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Learning is LIfe

Opening our ears and minds to listening to others is the first key to learning from others, and being smart enough to know we have something to learn. People learn from experience, and so learning from other people and their experiences is key in growth. Sometimes we make mistakes, some small, some big, and each one of those is a lesson in life to each of us. Even if we believed the decision we made was wise, and we did due dilligence before making it, sometimes it ends up to be a bad decision and is costly to us in one way or another. While some identify this as failure, it is only failure if you didn't learn from the experience.

When you were a baby you tried to walk, you fell down, and you learned that you have to take small steps, hold on to something, until you can balance and walk alone. The same is true in life, and sometimes we fall down, but it does not mean we will never try to walk again. Great Olympians have faced sacrifice, some have lost limbs and some have lost their life. Learning and moving forward are what make them true winners. Some folks write books about their experiences, hoping to help others as they heal themselves from their mistakes. Sometimes admitting the mistake, sharing it with others is key in moving on. Sometimes you might feel like you are losing but in reality you are winning because you are not keeping an accurate score. Tracking your failures, tracking your success is important, whether it be weight loss, or marathon training, or business.

Companies, individuals, families, everyone learns from each other, and they also learn by example, so teaching that mistakes are not failures is as critical as teaching and sharing successes. Experiences are not failures, and dwelling on them is not the answer to building a better future, learning from them is. The only way to learn is to admit a mistake, just like cheating on a diet, you know you did it, and it is going to slow progress, but it does not stop the goals. Asking ourselves how we can do better, what can we change to be successful, what can we share so others do not have to make the same mistake, that is where you find power in learning. If we put our focus on the education of the journey and not the bad we can grow and help others grow as well. If you are in a cycle of a failure thinking pattern, then it will continue to plague your life, it is up to you to make the change, it is up to you to learn.

If we look around us at the knowledge that surrounds us daily, if we open our minds and take time to open our eyes, we can learn everyday, and if we walk that same path everyday for a week, we would learn something new everyday. We never cease to learn, and that is the essence of being wise. Think about how much knowledge is amassed in the elderly, think about someone who has lived to be 100, and what they have seen in their lifetime. Instead of pushing away the people that can enlighten you, take the time to hear them. Not everyone is right, not everyone is wrong, but everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.  

Dream and goals are one in the same

Napoleon Hill said “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” If someone hands you a bow and arrow and tells you to shoot, what is the first thing you think? What are we shooting at? You can't aim if there is no target. But if you stand in front of a target, you see the bullseye, then you aim and you shoot, because you know what you are aiming at. We all need a target in our lives, a goal, a bullseye that we can aim for. That is why we have dreams, they give us goals to shoot for, direction to move toward, that is why we have life!

We all have to identify our goals, understand our talents, join them together so our dreams can take shape. By setting goals for ourselves we lay a path for our life, we give purpose and meaning, we allow growth and we reach target points that let us now we are on track to where we want to be. If we have a goal or dream, we can set up steps to get there, then at each point we can see our progress, we can see our accomplishments. Defining goals is the first step, but realistic goals are most important. If you set realistic goals for yourself then you can achieve results.

If your goal is to run a marathon for example, it would be unrealistic to expect to sign up for one next month, because you have not given yourself time to train and prepare. If your goal is to run a major company, but you do not have experience then you could be setting up for failure. Being practical when you set goals is your base, and making sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and on a time line. The reality of life is that we have to define a path, that path is lined with goals, it takes us to a destination, a dream that without planning can't come true. Goal setting is a tool, it is not an imagination, it is the bullseye that we are all shooting for.

Goals and dreams are the same thing, it is just a matter of how we look at them, and what we call them. If you look up the definition of a dream it says an idea or hope that is unlikely ever to be realized. A goal is defined as something someone wants to achieve, something to aim for. So goals are the foundation for invention, goals bring us close to reality and are our stepping stones to our dreams. Organization, motivation, achievement, these are focus points for laying out our goals. Being determined, laying out the goals in stages, evaluating our progress and believing in ourselves are the forces that drive us forward, the row in our boat, the spark in our plug, the action that provides reaction.

In order for us to accomplish amazing things, in order for our goals to become our dreams we have to take on the challenge, we have to aim for the target!

