Tag Archives: Success

Perception: Learning How to View the Glass

When we focus on the negativity in our lives it forms a cascading effect of compounding negativity wherein each little thing that occurs becomes exponentially more severe and negative than it would if it had occurred independently of everything else. Humans have this tendency to seek order and to find patterns or reasons for things occurring and when we focus on the negative it tends to exacerbate the problem by assigning an underlying negative force focused on our personal lives.

This is problematic and it leads to a lot of harm, suffering and stress that could otherwise be averted by not linking everything together. However, this trait also tends to work in the opposite direction; i.e., when we focus on the positive the positive tends to have an escalating compounding effect of positivity. Many like to call this or liken it to “good luck” or a “stroke of luck” or “being blessed,” but what is happening regardless of the nominal characteristics associated with it is that the positive is being focused on and it changes how each particular event is analyzed and evaluated.

In a nutshell, the key for me is to not dwell on the negative things associating evil or harmful purpose to independent and mutually exclusive events, and instead focusing on the positive things in my life. This does not mean that I ignore that bad things happen because that would not be healthy and some things do not to be dealt with as they arise. But it does mean that I strive to not let those things consume my being by crowding out the beauty that surrounds me.

(Exercise)

Make a list of ten negative things in your life that come to mind. I think for most of us this should come fairly naturally and easily. Do not be concerned if you have a hard time with this because that means you are already on the path to achieving and maintaining greater peace and joy in your life.

Then beside or underneath that list, or even on another sheet entirely write of list of twice or three times as many positive things in your life or your world. For many of us, myself included this is often much harder at first because we are not accustomed to looking for the beauty in our own lives, but it is there I assure you.

When you are finished look at the two lists side-by-side and allow yourself to feel how seeing the positivity in your life makes your feel. You may even enjoy a practice that I like doing; I like to burn the list of negative things because it symbolizes my letting go of the harmful things in my life. I actually feel as though I am letting go of the negative thinking I tend to allow to harbor in my soul crowding out the light.

I was surprised to learn that it was not the things that happen in my life, no matter how problematic they may seem to be that cause the harm to my spiritual well-being, but rather, it was how I perceived and thought about those events that caused the harm.

(Conclusion)

This is the philosophy behind viewing the glass either half full or half empty and it one method I have found useful in helping me to envision and experience the world and myself as being full of opportunity and beauty. Perceiving the glass as half empty reveals a thought that something is being taken away from us that we feel we deserve, which dramatically decreases our level of peace and contentment. In contrast, viewing the glass as half full reveals a thought that something has been given that was not deserved, an unwarranted gift. Learning how to view life as a gift and not as something that is deserved which is being stolen from me has allowed me the freedom to live in the grace that abounds uninhibited by the feeling that the world is out to get me. It has made a tremendous difference in my level of serenity, and I hope it helps some of you as well.

Almost There

I was going over my requirements for classes yesterday and I noticed something for the first time, in a way that I have never noticed it before. I am about ten credits away from my Philosophy degree and 12 credits away from my History degree!!!!

I am about to graduate from the University of Washington with my Bachelor’s degree!!!

I will be one of the first in the family I grew up knowing to accomplish this. Graduating is also something I once believed was impossible. For the longest time. Did not think Black men made it through college often. I now know different.

It is amazing what we can accomplish when we put our minds and our bodies to the tasks and stay the course; no matter how unbelievable it seems at first.

Quitting Is Not An Option

Sometimes things occur in my life which wage emotional warfare on my soul, but running away is no longer an option for me.

I used to run away before I had an opportunity to fail so that I could claim that I did not want the thing that I was fighting so hard to achieve. One good example is that I dropped out of high school because I was failing and I did not want anyone to know. So I pretended as if, it was not something that I wanted to achieve in the first place. In fact, there was nothing I wanted more at the time but I let my pride get in the way of my asking for help.

I did not know at the time that the reason I was failing was not my fault at all. When I was seven years old I suffered from a massive brain injury that has affected my ability to concentrate for long periods of time especially, when I sit down to read a technical textbook. I thought that there was some failing in me, something that I chose and that was not the case at all; I just needed to learn a new way to read.

