On our journey in becoming who we ought to be, we leave a trail of remnants. Evidence of good and – not so good- choices. Traces of our passing by. Some, in the form of bruises in the lives of people we were unkind or uncaring to, or signs of positive growth through our interest in others.
We are not always aware what influence or effect we have on those who we meet in the normal course of our journey but it is good to be mindful of the fact that all contact with others is significant.
It is not possible to rectify all the wrongs we willingly and unknowingly caused during our wandering through this world. What is possible though, is to take time to reflect over our conduct and interaction with those who we cross paths with. No need to wait till we get feedback, just an inner objective reflection on the way we live life. Pass by the wrecks we left behind because of arrogance or indifference and celebrate the stories of growth because of our care or interest.
Then, concentrate to live with an intense consciousness of leaving a legacy of hope.
The way to the top is often interrupted with a downward turn. In striving to achieve excellence, the route to follow does not allow for an uninterrupted upward gradient. Where excellence does not mean to be the best, but to constantly improve. Not in relation to “others”, but compared to one self. Improving on your own abilities, capabilities and self-worth that are where achieving excellence becomes a constant fight against yourself.
In order to give the next step to reach the next level, there is the need for an ongoing reflection of what lies below the surface. The shadow of what your personality shines towards the world around you. The hidden motives that push you, the concealed anger you mask as “drive”. The envy you present as empathy or the arrogance you screen behind confidence.
The only way to discover and understand the shadow-side is to dive down into who I really am. To constantly ask the question, “why do I feel this way?” or “What is it I actually want?” “Why am I upset?” This kind of diving, gives you the insight into yourself to venture forward and upward.
In Africa there is a saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together”. In venturing through this life one quickly learns that going alone is very dangerous, very risky and extremely lonely. Somewhere in the late teens of one’s life the main objective is to go alone. Be independent, do your own thing. It is only in the first major predicament that the realization dawns on you that you actually need others not only to survive but also, and especially, to get ahead – to grow.
Soon you also get to understand that although you may need the others around you, you cannot “like” everyone. Some of those you come across just cannot fit into your template of like-ness. Usually we then try to avoid those or at least evade them to save yourself from having to deal with them. Yet, the sooner one learns to grasp the fact that not to like someone is not to be confused with not to respect or even endure those.
We often hear the phrase that we should “love” one another. That does not mean to “like” everybody is even possible. It means to respect the others and acknowledge the contribution they can make in assisting me to develop my own strengths.
Alone, personal growth is just not possible. Only when you recognize the value of those around you- the ones you like as well as those you don’t- growth towards maturity can commence. Together is more.
Fear is the energy you need to advance. Our fight or flight energy is coiled within us, waiting to be released. It is inherent to every living creature. Especially true in us as humans. This is the reason why we’ve made it thus far to the top of the food chain.
This is the latent driving force, which can either destroy or develop. Utilizing this fear in a positive way is called courage. Unleashing this underlying power is essential for progress and ultimately success.
Overcoming one’s fear allow you to discover, venture out of the comfort zone and grow. To reach the top, you need to take every challenging step into the unknown. Remaining in what you know kills ambition and restrains forward movement. The test will be the level of uneasiness you feel before taking the next step. Total ease might indicate only activity, but little or no progress like running on a treadmill. Apprehension should be the trigger that you need to set the hidden energy off. Courage is the ability to break through the barriers of doubt.
The drive for success or for mere survival does not always depend on constant movement. To ensure a continuous effort in the direction of your set destination, replenishing your energy and inspiration is essential. Like a ship mooring in a harbour to restock and replace the natural thing to do would be to stop, attach and refill.
With the change of seasons in nature or in your life, this would be the wise thing to do. Stop for a while; contemplate on consumed energy and capacity. What were the areas you spent the most effort of in the recent past? It could be depleted energy because of irritations of frustrations in you or around you. Even the worn-out feeling because of a lack of recognition for all your hard work.
