PRIDE

We all have different threads that run through the course of our lives. One for me is the number 6. The day of my birth and my favorite number. Another for me is PRIDE. 

I have always been a proud person. Out of college I went to work for the Georgia Pride softball team and finally I associate myself and my tribe of friends as a pride (like a pride of lions).

I have always been attracted to people who carry themselves with pride. Maybe that is another reason I have found a home with our United States Army Infantrymen. If they are not a prideful group of people I don’t know what is. Are you a proud person? Have you been told that pride is a positive attribute or a negative attribute?

I have always been intrigued by pride. Intrigue when I feel it and intrigue when I experience it.

From my general understanding, pride is an inwardly directed emotion. Pride can carry a negative connotation, when it refers to an inflated sense of one’s personal accomplishments and/or status, or pride can carry a positive connotation, when referring to a satisfied attachment to a personal choice or the choices/actions of another (or whole group of people).

So let me clarify. I am filled to the brink with pride for all the amazing people who surround me. Every day I get the great fortune to hear positive story after story of people helping one another, people taking leadership to make life better for someone else, people with humility taking action for the betterment of their community. It truly is amazing.

Sometimes, rather OFTEN times if I am being honest, I tend to get caught up in the negative happenings of the day. All the despicable people rise to the top and tempt me from taking my eye off all the good. Then the inevitable happens, one of my friends does something inspiring and it kicks me right out of my funk and re-motivates me to action.

Many of the great things life has to offer depends on discipline and discipline is based on a sense of pride. People with pride carry themselves differently. They have higher expectations. They encourage me to be a better version of myself.

Yes, yes, I have read all the writings about how sinful pride is to man. Dare I say I don’t buy it? As in everything the poison is in the dose.

The past few weeks I have been around people who had more ego than pride. Somewhere along the line the two have become confused with each other. Maybe that’s why pride gets a bad name. I can assure you, pride requires humility and self-reflection. Ego requires nothing more than an idiot to shelter within.

I have always drawn everything in my life back to my Ranger community. To me there is nothing that emulates pride more than a barrel-chested and steely-eyed Ranger. Pride in standard. Pride in discipline. Pride in standing and fighting shoulder to shoulder with their brothers. Pride in living by a creed. 

I thank the lord each day for allowing me to breathe and experience the greatness of such prideful people. In return I manifest that same pride in my community. Our community.  

It is always sad when those same statuesque and living examples of pride are over-taken by more powerful forces of ego and self-pity. There is nothing more unattractive to me than the previously described self-righteous person with the capacity to give more than they have and take less than they need.

If you search the word ‘pride’ on the internet you will be inundated with information about gay pride and LBGT pride. Somewhere along the line I feel that the word has lost its general meaning in a haze of rainbows.

I will leave you with this. If we want to fix the suicide rates of our Veterans we must understand what Voltaire knew eons ago:

“We are rarely proud when we are alone.”

― Voltaire

If Voltaire is correct and I happen to believe he is, PRIDE is a group activity. Lol.

In order to fall into the depths of suicide one had to have lost their pride somewhere along the line and become mentally isolated. What was once pride in something manifests into self-pity or ego. So, I implore you, re-look at how you define pride. Make it a positive influence in your life. People are counting on you to show them the way.

I have been asked many times, in my life, what is different about me. They just feel that something is different. I reject that notion. What people experience is a tremendous amount of pride in who surrounds me, what I do and who I do it for. That pride makes me disciplined and passionate. That pride is unable to accept mental and physical laziness.

I am so PROUD to call you my friend!! Keep doing your good work and giving it all you’ve got!!! I for one am watching and feeding on your energy!!!

STEWARD OF THE BATON

Today is Memorial Day 2014.  I have been working with the active military and Veteran population now for the past fifteen years. Over the years I have experienced several epiphanies.  Each one providing further clarification as to why I am on this journey.

I experienced another epiphany just moments ago.

Today I decided to watch Black Hawk Down.  I have never been one to watch war movies. They have just always hit a little too close to home. I did not even watch this movie as I volunteered to assist with the 20 year anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu last October.  I have the great privilege of knowing many of these noble men and hearing their personal stories. I have never really felt the need to watch an entertainer's depiction/interpretation of their story.

However, today seemed ideal and appropriate. Three quarters of the way through the movie is when it hit me. Clarity struck me and moments of clarity should never be taken for granted. It is almost like another dot was connected in this tangled web of my journey.

I was watching a scene and replacing the actors with the real people they represent. I was feeling the emotion of the situation they were in and relating that to the countless stories that have been shared as well as my knowledge of the personalities of those who share them with me. That is when it hit me.

 

These brave warfighters need people like me and there are lots of us out there.  Much more than the 6:00 news would give credence to. They need civilians that care.  Civilians they can trust.  Civilians with honor. Civilians who understand their honor. This is not just a feeling.  This is not just a good idea.  This is not just something I happened to fall into.

No, there is purpose here.  There is a noble purpose.

One of the most uncanny dichotomies to me is the raging gap (or perceived gap) between our service members and civilians. Take today for example.  I read countless posts from service members shaking their fingers at civilians for saying 'Happy Memorial Day' rather than saying 'Honor Memorial Day'.  Many of these people I saw saying Happy Memorial Day had and have the best intentions at heart.  They were truly honoring Memorial Day, in the best way they knew how, but they did not use the lingo or exact words that resonates with the community.  I find this disheartening because I know that when you are trying and people are chastising you for your care and concern it can feel like you are beating a dead horse.

To flip the coin, I also know there are valid trust issues on behalf of our service members because we live in a society where doing what you say you are going to do is no longer held in high esteem nor considered noble. Our society waivers and lacks conviction on staying the course and traversing the difficult path.  Our society rewards selfishness and betrayal which is the antithesis of what my brothers know, espouse and hold dear.

The above coupled with all the negative stories that are projected of people using and manipulating our service members allows me to empathize with the standard operating procedure of distrust.

The truth of the matter is that there are many people out here who have a heart to help, the focus to understand and the perseverance to see it through. There ARE dedicated, compassionate, trustworthy, strong and fierce individuals who wholeheartedly believe in the mission. I know many of them.  They have a pure heart with the ability to understand and the tenacity to carry the torch. They have the capacity to stand tough even when doubt is cast in their direction.  They have the conviction to say, "I am not going anywhere.  I am and will continue to be here".

So, as I was watching these scenes and thinking about all of this it became clear. Crystal clear. It is not just 'nice' our service members have people on the other side to trust.  They NEED us to push the ball forward.

