to fear.

Your boss may fire you, the car may not start, you might not get the promotion, the kids may drive you over the wall, you may have to work with the electric company to keep the lights on, you might have to barter to pay your bills . . . but unless you are dying or there is a gun held to your head, whatever challenge you are facing, will not kill you.

I was a nurse for over 20 years. As a nurse I had performed just about all manner of procedures on patients. I had decided the ONE procedure I NEVER wanted to have done to me was a nasogastric tube – or a tube that is passed through the nose and into the stomach. I had placed them many times. They are painful for the patient and patients sometimes throw up during the procedure.

I hate vomiting. Hence, I didn’t ever want a nasogastric (NG) tube.

That is, until I had abdominal surgery that was botched badly and my stomach fluid wasn’t going into my intestines, but instead coming up every hour.  By the time I got to the emergency room I was begging for an NG tube.

And, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated.

Most of the time the fear is worse than the thing.

That’s it – two strategies, two recommendations, two ideas – that will help you to face the New Year fearless.

BUT only as long as you not only read and understand, but also internalize the idea and truly believe that no matter what happens with Jesus  . . .

YOU are strong enough
You ARE strong enough
You are STRONG enough
You are strong ENOUGH

And . . . no one can stop you!

 

Christmas Message

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the promise it brings.

I hate the snow, the cold, and everything that winter brings north of Florida, but I’m stuck here right now and determined to make the best of it. Plans are to move in 18 months to Florida and I’m excited to work to make that happen.

In the meantime, I enjoy Christmas in Ohio.

Christmas means something different to different people. For some it’s Santa and a sleigh full of gifts. For others it’s hours of cooking for 15 minutes at the table. [I insist we sit for 30 minutes before all that work gets washed up and put away!]

 

 

Still others serve in soup kitchens or spend Christmas alone in their home, thinking about what had been or could have been.

For me, Christmas represents the birth of hope, peace, joy and the knowledge that I was made for a purpose.  Yup, my background is in medical science. I know all about physiology, anatomy, genetics and the other good stuff that goes into understanding the human body.

But I believe that I was formed by a hand greater than my mom and dad, and that I have purpose that is greater than anything I could achieve on my own.

It hasn’t always been this way.  There have been challenging years when I thought I had been abandoned and forgotten. There have been years when blessings over flowed.

And, there have been years in between.

What I have learned has been that I’ve never been abandoned, and that I also have never been promised a pain free life. No one has. Doesn’t matter what you believe, how much you believe it or how you learn your lessons – no one gets out of this life without experiencing the pain of disappointment, loss and grief.

The only difference between people who have given their life to Christ and those who are doing it alone is that when the tough times do come, one group has a strong and willing partner and the other group continues to do it alone.

However you celebrate or recognize Christmas in a couple of days, take just a few minutes to think back on the past year, your plans for the coming year, and how all of those events and plans have been woven into a tapestry you call your life and your history.

 

 

I believe that Jesus is the reason for the season and the celebration.  He is the true gift. I don’t believe in coincidences or luck or all things coming together without a guiding hand.

 

My hope is that you have the peace, joy and contentment you need to carry you through the coming year and the challenges it will bring.

5 Rules You Should Never Break

“She wants me to WHAT?”  My then-husband stood with the phone in his hand, helplessly watching me doubled over in pain.  “The doctor said this is normal and you should just wait it out.”

Never mind that I practiced medicine for over 20 years, or that I had undergone abdominal surgery before . . . I knew in my gut, quite literally, that what I was going through was wrong.

“Take me to the emergency room,” I groaned. “I don’t care what the doctor said.”

In this world there are rules. Some of them make perfect sense and others are accepted as true without proof. You might have learned them from your parents or your teachers. They may be unwritten or they may have been splashed across your Facebook timeline in funny memes.

But, no matter where you learn them, there are five that should never be broken if you want great success in your life. It doesn’t matter how you define success – whether it’s health, financial, relational, or emotional, don’t break these rules!

  1. Listen to your gut, your intuition, your inner voice. As adults, we’re often taught to follow the facts and figures as opposed to listening to our guts. I’m talking about the part of your brain that gives you the answer more quickly than the reasoning part. In several research studies, participants were given two different choices. The researchers found the pores on the participants’ hands opened when they were about to make the right choice and closed when the choice was not the best one for the situation. Scientists encourage you to develop the ability to recognize responses in your body to improve the results you get in the choices you make. For instance, in one study, people who spent a lot of time evaluating their car choice were satisfied with that choice only 25% of the time, while those who made a gut decision were satisfied 60% of the time.

