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.


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