I am still dealing with the same thing today. Of course, I am no longer in high school, I am a senior at the University of Washington and my reading load is anywhere from 700 to 1500 page a week. That is a lot to attempt to hold on to, by itself. It is also as crazy load to attempt to stay focused through.

I contemplated giving up. I even pulled back from everyone and cut off nearly all my ties to the world because I was about a hair’s length from doing just that. And right as I was about to throw the towel in and call it quits, something very strange happened; I sat down and listened to all the music I have created over the last couple of years.

I made that music as part of the Rappers Equal Nerds project to teach young and indigent minorities how to be successful maneuvering through a system designed to make us fail. I learned from the time I spent in a recovery program (the major factor in my not being in prison or worse, dead, today) and the principle manner that confidence is built between two people is by showing the other person that I have been in exactly the same place that they are. Until such an understanding is reached there is no way to bridge the chasm of trust that is requisite for the person to believe what I have to say about how to get out of the mire they are in. They have to believe that I have escaped the troubles and circumstance that they are confronting. I used this method in my music when I began constructing the songs for Rappers Equal Nerds and this is the message that I hear.

I forgot how far I have come and even where I came from. I forgot that I should not be free, let alone alive to be suffering in college. I forgot that I have been fighting tooth and nail for years, with many successes through seemingly insurmountable circumstances to get where I am today. I forgot that I graduated from North Seattle College with honors and was their valedictorian in 2013. I forgot that UW was the only university that I ever, truly wanted to attend and that, by rights, at best, I should be in prison not where I am today. The statistics show that 3/4 of adult African Males are or have spent time in prison so, just by not being in prison I am a success story.

 

I am doing this for much more than just myself, I am doing this for every indigent minority or stratified and marginalized person who hopes to rise above the circumstances that have been set before him or her like prison bars. And it is true that I am struggling right now. It is true that I am failing three of the four classes that I am taking. However, it is also true that I am working harder and learning more than I ever have in my entire life. I also know that the greatest success come from the greatest falls. That I, we, learn the so much more from failures than from success. Moreover, I know the outcome of giving up because I have been down that road before.

 

How can I help anyone when they struggle through college if I have not struggled myself? And if I hide the fact that I am struggling because of my pride, then how will I ever find the strength to overcome my hardships. No, I am not giving up, nor will I ever give up ever again. If I fall, if I fail these classes, then I will just get back up, trudge right back into the ring, and give it my all.

 

Quitting is not an option, no matter how much that seems like the easy way out. That is a lie and I know it.

Reflections of My First Quarter at the University of Washington

Regardless of how impossible the achievement of my dreams seems at times I have found that my fears are often not based in reality. The reality is that, yes it is true that, our world is full of hardships and even set-backs, but it is also true that I have been granted everything that I need to overcome those obstacles. The sobering reality lay also in the fact that even though I have been granted everything I need to overcome any and all obstacles that are set before me, that I still forget it from time to time and find myself wallowing in self-doubt, remorse, self-pity and shame as if I, Michael Anthony Moynihan was destined to be a failure. And no matter how much my brain may try to convince me of these things when times get rough and I am faced with hardships, it is simply not the case that I am destined to be a failure because I am meant for greatness and so are all of you.

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Quite some time ago I set out to record the experiences I have had while I trudge through the higher education system on my way to earning a Law degree for three reasons: (1) to process what I have been through; (2) so that I have a record of my experiences to refer back to; (3) and most importantly, so that I can share my hardships and successes with all of you who are either going through the same struggle that I am or you are interested in pursuing higher education and want to know what to expect and some tactics to meet with success. In this particular essay I will be analyzing my first quarter at the University of Washington, challenging the assumptions that I held when entering the school, exposing the difficulties that I met during the quarter and how they were overcome.

