Our Day of Independence

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The 4th of July for me is always a time for reflection. It allows me perspective on life and what it means to me. Life is something precious, meaningful and at times beautiful. The 4thof July is often referred to as Independence Day, the birth of our nation where we fought Continue reading

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The True Meaning of the American Flag and 5 Reasons Why the NFL Failed

We have all watched the quiet protest, before NFL games, of kneeling during the anthem in response to injustice and seeking to give a voice to the voiceless. As the story grew the perspective and conversation on the topic changed drastically as the current President got involved and to my disappointment created unnecessary imagery that generated a huge backlash. Neither the President or the NFL acted in regards to the true meaning of the American flag. In his words the President failed us as did the NFL and here’s 5 ways why. Continue reading

Top Ten Reasons Why Most People Fail

Imagine if everything you did or tried always culminated into the success that you wanted. At that point wouldn’t life be, well, just plain boring. Let’s face it failure is a strong and unavoidable part of life. Failure is also an important part of purpose that if harnessed correctly will make your life more than worth living. In order for us to grow and develop we need to fail. Although failure is necessary how you do it and what you get it of it will determine your eventual success or non-success in life. Below are the Top Ten Reason Why Most People Fail and never recover.

1. They Give Up

There’s a great story called, “Three Feet From Gold.” In the story a prospector finds a vein of gold that runs dry. They continue to dig but after coming up with nothing decide to give up. They sell the rights to prospect and sell the equipment which still leaves them financially indebted to friends and family. The new prospector decides to bring in experts who predict that if they continue to dig just three feet from where the former prospectors left off they would again find that vein of gold. The rest of the story you can guess. Instead of giving up you need to quickly adjust your plans so you can pivot when and where necessary.

2. Don’t Give Enough Time to Succeed

The music channel Vh1 used to have a great series called Behind The Music which profiled famous music artists and their climb to success. In almost every story I noticed a pattern, often they had a break before the break. The artist often had that big opportunity and initial success that looked like they were well on their way after all the struggles and turmoil of trying to make it. Usually that success would be fleeting and heartbreaking, they had to move back to their hometown seemingly as failures and back home with their parents, starting all over again. Fortunately they did not quit or give up they learned, readjusted and went back at it more prepared to skyrocket their careers. They gave themselves the time to succeed. Music was not something that they were trying out to see what happens it was something they were dedicated to regardless of the time it took to make it happen.

3. Underestimate What it Takes to be Successful

As a general rule of thumb you should always factor in that it will take at least twice as long and three times more than you thought it would to achieve your endeavor. Often we underestimate not just the time but the resources and growth of ourselves and those around us in order to achieve our desired goal. A large part of the process of success is your own personal growth. You have to grow into being the person capable of achieving what you desire. Most people will grossly underestimate the importance or fail to understand the necessity for personal growth and cost themselves an opportunity at success. As we all know growth is often painful but short term, failing to grow is painful and ongoing.

4. Hobby Instead of Passion

On the road to fulfilling your dreams you will have to do things you do not want to do, face situations and consequences you have no desire to face and grow often through the painful process of failure. In order to withstand these steps to success you have to have a passion and a love for what you do. In the beginning you are not going to get paid for what you do, most likely you will have to be paying, go into debt, beg borrow and steal to get there. This will not happen with something you are just interested in. You must have a deep passion and desire. As it states in Napoleon Hill’s great book Think and Grow Rich, “Desire is the starting point of all success.” If you do not have that deep desire most likely you will not withstand the process of success and fail.

5. Take Learning as Failure

Often the setbacks we face are learning experiences packaged as failure. Setbacks are stepping stones to our success but they look like we failed so most people accept the failure. If they would take the time to examine the setback and see what they can gain from it they would find great learning experiences wrapped inside. Setbacks are part of the process of success find the jewels of learning so you can turn that into experience and wisdom.