The first visual that came to my mind was a relay race baton. Our brothers bravely and boldly carry the baton. They exhaust themselves. They give everything they've got.  They lay it all on the line for each other. They NEED us standing at the appropriate spot waiting for the hand-off.  When the baton is in our hand they NEED us to run like the wind.  They NEED us to stay focused and driven.  They need us to run as hard as we can and to finish the race.  They need to be able to watch us dig in and also give it all we've got, to tell their story to influence others on their behalf.  They NEED us to be good stewards of the baton.

It is through this teamwork that we will conquer. We must train together, enjoy each other, learn from one another and become stronger.  For it is this combined strength that will make us formidable, reinforce our resilience and enable us to win the next race.

GET YOUR SHIT ON AND SHOW UP!

Six months.

Have you missed me?

It has been entirely too long since I last wrote a blog post. Balancing work and life has proven to be a serious obstacle for me this past year.  Often times, when extremely busy, it is hard to stop and smell the roses and even more so too easy to overlook the things that inspire me. I only write about the things that inspire me and writing about them is always a cathartic process.  I miss it.

First, let me apologize for the profanity in the title. However, as previously stated I only write about things that speak to me.  I am a pretty simple person.  No reason to use extra words to effectively communicate with me. The title is simple, direct and 100% on target. No sugar coating needed. Hopefully thesse simple, but effective words can inspire you as well. It is the simplest of things that strike me as profound.

I have a small dose of non travel time ahead of me and am looking forward to getting back to a routine so I can get my head and health back to a stable pattern.  After the close of the

Best Ranger Competition

, my sixth event in six months, I found myself in a serious discussion.  Our small group was talking about my seemingly lack of motivation, my need to re-focus, military service and a plethora of other things. We talked about having no excuses.  My military friends were sharing that one of the best aspects of their military service was the opportunity to learn, "you have to show up".

As we were talking I instantly reflected on my past week at the Best Ranger Competition and with my Ranger family. I thought about all the sweet compliments people paid me and said about me.  The one thing that stands out from the rest is  knowing that if nothing else I always "get my shit on and show up".

Whether I feel like it or not.  No matter how ill I may feel or tired I may be.  No matter the hurt or pain that is involved I need to always get up, put my clothes on, equip myself and show up.

....and that goes for you too!

Personally, I do this for the people that I love, for the legacy I want to leave and for the story I want to tell.  I will always show up.  I cannot let them down.  Hence the 100% and then some.

Woody Allen says, "80% of success is just showing up".

Now Use It!

As I breezed through this topic of conversation with cadre and friends -- my thoughts always came back to my seemingly intolerance of laziness or lazy mindedness.  I am convinced no one gains from laziness and one certainly is not performing God's work if one is being lazy. Anyone can work with under skilled, but lazy is an entirely different issue.

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” 
― Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Moral of the story.  Be  inspirational.  Be unlazy! (Yes, I do believe I made that word up!). Be the 'passion that is an undistinguishable fire'.  How do you do this?

GET YOUR SHIT ON AND SHOW UP!!!

COMMUNITY

"I want you to understand how important your work is. These men deserve far more than what the current administration will give them. Organizations like yours are soooooo important for their self worth and recognition......"

I have so much I want to say that I simply do not know where to start.  Let me try to wrap my mind around a point I want to make and see if I can talk about it succinctly.  Here it goes....

The Importance of Community

We are at yet another time in our Nation's history where we should all be reminded that we must find ways to take care of one another and to not rely on/depend on a system and/or government to take care of us. Our current state is fluid and the transition so rapid there seems to be an absolute loss of control for quality big encompassing programs and/or services. The recent government shut down is a perfect example of this standard in lack of (what my daughter's teacher would say) quality work as it comes on the heels of many years of neglect. However, this blog is not about the government or criticism of the government.  Rather it is about community. As bad as things seem like they might be I only see the potential for positive gain.  Why you may ask?

The why is because since the beginning of my professional career (or what I consider to be the true birth of my professional career) when Ranger Training Brigade commander at the time, COL (Ret) Hazen Baron, sat me down to talk to me about the Ranger community, I made a commitment to serve MY community. I committed to take care of my community, to respect my community and to value my community and all the people in it.  At the time, I did not realize that the community would become my family.

In fact, regardless of the bad seeds or the people who always seem to pee negativity (every family has them), I always prefer and desire to see the community band together and take care of one another. I always want to help facilitate progress regardless of my personal feelings.  It is such a beautiful thing to witness. It never ceases to amaze me when people under value their individual influence on a community when they are also a part of a conglomerate or bigger bureaucracy.

Regardless, what you should always see from me and as a cornerstone of what I do, is to find ways to work within a bureaucracy but to redefine our perspective on what that means.  Redefine that bureaucracy does not define the individual and/or his independent contribution back to the community/family.

Some current and relevant examples of this are some of the military events I am given the opportunity to help support. When the government says we do not have enough money or we do not have enough assets to support an important community event it is interesting to see who gives up and checks the 'too hard to do box' versus who perseveres and is committed to the sustaining value of the event and the overall long term affects it has on the community.

I am never more at peace than when I am at an event and am able to observe the various aspects of our community coming together for a common purpose or end goal.  These aspects include industry partners, charitable partners, service members, Veterans/retirees, family and friends. When all convene together to share in the spirit of the community THAT is when magic happens.  It is like a beautiful orchestra. It has the power to change and transform lives.  It has the power to re-energize those who were running on empty.

I am never more juxtaposed than when someone(s) from the community wants to talk bad about other aspects of the community and to downplay the other aspect's importance to the overall objective.

Mark my words, it takes all of us.  I will say this as clearly as I can possibly articulate. It takes all of us to contribute our assets, skills, and/or knowledge in order to sustain the community. No role is more important than the other. When we understand this and practice this, we are a powerful force. We are able to create a closed loop self fulfilling prophecy.  We are able to laugh when others looking in cannot put a finger on our greatness.

In closing, the quote at the top of this entry is a perfect window into the significance and importance of total community effort.

How are you serving yours?

MENTAL TOUGHNESS

Within this blog I have written about a ton of things that are important to me and keep my wheels turning; Inspiration, Motivation, Intestinal Fortitude and so much more. Lately, I have been thinking about 'Mental Toughness'.  I have questioned my ability to be mentally tough and finally in my mid thirties have started to challenge myself to see just how mentally tough I might be.  The one thing I fully realize is that I have surrounded myself with mentally tough people. I am surrounded by people who sacrifice and are not afraid of self-denial. The type of people who simply do not give in.

