Everyone who has ever lived can find a reason to settle for less than what they are capable of achieving. Life is very hard at times. We get burned out, tired, exhausted, afraid, frustrated, defeated, lost, scared and hopeless. We all have these feelings at some point. They make us want to give up, stop fighting, settle for something less than the best.

I’ve been there. I’ve been kicked, beaten and bruised by what this life dishes out. I have scars and wounds that may fade with time but they’ll never completely go away.

So do you.

Despite all the doubters and difficult circumstances you may face, settling for less than what you are capable of has to be your greatest enemy in life because it’s the only enemy you can personally defeat. You can’t always control the forces around you – Things like who your parents are and what choices they make or where you live or whether or not you have any money. But you can control your response to the forces around you. It’s not always easy, but how you react remains your choice. You can let the forces shape you, or you can refuse to let something or someone else control who you become.

Your surroundings often act like a funnel, trying to squeeze you into a clone of the others around you. The pull of peer pressure is to fit in, dress the same, act the same and even misbehave the same. But the promise of peer pressure – that you will be successful if you fit in – is a lie. It is a lie because the people who go on to achieve great things are never clones of those around them. They are unique, one-of-a-kind individuals. That’s because every dream inside a person is unique, and if your dream is unique, you must be too in order to see it happen.



Bouncing Back From Adversity

One of my biggest challenges growing up was learning to own the life I’d been given. That may sound like a no-brainer to those of you that have heard my story. After all, I had no choice in all the experiences of those early years. But the truth is that everybody experiences things they didn’t choose.

Many people spend the rest of their lives protesting and rebelling against the injustices of their past. They fill their minds with a long list of excuses for not chasing their dreams.

Others choose to own their lives and rise above their circumstances regardless of what happened.

One of the keys to bouncing back from adversity is accepting responsibility for your future, in thick and thin. That doesn’t mean you remain where you are. And it doesn’t mean you downplay negative circumstances or act like you enjoyed every moment you’ve been alive. What it does mean is that you reach a point where you admit, “Nobody but me can make something of my life.” It’s ultimately an admission that you have no excuses for not giving your all to be successful.

I know because I’ve been there. There were so many days that I had every excuse to strive for nothing but survival. I could make a compelling argument that life was out to get me. Yet, instead of finding excuses for not succeeding I realized that I had to find a way around them and do whatever it took to be successful.

We all have reasons – some of them very legitimate reasons – to stop pursuing our dreams. I must have had a couple thousand before I reached middle school. You might too. But you can’t let your reasons for quitting dictate what you do. Instead of spending time wallowing in your past, you have to spend your time finding a way to a brighter future.

In the end, excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. It’s OK to acknowledge they are there, but to be successful and achieve your dreams you have to learn to not pick them up. People who succeed do what they say they’re going to do. People who fail make excuses for falling short.

Excuses are a sign of weakness, and they pave the road to failure. Excellence is a sign of strength, and it paves the road to success.

Drop the excuses and embrace excellence at every turn.


Take Responsibility for Everything

imagesTake responsibility for everything. Yes, I do mean absolutely everything, whether something is your fault or not.

Taking responsibility for everything that life throws your way is a key character trait that distinguishes the most successful people from the rest. However, even if success isn’t a huge priority for you, you can still derive incredible value from taking responsibility.

Taking responsibility for your life and circumstances is incredibly empowering. It’s empowering because it’s a measure of your courage, of your selfconfidence, self-worth and of your mental strength, toughness and resilience.

To take responsibility is empowering because it provides you with a sense of control over your life. In essence it gives you greater self-assurance that you will eventually get the outcome you are after.

To take responsibility is empowering because it encourages solution-based thinking that can lead to a plethora of creative ideas to help you solve your problems more effectively. In other words, it empowers you to take an active role in solving your life’s problems, which earns you an incredible amount of respect in the eyes of others.

Now of course taking responsibility doesn’t mean you are weak or powerless and therefore you blame yourself for everything. This isn’t about blame. This is rather about responsibility. There is a big difference.