Reaction or Response self control or no control

“Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” Denis Waitley

You have to understand you can't control your environment, you can't control others, you can only control your reaction to things. Simple principle, let's say you are driving home, cars in front of you are driving to slow for you, you honk, you wave your fists, but they have no idea what is wrong, because they are happy driving at the speed they are going. They had a good day, they are not in a rush, they are just enjoying the moment. You can't control them or their driving. Your reaction is all you can control. At some point you have to stop worrying about what you can't control and focus on the things you can.

Do you know why folks visit psychics? Because it gives people a sense of control. What if we just focus on things we can control. What if we made a list of things we control, for example:

How often we say “thank you.”

How honest we are with people and ourselves.

How many times a day we smile.

How well do we listen.

How much exercise we get.

What food we eat.

How do we treat others.

How much sleep we get.

How many times we take time for our family.

This is a short list, but I am sure if you really think about things you can control, there are pages of them. So the next time you are confronted with a situation you can't control, think about one you can and focus on that. This shift in your thinking can have a positive impact on your life in general. “When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl Will you take this challenge?

We will all face something devastating in our lives, a car accident, a job loss, a divorce, a death of a loved one. During these times our emotions can be in control and certainly how we react, how we respond is due to our feelings, but still in our control. Sometimes anger can be a powerful emotion and it can get us into trouble. Being aware of what anger is doing to us is responding to our emotion. Rather than reacting to a problem, try to respond to it. So many times we are in reactive mode, we are tired, we need to be somewhere, so many things drive us to react. But thinking rationally and responding to the situation might save us money, damage, and maybe even friendships. The problem we are dealing with is only 10 percent of the equation, the response to the problem is the other 90 percent.

We have to give up control of circumstances, but we can respond to those circumstances with calm, cool heads. This last week a friend lost her mother. A lovely woman, 97 years young and certainly full of lives experience. The trauma and pain of the loss was great for the family, and yet when I spoke to the friend she said all was okay. “Mother lived a full life, and she was alert and knew everyone, she had been in some pain this past week and yet she passed peacefully and at home with me. She didn't suffer and she was never a burden, which worried her a lot. How could I ask for more. I was able to enjoy her for 57 years, and had the pleasure of being with her everyday for the past year. Blessed is what I was, and now God needed her more than me.” Life altering events can change us, in one way or another. We have to choose how we respond and deal with everything life puts on us. I saw a posting this week that sums it up nicely. I heard that God only puts on us what we can handle. He must think I am one bad ass. We all deal with so much, remember that you control the response, you control how things end. The road ahead will be filled with bumps and hills, so prepare for the marathon with a good mindset.

If you hit a wall climb over it do not bang your head

We have talked about obstacles you face in your marathon of life, and how those can slow you down, throw you off course and even take you out of the race all together. The limitations or walls that get put in front of us are tests, they challenge us, how badly do we want something, or despite the wall, can we climb over it, do we keep trying, or do we give up. We all feel the weight of burdens we have to bear, and pain that can take us out of the race. 

The wall can come in various shapes and forms, it can knock us back, it causes us to see that shadow of doubt that comes over our lives. The wall can really take all our energy, it is something many of us face multiple times in our life, it is not a one time wall, and sometimes it seems more like a maze of walls, certainly it takes a toll on our energy, and our outlook. We face that overwhelming feeling that we can't get over the wall, no matter what we do, the wall is just too tall. We become paralyzed with fear, we doubt our ability to get over the wall, and tension sets in, depression, and even the feeling of failure. 

Then we realize we have to use that feeling to move ourselves, we have to take a deep breath and climb. First we have to determine if the wall is real or a figment of our imagination. Then we have understand that maybe the wall is actually smaller than we think, maybe we can step over, no climbing involved at all. Then we have to see if we are the one building the walls. Honesty with ourselves can help us identify where the wall came from, and how we can best get over it. Creative problem solving can help us see how we get over the wall, and how to keep moving ahead, how to not stop or look back, but keep our eyes on the goal and the victory ahead. 

If we stand back and look at the wall, we understand it, we see it, then we can pace ourselves for the climb, we can prepare. We have to hydrate, we have to train, we have to value what we know and trust ourselves and our instincts to get us over the wall. Climbing the wall is both mental and physical, the challenges come both ways, and how we approach the wall determines how successful we are. The obstacles we face on our marathon can be opportunities, and accepting them, embracing them, taking responsibility for them, that is how we will be victorious in the end. 