Something I have recently reviewed describes mental toughness as, 'character in action'. I can honestly and admittedly say that until three years ago I was NOT mentally tough. Wow, that hurts to admit.  I was weak.  I was complacent.  I was a push over. I lacked confidence. I had very little self esteem. I did not challenge myself and I was comfortable being a victim.

NOT ANY MORE!  That way of living is over.  The glass ceiling has been destroyed.

"Mental Toughness is all about improving your mind so that it’s always on your side; not sometimes helping you nor working against you as we all know it’s quite capable of doing." http://www.condorperformance.com/

There are studies that seek to answer whether or not mental toughness is a developed characteristic or is genetic.  I am sure some people were born with this toughness, but for me it was developed.  It was developed by surrounding myself with mentally tough people.

My focus narrows with each passing day and my belief in self grows by the minute.  These mannerisms are strengthened by witnessing people like Ranger Cory Smith who decided one day to run 565 miles to get home to his daughter, Ranger Michael Schlitz who suffered traumatic injuries while serving his country, Whitney Golden who is determined to improve her life and prove people wrong, the women of character who represent Team RWB, the women who take care of the household while my buddies do their job, and all the people who are passionate about what they care about and are focused to make a mark in the world.

In order to be mentally tough you must be resilient. You must have a positive process for dealing with stress and adversity.  Lord knows the adversities I have faced  We all face adversity.  It is a given.  Something you can count on.  Turbulence and complexity in life and in all things is most certainly around the corner. I say, "BRING IT"!

I am not the most skilled, but I have dexterity and I love psychological pressure.  It is only through these challenges that I learn about myself and have the peace to see people where they are.  I have a long way to go, but I am breaking through boundaries everyday.  I hope that one day I can be a model of mental toughness for others to follow as well.

I am so thankful for all those around me who stand their ground.

Do you have mental toughness? Are you flexible, responsive, strong, courageous and resilient? If not, what are you waiting for?

DEDICATED

ded·i·cat·ed  

/ˈdediˌkātid/
Adjective
  1. (of a person) Devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity

Lately, the term dedicated has been pushing to the forefront of many conversations. In fact, just the other day I was talking with someone who kept using 'big' words, but was not applying those 'big' words with consistency in his/her expression.  I said to him/her that 'words' mean something and we should not randomly throw them around.  We should KNOW what they mean. 

I am also a proponent of synchronicity.  So, when messages line up and repeat themselves from several people I take notice and become a student. 

After hearing about dedication, from several folks, I started looking for people who fit my definition of dedicated.  I noticed that the only time I feel down or seemingly lose faith is when the folks surrounding me do not seem to be dedicated to each other, the mission, the goal and/or the task at hand. 

During the Best Ranger Competition this year, and after several days of intense work, one of my new colleagues suggested that my next blog be about dedication. He mentioned this after taking note of my dedication to the RANGER community. Dedication certainly seemed like a worthwhile topic to me. 

"Dedication is not what others expect of you, it is what you can give to others." - unkown

I always reflect when preparing for a blog and as I sat to really ponder dedication I was reminded of a phrase I used when leading a youth program at Columbus State University 15 years ago.  I encouraged the youth leaders to use the self proclaimed D.I.P method when approaching the program and other challenges in life.  D.I.P stands for Dedication, Initiative and Priorities.  Even back then I was drawn to the importance and significance of dedication. 

I have mentioned before, in previous blogs and professional writings, that it seems like there is an ever growing divide between dedicated service providers and those who could really care less. As a coordinator/consultant it is difficult to meet the needs of an expansive client load without dedicated service providers.  When your service providers are only looking for a quick pay check or see you as a hurdle, every moment of a project can seem like an eternity. Yet, when you are fortunate enough to come across or attract dedicated service professionals, you should take heed and not allow them to escape you.  They are often the difference between your sanity and holding back throat punches on the daily. 

In all seriousness, it was when my colleague and friend Jill Bruce interrupted me one day to say, "Please do not worry about that.  I am dedicated to you and to making this work," that it hit me square in the face.  There is nothing I admire more about people than dedication.  Dedication to their own word first and foremost and then dedication to those around them, and finally the goal(s) at hand. 

I am fortunate to have many dedicated people around me.  They help me feel all the great things in life: joy, pride and gratitude. 

If I am anything - I now know and understand I am one dedicated individual. I am dedicated to provide resource development services for private organizations that surround and support our active military, Veterans, and their families.  I am dedicated to provide a vehicle to raise/sustain esprit de corps, to generate non-appropriated funds that directly support the individual service member, to leverage assets in providing training opportunities and to provide a bridge for the civilian community to better know our military and first responders in a more intimate way. 

Who or what are you dedicated to?  

HONOR

I start this blog post talking about something I know absolutely nothing about.  Yet, it is something I think about on a daily basis - earning honor under fire. 

I think about it everyday because I am surrounded and inspired by the people who do and have earned honor under fire.  I work around and am surrounded by those now living on the civilian side of having earned the honor.  


A few year's ago I was introduced to the "Warrior's Code of Honor" written by Paul R. Allen.  I have routinely read this Code of Honor on a monthly basis simply to remind myself of some key principles and to read the very powerful words. 


"Earning honor under fire changes who you are.The blast furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your soul.The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a hardened, purified warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends – your honor."

Why do these words resonate so loudly with me?  Maybe because if taken out of context they could be read in a romanticized novel to heighten emotion.  However, these words are written and told by an American hero based on real life experiences and first hand knowledge.  They are written by a man very similar to my friends, brothers and confidants. In fact, his words act as a voice piece of the otherwise unspoken yet excruciatingly loud thoughts of my friends. 

"You did your duty, survived the dance, and returned home. But not all of you came back to the civilian world. Your heart and mind are still in the Warrior’s World, far beyond the Sun.  They will always be in the Warrior’s World. They will never leave, they are buried there. In that hallowed home of honor, life is about keeping your word."

'Keeping your word'.  This small phrase screams at me.  It haunts me day in and day out. Decisions become very simple when they are based on the simple principle of keeping your word. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where we are shown everyday that keeping ones word is no longer relevant.  In fact it breaks my heart.  Business is so much more difficult because you can no longer trust the people you pay to fulfill what it is they say they are going to do.  Deadlines don't seem to mean anything anymore.  Promises mean little anymore other than to temporarily win someones trust long enough to get what you need.  Politicians routinely show us you can say something one day and do the complete opposite the next.  There are days that all of this makes me want to go insane. 

