Tag Archives: perseverance

Five Steps to Conquering Your Fear

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(I am sharing this article courtesy of Huffington Post)

Editors Note: I came across the below excerpt on Huffington Post a while back and I found it spoke quite a bit to where I am, not only in my career but also in my personal life.  The example of being a photographer is not mine but you can insert whatever it is you are fearful of doing and it will work just the same.  Fear can rob us of a lot of things including happiness, our destiny and over satisfaction with life.  I hope you will find the motivation to tackle at least one of your fears after reading this.

It is certainly true that no matter how positive-minded you try to be, it can be painful when things don’t work out the way you want — when your application isn’t accepted at an elite school, you don’t get the job, your artwork isn’t taken by a gallery, your business doesn’t catch on or you find that you aren’t as talented as you hoped. When this happens, it is going to feel disappointing. It may make you doubt your intelligence, abilities and ideas.

That’s OK. It is a short-lived pain that will go away. It is nothing compared to the fear of failure, which drains your vitality and paralyzes you from taking the actions that bring joy and meaning into your life. So what can you do? Here is an easy-to-implement practice that will allow you to use your fear of failure as a means to take action and explore new things.

1. Identify Your Fear

Find something that you would like to try but have hesitated to do because of your fear of failure. (I want to try working as a professional photographer, but I am afraid that I might not be good enough at it to be successful.)

2. Reverse Your Thinking

Come up with a way that you can fail at it as quickly as possible. (I am going to find a setting where I can take lots of bad pictures and let people see them. I can try at my cousin’s wedding, which is happening next month.)

3. Do It Anyway

Get out there and give it a try. Make mistakes and have fun doing it. Ask others for help and feedback. (While taking pictures at the wedding, I will let people know I am a beginner and ask for comments and suggestions.)

4. Fail Forward

Use your exploratory actions as a means to learn and discover what you need to know. (What parts of taking the wedding photographs were the most or least enjoyable? What pictures did people like or dislike? What came naturally, and what do I need to work on?)

5. Find the Next Challenge

Seek out the next opportunity to do things at the limits of your abilities. (Next time, I will ask to take pictures at a wedding where I get paid for my work.)

Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

Andrew

Tell us if you agree or not!

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

If you follow sports then I am sure you heard last week that the Philadelphia Eagles have signed Tim Tebow.  If you aren’t familiar with Tim, it still won’t matter for the purposes of this post, so I hope you keep reading.  In short, he may be one of the most polarizing sports figures to come our way in the last 20 years.  This is mostly due to his unwavering commitment to his faith and what many see as questionable skills on the football field.

Regardless of how you feel about Tim’s football talent or his personal beliefs I hope you can set all of that to the side for now and find encouragement in what follows.

Mr. Tebow has always had a dream to play quarterback in the National Football League (NFL.)  He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 draft and played QB for them that following season.  He took over as starter for a 1 – 4 Denver team and led them into the playoffs, including an amazing TD against Pittsburgh in first round which you can see here.  He was later traded to the NY Jets who eventually cut him after he played in only a few games over the course of one season.  He then received a training camp invite with New England but was cut before the season started.  He didn’t play anywhere last year.

Do you realize the significance of that statement?  He didn’t play ANYWHERE.  He could have easily played in the Arena Football League (AFL), the Canadian Football League (CFL), NFL Europe or some other random league somewhere in the world. but he didn’t. Do you know why he didn’t?  Because he never dreamed of being a QB in any of those other leagues!

Sure you could criticize him for not keeping his options open and playing in some kind of football league to keep his skills sharp.  He actually received an offer from at least two different AFL clubs which he turned down.  When asked why he wasn’t interested he said that his only dream was to play QB in the NFL. In other words it was the NFL or bust!  Even I have to admit I thought he was crazy to not at least play somewhere, yet Tim stuck to his dream and refused to compromise on what he wanted.  Now after two years he is back in the NFL (or at the very least back in an NFL camp.)

There is certainly no guarantee he will make the team after training camp, the Eagles do have three other QB’s on the roster including Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford.  Even if he makes the team it is likely he would be third string at best behind the aforementioned players.  Regardless of all that, you have to admire his perseverance and refusal to accept what he considers a second best opportunity in another league.

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Whatever it is you dream to accomplish in your life I hope you refuse to never give in and never relent in your pursuit of it.  Life can be tough at times.  People can (and often do) betray us.   You will find the road to your dream is not a straight path and at times you may feel further from your goals than when you started.  Your course will be fraught with many perils, all designed to knock you down and make you want to quit.

Today is not that day gentlemen.

Do not go quietly into that dark night.  Fight for the cause you have been given and stand up for what you believe.

Wherever you find yourself on the road to pursuing your dreams I hope that today you will renew your commitment to following them no matter what may come.  You can do this.  Stick with it!  Don’t give up!

Until tomorrow, make it a better day.

And for you Rocky fans here is a bit of additional (if not cheesy) inspiration.

Tell us if you agree or not!

 

How Can You Tell If Someone Needs Help?