When I graduated from North Seattle Community College (NSCC) in June of 2013 with my Associate of Arts degree, and was honored as the valedictorian I thought I had this higher education thing figured out. Yet, when I got to the University of Washington (UW) I discovered that I was sadly mistaken. Now although my education at NSCC was and is an invaluable asset, and I definitely had to put every ounce of my being into successfully completing the program, I was not as prepared for the transition to university life as I thought. I had it worked into my head that I was going to carry the same success with the same techniques from community college into the university setting and that I was going to continue to earn the 4.0’s of which I had grown so accustomed. As Sarra Tekola, a seasoned student at the University of Washington in the Environmental Science program and an Audubon scholar, a UW Diversity merit scholar, and a McNair UNCF scholar put it:

“You cannot use the same strategies at the university level that you used at the community college level and expect to meet with the same level of success. You are going to have to adapt and it is not going to be easy, but I have no doubt that you will be able to handle it. Just remember, that if you were to just come to this school and start earning 4.0’s, then the school would not truly be challenging you and it would not be doing you any good. The fact that you are not earning 4.0’s, right now, is proof that you are being challenged so, do not be discouraged, all transfer students go through this their first quarter at the University of Washington, but we all also caught ahold of the ropes. You got this.”

Sarra_Envrionmental Science Major

Sarra said this to me when I came to her for advice halfway through the quarter and I was bashing my head against the wall in disgust at my apparent lack of ability to adapt. Advice that I desperately needed because I was just about ready to throw my hands up and call it quits. I assumed that I would not have to invest any more effort into my education at the UW than I had at NSCC, but that was not the case. Their expectations at the University of Washington are ten-fold what they were at my community college. I was expected to accomplish two to three times as much reading every week, on top of the assignments that were due, and to be able to comprehend the material and synthesize compelling arguments that compared and contrasted all the material covered throughout the quarter. In short, I was expected to have a complete and intimate understanding of all the material covered and to have it stored in memory for quick retrieval in practical application scenarios. I was not prepared for that, and as such, I was caught off guard and I felt unworthy because I was not performing at the level that I expected to be performing at. Miss Tekola’s words of encouragement and reassurance came at just the right time and told me precisely what I needed to hear: the UW is not community college and the same techniques that worked for me there will not work at the university level, but don’t give up because the first quarter is always the hardest, it is the transition period after which you will know what is expected of you and how to accomplish that.

The next major hurtle that I encountered centered primarily on other people’s opinions. It is true that I have just endorsed the opinions of Sarra Tekola, and although it may not be explicitly evident all the time, not everyone’s opinion, or rather not every opinion is of the same value. If it is the case that, you have wisely chosen the direction of your life, then it is not the case that, when you encounter hardships that opinions of encouragement and discouragement are of the same value. First of all, life is full of hardships and earning a degree is no exception to this fact. Second, and perhaps more important, is that opinions of discouragement dissuade us from accomplishing our goals, and if we are dissuaded from our goals then it may be the case that we accomplish nothing. While in contrast, opinions of encouragement will in times of despair, reinforce our own resolve to accomplish those goals. Thus, if the measure of other people’s opinions is measured in terms of whether or not they help us to achieve our goals, then not all opinions are of the same value and when we have justifiable goals, then encouraging opinions are to be valued above discouraging opinions. Tekola’s opinions were of the encouraging sort, so they are to be valued because they have helped me to achieve my goals; that is why I have endorsed her opinions.

However, when I began to have trouble during my first quarter at the University of Washington, in particular with the philosophy course that I was taking and I made mention of it, one of the major opinions I heard in response to my concerns was to “give up on philosophy”. And although I disagreed with this opinion entirely, if nothing has come through more clearly in my first course in philosophy then it is this: before an argument can be rejected, it must first be analyzed and then either one or all of the premises must be questioned and rejected or the reasoning drawn from the premises (the conclusion) must rejected, but it cannot be rejected on solely emotional grounds. The basic reason given for not pursuing a degree in philosophy was that they believed it to be a useless discipline, but I challenge that premise.