"People in the civilian world, however, have no idea that life is about keeping your word. They think life is about ballgames, backyards, barbecues, babies and business.The distance between the two worlds is as far as Mars from Earth.This is why, when you come home, you feel like an outsider, a visitor from another planet.You are."

Maybe this is why I feel more at home on an installation or base than I do walking into a small business on main street America.  Even though I do not necessarily fit in and still am not widely accepted, I still identify more closely with those who have earned honor but are not speaking about it.  I see the honor emulated in their actions toward one another and even if from the outside it is a beautiful thing to witness. I can hear the honor through the silence.  I can hear it in between words.  Mostly, I just feel it permeate the atmosphere.  

The author of the Warrior's Code of Honor goes on to make a note that if a civilian wants to build a rapport with a combat vet then he should demonstrate to him, "out in the open in front of God and everybody that you too have a Code of Honor – that is, you also keep your word – no matter what!".  

This is why I am doggedly determined to do what I say I am going to do. This is why I will change vendors in a heartbeat if they do not fulfill their commitments.  This is why people say I have high expectations. This is why I call bogus on rationalizations and excuses.  This is why I live in a world that wants to annihilate the "to hard to do" box.  People say I am too harsh at times and I sense people are intimidated by my quickness to excuse those who are not living up to 'their part'.  Life is simply too short and this is my only way to garner honor - albeit not under fire. 

The days I am most content are the ones I know I have been accepted by those who have earned their honor because being accepted by them means they know I keep my word.  They know I can be trusted.  They know that I too have a code of honor. 

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR

I have always had the ability to make quick decisions that I am comfortable with standing behind.  This past week I was faced with making a decision that has caused me to take a tactical pause and question whether I made the correct decision.  I gave myself three days to reflect and fully think about every aspect of the decision process.  I am nearing the end of the three day thinking process and am in full belief that I did make the correct decision for me. Ironically, the trigger that solidified my decision was a message put out by Tyler Perry that one of my friends posted on Facebook.  In this message Tyler Perry talks about seed faith in your passionate pursuits and also talks about being focused on your objective rather than being scattered in your pursuits. This was the final affirmation I needed.

I am not sure I have fully explained, in previous posts, about what motivates me to serve our active and veteran armed service community and their families.  Therefore, let me very briefly and succinctly explain.  My first passion is for our active service members in focused communities.  I have been given the privilege of walking along side them for many years and I see things and situations many do not.  I am 100% dedicated to strengthening their communities, through the functions I serve, and building their capacity and motivation to continue to serve. When I am asked to take on a project the first and foremost litmus test is that any funds raised goes back to directly impact this focused community.  Even the fees given to me should be expected to be used to directly support the community through my passion and commitment to them.

There are many more words I can use to explain my thought process but honestly everything boils down to the simple value and standard explained above.  A value and standard I feel should not be compromised.  Recently I was confronted with a situation in regard to a focused community I desperately wanted to serve. I quickly reached a decision to remove my support and subsequently there was a requested compromise that suggested I go against the value and standard that is so very important to me.  Shortly after I made the decision and as a result of various conversations I felt sick to my stomach.  Did I turn my back on folks who believed in me?

Ironically, the Tyler Perry statement is what finally gave me the comfort to honestly and resiliently know that I did not turn my back on this community.  As a matter of fact, through my decision I showed solidarity with them.  I fought for them and will continue to do so.

Our individual journey's are so unique.  I am so blessed to have a purpose filled life.

In 2010 the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff put out a white paper called The Sea of Goodwill.  This white paper is what solidified my decision to go back into a full time business for myself.  A business that is committed to my armed service brothers. It was this paper's acknowledgement that in the way forward we must find a way to bring the communities together and government representatives must find ways to embrace the generosity of the community.  Isolated resources simply will not and cannot endure.

This is what solidified my decision to help communities serve themselves.  How powerful is that? Bring all aspects of the focused communities together and help them build capacity to take care of themselves?  Brilliant if you ask me.

One of my favorite portions of the paper:
"No single agency or organization has the manpower, resources, or intellectual capital to
provide a lifetime of care and support to our military family.  We, as a nation, must build key partnerships and link national and local community efforts.  If the Sea of Goodwill is leveraged by leaders and citizens wanting to contribute, the military family will strengthen our communities, which in turn, will strengthen our nation."  
  

I thought this white paper was the opening for government officials to fully embrace someone like me.  For them to stop resisting the fact that folks from their external community want and can do good things for them and be selfless in the process. I believed that this white paper gave our military leaders the permission to think differently and outside the 'norm' of the way they have been doing business or forming relationships with the civilian community.

However, I have been reminded time and time again since 2010 that many still do not understand.  Many leaders are still not ready to embrace something different. They are still not ready to accept that there really is a sea of goodwill wanting to serve them and all it takes is their LEADERSHIP to open the flood gates.

Although many leaders and systems are still obstinate to the possibilities that exist, I have already made my commitment.  Like Tyler Perry says we should, I will be persistent.  I will be living proof that the sea of goodwill DOES exist and then whenever a leader allows me to help bridge the gap I will be ready to help focused communities build capacity and strength, but I will not compromise and invest in a structure or system that denounces the sea of goodwill exists and does not give it the opportunity to flourish.

This is something worth fighting for.



PURPOSE FILLED LIFE

Lately I have been asked many questions about my employment.  I believe it is because the nature of my business is confusing to folks and many assumptions are made in the process. I love the fact that I am able to simply answer that I live a purpose filled life.  What I choose to do, or not do, does not follow a societal norm or a well traveled path. Yet, I am privileged to wake up everyday and think about how I am able to make a relevant difference to the people and community(s) I choose to serve.  

Today I had the privilege of representing the nonprofit organization Serve Who Serve and host a group of injured service members and their families at Reveille Peak Ranch.  Simply giving these service members opportunity, being curious to learn about them, and creating the space for others to give back brought me joy and fueled me for the next week. 

What is your fuel?

Often times we approach life only thinking about self needs and desires (which is important and cannot be denied).  However, I can't help but think what the world might be like if we all just approached every situation while thinking about the needs and desires of those around us as well as our own. In my chosen occupation I get to witness, on a daily basis,  corporations giving back, individuals going beyond themselves to help a fellow citizen, and the powerful dynamic of people thriving in a service oriented environment. I see beauty in people and things every day.  I get to witness people caring passionately about their community. 

