A New Light

Light thru crack in groundColonel Sanders chicken recipe was turned down 1,009 times. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times. Abraham Lincoln failed in business twice and lost in seven political elections. Walt Disney’s attempt to secure financing for Disney World was turned down 302 times. Albert Einstein was believed to be mentally handicapped in elementary school and was later expelled from high school.

Life is a process, not a single event. And a process is always marked by successes and failures. That’s important to know because it’s easy to get down whenever you experience a setback from your dreams. But being resilient and bouncing back higher demands that you take ownership of who you are and what you do—the good and the bad—and keep moving forward. That means that while you must always strive to improve, you should also give yourself room to fail. I’m not talking about making excuses or setting your expectations low. I’m talking about setting your standards high and pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can while maintaining the perspective that you will still make mistakes, sometimes big ones.

The key to reaching your dreams is not avoiding failure; it’s going to happen no matter how talented or mindful you are, and especially if you’re going after something big. The key is knowing what to do when you fail. The first thing you should do is not panic. Every successful person has failed numerous times. The second thing you should do is take ownership of what you did and determine what the results revealed about you. Finally, you should take immediate action in a better direction. A higher direction. That’s how you fail forward. You don’t wait to feel better about yourself. You don’t wait for the dust to settle or the situation to somehow fix itself. You do what you have to do right away, whether that’s apologizing to someone or redoing the work or practicing another hour until you get it right.

Remember that the key to success is in rising higher each time you hit the floor. In fact, you couldn’t learn to bounce if you weren’t thrown down once in a while. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you need to hold onto the truth that failure is not fatal. The greatness of your life is in direct proportion to your willingness to keep fighting for what you believe in despite the missteps along the way. Do that consistently, for long enough, and your success will far outweigh your failures.

It’s a new year. If you haven’t already, now is a perfect time to begin fighting for your dreams. No matter what happened last year or any year before. By this time next year, your life will be seen in a new light.

The Power of Your Dreams…

We all have dreams when we are young and resilient and capable of extraordinary faith in our future. It’s a time when we still believe that whatever we desire from life can become a reality one day. The truth is, that reality never changes. What does change is that as we grow older, we begin losing our faith in our dreams.

Somewhere along the way, this thing people call “reality” hits. Suddenly you realize that your circumstances are not connecting the dots to the future you imagined. Maybe your parents are divorced and you have no money or you’ve been abused or you are not the right size or color or gender or…fill in the blank.

For whatever reason—and there are always reasons—what you dream of doing and what you believe you can “really” do become two very different realities. Others’ comments often fuel this belief.

They begin asserting things like, “You can’t do that,” and, “You need to live in reality,” and, “That’s impossible,” and, “Maybe in your next life.” The comments are occasionally from a place of good intentions, especially if family and friends are just trying to protect you from disappointment. But such comments do not convey the truth about you or your future.

The fact is that all dreamers, including the greatest achievers in history, have heard these same comments:

Harrison Ford was told he couldn’t act.

Oprah Winfrey was told she was unfit for television.

Michael Jordan was told he couldn’t play varsity basketball.

Amelia Earhart was told she was the wrong gender.

Albert Einstein was told he would amount to nothing.

Anne Frank was told she didn’t matter.

Elvis Presley was told he wasn’t going anywhere.

Rosa Parks was told she was the wrong color.

The difference between those who realize their dreams and those who don’t is simple: Those who realize their dreams refuse to accept someone else’s “reality” for their lives. They dare to keep pursuing their dreams despite the unfavorable odds and constant objections.

The Test of True Dreams

Child and Leaf ShipThere’s a telltale sign that helps you determine whether your dream is something you’re truly passionate about. Bring your dream to mind right now and ask yourself: Do I think about this when I wake up each morning and throughout each day?

It might sound like a simplistic test. But if you’re honest with your answer the question is an effective gauge of the authenticity of your dreams, because you can’t fake passion. If your dream is not your passion, you won’t think about it when you wake up. You won’t be excited about it all the time. This doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly normal to have hobbies and subjects that you enjoy from time to time. I have a handful of activities that I’m interested in. But there’s one major difference between those interests and my dreams: mind space. I simply don’t think about the other topics even one-tenth as much as I think about:

1) loving and leading my family

2) helping others through my story.