Listening to my gut saved my life. The doctor thought I was dealing with gas pain when, in fact, my intestines had been sutured closed.

woman

  1. Build trust. People who trust themselves are more often trusted by others. In other words, when you trust yourself to follow through on your own promises, other people can also trust you. This can be a challenge! When you make a promise, do you show up every time or do you regret it and make an excuse? When you make a promise to yourself, do you follow through or do you write it off because no one is looking? Only you know the answer to that question, and that answer identifies a deeper issue. You recognize trustworthiness in people when you see it. It’s memorable. Your goal is to be memorable in your own eyes first. You’ll experience greater confidence in your abilities and better self-esteem, all of which can lead to added success in relationships, finances and business.

To continue my story, it was a holiday weekend and the surgeon probably wanted to focus on her family. Her first commitment should have been to her patient. That weekend she lost more than my trust. She lost the trust of the nursing staff at a rather large hospital, and the trust of the surgeon who had to repair the mistake.  If she had addressed the issue immediately (instead of two days later) the staff and second surgeon could have trusted her to act responsibly in the future. Mistakes happen. What you do after they happen speaks volumes about your character.

  1. Do not act on your feelings. Feelings don’t have a life of their own. In other words, you can control how you feel based on how you think. Here’s the equation: Your thoughts produce feelings which drive your actions that determine your results. This means you control your feelings based on what you think, and consequently the success you experience. Don’t act on feelings that may produce results you don’t want. When success is the goal, you can’t afford to carry around envy, jealousy, anger and bitterness. Toss them away like the garbage they are.

My surgeon didn’t want to believe she made a mistake and when she discovered it was possible, she waited another 24 hours before addressing the issue. Her fear almost cost me my life.

  1. Like yourself and who you are. There is one person you’ll never be able to get away from in your life, and that’s you. If you don’t like your own company it can get pretty crowded, pretty fast. And, if you don’t like yourself, how can you expect others to enjoy being with you? Do you want a permanent relationship or maybe improve an existing one? It’s time work on the relationship you have with yourself, before the relationships you have with others will ever improve. Do you want to be a better leader? A better parent? A better friend? It’s time to be a better you.
  1. KISS it. Keep It Super Simple: Keeping your life simple will bring great results. Life is complex enough without creating challenges by complicating the situation. When you feel the world sitting on your shoulders, it’s time to simplify. My oldest son is graduating from college in December and is suddenly downhearted. He started listing off all the things that were going wrong, and that list was long. However, it included everything from the time he was in high school until last week. It took a bit of work but he could finally isolate the reason for his discouragement to a declining bank account as he was paying off the last of his college bills. Simplifying the situation and finding the solution to the underlying problem helped him to feel better. We all feel better when what’s going wrong can be identified, simplified and a solution developed.

 

Five rules. Five simple rules, which when followed and incorporated into your life, will bring more success and happiness. Today, it’s time to evaluate your own life and where you stand with each of them. Do you need to simplify your reaction to a situation? Should you focus on becoming a better version of yourself? Is it time to listen to your intuition and start that small business at home?

How will your life be different when you make five small changes?

 

When Will You Experience Change?

More often than not, we equate January with the only time to make new goals, new resolutions or make new year plans.

But, realistically any arbitrary date in the year can serve the same purpose. It can be July 1st, your birthday, your anniversary, or your half-birthday (the day that is exactly 6 months on either side of your birthday).

What day you decide to change your life and your dreams is up to you.

This is What Louise Did

Louise was a quiet woman, born in Alabama in 1913. Even at an early age she understood that black people were treated differently than whites. She grew up, married and helped with fund-raising for her husband’s organization. She also worked in a department store.

In 1955, at the age of 42, she was on her way home from work. Later people would attribute her actions to being physically tired, but she countered with the explanation, “I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

It was that historic day that Rosa Louise Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and moved the entire country forward.

She did not set out that morning to make history. She did not intend to get arrested after work. She had not intended to ignite the civil rights movement and create an environment in which Martin Luther King Jr. would continue to shine a light on the deplorable conditions that affected half of Americans.

She did not intend to, but she did.

Rosa Parks had enough and determined in that moment to say “NO!”

She faced a nation of people who both supported her and criticized her efforts to change the status quo.

When you make changes in your life, it can shine a light on the deficits in other people’s lives. You won’t get support from everyone.

BUT, you are the one living your life. You experience the effects of changing or not changing. You are responsible for your own life.

As you begin a new journey in the next weeks, gather your motivation and inspiration from others who have come before you.

Her siblings died, her clothes were made of potato sacks, but she became America’s best friend

She has been called America’s best friend and most influential woman. And yet, she came from a dramatic background from which two of her half-siblings have since died. One sister died from cocaine addiction and a brother from AIDS-related illness. A third half-sister was put up for adoption at an early age.