Although I have never asked, but I think I will start, it almost seems that the folks I choose to be around would have a similar type of answer to the common question; What is your goal? The answer being to strengthen myself and the people and places I choose to surround myself with. 

There is significant power in self accountability!

“All life is a purposeful struggle, and your only choice is the choice of a goal.”  - taken from Atlas Shrugged

FAILURE

Is failure an option for you?

Confucius says, "Failure is not an option."

The RANGER Creed says, "Never shall I fail my comrades."

We all go through different paths of learning.  If you have known me for a few minutes you are able to make quick correlations to whom I identify with.  I cannot say these are the people that created my spirit (my essence), for that I received as a divine gift, but they are the people who have been placed in my path to help me further develop.  They are the people who continue to encourage me to learn about myself.  Who are your teachers?  Your mentors?

Needless to say, failure is NOT an option for me.  Everyday I will wake up striving to be a better than I was the day before.  I will do that for myself, my family, my friends and my comrades.  My days, much as yours, will continue to be full of stumbles, hitches, glitches and hurdles.  Yet, we will overcome as long as we continue to think, reflect, lead and not allow failure to be an option.

"The superior man understands what is right, the inferior man understands what will sell." 
- Confucius. 

In my life, the "news" is pretty much on mute.  It seems to me that most "news" programs are trying to sell you something.  Often times...it is what an executive understands will sell. Hearing and seeing our world through the camera lens or microphone of someone else is not necessarily the truth, fact nor is it right.

From the time I can remember I have been weary of large group mentality and big government.  It was not until I reached my 30s (the years of enlightenment, right?  Hahaha....that was a joke) that I was able to put words around my belief system...the same system that guided me as child.  Words like self cultivation, skilled judgement, discernment and reciprocity.

From the time I can remember I defied the 'rules'.  I have typically gone against societal norm.  I have never been a fan of the "do as I say not as I do" mentality.  I have not emulated family members nor people of influence.  Folks throughout my life have always said, "She marches to the beat of her own drummer."

I am still trying to figure out where I derive all my thought patterns, but I believe more and more that the derivative may be inexplicable.  I was attracted to the church many years ago.  I studied independently as no one carried me to the church nor was there teaching in my household.  However, I do not profess to be a religious person.  Spiritually led, influenced and guided, yes.  Religious, no.

Regardless, failure not being an option is a big part of my everyday life.  It drives me.  Hence I believe my connection to the term, 'one hundred percent and then some'. Now, I do not classify success as wealth, abundance and prosperity.  I am still trying to figure out what ultimate success is.  This is where I have to rely on reflection, faith and spirituality -- it is a daily journey. Right now success for me is peace, making others stronger, making contributions to the future, leading efforts and people as well as following efforts and people, learning about myself each day, never giving up, remaining hopeful and choosing the encouragement of thoughts over rules.

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential...these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."  -- Confucius

It seems to me that folks overlook the simple things in life which always deal with self improvement rather than improving others (rules, policy, governance).  What is success to you?

I leave you with this.....

"If I am walking with two men, each of them will serve as my teacher.  I will pick out good points on the one and emulate them, and the bad points of  the other and correct them in myself."  -- (you got it) Confucius

Peace to you as we cross over into this new year.  May the year hold many successes for you and it is my hope that failure is not an option for you.

--c


Gratitude

Living a life of gratitude.  What does this mean?

I have always tried to live a life of curiosity and gratitude.  I still get angry and frustrated from time to time, but when one is curious you spend more time trying to figure out the source of frustration rather than concentrating on the feeling.  When one lives a life of gratitude you then spend more time being thankful for the frustration and what you learn from it rather than concentrating on the feeling.  Maybe curiosity and gratitude are coping mechanisms?  One thing is for sure they help to keep you positive.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melody Beattie

I recently returned home from the International Sniper Competition.  I have been working this event for the past four years.  This is the first year I felt accepted by this small, exclusive and quiet community.  By nature they are selective, by nature they are discriminatory.  I am so grateful to feel accepted within this very special, talented and brave community.  In return, I promise them undying support.  

Every day I feel fortunate to be living a life according to my calling.  I follow my path each and every day.  The only way that is able to happen is through the great network of people who surround me.  For them, I am thankful. 

I am also thankful for the people in my life who teach me, through example, how to not live my life.  Those who treat others as less than human.  Those who do not follow through on what they say they are going to do.  Those who speak of sweetness and then perform with spite. These people are just as important as they ones who teach you about kindness, generosity and sweetness. 

Life is a big mystery and can be confusing from time to time, but I hope to never lose the feeling of gratitude for the ability and permission to navigate the channels in which I am privileged. 

What are you able to be thankful for today? The big things and the small.  All are equally as important. 

BIG GIRL PANTS


Life is not about finding yourself, It is about creating yourself.  - George Bernard Shaw

I received the above daily inspiration the other day and it had sticktuitiveness with me. I've always believed in creating oneself, but sometimes when you go through difficult times you lose sight of the finishline.

I understand that each decision I make affects my future path.  So, I have decided to put on my BIG GIRL PANTS, hold my head high in the air, make tough decisions and create the path I desire.  Nike says, "there is no finishline"......so why do we try to find it?  Truth be told, even if I reached the finishline I would look for a new race/challenge anyway.

Somebody told me the other day, relating to politics, that we all need to compromise.  I passionately disagree.  Compromise means somebody is going to walk away unfulfilled.  I prefer to reach agreements.

Needless to say, I refuse to compromise. I refuse to compromise my values in order to placate someone else.  I give myself permission to dismiss the people that do not conduct themselves in a manner that is in alignment with the future I am creating.

How many of you stop from time to time to plan the 'way ahead'? Do you do this yearly, monthly, or daily?  In my nonprofit and corporate consulting capacity I would call this strategic planning. However, I am always an advocate for simple vocabulary.  So let's just call it what it is....the Way Ahead.

I am highly responsive to my associates that want to discuss and strategize the way ahead.  If we are discussing then we are planning forward together and there is power in surrounding yourself with like minded people.

Watch out world, the BIG GIRL PANTS are on.  I daily work around 'Type A' personalities and up to this point have been discouraged from expressing the 'Type A' side of my personality.  However, when I strip away my assertiveness, I am no longer pursuing my path, but rather some elses intended path for me.  Therefore, this week I identified two accountability partners.  I am going to ask them to hold my feet to the fire, to push me, to mentor me, to coach me.  Nobody is going to create the future I want....other than me.

Thoughts?  What about you?  Do you have your own version of BIG GIRL PANTS?



PASSION

Do you have it?  Do you need it?