Before this quarter began I decided that I was going to major in both history and philosophy because they are two of the primary degrees that people get before going to law school. The history degree will teach me how to do research, which is what precedent law in America is all about, and it will also teach me how to analyze the documents that I uncover through my research, which is precisely what will be necessary to prove any case. The philosophy degree will teach me about moral and ethical frameworks, which are vitally necessary for the organization of humans in society and for the creation and interpretation of that society’s laws. It will also teach me how to analyze and to form arguments, which is an essential skill of a great lawyer. Thus, philosophy is not a useless discipline, at least not for me and my aims, or for anyone who intends to participate in law or politics in any measure.

The second and more troubling premise of the argument that was made for my giving up on philosophy was inherent in their assertions, though implicit in their arguments: if it is tough, and it since is unnecessary, then you should not do it. However, as I have shown philosophy is not an unnecessary discipline already, I will focus on the former portion of the claim, that “if it is tough… you should not do it.” If that assertion were true, then we would not have Olympic gold medalists, and nor would slavery have been abolished, nor would women have been enfranchised with the success of the suffrage movement. The list could go on ad infinitum, but I think that these examples make the point explicitly clear that some pursuit being tough does not justify not doing it.

Which brings us back to the initial assertion in this line of reasoning, “if it is the case that, you have wisely chosen the direction of your life, then it is not the case that, when you encounter hardships that opinions of encouragement and discouragement are of the same value.” I have shown that the reasoning behind my decision to pursue a degree in philosophy was sound, so it was not the case that I selected my classes poorly or that they did not fit within my overall objectives. And since I have also shown that the premises of the assertion that I “should give up on philosophy” are faulty, then it must also be the case that the conclusion is false. Since it is not the case that I should give up on philosophy, then it must be the case that the opinions of discouragement that were offered to me when I expressed dismay in my progress at the University of Washington are to be devalued because they do not help me to achieve my goals.

All of this reasoning has been accomplished in retrospect, but when I was in the middle of my last quarter it was not so clear and based on those opinions which would have derailed my progress, I almost decided to not continue my pursuit. That is the unfortunate outcome of discouragement and it is my belief that we may all be likely to encounter this type of thinking. The way I overcame this was to take more than a few moments of serious thought to discern what and why I was doing it, so I asked myself; “Why am I studying philosophy?” I have shown you the reasoning and the answer that came from that line of inquisition. This was a vital step, and though I did fully question and answer that question prior to my deciding to earn a philosophy degree, I did forget it once I was under the pressure of potentially failing one of my first courses at the University of Washington. Until this question was answered I could not discern which line of opinions, the encouragement or the discouragement was in my best interest and I was just as susceptible to be influenced by both because I could not assign value to either. That is why it is so important to take this step and evaluate why you are doing what you are doing, because we have to be able to evaluate the opinions that will flood our thoughts as we progress through our ambitions and we have to be able to discern which opinions to listen to and which opinions to disregard. To give the people who provided me with those discouraging opinions credit, if it had not been for them then I would not have question my actions for myself and I would not have come to the conclusion that I drew. And it was because I drew the conclusion that it was necessary for me to earn the philosophy degree that I am after that I started to value the encouraging opinions and reinforce my ambition to succeed with resolute determination to do so. This is why I endorsed Sarra Tekola’s opinions at the beginning of this paper and why what she said made such a difference in the outcome of my quarter.

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The outcome of the psychological battle that goes on in our own heads can make the difference between winning and losing, between success and failure, between achieving our goals and leaving empty handed. I have just detailed for all of you the primary aspects of the psychological battle that I went through last quarter and how with help, I was able to overcome it. But that was only the beginning. That victory had to be translated into action in order for me to meet with success. I had to reevaluate my approach to learning at the University of Washington and revise the techniques that worked for me at North Seattle Community College and I had to learn a new way to learn.