The goal we have is to cross the finish line. Life is never going to be easy and we all face a number of walls in our path. Some walls are like hurdles we can easily jump over, others are like a wall we can't see the top of, and with each wall we face the same dilemma, how to get over it. Sometimes we think that banging our head and giving up might be the best, certainly it is the easiest. But in the end we realize that we are not alone and climbing the wall is the only way to move forward, getting to the other side is where the victory lies. So when you see the wall, don't stop and bang your head, get a ladder, or a rope, or find some foot holds and get climbing because life awaits on the other side.

Laughter really is the best medicine even when it is at yourself

Have you ever tripped, or fallen and immediately look around to see if anyone else saw you? Feeling embarrassed, thinking how stupid you look, forgetting to laugh and think about how we all have done the same thing more than once. Taking life too seriously is something we all do, and certainly learning how to relax and laugh more is the best medicine for all of us. It seems that the older we get, the more stress we add to our lives and the less we laugh. Distancing ourselves from perfection, and taking a little more carefree attitude is the best direction we could take. As we all run our marathon of life we are going to fall down, and stumble and sometimes run into a wall. 

How we handle that fall, or wall is really what shapes us and allows us to laugh at ourselves. Laughter is not about something funny, it is about life, it is about seeing humor in the things that are not always funny, and it is about understanding the importance of taking things in stride. Being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of optimistic personality and a good outlook on life. Personal resilience is key for people and something many of us have to build, and if you can laugh at yourself in many things it can help you in really forgiving yourself, and that in turn helps you to forgive others and move forward in so many areas of our lives. 

If we take then stoic, serious side and always keep the professional demeanor we never relax and enjoy the lighter side of life. Think about some humiliating moment in your life and how you responded to those. Did you tuck your tail and run? Did you hold your head high and laugh? Reaction is really key in handling the obstacles in our life that knock us down. Many times facing our falls is what gives us courage to get back up, and the bruises we have remind us that it might have been hard, and we might be sore, but we are alive and moving forward.

Laughter really is the best medicine and if we could all take that prescription we would have less stress and certainly better days. Remember we are not talking about just a giggle, we are talking about one of those can't catch your breath laughing moments, milk-coming-out-of-your-nose type moments, rolling on the floor laughter. Feel the cleanse and freedom you get from lifting that burden, and being able to just take it lighthearted and less serious feelings. So forget all the negative, forget the depression and sadness, forget you slipped and fell off the curb, forget the metal pole you stepped into while looking the other way, because the bruise will be enough to remind you. Stop and just laugh at the moment, laugh at yourself, and let others know that it is okay to trip up, fall down, and hit the wall, because we are all human. The next time you see someone have one of those moments, help them find the humor, and teach them how to laugh about it.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Sometimes in life we get so caught up in life that we forget to appreciate and take time for simple things. Then something major happens, an illness, a death, a job loss, something that makes us stop and realize we have put our value on things that in the end really don't matter as much as others. There are priceless gifts that we pass each day without a second look, and yet it is those simple pleasures that can actually bring the most joy. Technology has overwhelmed so many of us, and now we find even less time to just take a moment to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet. 

"It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll.” Donald Miller Everywhere we look we see things we need in life to be happy. From television, magazines, and billboards we see what it takes for us to be happy. From luxury automobiles, to a brand new larger house, to an extensive and expensive vacation, we are in need of things to bring joy to us. Of course let's not forget the gadgets we need to help identify those material possessions we are in pursuit of. Now we have to work hard to get money to get all those things, and stress builds in our life and before you know it we have no time to enjoy any of it. As we started this marathon we thought that having those things would fill our heart with happiness, and yet as we grow and understand life more we figure out that we have to take time out of our run to appreciate our surroundings, we have to stop and sometimes lay out a new route. 

Understanding where lasting joy really comes from is where we need to focus, take time to reflect and define what we want from what we really need. Needs are what we actually work with to bring greater joy. Take the time to appreciate the simple things, the simple acts that sometimes we overlook. Take just a moment and look around at your surroundings, walk barefoot in your yard or the park, go out and look up at the sky, feel the sun, see the stars. Most of the important things in life are free, and so maybe you need to stop spending and take a moment to just enjoy some of the most special things. There is a gentleman names Juan Mann, he started a Free Hugs campaign that has spread around the globe. The desire to spread joy and bring smiles to everyone. Giving and receiving a hug is one of the simplest joys in life, and one that you can be a part of. So take a moment and see the joy around you, make time for one simple pleasure today, and each day try to appreciate those in your life. The marathon will continue, it is your pace that you can control. Stop and smell the flowers, because they too will fade away.

