Character Creates Opportunity® – When We Were Children: Thursday, October 22, 2015

No, this is not an “old school” story about walking up hill in the snow both ways to school and how tough it was compared to today’s children.  Rather, it is a story about what we believe.

When we were children, we were “believers.”  We believed in the impossible and we believed it when others said we had great potential and could accomplish great things.  Sure, we also may have believed in the boogeyman and monsters under our bed, but we believed in our potential to do great things.

It may have been a parent teaching us how to ride a bike, shoot a basket, or finish a difficult math problem.  It may have been a coach preparing us for the big game or just a tough practice.  It may have been a friend who was the “adventurer” and helped us believe.  When we were children, someone helped us to believe we had unlimited potential.

There was a time when we believed it.  When we believed in ourselves to achieve great things.

Then something happened.

Someone told us we couldn’t do it and we believed their limitations.  We may have fallen short one too many times.  We may have grown callous to hope through time and experience.

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, we need to face the reality of what has impacted our ability to believe in ourselves and take the necessary steps to believe again.

When we strip away all the fluff, there is the reality of a few key areas that are at the foundation of how we became a non-believer:

  • Fear. We all carry with us some fear.  Fear of failure, humiliation, going hungry, of being alone, etc.  Fear unchecked can cause us to be unbelievers.  Fear as adults, most often resembles the monster under our bed.  Our fear of whatever, many times does not come about and if it does, it is rarely as worse as it seems…just like the monster under our bed.
  • Negativity. We finally gave in to the negative view that most often surrounds us.  Psychologists say it takes most of us about 5 positive, affirmations to overcome one negative opinion.  Often times, we have become overwhelmed by the negativity and slowly we moved down the path of no longer believing in our potential.  Like the character in The Sun Also Rises when asked how did you go bankrupt? “Gradually and then suddenly.”  Our emotional bank account just got too far in the negative that we have felt bankruptcy is our only option.
  • Choice. We make the choice to believe or not to believe.  We can pass the buck if want to, but the truth is, we own the choice and at some point, we chose not to believe.

Here are a few ideas to reconnect with our childhood and become believers again in order to reach our full potential:Possible

  • Faith. We all have faith.  Whether it is faith in God, ourselves, our family, the truth contained in the natural law of the harvest (we reap what we sow), we all have faith that the sun will come up this morning and we face a new day.  Don’t lose faith.
  • Positive reinforcement. Whether we describe it as counting our blessings, stopping to smell the roses, or taking some inventory of our past accomplishments, we need reminders of the positives in our life.  These small, consistent steps are our most effective way to pay off a huge deficit of negativity in our own emotional bank account.
  • The company we keep. Often times, we become like those around us.  Seek out the relationships that combine a view the world that is realistic and favors the side of positive and full of opportunity vs. negative and full of doom and gloom.  When our closest, committed relationships have a negative bent, maintain the effort to stay on the positive and our influence will be felt over time.

When we were children, we were believers.  It may be time for each of us to relearn the importance of believing in our potential to achieve the healthy goals we desire like strong, loving relationships, productive employment to make a positive difference in the marketplace and the home front, and those really big dreams that many times we have kept to ourselves.

As Teddy Roosevelt believed, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

It is time to become believers again and step back into the ring.

As we make the choice as adults to believe again, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a great impact on those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – The Personal Side of Freedom: Thursday, October 15, 2015

We all appreciate freedom.

The freedom to come and go as we please.  The freedom to live according to a set of beliefs.  The freedom to pursue our hopes and dreams. The list could go on and on.

One person who understood freedom very well was the late Nelson Mandela (1918-2013, former President of South Africa).

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela, after 27 years in prison, walked out of a South African prison into freedom, but he was not totally free.  It was not until he made one more decision that truly set him free.  “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela

If we all reflected on the following questions, how would we respond?

  • Have we ever been misguided by a friend or family member?
  • Have we ever been treated unfairly in the workplace?
  • Have we ever put our heart and soul into a relationship that subsequently fell apart?
  • Have we ever had someone we trusted take advantage of that trust?

Chances are pretty good that we all would answer “yes” on many, if not all, of the questions above.

Given the affirmative response to many of these questions, an important reality we need to face is the level of bitterness and anger we still hold around those events and those individuals. To use Mandela’s concept, are we still in prison because of those feelings?

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, we need to ask ourselves an important question, “If I am holding on to bitterness and anger from the past, am I really free?”

This personal side of freedom is different than the 4th of July kind of freedom we experience.  This personal side of freedom is a result of the individual choice we make to leave bitterness behind and move on.