As I stated earlier: “I was expected to have a complete and intimate understanding of all the material covered and to have it stored in memory for quick retrieval in practical application scenarios.” Before I got to UW, it was sufficient for me to read a chapter once and incorporate 30% or so to memory taking only the key points with me. However, that method was inadequate for me at UW because my courses not only expected memorization, but also a deep comprehension of the material and a synthesis of my own opinions on what I read. Until I got to UW I did not know that there was a difference between rote memorization and comprehension or how important it was to distinguish between the two. For example, there is a big difference between memorizing the rules for how to manipulate an equation in algebra and applying those techniques to a word problem wherein one has to create an equation to solve the problem. Discerning the solution requires an intimate understanding of how the rules function and how they can be manipulated. Just as memorizing a specific equation would be inadequate for solving such a problem, so was just memorizing 30% or so of my philosophy book for synthesizing arguments in support of or against a particular philosopher or ideology. In short, there is a big difference between memorization and learning how to think for ourselves and that is what I was unprepared for when I began classes at the University of Washington.

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I quickly found that the method I had of reading through a chapter once was inadequate and in many cases I had to reread a chapter several times and even at times tear them apart line by line to achieve the level of understanding that was expected of me. To accomplish the transition from how I was reading to how I needed to read required an increased investment in the amount of time that I allotted to each chapter and a level of concentration higher than I was unaccustomed to. I cannot stress how important that extra investment has been to my understanding of the material and my ability to think about the things that I am learning. That was the key to success at the University of Washington. The primary difference I made by changing the amount of time I dedicated to each chapter was made to my understanding of each chapter. By spending longer in each chapter it allowed me the time necessary for me to actually think about the things that I was reading. And it was that thought process that allowed me not only to memorize the material I was expected to memorize but to also formulate my own thoughts on what I was reading. We cannot have thoughts about what we read if we do not think about what we read. I know that this may seem like a bit of common sense, but I assure that it was not for me. I had to learn that the hard way. What I have found is that people and particularly at the University of Washington are not as interested in what we read as they are in what we think about what we read. The same is true for society and that includes professional situations like politics. People want us to have an opinion, not simply to be academics who, are on the fence on important issues. In other words, people value our thoughts and it is our thoughts that are valuable.

The last major change to my learning process that I had to enact at the University of Washington was giving up on the concept that I can do everything alone. I do not like to depend on other people and I have avoided it like the plague. However, I have learned that I do not pick up on everything embedded in the material that I read and that some of the things that I miss others pick up on. Furthermore, one of the best ways to improve your understanding of a subject is to debate it. Based on those reasons I started to take part in study groups both throughout the quarter and to prepare for exams. It is so crazy to think that the way America is, it places us in competition with one another and continuously advocates the advantage of being an individual that can do things on their own. But the truth is that we function better as groups. And since we are communal creatures the assertion that we function better as groups only makes sense. As a result of these two major changes to my method of learning, in the space of one quarter, I went from assimilating about 30% of what I read to assimilating more than 70% of what I read and I am now able to wade through the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and apply them to real life scenarios in real time.

I did not walk out of my first quarter at the University of Washington with 4.0’s, and in fact I did not earn one 4.0 at all. The truth is that since I started college, this has turned out to been the worst quarter in terms of grades that I have had so far. I earned a 3.0 in Socio-Linguistics, a 3.1 in Philosophy and a 3.6 in History of the Middle East with a 3.23 cumulative G.P.A. But as Sarra Tekola said, “if you were to just come to this school and start earning 4.0’s, then the school would not truly be challenging you and it would not be doing you any good. The fact that you are not earning 4.0’s, right now, is proof that you are being challenged so, do not be discouraged.” What I learned and earned my first quarter at UW was far more important than a 4.0. I learned that my thoughts are important, that I can rely on other people, that I can synthesize the material I read into a coherent train of thought, and that I am worthy of being a student at the University of Washington. I learned that I have selected the correct degrees for what I want to do with my life and I have a firm grasp of who I am, what and why I am doing it, and how I intend to achieve my goals. Most importantly, I have surrounded myself with people who believe in me and my goals and are willing and able to provide me with the necessary feedback on my thoughts and encouragement to achieve my goals. Most importantly, just as Tekola promised me, I have made the transition from the community college level to the university level and I am prepared to continue my education at the University of Washington because I have caught ahold of the ropes.