I still enjoy basketball—it was a major part of my life for a very long time. I’ll catch a game on TV or attend one live when I can. But I’d skip those games in a second over a chance to take my wife Kristie on a date or watch my son Cameron throw a baseball or see my daughter Kiersten spike a volleyball. And I wouldn’t think twice about skipping a basketball game for an opportunity to share my story, even with only one person.

Outside of loving my family and helping others through my story, there is nothing else I’d call my passion. I believe those two activities give my life its best chance to have the greatest impact on the world.

Now the question comes back to you.

What are you truly passionate about? When you find the dream that wakes you up in the morning and occupies your mind throughout the day, that’s when you know it passes the authenticity test and you’ll have the passion to see it through.

The Right Gift

 
Merry Christmas LightsWhat Makes a Gift “the Right Gift?” is it the financial value of the gift?  Is it the practicality of the gift?  Sometimes a gift is considered “right” if it is wrapped with a genuine, pure motive in the heart of the giver.

I recently heard a story of a man that punished his 3-year old daughter for wasting a roll of wrapping paper at Christmas time. Money was tight and he became infuriated when his daughter tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and gave it to him. He was immediately embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but allowed his anger to flare again when he opened the box and found that it was empty. He yelled at his little girl telling her that “there has to be something in the box for it to be considered a gift.”  His three year old looked up at him with her voice trembling and tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box.  All for you Daddy.”

As we can see from this story, the gift may come in the form of an empty box, but the motive behind it is what makes it the right gift. It may not measure up to our material expectations but the love behind it is what makes it irreplaceable.

Christmas has always been a time for giving.  A time of searching for the “the right gift.”  However, this year, just like every other year, millions of people will open gifts, that aren’t necessarily “the right gift.”  Some gifts won’t fit.  Some will be the wrong color.  Many will be returned or exchanged.  But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need repairing.  A gift that is appropriate for a small child, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen.  Boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference.  The gift we all need is found behind the true meaning of Christmas.

BEING THANKFUL

Thankful

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I am reminded of a situation I encountered several years ago.   I was sitting outside a medical building waiting for my wife and daughter to finish an appointment at the pediatrician’s office. As I waited, I saw a cute boy around four years old on crutches exiting the building with his mother. They walked to their car and the mother opened the back door for the boy to climb in. As he was getting situated, he fell to the floorboard of the car, but he quickly picked himself up and got back into his seat. As I watched this entire situation unfold, I suddenly became so thankful of the simple, everyday things we take for granted. You see, the boy was hobbling on crutches not because he had a cast, but because he didn’t have a right leg. Too many times it is easy to focus on the negatives and not the positives. When you compare your difficulties to what others are going through, you suddenly realize how fortunate you are. I thought for sure when the mother and son got to the car, she would help him get in. No way! He wasn’t going to let a minor setback in life slow him down. He did it on his own.

How many times in life do we let a small headache, lack of sleep or a difficult situation ruin our day? The next time you’re having a “bad day,” bend one leg behind you, wrap it several times with duct tape and leave it that way for 24 hours. There’s no doubt that would help each of us keep things in perspective and remind us of how thankful we all should truly be.

Thanksgiving (or celebrating with thankfulness) isn’t something the Pilgrims invented. It has been a part of the world from the very beginning.  Let’s take a look at a couple attributes of a THANKFUL person.

The THANKFUL person is grateful for what they have, not bitter about what they don’t have. They try to look for the good in every situation. Have you ever been around that kind of person?

  • It’s raining: “Oh, good! This is going to make the flowers grow!”
  • They have a flat tire: “Thank God it happened on this residential street and not the freeway!”

They are so positive! How many of you could use a shot of this in your life!  The THANKFUL person counts every day as a blessing regardless of the circumstances.  They are not moved by what they see.  How can they be thankful even when things go wrong? Because they don’t live based upon circumstances, but based upon their Faith in the future and the promises they believe in.

The questions for all of us this Thanksgiving are pretty simple… What kind of person are you?  What kind of person do you want to be? Do you need to make an adjustment?  This month I have a Thanksgiving homework project for you to do. Before midnight on Thanksgiving Day, I want you to thank every family member and close personal friend for something they have done for you over the past year.  You’ll be amazed at what this does for your relationships!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chad Varga