Touch a hand - touch a heart - touch a soul

Everyday we pass someone that needs our help. Maybe it is someone hungry, maybe someone who needs money, maybe just an encouraging word, sometimes a hug, but there are many people we pass in our marathon that are not merely on our path, they are part of our journey. We should be more aware of the people we see, we need to open our eyes, and then our hearts to what people might need. We get so caught up in our own lives, in staying on our path, in trying to benefit ourselves, that we lose sight of what others may be facing, something far more important in their lives, and perhaps something that could influence the outcome of their lives.

As we run our marathon and focus on our lives we disconnect from what others may be facing. There can be illness, job loss, family crises, or other problems that people don't see, because for others life goes on, it doesn't stop, and rarely do we slow down or stop to help those who need it. Life is about supporting others, it is not about an individual, it is about our collective efforts and success that as a society we grow and learn together. We may not think we have time when running our marathon to stop and help others, but showing compassion and practicing compassion will work for you and for others. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama Kindness is something we can never give too much of, and you never know the impact that might have on someone else and their life. 

Think of all the people you have seen who need clothing or food, how many things do you have in your closet that have not been worn in months or years? What about if you gave up eating out once a week and donated that money for food to feed the hungry? How many ways could you help others if you just stop and look around? You never know what inspiration you may bring to someone you help. Maybe in your life, an act of kindness blessed your life, pointed you in a new direction, saved your life. Certainly there are times when I know I have been blessed, and sharing those blessings with others is paying it forward. What acts of kindness have your performed today? Did you buy a meal for someone who was hungry? Did you give a jacket to someone who didn't have one? Did you hire someone in need of a job? Did you just stop and listen to understand the path this person was on? Sometimes listening is all someone needs, sometimes a shoulder, an ear, a hug. 

Taking the time to stop on your marathon can be hard, but certainly it is not impossible, and it could change a life, it could save a life, it could influence one or many lives in the future. The hand you touch, the heart you touch, it could be the soul that gets saved, it could be that helping hand will be the one that saves the world. Never discount what you can do it make a difference, never doubt that you can leave a much greater fingerprint on someone when you stop to help them than if you pass them by.

Going Around The Leaf

As we are running our marathon of life we are comfortable on our path, clear on our mapped out route, very satisfied with the plans we have and the direction we are going. Then suddenly we have a major upset, an injury, a financial set back, a job loss, a death, something that unexpectedly derails us and we have to stop and accept the unexpected. How do we deal with this bump in the road, how do we recover? 

For anyone who watched “A Bugs Life” you might remember this: a leaf falls in front of one of the worker ants in the food line Worker Ant #1: I'm lost! Where's the line? It just went away. What do I do? What do I do? Worker Ant #2: Help! Worker Ant #3: We'll be stuck here forever! Mr. Soil: Do not panic, do not panic. We are trained professionals. Now, stay calm. We are going around the leaf. Worker Ant #1: Around the leaf. I-I-I don't think we can do that. Mr. Soil: Oh, nonsense. This is nothing compared to the twig of '93. 

Well that is how life is, sometimes we get a leaf in our path, a curve ball, and how we deal with that, our reaction can help shape us, as well as impact us for the remainder of our lives. No one ever said life was going to be easy, and anyone that has lived knows in fact it is not, it is full of pain, obstacles, and can shatter illusions of the perfect life in an instance. Everyone faces situations in their lives, some face illness, some face death, some face financial ruin, some face personal crisis with family issues, varying degrees of pain and suffering, and with every generation it seems we deal with new challenges, changes that we either accept, or get pushed along with the tide. We all have to keep moving, we have to accept the things life has dealt us, and learn and grow. Transformation is a part of the derailment, and acceptance is one of the first phases we have to grasp. 

Accepting what has happened, learning to be honest with ourselves, letting reality sink in, then letting our emotions release. Expressing feelings is the next step to acceptance, so tears, fears, anger, happiness, or sadness, whatever needs to come out, very key to moving on. Another age old adage, “when life hands you lemons” is another way of dealing with the unexpected. We love staying in our routine, not having to step out of our path, walking or running down the route, not dealing with bumps, but eventually we have to squeeze those lemons and find a way to swallow the sour bits. We really need a back up plan, an alternate route to turn to when the path gets blocked or washed away. The most important thing about “going around the leaf” is lessons that it taught us. The ability to think, to know to go around, to look for alternate paths, to go forward, accept the things we cannot change, and embrace what happened. 

