Birth of a Year (Part 2 of 2)

Note: if you haven’t read the first part of this post yet, you can do so by clicking here to read it

So I’ve let the first half of this essay sit out online for a few days now (despite telling you all that the companion piece would appear within 24 hours) because I wanted those who read it to let it sink in for a while.  I know plenty of people who would read something like what I wrote and then pretend that it didn’t apply to them, because it’s easier to pretend than it is to take responsibility for one’s actions.  That’s the thing about death; it’s easier to give up than it is to stay in the fight, keep swinging despite overwhelming odds, and still keep fighting when Death comes anyway.  Conversely, birth is anything but easy (just ask any woman who has gone though labor and delivery!)

2010 dawns as any new year does: with millions of us vowing to enact new resolutions, new lifestyles, changes to our diet, our careers, our wallets.  With startling regularity, these resolutions fall by the wayside as the days pass and the brightness of the New Year starts to wane as we trundle into February.  Depending on your personal amount of self-discipline, those resolutions may last longer or shorter.

The question for 2010 isn’t what your resolutions are or how many you’re going to make/break.  There’s only one question you have to answer: will 2010 be different?  Will this be the year you steer your personal destiny toward greatness?

Greatness refers to anything you aspire to, any dream you’ve nurtured for years and years, any desire you might covet.  Your definition of greatness is unique.  It’s as individual as you are.  As such, there should be very little actually stopping you from achieving it.  In fact, I’d wager the single biggest obstacle to your achievement of greatness isn’t an external factor, but rather an internal one.

We’ve all got decisions we might regret; actions we took that didn’t pan out as we’d intended, things we wish we’d done.  Those little regrets pile up inside of us; individually they’re small, but together they start to form impenetrable brick walls hindering our forward progression.  How many brick walls do you have inside of you?  Are there truly brick walls outside of you that hinder your progress?  (In fairness, there might be…)

As you start 2010, don’t concentrate on the past (unless it’s to learn from previous mistakes) and the regrets you might have.  You are where you are and there’s no amount of memory regression, thought backpedaling, or therapeutic horse puckey that’s going to change the past, since none of those things enable you to go back in time and change history.  The present is where you are at now.  The future lays before you.  Your past is simply that: already passed.  Honesty gives you the opportunity to understand what you truly want from life.  Courage and discipline are the tools to earn that greatness you aspire to.

“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Self-help “gurus” are often fond of telling the masses that we can all be great.  What they mean is that we all have the potential to be great.  But most people will not embrace that potential because it’s a hard slog reaching it.  It takes a gut-awful amount of work, blood, sweat, and tears that most people are simply not comfortable enduring.  As such, the real truth is that most people won’t ever find greatness.  At a certain point, they have that realization when they figure out how much work is involved and so instead of greatness, they aspire to mediocrity – that notion of “it’s good enough.”  I’d argue that this is exactly why the United States of America is going to have a serious problem with other countries surpassing us in the future – because the majority of our citizens are lazy schlubs who live by that motto of “good enough.”

I’m not saying this because I hate the US, far from it.  And if you know my background, you know I am very much a patriot.  I say this because there’s an epidemic of mediocrity sweeping this nation.  It’s why people fail to keep their resolutions.  We, as a nation, have made failure a bad word.  When every child makes a sports team or some parent calls up an employer because their recent college graduate failed to secure a job position, there’s a serious problem.  Can you imagine the debacle if every candidate who tried out for Delta Force Selection was granted entry because the Directing Staff didn’t want to hurt their feelings?  Instead of a top-notch special operations unit, we’d have a bunch of idiots entrusted with carrying out the most dangerous national security assignments (and as a result, we’d have a helluva lot of dead operators)  It’s a ridiculous notion, right?  But that’s exactly what we’ve done in most other areas of our society.  Failure is bad, so instead, everyone “wins.”  But winning is exactly what we aren’t doing.  We’re cutting our very legs out from underneath us.

Failure isn’t bad at all.  It’s how we measure ourselves, prove our mettle, and gain the perspective necessary to understand when we’re actually achieving greatness.  Failure’s only bad if you allow it to overwhelm you and cause you to sit in the corner and sulk away the remainder of your life.  The majority of the most successful people in the world have failed countless times.  What distinguishes them from everyone else who failed is that they didn’t give up; they got back up, learned from the failure, and got back into the fight.  They refused to accept the notion that things were “good enough.”  They were honest with themselves, knew what they wanted, and kept going until they achieved that goal.

The birth of 2010 represents an incredible opportunity for all of us.  I know what I’m aiming to achieve this year.  I hope you’ll all take a few hours to analyze what your own goals or dreams are.  Understand the reasons underlying those goals and dreams.  Why do you want them?  (be honest, there’s no “right” answer required – just an honest one.  If you want millions of dollars so you can gloat at your annoying miserly cousin, then embrace that reason as honestly as you can.)  Once you’ve done that, prepare yourself for battle.  Tell yourself you’re not going to settle for “good enough.”  Even if you fail the first time, you’re going to keep fighting until you win.  Honesty, courage, and the discipline to keep going.  One foot in front of the other in front of the other in front of the other…every step you take forward is one step further away from those who have given up and settled for “good enough.”

Dare to be honest.

Dare to be courageous.

Dare to be disciplined.

Dare when others tremble in fear.

Live 2010 like no other year before it.

Happy New Year everyone!

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