Living in rural poverty with her grandmother until she was six, her dresses were made of potato sacks. She was nick-named “The Preacher” because by the age of 3 she could read and recite Bible verses in church. When she was six, she moved back in with her mother, who worked long hours as a maid.

From the age of 9 to 13 she was repeatedly raped by a cousin, an uncle and a family friend. When she was 14 she ran away from home, became pregnant not soon afterward and gave birth to a son who died.

It was at this point that she moved in with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. He was strict, but encouraging and gave her the structure she needed to excel. By her senior year in high school she was an honors student and voted Most Popular Girl. She won oratory contests, State beauty pageant and studied communication.

In 1983 she took a radio show that was in last place in the ratings to overtaking the Donahue show and quickly became the highest rated talk show in Chicago. The name was changed from AM Chicago to the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Oprah is a household name because she believed in herself and had a couple support people in her life that gave her to courage she needed. She credits her grandmother with giving her a positive sense of herself and her father with the structure and encouragement she needed.

Oprah didn’t come from a privileged background. She was born and raised in poverty.

She didn’t go to the best schools, but made the best of her school.

You have the ability to make changes in your life. Those changes can change your outlook, your future and your joy. Find the people in your life who can give you the support and structure you need to succeed. Fight against that little voice inside that says you can’t . . .  because YOU CAN!

You Life Depends on Your Perspective

A psychology professor stood in front of her class holding a glass of water. She held up the half empty glass and looked at her class expectantly. Each student expected the usual story about a glass half empty but was surprised by her question.

“How heavy do you think this glass is?”

Students started calling out answers and asking how many ounces as they grabbed for their calculators and conversion tables.

She answered, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t matter.  If I hold this glass for a minute or two, it’s light.  If I hold it for an hour then weight will make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day, my arm will cramp and be incredibly painful.  In each of these cases the weight of the glass didn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels.”

“Your emotional and mental stresses and worries are like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you feel some pain.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel disabled and paralyzed.”

Remember, it’s important to change what you do and how you do it so you aren’t repeating old patterns. By letting go of the fear that paralyzes your action you can make a real difference in your life. No matter what happens during each day, put down your burdens and commit to beginning the day fresh tomorrow – with a new outlook and a new way of doing things that you learned from the mistakes you make today.

 

If this is the time of the year that you will make changes, then it’s time to change the WAY you do things. If you are dissatisfied with life and nothing has changed over the years, then it’s time for YOU to change. If you do things the same way, you’d better be prepared to get the same results.

 

 

Queen Latifah, The Buckeye Bullet and a Shark Spend Thanksgiving

With your Thanksgiving meal just hours away, here are a couple of inspirational stories to help you stay focused on the day and your family and not on the challenges and obstacles we all face. . .

Have you ever seen the movie, “The Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah, Timothy Hutton and LL Cool J? It might be something you want to watch with your family when you’re all stuffed from a good meal and too tired to do anything else.

It’s the story of a 30-something single lady who was misdiagnosed with a brain disease. She’s given about 2 weeks to live, so she cashes in all her money and goes on an exotic vacation.

She doesn’t pull her punches with the people she meets and is surprised to find that she could be herself and still be liked.

Through some miscommunication that she doesn’t correct, the people she’s met believe she’s an up-and-coming entrepreneur who is very well to do. Toward the end of the movie Timothy Hutton finds out that she is a “nobody” [his words!] and calls her out.

She apologizes if she has offended anyone and explains that she is dying, she cashed in all her savings to go on this fabulous vacation. . .

“You know how it is. You keep your head down and you hustle and hustle. Then you look up one day and wonder, “How did I even get here?”

Is this where you are?

Have you been hustling every single day, head down, eyes on the to-do list for the day or the week and not paying attention to how quickly life seems to be passing you by?

Hustle . . . Action . . . Power . . . Application . . . Enterprise

These are all good words. They are the way toward achieving your goals.

BUT, when you do them at the exclusion of activities that balance your life, you are in danger of developing bad health habits and losing relationships.

You don’t have to make the choice between your definition of success and good health or great relationships. You can have all three.

It takes balance. It takes becoming inspired. It takes inspired action.

Don’t just put your head down and plow forward. Look up! Take a look at where you’re going and who you’re going with.

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Sometimes the journey we’re taking starts out with challenges and obstacles not of our own choosing .  .  .

Born in Oakville, Alabama, in 1913, the Buckeye Bullet was the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of slaves. He was a sickly child, often battling pneumonia. But, at the age of seven he was still expected to carry his weight in the family and was picking up to 100 pounds of cotton each day.