Before you can answer these questions it seems to me that first you need to be able to define passion. According to The Free Dictionary online, passion is: A powerful emotion such as love, joy, hatred or anger. Boundless enthusiasm. An abandoned display of emotion.

Yet, passion is not about a silver screen love scene as the definition lends itself to describe.

Passion is a way to live life.  Passion is a key to happiness.  Have you noticed that people without passion seem lost?  Absolutely, that is because they are!!!

It seems as though more and more people are listening to the cynics rather than motivating self from within.  For this reason I choose to surround myself with PASSIONATE people.

Passionate people tend to see the world with an elevated degree of optimism. Passionate people see how they can make the world a better place.  Typically love, faith  and imagination are embraced by those with passion.

I am always told how much passion I possess. I also frequently use the term passion to describe me, but what does that really mean?

Passion is much more than technical definitions.  Passion gives us a reason to keep learning.  Passion gives us a purpose.  I argue that passion does not just bring joy to us, the people with the passion, but also brings pleasure to all the folks surrounding us.

Passion gives us opportunity to connect with one another.

A lack of passion allows manipulation, hyperbole and spin to creep in.

The pursuit of happiness is our right. I encourage that the pursuit of happiness comes from within rather than from laws, politics and regulations.  That pursuit of happiness stems from our passion and from our willingness to embrace that life should and can be experienced with untamed enthusiasm. That enthusiasm is contagious.  I dare you to try it :-)

Companies are looking for a competitive advantage.  I remain steadfast in saying, in our current environment, if you want to professionally stand out from the crowd then you should communicate with passion.

Fundamentally, let your guard down.  Be vulnerable. Connect with everyone in your life. Connect soul to soul.

You communicate with passion when you do what you love and share what you love in everything that you do. Let your passion be your guide in the way you walk, talk, dress, speak, respond and how you interact with others.  Your passion cannot be argued.  Your passion is not up for debate.  Your pssion is not something others can take control of for you.  Therefore, people will take notice.  They will be interested.  They will be motivated.  They will be inspired

Our Tribal Nature



I was recently hired to lead a retreat for a community nonprofit organization (NSHMBA- Austin).  The President of the organization wanted me to talk about the points made in Seth Godin's book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.  I did my homework.  I read the book and then I purchased the audio version of the book and listened to it. I felt myself growing as I read this short book on personal leadership.  I encourage you to read it as well.  The book  is roughly 80 pages :-)

Tribe as defined on Wikipedia: It is a living energy center around which kindred minds gather and exchange ideas, traditions, protocols, inspirations, experiences, leassons learned, technology- all magnetized to a core of shared interests.  A real tribe understands the inherent value of working together for its own enlightenment, growth and security. Many are born into their cultural, social, political, economic tribes- but today most individuals find their real tribe(s) by the simple act of following their interests.

After reading this book and understanding more about tribes I am convinced that we operate according to a tribal nature and more convicted than ever to continue in my movement. The movement of serving our service members and creating/supporting organizations and events that provide direct services and/or funding back to our combat veteran community and their families.

In order to make the movement successful, it takes a Tribe.  Are you a member of my Tribe?  Am I a member of your Tribe?  Will you help me reduce veteran suicide rates?  Will you help me to find ways for improved reintegration of our service members back into civilian society?  Will you help me by showing we are a strong community of integrity and will do what we say we are going to do?

This movement is bigger than me.  This movement is bigger than you and yet is so very important to the fabric of our society and its future.  I aspire to be a part of a movement that grows and thrives based on the members in the Tribe. I aspire to squash the status quo and prove that we 'CAN' do business differently and that we 'CAN' make a difference.

Seth also featured the following in his blog earlier this month:

Most People


  • Most people don't care enough to make a difference.
  • Most people aren't going to buy that new thing your selling.
  • Most people are afraid to take action.
  • Most people are too self-involved to do the generous work you're hoping for.
  • Most people think they can't afford it.
  • Most people won't talk about it. 
  • Most people aren't going to read what you wrote.
  • Fortunately, you're not most people.  Neither are your best customers. 


Luckily, I don't hang around most people!!  At least I try not to for very long. You are special.  You are the type that strives to excel.  You are the type that wants to give back.  You are the type that is motivated and resilient. You are the type that gives one hundred percent and then some. I know this because many of you have inspired me in my moments when I have needed inspiration. You ARE a part of my Tribe and I want to be a part of YOURS if I am not already!

I look forward to moving forward together with you! I look forward to making a difference with YOU.  Let's do this!

Opportunity = Responsibility

I was recently asked why I was a board member of the charitable nonprofit organization GallantFew, Inc..  I explained that I have certain beliefs and convictions.  Those include my belief that the United States of America is a great country and I am indebted to those that chose to serve, protect and defend her.  I believe that I have been given unique opportunities because of my relationships and depth of knowledge regarding our service members.  With those opportunities and that unique knowledge I feel that I also have a great responsibility.

The responsibility is to find relevant ways to serve those that I profess to represent and of those that trust me.  I know of, understand and have empathy for the issues that our service members have faced or may face as a result of combat.  I know and understand the barriers that exist for many to seek  needed services.  This coupled with my belief that our government does not have the answer.  We the people have the answer.  The individual community members, corporations and private organizations have the ability to come together and circle around those that need our care and attention.

I am proud of how committed the leadership of GallantFew is toward making a difference.  I love to surround myself with passionate people who are committed to overcoming hurdles in order to achieve a goal.

Along this journey I have met some of the greatest Americans that truly live a life of serving.  A life of  using personal resources, assets and connections to influence his/her community members.  This is such an amazing thing to witness.  I feel so privileged to see the good in so many people.

It does not matter what your passion is.  It does not matter how you feel our communities are served best.  We all have different experiences and unique opportunities that create our sense of responsibility.  I just passionately encourage you to find yours.  To define it and to act on that responsibility.  If we all have a laser focus on serving our communities through our individual passion we will not have the time to fight one another.  We will not have the time to accuse and berate folks that have a different opinion than ours and we will take the focus off the government providing solution to We The People finding solutions.  Now, how liberating is that???