None of us choose the unexpected things that happen in our lives, but we can choose to allow it to change us, we can grow from the experience, and we can make it positive or negative, that is our choice. It does not have to define us, but it certainly can bring definition to our lives. So as you see a leaf in your path, think about the best way for you to go around it, and if a lemon lands beside the leaf, slice it up, squeeze everything you can out of it, and add a little sugar, because no matter how sour it might seem at the time, you can always make something sweeter in the end.

Building Your Strengths

The first step to build on your strengths is to know what they are, define them, recognize them and embrace them. Certainly we all have high points and low points in our lives and finding strength inside us is what helps us during those low points. Disappointments are what drive us to look inside ourselves, take inventory of those strengths, and maybe push us to take a new path on our marathon. Sometimes we choose to change direction, sometimes we are given no other choices, but our resilience and grounding is what directs us during challenges. We can't falter, we use our strength, we have to focus on what we know and leave our insecurities behind. Another obstacle in building on our strengths is our own attitudes and sometimes those can derail us, until we either get smacked or fall and realize we have to change. 

A strong person, one that harnesses their strengths they are ready to handle anything, but most of us do not have that clarity. In order to gain that vision, in order to build on our strengths we have to build upon each area to gain our full potential. Mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical strengths are what each of us has, and using those together, is what helps us in charting our own course. Each of possess a mental strength, and that provides us with focus, determination and clarity. Our mental strength can help us know what we are looking for in life, it can guide us and give us direction. Emotional strength is where we draw our beliefs, our resilience. Learning to deal with stress, learning to deal with what life deals us, that is where we draw on our emotional strength. Spiritual strength is our foundation, it is what gives us balance and connects us with a deeper and greater power. Lastly our physical strength is actually the most crucial. While it might seem low on the list it is what carries us, the body that reflects confidence, and strength. 

Taking care of that physical body, eating right, exercise, and fitness are very important in our overall health. Knowing your strengths, building on them, using them to your advantage that is embracing them and will give you the opportunity to run your own marathon.

The Abyss - a deep gap or a clear path


Look around you and be honest, do you see people who are trapped in jobs that are clearly wrong for them? Why do people stay in jobs that are not right for them? The most obvious answer, money is actually not correct. The actual answer is that people listen to their head instead of their heart. That gut instinct that you feel when something doesn't feel right, that feeling that really helps you make other decisions, that is your heart trying to guide you. You have to learn to listen to yourself, and not live other people's dreams. 

We are all influenced in our life by others, some subtle, some not so subtle. Our parents try to help us in career decisions, our friends, our co-workers, directions from all sides. Finding your own path, running your own marathon is important, and not always easy. Certainly the choices we make may not always be correct the first time, and you may have to admit you made a mistake, not an easy admission. Which is why sometimes people stay in jobs that make them miserable, for a lifetime. For some there is a degree that they don't want to waste, and for others it is just too hard to start over. 

Don't live a life that is not you. Embracing who you are and defining your own success is key to happiness and loving what you do. Be an expert at what you do, be passionate, and utilize your talents. It is key that in order to define your success you understand what that means to you. Success is defined differently by each and every person, for some it is a nice car, for some it is a big house, for others it is a large bank account and high paying job, and for some it is just loving what they do and enjoying life every day. So what does success mean to you? In order to really know what you want to do, you have to know what lifestyle you want, and not just comfort levels, or money, but how you spend each day, and how much you love what you are doing. Passion is a driving force not only for being happy but also for being successful. 

Love Love Love what you do, and if it makes you smile when you do it, then it probably is a good fit for you. Remember you will spend more time with your career than you will with your family. Look at your natural talents, what is that you are really good at and really comes easy to you? Those talents if used correctly can be your key to happiness and success. No matter what path you are on today, it is never too late to change direction. Embracing what YOU want to do and being who YOU really are can help you find the right path, and if you are seeing the abyss or understanding that you created it, now is the time to know how to see it clearly. It can be scary, and sometimes means your lifestyle will need to be adjusted, but defining your life is up to YOU and your marathon can only be run by YOU.