When he turned 9, his family moved to northern Ohio where life was faster paced and school was a challenge. Once in high school, he made a name for himself and became a nationally recognized athlete.

In college, he dominated his sport, winning all 42 events in which he competed one year, setting a world record that stood for 25 years and making the Olympic team, set to participate in Berlin, Germany, 1936.

At those Games, he won four gold medals and broke two Olympic records, one of which stood for the next 25 years. After he won the event, that now confers the title of “the fastest man,” Hitler stormed out of the stadium.

Back home in the US, Jesse Owens received a chilly reception from his own country as well. Not surprised by this country’s hypocrisy, he made this statement, “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.”

Jesse Owens is one of this country’s best athletes, in any sport. He overcame physical illness, injuries, hypocrisy, prejudice and discrimination. He excelled at sports and later went on to run his own successful public relations and marketing firm.

When you imagine the challenges that Mr. Jesse Owens overcame in his life, you probably won’t be able to fully appreciate the obstacles.  But if you can stop and imagine what it would be like to have the inspiration, desire, drive and commitment to achieve the goals that he did . . . .

And then understand that we are all born with the same abilities to face challenges. Our obstacles are different. Our goals are different. But we CAN achieve those goals by tapping into the ability to become inspired and do the work to achieve them.

It isn’t where you started or where you are today that matters most . . . but, the actions you are willing to take to make your tomorrows a reality.

Today is a day of giving thanks for what we have. Whether it’s a roof over your head, a hot meal on the table, running water in the bathroom or a bounty you hadn’t imagined you could achieve, we all have something to be thankful for.

But, to be thankful, grateful and fully appreciate the gifts we already have, we also have to have a positive attitude. This does NOT mean being a positive thinker, convincing yourself that something that isn’t real has already happened. But it does mean seeing your life in a positive light so you can see the opportunities and take advantage of them .  .   .

The effect that a negative stimuli in our lives has will have long term consequences on our success.

Consider the marine biologist doing a research experiment with a shark.  The shark was placed in a large holding tank where several small bait fish were released. As expected the shark attacked and ate the smaller fish.

After the shark was accustomed to getting those small fish, the scientist placed a strong piece of fiberglass into the tank, creating two partitions. The shark was on one side of the partition and the small bait fish were released in the other side.

The shark quickly attacked the small fish but slammed into the divider and bounced off. The shark repeated this behavior every few minutes. In the meantime, the bait fish kept swimming, unharmed, on the other side. After about an hour, the shark gave up.

Over the next several weeks the experiment was repeated several dozen times. Each time the shark got less aggressive in his attack on the bait fish. Eventually the shark tired of hitting the divider and just stopped attacking altogether.

At this point the divider was removed and the marine biologist discovered that the shark did not attack.

The shark had been trained by his environment to believe that the barrier existed between himself and the bait fish.

Over time, YOU are trained by the negative people in your life that you cannot achieve what you want.

Today is the day to give thanks for what you have and what is yet to come. You CAN achieve what you want when you look past the influence of the negative and focus on the positive.

So, today, while you’re sitting around the table with family, friends and the people who mean the most to you in life, remember that what you experience is only a function of how you perceive it.

Make a decision to see the positive, act on the positive and start the holiday season with heart of thankfulness and gratitude.

 

 

Where do You Find Inspiration?

Inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

What’s more important? . . .  inspiration . . . or energy to get through the day?

Finding Inspiration Can Drive Energy and Action

Born with a rare genetic disorder which often claims the life of the sufferer, this young man has changed the lives of everyone who meets him or hears him speak.

Tetra-amelia is a rare genetic disorder in which a child is born without any arms or legs. Often times there are also other disfigurements of the pelvic area or face.

Nick is Serbian and was born in Australia. His mother had 3 ultrasounds before the birth but they were still surprised in the delivery room by deformities which were not detected in the tests.

His early days were very difficult. He was a teenage boy, going through all the normal teenage boy distress, with one significant difference. He wasn’t a normal teenage boy.

Nick’s parents supported his journey and were blessed with a young man who refused to let his physical limitations create borders in his life. In his early years, his parents decided not to send him to a school for children with special needs. He has said it was a very difficult time, but it may have been the best decision they could have made for him.

All was not easy for young Nick. At the age of eight he told his mother he wanted to kill himself and at ten he tried to drown himself in the bathtub. At 13 he read a story about a man who was disabled, but achieved great things and helped others. It was at this point he realized that God had made him to give hope to others. He was so inspired that he dedicated his life to inspiring courage in others.