CREED


Do you live by a creed?  Last night i had the great fortune to attend the Champions for Justice Gala. This gala raised more than $450,000 for veterans to have access to legal aid services.  The keynote speaker for the evening was Admiral McRaven.  He is a four star admiral currently serving as the ninth commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.  He is also the commander in charge of Operation Neptune's Spear: The Death of Osama bin Laden.   
Last night he gave a short and profound speech.  I was blessed to be in the audience with other great Americans, leaders and folks I admire.  He was introduced by Coach Mack Brown, University of Texas head football coach.  Coach Brown is a leader of leaders with his determination behind a philosophy of "One Heartbeat".  
Brown finished his introduction by reciting the SEAL Creed.  Thought I would share it with you today.  I realize that those I admire the most all strive to live by a creed.  A creed that is the tip of the spear to their brotherhood. Wouldn't it be nice if we all lived by and toward a creed?  I know they certainly inspire me. 

Navy SEAL Creed

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.
Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life.
I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.
Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed.
I will not fail.

INSPIRATION

Inspiration: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something

Well, I must be honest.  There are days when I question what the heck I am doing.  Times have been  tough lately.  However, even  in the thick of all that is going on...I still feel inspiration on a daily basis.  I know when I am inspired....because I feel a rush of energy as I am in that moment, navigating through a particular situation or simply in the presence of greatness.

I get inspired surfing through facebook, reading a book, spending time with my friends or being mesmerized by my daughter's growth and maturity.  I love the feeling I get when being inspired.  Do you recognize all the small and large inspirations in your life and along your journey?

Some examples of my most recent inspirations:

- Watching the growth and success of Sherry Post and Simple Fuel (@simplefuel). This is one amazing lady that created a phenomenal product and awesome brand.

- Being around people that love what they do.  This has been my experience with the armed service members I have been able to work around.  Namely the RANGER community.

- Working with people that honor commitments and provide quality products.  A perfect example of this is Kelly Hyde with Infidels Incorporated and Airborne Ranger Designs (@AirborneRanger).  Kelly is an amazing advocate. It is an honor to call him a friend and colleague.

- Listening to people and working along side people that encourage you to be a better version of yourself. The people who are passionate and focused on having a purpose.  Vol Montgomery of Reveille Peak Ranch (@RPRTexas) is a perfect example of this type of person.

- Learning from our nation's greatest heroes.  The folks that paid huge sacrifices to serve this country and defend liberty.  RANGER Michael Schlitz is one of these heroes. He continues to provide great service to this country, has an undeniable spirit and a contagious enthusiasm.

- Being surrounded by amazing friends and personal advocates.  I have the great fortune of calling some very authentic and genuine people 'friends'. They support me, comfort me, tell me I'm beautiful, challenge me and stay amazingly authentic and true to self.  Yes, Angela Robertson and Neelam Noorani....you know who you are.

- Watching young people have a passion for service.  People like Daniel and David Poku and their affinity to help young people.  Their latest initiative being Mustang Heroes at SMU.

- Studying my daughter and having heart-to-heart conversations.  The type of conversations I know she will one day remember.  They will help guide her.  They will help her make decisions.  However, to listen to her thoughtfulness now.....is truly inspiring.

I just hope to have the ability to inspire others as well.  Days are better when seeing them through inspired eyes!!!

Do you know your sources of inspiration?

CORE VALUES



Wow! Where does the time go? I can hardly believe it is already February 2012. It has been too long since I last posted, but I guess I hit a mental hurdle that needed to be crossed. I have been excited to share with you and get feedback in regard to many different items, thoughts and life lessons.

Although I have been side tracked over the past couple of months, one thing is for certain, I want to live a purpose-filled life. I greatly admire those people that have a steely fire in their eyes. It is those steely eyes that speak to me. Those eyes communicate without words needing to be spoken. Those steely eyes convey to me that their owner has a purpose and a focus. 


Over a year ago, as I was re-reading “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner, I  started my own journey of self reflection. I believe it was about mid way through the book that the authors talk about the importance of a leader owning a set of core values. I challenged myself to write down and document what I believed to be my core values. I then documented what I aspire to become and finally set out to ask others what they believe my core values to be. The process was interesting and full of self discovery and affirmation.

Taking into account the three sources of information, I then cross referenced the lists and intentionally wrote out a set of core values. My intention is to proudly share my core values and live in such a way others will testify to my authenticity.

I would love to hear your thoughts about your own core values. What do you hope others see in you?

Let’s start by defining/explaining core values. The heart of an organization, business and/or individual are its values. These identified values form the foundation on which work is performed and how we conduct ourselves carrying out that work. There is a vast amount of potential values, yet some are so important that throughout the changes in family, jobs, government, politics, and technology, they are still the core values to which we will abide. 

Core values are unwaivering. Core values champion our work, how we interact with each other and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. Basically, core values are the fundamental elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use in everything we do.

Operating without core values is like hiking deep in the woods without a compass. Without sounding too harsh, you simply drift along. I have never been much of a drifter, but I have gone through periods of drift.

The following set of bullet points, defining core values, is taken from http://www.nps.gov/training/uc/whcv.htm. Core values:

  • Govern personal relationships 
  • Guide business processes 
  • Clarify who we are 
  • Articulate what we stand for 
  • Help explain why we do business the way we do 
  • Guide us on how to teach
  • Inform us on how to reward 
  • Guide us in making decisions 
  • Underpin the whole organization 
  • Require no external justification
  • Essential tenets 

I have grown to depend on my core values to guide me in my decision making process. The moment I am not in line with my core values I find it more difficult to sleep at night. So, here are my core values and hence those of Candyss and Associates. Although I do not expect everyone on my team to have the same core values as me, I absolutely expect them to be guided by his/her own core values and to be able to explain them to me. So, here they are. I have listed my core values and have taken the opportunity to show how you might see me  exhibiting these values:

  • Foster trusting and authentic relationships: Through a commitment to creating win-win partnerships.

  • Be dependable: Remain available and follow through with the work promised

  • Be predictable: Provide quality services. 

  • Show genuine interest and curiosity: Ask sincere questions to gain understanding of each client’s individuals needs and intent. 

  • Approach conversations with sincerity: Listen to others before offering advice and/or making recommendations.

  • Empower others: Find ways to help clients build skill, competency and expertise. 

  • Create win-win opportunities: Look for outcomes that will benefit all representatives in a process. 

  • Honor all commitments: Do what we say we are going to do. 

  • Work hard – Play Hard: Give 100 percent effort, enjoy the folks we work with and do not overlook the time to celebrate successes. 

  • Cultivate business relationships not business transactions: Pick up work and volunteer experiences that we are passionate about and enjoy the people rather than earning a pay check. 

  • Celebrate successes….no matter how great or small: Never overlook an opportunity to reward self and others for a job well done. 

  • Go beyond expectations: Follow the motto 100% and then some. Keep expectations low and then always deliver more than is expected. 