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Earlier this week we discussed the difficulties that men have when it comes to asking for help.  If you read the blog then you know one of the examples we looked at was Junior Seau.  At the time I wrote the post I had yet to pick up my copy of the GQ this month.  I was surprised to find an article about Junior in its pages.  If you are a man there might be a lot of emotions that run through your body as you read it.  Two of the most prominent should be sadness and anger.

I was sad and angry for several reasons.  First, the man died way too young and still had so much to offer people.  Up until the point when he passed away he was an inspiring man.  Someone who had made it out of the slums of San Diego to an ocean front view and a lively foundation to help kids just like him escape poverty.  Second, there were people (especially men) who thought something wasn’t right and suspected something bad might or could happen.  I wouldn’t say they did nothing but at least from the article it certainly sounds like they could have done more.  If you ask your friend if they are okay and they say yes, but you know they are lying why would you just drop it?  Why wouldn’t you follow-up with them?  Organize other friends to intervene and talk openly with him about what is going on.

I would be the first to agree that Junior had to want help.  According to the story he asked for it but it doesn’t seem his friends offered any solutions.  When a person’s life is on the line sometimes we have to be more concerned about their health and safety than fearing we might offend them or lose their friendship.  Maybe they were afraid Junior would stop paying for things when they went out?  Who knows.  Regardless of the reasons more should have been done (again at least based on what was in the magazine.)

“He made terrible business decisions. He abused pills. He drank. He gambled away terrifying sums. It was clear to those who knew him well that he was struggling, but no one foresaw his suicide on the morning of May 2, 2012.” 

A  real friend doesn’t let that other bullshit stand in the way of getting things done and trying to help his friends.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17  A true friend will accept whatever adversity comes his way if it means he is looking out for a friend.  The challenge is trying to decide when a friend needs help, even more as men because we aren’t likely to come out and say “Bro I am really having a hard time and need help.”

I am not a professional when it comes to dealing with issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts and similar afflictions.  Anyone who is dealing with those and similar issues is strongly encouraged to seek professional help.  However, as a caring and compassionate person it is important we try to figure out what are some of the indicators that a person (especially a guy) is in trouble without him telling us.  As a lawyer, lay pastor and friend I have had plenty of opportunities to minister to and give counsel to many men over the course of my life.  While I haven’t seen it all, I have seen a lot.  I can say without a doubt what follows are the key things I have missed, overlooked or caught just in time when men I have cared about were in a bad spot.

1. Withdraws From Life or Activity

“But after retiring as a very wealthy man in 2010—he earned more than $50 million over the course of his long career—he began to behave uncharacteristically.  He withdrew from family and friends.”

It is human nature that we live our life in certain patterns.  Back in high school I used to work at Tom Thumb (which we lovingly called “The Finger”.)  After only a short time working there it was easy to see that my “regulars” always came in and bought the same thing every day.  It got to the point when I would see them pull up and I would have their lottery ticket and pack of smokes ready for them.  They always acted surprised that I knew what they would be purchasing, as if they had no idea they had bought the same thing every day for the last 6 months.  The truth is we often don’t realize the patterns we create in our daily lives.  It is done subconsciously because despite a desire for spontaneity we also find comfort in doing the same thing, the same way day in and day out.

Perhaps one of the most, if not THE most obvious signs that a guy is struggling with something in his life is when he withdraws from his normal patterns in life.  If he regularly attends church (other examples, softball, bowling, poker night or golfing) and then suddenly he hasn’t shown up in two or three weeks in a row something is almost guaranteed to not be right.  It might not be as serious as depression or suicide but it is a safe bet something is has gone haywire in his life.

We as men withdraw because we don’t want other men to know we are struggling and sure as hell don’t want to let them think we have a weakness or aren’t perfect.  Also, we have the idea in our heads if we show up to softball every guy is going to just figure out what happened or where we screwed up and then we have to add being embarrassed to the list.

One of my mentors as a young man was Joe Warfield who we loving referred to as “Pops.”  Sadly he passed away a few years ago after losing a long time battle with cancer.  Pops used to always refer to this as “going off into the weeds” and it is an abt description.  The idea being once a man gets too far into the weeds you can’t see him anymore as the weeds completely hide him.  I have seen it happen so many times and I am telling you the first sign is ALWAYS a withdrawal from normal activities but especially withdrawing from doing things with his guys friends.  This is why it is essential a man has guy friends he can hang out with.  Guys will hold other guys accountable in a way that women just can’t.

2. Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse – Other Addictive Behaviors

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some beer or having a scotch and cigar.  Nor is there much harm in heading to the track to bet on the ponies.  That isn’t what I am trying to say.  However, many people (not just men) try to use alcohol, drugs and other addictive behavior (i.e. gambling) as a way to escape the pressure they feel in their heads.  Men chase that high from  those activities as a brief and enjoyable break from the stress, depression or other problems plaguing us.  However, most of the times those very things that give us a “break” come back and haunt us making our complicated situation now untenable and usually with few alternatives for a way out.