6. Mistake Opportunities for Challenges

Just as learning experiences often come wrapped as failures, opportunities often come wrapped as challenges. The greater the opportunity the greater the challenge. Take a second to think about this, has there ever been something you desired or wanted to achieve? What happened when you started working toward the achievement of that goal-did you come across a bunch of challenges that seemed overwhelming. For example in sports if you want to win a championship you will have to go through the process and that often includes challenges such has having your weaknesses exposed, being embarrassed and losing until you master those situations. These challenges are opportunities for you to grow and master the necessary aspects to achieve what you desire.

7. Misunderstand the Nature of Success

Success is not about a destination it is about the process of growth and development-the journey. The destination or goal helps to determine the direction or focus of the journey. Many people mistake the destination as success so they try to get to the end instead of going through the necessary process of success. Sometimes you will see people who try to skip the process and go right to the trappings of success, the cars, the jewelry, the lifestyle without the growth and development. Success is about who you are and what you accomplish which in turn will help to determine what you have.

8. One Person Team

We all love the classic hero like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo and Daniel Craig as James Bond, a one man army rising against all the odds. In reality one man armies fail, falter and fizzle out miserably. On the road to success no one knows enough to do it themselves and even if somehow you did it would be impossible for you to do it all. Think of your business and personal success like a sport and the game is life. You need your team in place to help you achieve and grow. From teammates in the trenches to advisors who can help you see through the fog along with mentors, coaches and trainers. Even people like Tim Ferriss with his 4 Hour Work Week still need a team to help them accomplish that lifestyle and in fact could not do it without their team.

9. Lack of Resourcefulness

One of the necessities for life in general that most people miss is the need to be resourceful. You will never have everything you need or the ability to acquire it through financial means so you will need to be resourceful and figure out other ways to accomplish and acquire what you desire and need. For example most people will encounter challenges such as lack of finances to purchase what they need and give up  instead of finding other ways to get the financing or acquiring what they need through bartering, asking or other means. Resourcefulness is useful creativity, solutions and the ability to build relationships, see opportunities in challenges and realize solutions in obstacles.

10. Lack of Vision

In the Bible it states that where there is no vision the people will perish. Most of us are perishing because we lack vision for our own life so we get pulled into the vision of other people’s lives. Vision is beyond a goal it is beyond a destination it is a way for how things will be at some point, it’s the forging of possibility into reality. From there you set into place plans for how to achieve that Vision. Vision itself then becomes that North Start keeping you on course through the storms and challenges of life. Vision gives you purpose.

Please leave your comments below and your thoughts on these reasons for failure. Pass  this on to a friend and be sure to sign up to recieve great insights and updates.

A Letter To Michael Sam

“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”

– Amelia Earhart

Michael SamDear Michael Sam

I don’t know you personally but I hope this letter reaches you because I believe it’s the message you are meant to hear.

Sometimes in life we fail to see the great opportunities inherent in our struggles. I know football is what you love but have you ever considered that the struggle you face is not about the game of football but an overall greater purpose awaiting you in the game of life.

Michael here are the 5 steps to realizing your purpose and making a true difference.

  1. Turn your anger and frustration into a passion to make a difference

Michael you are a trailblazer and like others before you the path is laden with struggle and unforeseen circumstances outside of your control. How you handle those situations will determine if others choose to follow in your footsteps or stay regulated to the darkness of their fears. I know you are frustrated that your NFL dreams did not come to fruition the way you planned. Turn that emotion into a passion for paving the way for those to come. Jackie Robinson had to make tremendous sacrifices understanding that in his hands laid the fate of all those who would or “would not” come after him.

  1. Apologize for passively outing other pro athletes

I understand you may have felt abandoned by athletes who chose to stay quiet instead of showing outright support. These other athletes placed not only their trust but their livelihood in your hands and as frustrated as it was feeling that they were not there to stand when you needed them to- you as a leader were given the gift of their trust. You needed to appreciate that trust, to be the leader they could depend on and believe in. They needed to know that you truly had their best interest at heart even at a high cost to yourself.