I got this.

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https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/i-am-a-husky/?relatedposts_exclude=350

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/small-fish-in-a-large-pond-make-waves/?relatedposts_exclude=350

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/the-american-dream/?relatedposts_exclude=350

Success is a State of Mind: Self-Worth

Valedictorian of NSCC 2013

If a person feels good about her or his-self and their capabilities, then that person has a strong and positive sense of self-worth. If a person has a strong and positive sense of self-worth, then it may directly impact the outcomes of their actions in a positive manner. In contrast, if a person has a low sense of self-worth, then it may negatively impact the outcomes of their actions. Therefore, if the outcomes of actions may be directly impacted in a positive manner by having a strong and positive sense of self-worth, then it reasonably follows that a person who wants to be successful in life should seek to increase their sense self-worth.

By definition; self-esteem is a person’s feeling of self-worth, whether high or low. There are many factors that may contribute to a person’s self-esteem, like attitude, previous accomplishments, present circumstances, or prospective future activities, which all impact the way a person feels about his or her-self. Experience has taught me that what has happened in the past, what is happening in my present, and what I think will occur in the future only have the emotional power that I allow them to have. That is, how I think about these events changes how I feel about them. So, if and when I change how I think about those events, then I also change how I feel about them and thus, their power over me also changes.

For example, when I was a fourteen years old I stole a van and was caught after a high-speed chase through downtown Seattle, and I was sentenced to a year in a juvenile penitentiary. I resented that I had made those decisions for years to come because not only had I hurt people, but I also thought I had destroyed my future. However, when I was locked up, I both went to treatment and started writing poetry. At nineteen, both of those acts saved my life. First, the poetry helped me see through the denial of my drug addiction, which I learned in treatment was the primary cause of my behavior. Second, the drug and alcohol treatment showed me that there was a place that I could go for help. While getting sober I learned how to make reparations for the wrongs I had done and that my experiences could help to save the lives of others. Thus, by changing the way I thought about these situations they have continued to raise not only myself, but also others from the pits of Hell and despair.

Although it is true, that it is not necessary to have a strong and positive sense of self-worth to be successful, it can nonetheless, be highly beneficial to success. This is especially true when it is understood that success is measured on an individual basis; by the individual who measures it. For me, I now understand that contemporary circumstances are just that, and my immediate thoughts neither shade my emotions, nor callous my self-esteem. My self-worth is derived from knowing who I am, not from who I was, or who I could be in the future and that translates into success.

April 2011, I had been broken by life’s circumstances. I had fallen into an industry that I never planned to be part of; construction. I actually excelled in the industry as I had started as a laborer in 2004 and by 2011 I was a partner in the company. However, after the economic turmoil hit the United States and the rest of the world in 2008, maintaining a business became exceedingly difficult because our market, the housing market, collapsed.  and it felt that my life was going nowhere.  Also, in 2008 I snapped my knee working with at-risk youth as a mentor for the program T.S.B. (the Service Board), I tore the ACL, PCL and Meniscus in my right knee. The injury never completely healed and once a week I rolled my knee out of socket on the job and worsened the injury each time. Each time I looked to my mentors, who were all forty-five years old and older I noticed that they had all suffered injuries, yet they could not stop working because that was all they knew how to do. Furthermore, no other companies would hire them at their ages so, they had to work to put food on their tables and to keep a roof over their heads. What was worse, was that none of them were happy. This was the future that I was looking into and for me it was a bleak realization, but I did not know how to escape or to change the direction of my life, I felt trapped. I was broken because I measured success in greater terms than monetary gain, happiness was the largest component of success for me, and at that moment my self-worth was negative because there was no happiness in my life nor did I foresee any.