“We landed in Vegas one time and immediately, within hours, he won 800-something thousand dollars.  I said, “Let’s go home, surf, chill, pay some bills.” But after dinner a whale-watcher [a casino handler charged with roping in big-money gamblers] comes up to the room. Not even two hours later, he comes back up and hits the table with a glass and starts cussing.  He had lost it all. He’s lying on his bed looking at the ceiling, and I go, “Buddy, you gotta stop this, man.” He goes, “We got this. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.” The next morning the whale-watchers show up. June got another half-million dollars, and he goes back down and loses the whole thing.”

You don’t need to blow that kind of money that quickly for your friends to be concerned.  Clearly this is an unlikely situation for most anyone who reads this blog.  It just illustrates not only a potential addiction problem but also that your friend has quit caring what happens to him (i.e. his money.)  I doubt you have many friends that make the kind of cheddar where they can walk away from dropping $1000 (or whatever amount) and NOT care.  Which leads into our third point.

3. Careless or Reckless Behaviorjunior-seau-gq-magazine-september-2013-sports-05

Granted drug and alcohol abuse could fit into this section but there are other signs your friend might be in trouble even without the drug and alcohol abuse or gambling.  I am not talking about a friend suddenly deciding he wants to go skydiving when he has never done so in the past.  Unless of course he wants to go alone and without a parachute.  That should probably tell you something is not quite kosher.

Several months before he ultimately killed himself Seau drove off a seaside cliff and somehow managed to survive the crash.  He claimed he fell asleep at the wheel and drove off by accident but to do so without cranking the wheel intentionally is just not possible at that part on the highway.

I have had several friends who, when struggling with depression and other things have behaved in extremely careless ways.  One friend in particular purposely would drive recklessly just hoping he would get into an accident whereby he would be killed.  He purposely didn’t wear a seatbelt while doing so and often had been drinking too much.  How he never died in a crash and rarely even managed to get into an accident is a miracle (and I don’t use that phrase lightly.)  Another friend started picking fights with the wrong kind of guys when we would be out somewhere.  Eventually one night while out alone he finally picked the right guy and almost had his head caved in.  He was in a coma for two days, broke an arm, a few ribs and a lot of brain cells.  When his friends (including me) found out we got him help – once he finally was released from the hospital.  He didn’t like it and cursed us out like a sailor for forcing him to get help but it was the right call.  He managed to pull his life together, got married and even has a few kids and has stayed on the straight and narrow ever since.  Fortunately, both of those stories have a happy ending but many more do not.

4. Sometimes You Just Know

Sometimes you just know that something isn’t right.  You might not be able to point at any particular set of circumstances or activity but there is just something in your gut that tells a person their friend is in some kind of trouble.  Don’t ignore that feeling.  If you have it, it likely means you are on to something, especially if that feeling doesn’t go away.

So if you have that feeling what should you do?  First, be sure you are taking time to really observe your friend’s behavior.  I don’t mean stalking them I simply mean try to be more observant about the things they say and what they do when you hang out.  If they are the kind of person who returns calls or texts, are they doing that?  Or have they stopped?  Or has it been infrequent with no real reason for the delays.  Second, you have to discuss your concern with them and don’t simply take “everything is fine” for an answer right away.  Finally, I know I mentioned it before but you can’t be afraid to upset your friend with your concern.  If you have to be a jack ass and really force them to open up to you about their life than do that.  True friendships with deep roots can survive any storm and getting in a friends face about their behavior is the kind of thing that a friend is supposed to do.

We are our brother’s keeper and it is important we take that role seriously.  Everyone needs a hand up at some point in their life even if they never realize it.

Here is hoping you have a great weekend!  Until Monday make it a better day!

Andrew

Devotional Tuesday! Persevering to the End

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Hello everyone!

Can you believe that January is almost over?  Man where did this month go already?  With February being a shorter month March is going to be here before we realize it!  For those of you reading this in the Midwest I hope you are keeping warm!

Today’s devotional comes from Coach Tony Dungy’s book “Uncommon Life” and I hope you enjoy.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

How often have you seen a team jump out to a big lead and then change what they were doing?  The game isn’t over, and suddenly they move to a different offense or defense, thinking that the game is already won.

Here’s the classic, which I personally never understood or used, but for years team after team would do it.  A football team would be well ahead-three to four touchdowns-and their defense was shutting the other team down.  But for some reason they would go into a “prevent defense,” with defensive backs playing deeper than usual to prevent the big play.  Before you knew it, the team who was behind had scored two or three touchdowns against this defense, and all of a sudden, they have made what seemed like a lopsided loss into a competitive game.  You’d think they would continue to play the same tough defense that had been successful-persevering until the game was won.  But they don’t.  And they lose.  There’s always something left to be done, right until the very end.

Today’s verse from the Apostle Paul to Timothy-and now to us-encourage us to stay strong until the end of the fight.  The fight isn’t over yet, but what a day it will be when we stand face-to-face with God and say that we have persevered to the end!  And then we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Note, too, that the prize isn’t for accomplishments; it’s for “remaining faithful.”  We can’t earn it or achieve it, no matter how many wins we have or all the earthly rewards that come with them.  The prize is the crown of righteousness that He will give us when He returns for finishing the race and remaining faithful to the end.

Uncommon Key: The race of faithfulness is different for each person.  Your job is to run until the end, keeping the prize in your sights.