If you had done this they would have given you a respect and trust that money simply cannot buy and in due time you would have been able to bring people together to do things they otherwise would not have. They may not have openly come out but they may have openly expressed support that could change the fate for those to come, and that my friend is a big win. Apologize profusely behind the scenes to them personally and issue a blanket apology publicly. Let everyone know you have seen the wrong of your ways and allowed your frustration to get the best of you. Promise those athletes individually and the young players you impacted that you will do everything your power to be worthy of the trust and respect that was given to you.

  1. Be the leader you needed

Remember a time when as a young man coming to grips with not only being gay but having to confront that reality as an athelete. Think about who you needed and who you became in order to help you through that. Many kids don’t have that person, that leader, that motivation to continue forward in the face of all the struggles they will face. Be the leader they need and you had or wish you had. Michael that person will change the world for the better.

  1. Publicly set the vision for the future

Publicly set the vision for the future as you would like to see it for gay athletes in sports. We all need a vision without it the scriptures say that the people will perish, not only the people but their hopes and dreams as well. Set a vision that will inspire and move others, gay and otherwise. In the end what you’re looking to achieve goes beyond sexual preference and gender, it is about a kid that has a dream and believes they matter and that they can be something in this life…who are we to take that away from them.

  1. Touch the People

Get to where people need you. Be a great voice and testament to the power of standing up for what you believe in. Your life serves a greater purpose Michael than just the game of football. Get out to the schools, the colleges, speak and be a liaison if not in the NFL then in College to help players and students on both sides of the issue. Help those athletes and students across college campuses who are gay and straight in how to deal with whatever issues you had to deal with. Michael what you can bring to the table for countless people is invaluable and you have a visible platform to do it from. You literally have the power to save lives.

Finish what you started, this is the biggest game you will ever play in and the purpose you choose to pursue will determine how you played the game. At the end of the day you can be a Hall of Famer on the greatest playing field ever…life.

 

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The Hardest Part of Success

It is that time again. All the chips are stacked against me, nothing seems to be going my way and it seems like the hits just keep coming while my resources to handle those hits whether financial, social or spiritual continue to dwindle. A person gets to know a great deal about themselves in difficult situations when the totality of your person is stripped bare and there standing before you is you. It is not the artificial made up you that you pony around for the world to see, it’s the true you in all it’s cowardice, fear, self-loathing, heroic, loving and caring self. Difficult times truly do test the very fabric and nature of our souls and make you question everything about who you are and who you believe yourself to be.

On this journey of life and this road to fulfillment I have had to answer those questions many times, really who am I. Am I the hero that I believe myself to be or the coward that is afraid, worried and fragile in the face of adversity. Can I continue forward against these immeasurable odds that seem to grow moment by moment. Do I have the resolve to continue forward and the audacity to believe in myself when there is no visible evidence of why I should do so only my belief that I must. On the other side of this darkness and chaos will there be light or the cruel realization that everything I have believed my entire life has been wrong.

Sometimes I am scared, sometimes I want to give up, sometimes it hurts to continually try so hard and fall so far. Sometimes I look myself in the mirror and don’t recognize who I truly am. Instead I see glimpses of my self staring me back, a shell of myself waffling in the mirror. Sometimes I want to hide away ashamed of how I have failed, of how I continue to struggle, of how I continue to hold on against all hope that through this darkness there is light and that somehow maybe just maybe that light is inside of me. And somehow I will learn to allow this light to shine.

Success does not make great men it is only a result of what has made us great. The internal fortitude the spiritual belief, the faith that has carried us like footsteps in the sand when our egos failed. Yes sometimes I am scared, sometimes I have doubts and sometimes I feel beaten. But still I carry on. In the face of adversity when all seems lost and I feel like I have taken all I can I still get up believing that maybe this will be the time. In the darkness of my despair I still search for the light to shine within me. And when all hope seems lost I continue to believe and move forward. It is not in spite of this but because of this that I am heroic.

Others can believe in me because I am of them, of their fears, their worries, their beliefs and their strength. It is not my lack of fear that makes me great it is my willingness to acknowledge, face, overcome and share it that does. The hardest part of success is to face not only what is before you, but what is within you, to acknowledge who you truly are and deal with it.