Blaming yourself comes from a position of weakness. It comes from a victimized mentality that doesn’t have any control over life or circumstances. To take responsibility means to take ownership of the situation. It means fully accepting how things are and committing yourself to making things right. That’s what taking responsibility is all about.

Adversity Exposed

Unknown-3It is often said that it’s not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens that makes all the difference in the end. When it comes to facing adversity, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

When facing adversity it’s important to acknowledge that we always have the freedom to choose how we respond to people, events and circumstances. We can respond in a very negative or limiting way, or we can choose to respond in a more optimal and productive way that can potentially open doors and windows of opportunity that we weren’t aware of before.

To dig even deeper; all of us have the freedom to choose our own beliefs, words, thoughts, and the attitude we bring into every situation. In fact, we also have freedom to choose the level of effort and determination we bring into every moment.

When you have a thought, this immediately triggers feelings. In fact, the internal dialogue you have with yourself manufactures your emotional experiences. Therefore if you think/talk negatively about a situation then this will typically cause you to feel stressed, fearful or overwhelmed. And this certainly has nothing to do with the situation, but rather everything to do with how you have interpreted the situation.

Given all this, it’s clear to see that how we handle adversity has nothing to do with what happens to us, but rather everything to do with the “kind of person” we bring into each situation. As such, it’s absolutely paramount that we accept full responsibility for the role we play in each moment. You are after all in the driver’s seat of your life, however it’s easy to forget the power you have when you respond emotionally to our circumstances.

With that in mind, it’s important to acknowledge that the only thing that matters is:

             How I see the obstacle I face…

             How I respond to this adversity…

             How I maintain my composure when facing adversity…

             The story I tell myself about what is going on…

It essentially always comes down to the story you tell yourself. In fact, it is the story that will either empower you or deflate you emotionally; it is the story that will either help you move forward or hold you back; it is the story that will either open the doors to opportunity or send you into the pits of despair. Adversity has absolutely everything to do with the story! The story you tell yourself is what effectively determines your next steps moving forward.

A Crash Course Called Apathy

n-DAVIS-largeA recent article from Yahoo! News describes a 21-year-old Australian girl named Kimberly Davis (pictured) who was texting and driving when she hit a cyclist from behind, throwing him from his bike and leaving him with multiple injuries, including a fractured spine that required emergency surgery and left him in a wheelchair for months. Did she care? Apparently not. In fact, she was actually angry at the cyclist. After the accident, Davis left the man on the side of the road and refused to help him. When officers later questioned her about the accident, she said, “I just don’t care…and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it…. I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car.”

As hard as it is to believe that anyone could be so apathetic and self-centered, this is a true story. And unfortunately, Miss Davis got off pretty easy considering her recklessness and the harm she did to the cyclist. She was fined approximately $4,200 and lost her driver’s license for 9 months. She spent no time in jail. We can only hope that Miss Davis will do some real soul searching while she’s riding in others’ cars for a while. Because if she doesn’t she’s on a different sort of crash course that will leave her the seriously injured one.

Who you are is up to you. It’s not up to your circumstances. It’s not up to your friends. It’s not even up to your parents. While all the forces around you can have an effect on you, how much they effect you is your decision. The worst thing you can do is take a backseat to your own life and act like you don’t care what happens inside you or around you. Apathy always leads to pain and regret. But apathy is deceptive. It lets you get by for a while—sometimes for years—with little more than a bump or bruise to the ego.

When you’re young, it’s all-too-easy to conclude that apathy isn’t a big deal. It’s a lie that often won’t be revealed until who you are matters most, like when you’re pursuing a dream job or a real relationship with someone you care about—or when you’ve found yourself in a pit you can’t climb out of alone. When who you are suddenly matters, you can’t just flip a switch and change history. Who you are today will follow you and ultimately determine what opportunities, resources, and help you have tomorrow. Don’t wait to be the best you. It’s in your control. And it matters far more than you might be able to see today.