  • Never leave doubt of our passion: Be passionate about every opportunity we choose to be involved. 

  • Get things done: Do not put off to tomorrow what can be accomplished today! 

  • Find opportunities to be both a student and a teacher: We learn just as much from the clients we work with as they learn from us. 

  • Take the time to show appreciation: Always show gratitude for opportunities and for those that help us to achieve the objective. 

  • Be honest: Admit when we are unable to complete a task or when our competencies and skills are not the best fit for a job. 


What are your core values? If you do not yet have a defined set of values, do you plan to start?
 
One of the things I love about working with the military is each branch’s explicit set of values.  So, I will leave you with their values.  They all remind me of the type and caliber of person I desire to be.  

Marine Corps: Honor, Courage and Commitment

Airforce: Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do

Coast Guard: 
- Honor: Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.; 

- Respect: We value our diverse workforce. We treat each other with fairness, dignity and compassion. We encourage individual opportunity and growth. We encourage creativity through empowerment. We work as a team.; 

- Devotion to Duty: We are professionals, military and civilian, who seek responsibility, accept accountability, and are committed to the successful achievement of our organizational goals. We exist to serve. We serve with pride.

Army: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage

INTESTINAL FORTITUDE


What does intestinal fortitude mean to you?

To me, Intestinal fortitude means courage and endurance to go on. As a result of a  little bit of research I have found there have been many cites indicating the term was first used in a lecture by John Woodworth Wilce in 1916. He was a football coach and professor at Ohio State Univeristy.

I have been thinking about the term intestinal fortitude for quite some time now.  It is the last stanza of the RANGER creed and I have heard it recited many times.  This stanza always stood out to me because of the term intestinal fortitude.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight onto the RANGER objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.  

I am not sure I was able to comprehend the magnitude of this term until I really started to dissect it and questioning myself on my very own fortitude. 

I suppose  you could exchange the term intestinal fortitude with guts. 
"Guts are a combination of confidence, courage, conviction, strength of character, stick-to-itiveness, pugnaciousness, backbone, and intestinal fortitude.  They are mandatory for anyone who wants to get and to stay at the top."  D.A Benton

I have always been one to be highly reflective.  I have always been the one to feel things and experience life at a very deep and genuine level.  Now, as I am starting to connect the dots with all the models, mentors, aspirations and disappointments in my life…..I am able to very clearly understand intestinal fortitude. 

With that understanding….I must ask myself….do I have it? Is fortitude an all or nothing deal?  Does one have fortitude…..or simply not have it?

I am not sure on these answers.  However, I am able to recognize fortitude when I see it.  Also, I have recognized that when I am confronted with a difficult situation, I play the same dialogue over and over in my mind:
“Push through it.  Suck it up. It hurts now, but you must push through the pain. Take a look around all your friends have it.  All the people you look up to is able to push past a difficult situation. They would not give up. ” 
That dialogue usually keeps me in the game.  In fact, I have often been called stubborn….
"Still I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhleming odds." Louis Nizer

From my vantage point we hear the same information time and time again.  Most of the folks that we have come to know as very successful have needed to endure and overcome hardships.  More than likely the relationships we acknowledge as ideal, in order to thrive, endured moments where both parties wanted to throw in the towel.

Is there ever a good time to give up?  If you do give up, does that mean you lack fortitude in every other area of your life?

I know, call me crazy, but these are the things I constantly think about J Help me out!!

Unfortunately, I am not sure I can claim to have intestinal fortitude.  My health ailments have physically limited me and my movements.  I believe I have reached a period where I am not willing to challenge those joints any longer and have accepted that I am physically challenged.  However it is relationships that are curious to me.  When is it fortitude to endure a relationship OR a smart decision to leave it behind? If I choose to leave a relationship behind.....have I just simply failed to have fortitude?
My personal thoughts and queries aside, I do agree with Mr. Butler quoted below.  I do think we are experiencing a point in time requiring stamina.
"The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost cirsumspection, deliberation, fortitude and stamina."  -- Samuel Butler
As a country, will we have what it takes?

CHARACTER


A friend posted the following  on his Facbebook page the other  day…..

“ I had the overwhelming desire to do the wrong thing but didn't. Why not do the wrong thing is most often the difficult question and especially when no one is looking. "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are." -- John Wooden

This quote encouraged me to think about personal character. I would like to hear your thoughts as well.

I am curious about character because lately it often feels like I am locked in personal and professional battles.  In fact, so much so that I often feel weary. Tired of the next hard conversation I may need to have.  While in the midst of battle I attempt to always be aware of my behavior and whether or not I am staying true to the things that are deeply important to me.  However, I am curious because over the course of time the things that are deeply important to me change. 

Some of the concepts that are deeply important to me consist of being a leader, seeking inspiration, having autonomy and independence, and maintaining a no excuse lifestyle.

I have settled on a belief that character is internal and that we are individually the best judge of our own character if we intentionally choose to be honest with ourselves.

I considered the following concepts and thoughts as I came to my conclusion:

-       Character is a set of behavior traits that define what type of person you are

-       Character determines whether you will achieve your goals or will be forthright in dealing with others

-       Character develops over time and does not change quickly

-       A person’s behavior is an indication of character

-       Character consists of learned behavior

-       A person with strong character shows drive, energy, determination, self-discipline, and will power. – This attracts followers

-       A person with weak character is disorganized, vacillates and is inconsistent.

It seems to me that personal character then translates into integrity.  From my point of view integrity is being true to one’s self, one’s values, beliefs and standards. 

The battles I find myself in are a constant reminder that people and situations are constantly pulling at us to forget our priorities. Yes, if I am to be, do and have what is important to me then I must me strong and courageous and therefore hold my own in any and all circumstances.

Kind of like this John F Kennedy quote:
"Courage - not complacecy - is our need today.  Leadership not salesmanship"

So these are the things that I stand behind and will fight for:
  • Foster trusting and authentic relationships
  • Be dependable
  • Be predictable
  • Show genuine interest and curiosity
  • Approach conversations with sincerity
  • Empower others
  • Create win-win opportunities
  • Honor all commitments
  • Work hard – Play Hard
  • Cultivate business relationships not business transactions
  • Celebrate successes….no matter how great or small
  • Go beyond expectations
  • Never leave doubt of my passion
  • Get things done
  • Find opportunities to be both a student and a teacher.
  • Take the time to show appreciation
  • Be honest

What are the things that are deeply important to you that shape your character?  Do you suffer and face some of the same battles I do?