He says, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!”

He graduated from college at 21 with a Bachelor of Commerce and a double major in accounting and financial planning. But his real passion is speaking to others about the challenges he has faced.

To date Nick has accomplished more than most of us will in a lifetime. He’s a motivational speaker having traveled to over 24 countries to filled auditoriums, author, husband, father, musician and actor. He fishes, paints and swims. He’s been surfing with Bethany Hamilton, competitive surfer, whose arm was bitten off by a shark when she was a teen and who was back on a surf board three weeks later.

This is the astonishing life of Nick Vujicic (pronounced VOO-yee-cheech).

Nick’s start in life is not where he is ending. His opportunities were not limitless, but he has lived outside of the boundaries that society may have set for him.

He is willing to live out his inspiration for a life that is full of joy, health, creativity and helping others.

What About Me?

Nick’s story IS inspirational, but it isn’t the story that most of us live from day to day. In his life Nick was forced to see the world through different eyes because others saw him differently.

However, it’s the human condition to want to be just like everyone else. Our teens struggle to join groups to be just like others. Our children want to dress like people in their groups. We all shop for clothes and accessories that are pretty, but still conform to what the rest of the country is wearing.

If we look and act like the crowd, then inspiration and inspired action must come from how we see ourselves and not a reflection of how others see us.

When my now 18 year old son was just a toddler we were visiting my sister’s home. Sitting around the dinner table, in response to something his Uncle had said, my Nick announced to whoever was listening that, “It’s all about me!” with an accompanying grand gesture . . . arms up and thumbs pointed at his heart.

It’s normal for youngsters to believe that the world revolves around them. And, in some respects that gives them an advantage in finding inspiration to change their world. Granted that inspired action can come in the form of temper tantrums, but it’s the only way they know how to get things done!

Inspiration Drives Inspired Action and Success

It’s the importance of inspiration to your ultimate success in life that is critical to your actions.

Here’s an equation that drives each of us:

You thoughts develop your feelings which drive your actions and determine your results.

But you don’t want just any action, you want inspired action. And inspired action ultimately comes from inspired thought.

That inspired thought drives your success – whether it’s success in finances, relationships, health and wellness or any other way that you define success in your life.

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How do you generate the inspiration to drive inspired action?

From stories, movies, other people’s lives . . . from dreams, music and from your Creator.

The factor that makes the most difference between people who find success and those who don’t is that they keep those inspired thoughts front and center. When they falter they have systems to fall back on to fuel the fire.

Movies like Rudy, We are Marshall and McFarland, USA can inspire us to reach higher and try harder. Speakers, authors, music, and friends can speak inspiration into our lives, driving us farther than we thought possible.

Do you know what’s so great about using inspiration?

You can generate it at any time and it is NOT grounded in the past. In other words, what happened yesterday doesn’t predict your tomorrow. You can change your expected outcome by recognizing and acting on the idea that the future has not yet been written.

You have the chance to change what you expect through inspired action.

And, also remember . . .

Your Future is Firmly In Front of You!

That sounds like it’s a bit obvious . . . but, unfortunately, for many of us, that fact is not a fact at all. In fact, it’s a fallacy.

Too many times we live our lives in the past. We live out what could have been or may have been, if we had made different decisions or walked a different path.

Have you ever seen the sit-com “Frasier”?  It’s about a loveable psychiatrist who moves to Seattle after the break-up of his marriage in Boston.

Frasier hosts a daily radio call-in show. During the series he is represented by several different agents, the most aggressive of which is Bebe. During this particular episode Frasier has been with another agent for a season but is entertaining the idea of re-signing with Bebe. She has manipulated the situation to make Frasier believe that she is now representing Dr. Phil, famous talk show host, but would be willing to stay in Seattle to work with Frasier.

By the end of the episode she has slithered her way back into Frasier’s professional life. They meet at their favorite coffee house where she informs Frasier that his contract in the neighboring market was abysmal and she canceled it. After which she tells him with great enthusiasm that his future is “firmly in front of him!”

Ros, Frasier’s producer, is shocked by the news that they lost a contract and asks Frasier if this isn’t a step backward.

“Did you hear that Ros? This is wonderful news! Our future is firmly in front of us!”

“Isn’t our future always in front of us?” she asked, incredulous at the loss of income.

“Yes,” Frasier says. “But now it is FIRMLY in front of us!” as he runs out the coffee house door.

Your future is in front of you and always firmly in front of you. Your future isn’t in the past. You have control of tomorrow . . . and tomorrow is your future. Take control of every tomorrow by taking inspired action. Do NOT let the past control you – the past is in the past. Your future is firmly in front of you!