Stop Giving In To the Pain

In life, we always have choices. When it comes to facing adversity, we have only two; we can choose to fight on or we can give up. When we choose to fight, we are making a statement, “I will not allow temporary circumstances to permanently alter my life.” 

That’s what quitting does; it alters the landscape of your mind and the more you give in to setbacks, the easier it becomes to do it again and again. This is life altering and it cripples us, holding us back from our goals and dreams.

On the other hand, the more we choose to fight and press on, the more seasoned our minds become. We begin to take on a different mindset; a mindset of courage and resolve. 

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” -Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Adversity makes us who we are and it works both ways. If we constantly give in to our problems then we become quitters, never finishing anything difficult. Likewise, if we learn to look our challenges in the face and fight (whether we win or not), then we become someone of strength and mental fortitude. 

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

If we don’t fight, we will never know how strong we are and we will never reach our full potential. Make a choice today and everyday to be a fighter, not a victim. 

The Power of Rejection

Most of us spend our entire lives trying to avoid rejection, but what if the answer is to embrace rejection instead of always running from it? I recently watched a Ted Talk video of Jia Jiang speaking about his experience of 100 days of rejection, where he actually sought out being turned down for random requests for 100 straight days. His requests were far from ordinary and ranged from asking a complete stranger for $100 to asking for a refill on his hamburger at a local fast food restaurant.

What he found through his 100 day experiment was that if he resisted the urge to run away from the rejection and instead embrace the uncomfortable feeling while staying engaged with the person after being turned down, that it actually was not him that they were rejecting. In most cases, this rings true for us as well. Most of us feel that when our requests are met with a flat “no”, that it is we who are being rejected rather than our request or idea.

Jiang’s experiment actually paid off on the third try when his request for donuts at the local donut shop, made into the shape and color of the olympic rings was met with a “yes, we can do that for you.” You can watch that video here.

The truth is that rejection comes in all shapes and sizes but it always feels the same; embarrassing and hurtful. We have all been rejected at some point in our life and most of us are not willing to go out and intentionally look for more of it, but what if there is something incredibly beautiful on the other side; something freeing? There is a famous quote from Steve Maraboli that says, “Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better.”

In fact we can find stories by the hundreds of company founders, product inventors, and other successful entrepreneurs who were turned down over and over again before getting to the yes that they needed. One of those is Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz who was turned down 242 times by hundreds of banks before getting to the yes that he needed to propel Starbucks into history. If he had given up after the first dozen or so rejections, we would all be drinking gas station coffee today.

My point is that while rejection can sting, it actually hurts worse if we let it stop us in our tracks. In Jiang’s experiment, one of his rejections came when he asked a stranger if he could plant a flower in his backyard (a little weird right?). The stranger said no, but then instead of walking away, Jiang asked “why”.

The stranger said, “because I have a dog in my backyard who tears everything up, so it would never last back there.” You see, he wasn’t rejecting Jiang, but he actually had a legitimate concern. In fact, he then points Jiang to his neighbor and says to ask “Carol” because she loves flowers. Guess what? There’s now a flower planted in Carol’s backyard.

Most often when we have a request turned down, the person (rejectioner?) on the other side is not rejecting us, only our idea. If, instead of walking away with our heads hung down in shame, we engage the person with a simple “why”, we could find that it leads us right to the yes that we are searching for. Be brave today and try it. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe someone ends up with a nice flower in their backyard or perhaps you score a sweet set of Olympic-ringed donuts!

My Mind Will Carry Me When My Body Cannot

I was an obese kid for most of my life. It severely limited my social interactions with others and led me to develop a very low self-view of myself. I fought depression and a negative self-image for decades, until I found running. Although I am no longer that shy, awkward, overweight kid, he still lives in my head from time to time. I never dreamed that I would ever be able to run 5 miles, much less 20, 30, 40, or 50 miles. There are thousands of others out there that face the same issues and I know how they feel. They feel trapped inside of their own bodies and minds.

God gave us a tremendous gift in the body that we have. It can do amazing things if we are willing to step out of our comfort zone. I hope to show others that they can accomplish amazing things if they will allow God to strip away the self-imposed barriers that surround them. Running does that for me. For others, it may be getting a degree when no one else in their family has done so. It could be stepping out of an abusive relationship or surrendering an addiction that they have to God, the Universe, or whatever it is that you believe in. No matter what the issues are, the lesson is the same; with the right attitude, patience, perseverance, and support anything and everything becomes possible.

No matter what may be holding you back, victory starts with one step forward. Raise your hand and say, this (fill in the blank) will no longer rule my life. Food will no longer guide my thoughts and actions. The abuse stops today, right here and right now. I will complete this degree. I will complete this race. I will show the world that I own this body. I own this mind. I will train this mind and my body will follow. Enough is enough and today is the day that I decide to pursue freedom from my self-imposed limitations. I am where I am because of my decisions and tomorrow has not yet been decided. The story of my life is not over, but I will decide how it ends. Now get up, get out there, and chase your dreams.