So, after being broken in April of 2011, I made the unorthodox decision to do something I had been terrified to do for years, I left the industry and enrolled in North Seattle Community College (NSCC) as the beginning to the pursuit of earning a law degree. Instantly, the weight of despair lifted off of my shoulders. I had no idea until that moment that what I was doing was killing my spirit and shattering my self-esteem, thus making me unsuccessful. Now college was by no means easy for me and I neither have doubts, nor reservations of any form that success, may and most often is, a difficult and fearful undertaking, but fear is about the future and as such, bears no relevance to what is possible today. I graduated from NSCC June of 2013, and I was the valedictorian of my graduating class. That very week I was also accepted into the University of Washington as a History and Philosophy undergraduate.

I share all of this with you, not so that I can toot my own horn, but rather so that I can convey to you an example of what is possible when the lenses through which we view the world are reversed. As a teenager, I was a high school drop-out, a thug, and a thief whose only prospects were prison and death. As a young man, and because of the decisions I made as an adolescent, it seemed that my only viable outcome in life was to be an unhappy-manual-laborer. Yet,  when I had the courage—and in my situation, necessity was a great motivator—and I took the time to re-evaluate my perspective a whole new world opened up to me.

Success is a state of mind and it is directly related to self-worth. If you are finding that you are not in a position in life today, which you consider to be successful, then it may be helpful to try looking at your world from an entirely new perspective and doing something that you have always believed was impossible. I have found that nothing reinforces a sense of self-worth like minor successes and those successes come from taking action. These minor successes help you to build momentum, which is vitally important because the road of life has bumps and potholes all over the place, and are set there in an attempt to derail you. But with momentum and a new perspective, these minor diversions, which otherwise would seem catastrophic become still more successes that add to your momentum as you overcome them.

In closing, I will share a metaphor with you that I developed a few years ago and, which has kept me focused in the midst of the turmoil of pursuing success:

When we stop to consider a goal, it is as if we are standing on the peak of one mountain looking at the peak of another mountain. From this vantage point we can see the forests and the jungles, the valleys and the rivers, which must be maneuvered to make it to our desired mountain peak. From there we lay our best plans, drawing maps and establishing contingencies for the unforeseeable and when we are ready, we forge into the great mystery of success by departing from our vantage point.

The key is not to lose focus of our objective mountain peak. Yet, once we enter into the forests and valleys we often lose sight of where it is we have come from and where we intend to go. This is a great place to be because it is neither our past, nor our future which is important, only the moment that we are in right now. Trust your map and the direction you selected while remembering that it is not the goal that is the true reward, but actually the lessons learned, the experiences and the alliances that are gained in the process that are the true rewards. So, when we become lost in the jungle and we encounter divergent paths that would divert us, stay the course, do not become lost in the realm of what-ifs and accomplish nothing; you may always return to these other interests after you reach your mountain peak.

There will come a point when we enter into what I call the “Waterfall Effect,” wherein the terror of what the future will hold paralyzes us. During our journey we have come to a waterfall, and like many waterfalls, what is on the opposite side of the waterfall is difficult to see. The F.E.A.R. (False Existence Appearing Real) terrorizes us because the waterfall is heavy, cold and could possibly kill us. The quintessential fear is that we do not know who we will become once we have crossed through the waterfall. Where we stand and who we are is both familiar and comfortable, and we may not be ready to release them, but on the other side is everything that we have desired.

Regardless of the fear, life has the propensity to propel us onward so, we must enter the waterfall. Once we have entered the waterfall all of our fears are realized as the weight of conviction bears down on us and we are pushed under the surface. We fight with everything that we have and just when we think we are defeated, we emerge from all the pressure on the other side of the waterfall as the weight and the pressure washes away from us. We are cleansed of all our fears and doubts and after having weathered the weight we are able to stand taller and more straight. The “Waterfall Effect” signifies the growth that occurs which many of us fear, but in the end sets us free.

It is this growth, which gives us the strength and the courage to scale the mountain to our desired peak; the goal we initially had our hearts set upon. Several minor successes will have been translated into a major accomplishment, whereupon these major success begin to occupy the same role as the minor successes that provided the impetus to continue forging through both the jungle and the waterfall.

By amending our state of mind, we can re-establish a positive sense of self-worth and that can lead us in the direction to the success we desire.