If we let bitterness and anger from the past define our future, we will not reach our full potential. Sunset moment

Here are just a few ideas to help us move towards the personal freedom we need to reach our full potential:

  • We all make mistakes. We have probably caused some pain on others we wish we had not.  Extend the same forgiveness and understanding we wish others would do for us.
  • It will happen again. Life is complicated and people react in different ways. We need to be careful that we don’t become disillusioned with expectations that life will be clean and nice.  Life is messy and complicated.  There will be misunderstandings and pain along the journey.
  • Bitterness and anger hold us back. Once we learn to forgive and move on, we will experience the benefits of being free from the anger of the past.  We will develop the “muscle memory” to forgive quickly, remove negative emotions, and apply ourselves fully to achieve our hopes and dreams.
  • We set an example for others to follow. The more we can demonstrate the ability to remove bitterness over past events, the more others we see our actions and follow…especially those closest to home that we hope can have the best foundation to reach their full potential.

As we make the choice to leave behind bitterness and anger from the unfortunate events of our past, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a great impact on those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Being Proactive: Thursday, October 8, 2015

What are we waiting for?

In the quiet of an early morning or a late evening, the majority of us see the potential for something bigger in our lives.  It may be a desire to see improvement in a close, committed relationship.  It may be the desire to get a promotion at work or start that business on the side.  It may be a desire to have a greater impact on a cause we care deeply about.  Very, very few of us, have reflective moments where we say, “I wish I could just sit here and do nothing for the rest of my life.”

Our world is wide open to enable us to reach our full potential.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, “What are we waiting for?”

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, the decision to be proactive is a cornerstone to our effort to reach our full potential.

We can get all the education and skills training we need for free…today…right now.  We can log in to any popular website and see the world’s greatest thinkers, doers, and teachers provide the very best of content on any subject for free while sitting at home.  If we think we have enough information to start, we can take action. We don’t need to ask for permission.   The door is always open.

In a world that is growing in complexity and where everything is open to everyone, if we are not moving forward, we are falling exponentially behind.

The questions we need to make sure we answer honestly are:

  • Are we waiting for someone else to make our close relationships stronger?
  • Are we waiting for someone to spoon feed us that job opportunity to get promoted?
  • Are we waiting for others to jump into an important cause before we get started?

As the traditional obstacles of education and awareness are rapidly going away, we are left looking in the mirror and asking ourselves, “What are we waiting for?”Mirror

We don’t need to take massive leaps forward.  All we need is to starting taking small steps in the desired direction on the things that matter most.

As we continue to dream big dreams and take proactive steps to making them become a reality, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a greater impact on those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – When Commitment Begins to Falter: Thursday, October 1, 2015

There comes a point in time in every long term relationship, every major work endeavor, every pursuit of a life-long dream, and each time we attempt to make a change in our own behavior, when quitting starts to look good.  We question the original choice we made and we look for a way out.

The excitement surrounding the start of a new journey carries us for quite a while and then, when the really hard work begins, our internal voice starts to ask a few questions.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, making effective decisions when our commitment begins to falter will help us in the journey to reach our full potential.

We are all very familiar with the motivational stories like Abraham Lincoln overcoming numerous personal, business, and political failures before finally becoming the President of the United States.  We probably all have a few motivational quotes either on a wall or stuffed in some drawer that help to serve as a reminder of what it takes to overcome struggles.  We all need good reminders.

Many times, we become enamored by the story and the ultimate outcome.  However, more important than the outcome, are the small acts done each day.  The commitment of showing up every day is the real strength of the story.

When we commit to a decision, we will have moments (maybe years of moments) when we don’t feel like doing it, when we may believe it was a poor choice.  But, when our commitment remains day in and day out, the opportunities to learn, grow, and overcome show up also.  Just showing up every day is the “wisdom” that gets lost in the popular stories about overcoming. Tough Decisions

As we learn and grow, goals will change over time.  The situation may require a different set of decisions as we navigate the journey, but what matters is that we climbed back into the ring each and every day, whether we felt like it or not.  Just showing up and staying in the game is often what makes all the difference in the world.

Here are just a few points to consider when our commitment begins to falter:

  • We are all in the same boat. Anyone who has ever made a decision to commit to a goal worthy of effort has encountered a moment when quitting looks like an attractive option.
  • The ultimate goal is not the only celebratory moment. What is worth celebrating is the day in and day out commitment to show up and do the work required.  Climbing back in the ring each day is worthy of recognition.
  • Opportunity shows up, when we show up. So, more times than not, the most effective choice we can all make is to keep showing up each and every day.

There will be moments when our commitment begins to falter.  However, when we make the simple decision to keep showing up, we will gather momentum behind our commitment.  We will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and accomplish the goals we set.