 The Promised Land Book Cover

Chasing Rainbows

Well it has begun, my late night journey into American Idol voting. And yes, 10pm these days is well beyond my desired bedtime. Yet there are times in life when it makes sense to stay up a little later. Even stranger is that I cannot help but feel like Kermit the Frog singing an off pitch song about rainbows as I watch Angie Miller in the top contestants for American Idol votes. I feel the spirit of a small town called Beverly Massachusetts echoing across the nation in the results of those votes.  It is a spirit that taps into a dream which refuses to fail, along with a belief that continues forward in the hearts, actions and deeds of everyday people.

I have come to find that dreams are precious things not to be easily let go because like rainbows they tend to fade quickly if we do so. I can see the birthing of dreams coming true not only in the voice of Angie Miller but the mother’s love of an autistic child as told by Beverly resident Jeneil Russell whose stories will appear in upcoming insertions of Chicken Soup For the Soul. I can see it in the sacrifices of long time Beverly resident Fred Butler, who at age 106 was granted his diploma for the rainbow, the dream he pursued so many years ago.

I followed my own rainbow to Massachusetts nearly nine years ago and at the end I found the North Shore and a town called Beverly. With the successes of Angie, Jeneil and Fred this town shows itself to be a place that still believes in rainbows and the power of people who struggle together, who believe together and who work together to make dreams come true. They all remind me no matter the ups and downs, the setbacks and shortcomings to keep fighting and keep believing. To keep believing that somehow a lowly person can make a difference, inspire others and like a rainbow in the sky be an example of who and what we can be. I thank you all for that continued inspiration. I guess Kermit was right, at the end of the rainbow we will find the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Make sure to vote and help lift the dreams of a young girl named Angie Miller.

Together we have it in us to inspire a nation!

The Hardest Part of Success

It is that time again. All the chips are stacked against me, nothing seems to be going my way and it seems like the hits just keep coming while my resources to handle those hits whether financial, social or spiritual continue to dwindle. A person gets to know a great deal about themselves in difficult situations when the totality of your person is stripped bare and there standing before you is you. It is not the artificial made up you that you pony around for the world to see, it’s the true you in all it’s cowardice, fear, self-loathing, heroic, loving and caring self. Difficult times truly do test the very fabric and nature of our souls and make you question everything about who you are and who you believe yourself to be.

On this journey of life and this road to fulfillment I have had to answer those questions many times, really who am I. Am I the hero that I believe myself to be or the coward that is afraid, worried and fragile in the face of adversity. Can I continue forward against these immeasurable odds that seem to grow moment by moment. Do I have the resolve to continue forward and the audacity to believe in myself when there is no visible evidence of why I should do so only my belief that I must. On the other side of this darkness and chaos will there be light or the cruel realization that everything I have believed my entire life has been wrong.

Sometimes I am scared, sometimes I want to give up, sometimes it hurts to continually try so hard and fall so far. Sometimes I look myself in the mirror and don’t recognize who I truly am. Instead I see glimpses of my self staring me back, a shell of myself waffling in the mirror. Sometimes I want to hide away ashamed of how I have failed, of how I continue to struggle, of how I continue to hold on against all hope that through this darkness there is light and that somehow maybe just maybe that light is inside of me. And somehow I will learn to allow this light to shine.

Success does not make great men it is only a result of what has made us great. The internal fortitude the spiritual belief, the faith that has carried us like footsteps in the sand when our egos failed. Yes sometimes I am scared, sometimes I have doubts and sometimes I feel beaten. But still I carry on. In the face of adversity when all seems lost and I feel like I have taken all I can I still get up believing that maybe this will be the time. In the darkness of my despair I still search for the light to shine within me. And when all hope seems lost I continue to believe and move forward. It is not in spite of this but because of this that I am heroic.

Others can believe in me because I am of them, of their fears, their worries, their beliefs and their strength. It is not my lack of fear that makes me great it is my willingness to acknowledge, face, overcome and share it that does. The hardest part of success is to face not only what is before you, but what is within you, to acknowledge who you truly are and deal with it.

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