Now is the time for mooring to your strengths. Re-tying the ropes to your assets.
The secret is not to ponder on the frustrations of the past, but to reassure yourself of your potential and competencies. Mooring is not suspending, but sustaining. Get the provisions on board and set out for a new adventure.
It depends on the angle whether you will be able to see the rainbow. It is there, it is always there, but for your observation point it remains hidden. Two things are important in this process, one’s own position and the awareness to spot the light.
To be “in the right place at the right time” one has to pre-determine your position towards life in general. The angle at which you look at opportunities and difficulties will govern your view towards the environment. What might seem like problems or failures to some may reveal itself as an opportunity if seen from the right angle.
The awareness to spot the light from your angle just might show the rainbow against the insignificant background. In business or relationships the angle regulates one’s response. Opportunities are always there; it is often just hidden by false reflections of darkness. Changing your angle could allow you to spot the possibilities in the testing times. Once you developed the habit of consciously placing yourself at the right angle, it becomes easier to grow an awareness to opportunities.
Energy is indestructible. This is what science teaches us. It can only be changed in another form of energy or made available for alternative use. In the natural world, growth depends on energy made available through a myriad of ways. In all cases however, the process involves the breakdown of something to avail the energy. In nature life thrives on decay because of this very reason.
So often we miss the opportunity to seize the moment because we wait for “things” to get better. In times of hardship or pressure, when our world falls apart we tend to withdraw and wait for our energy to return. One big mistake! The best songs are composed during times of disappointment or grief. Great books are born out of brokenness and the rot of destruction. Best ideas rise out of the chaos of war, or natural disasters.
This is indeed true of personal growth too. Most people will not change unless they end up in a mess or find themselves in an impossible position. Learn to understand the potential that’s locked up in frustration and disappointment.
Use to your advantage the energy released by decay and breakdown of the status quo.
Purpose has to do with presence. The understanding of the importance of my life on this place and in this moment builds the capacity for growth. In the beginning of a new year there should truly only be one resolution to carry forward. That is a conscious effort to be alert and aware of the “I” in every situation that presents itself and a mindfulness of the moment.
The most restraining attitude one can fall into is to either live with a sense of lost of the past, or an over emphasis on the time available in the future. The first keeps one from starting and the second from completing your goals. It also prevents one from learning and growing by missing the moment.
Living with an awareness of the moment helps one to identify opportunities, and to act on those. Mindfulness of “me” in every situation helps me to gain understanding of purpose and opportunity. Focus to adopt this resolution and this year will be a great one.
“So what if it’s not perfect? It comes from my garden”. An achievement in itself. A deep-rooted craving for the realization of a hidden goal. To see the fruit of my own effort and dedication. Whether it is tangible like the yield from your own vegetable patch, or a creative thought beginning to become a reality in your mind.
The reward is not so much in the fact of what I accomplished, but the knowledge that I did it on my own. The test is not if it’s perfect, it is also not compared to any-thing or any-body. I overcame my own limitations; I conquered my laziness and lack of self-belief.
Therein lies my success. “I did it my way…” and it reveals something of my soul. I have something to show for allowing the creative spirit in me to escape from the clutches of procrastination and disbelief in my own potential. Become driven to present some produce from your own being, something you created.
The day I die, I will be remembered for who I was and not for what I did. Legacy lies not in greatness of deeds, but in pureness of character. In every step we walk in life, something lingers behind like an aroma it follows us. It is not the deed of kindness or the word of truth that will define me, but the strength and endurance of my character. The “who I really am when nobody is watching”.
My obituary will be made up of character qualities I displayed on an unfailing way throughout my life. Especially during times of pressure.
The true test is not in the guise I wear every day to impress those around me, it is in the persistence of growth in my character.
I can never outgrow the potential of improvement in the essence of who I am. This is the quintessence of our being, what separates us from the rest of the universe.