Whenever he heard someone complain about something trivial, a friend of mine used to say, “Just build a bridge and get over it”. Although this was often said a humourous way, there is a strong message in it if we choose to look at it.
What is the purpose for building a bridge? A bridge is a structure spanning and providing passage over a barrier, whether the barrier is an obstacle or a gap. When a bridge exists, the barrier is dwarfed by the bridge. However, without the bridge, the focal point becomes the barrier regardless of how big or small it is.
Some barriers look insurmountable. The sheer size of them can be so overwhelming that sometimes we fail to get beyond viewing the viewing of the problem and into the stage of bridge-building. The Bible story of David and Goliath is a good example of this. When David stood before the giant Goliath he could have agreed with the general consensus and said, “He’s so big we can’t hit him”, but he chose to respond with a winners attitude, “He’s so big I can’t miss!”
When we stand and face our barrier, we too are faced with two options when it speaks to us (and it will). We will either say, “I will” or “I won’t”, but we need to choose what our response will be. Henry David Thoreau once said, "Never look back unless you are planning to go that way."
The next time a problem rises it’s dominating head before you, make the decision that you will face it head on. Then you can build a bridge and get over it.
Most people have things in their lives that they want to change. These could be old habits, addictions or something they want to overcome. However, wanting to change something is only the first part of dealing with it. Doing something to change it is the second part.
Consider an athlete in the Olympics who is competing as a sprinter in the 100 meter hurdles final. He has trained, he has worked out, he has prepared himself physically as well as mentally. He knows that as he runs, there will be hurdles on the track, but he also knows that if he doesn’t run, he can never win. His focus isn’t on the hurdles - it is on the finish line. Sure, the hurdles are there and he will have to clear them before he progresses to the next one, but with each step that he takes, and each hurdle that he clears, the finish line will come closer and closer.
The hurdles are set in place with the intention of them being cleared. The finish line is intended to be crossed, but unless he actually starts the race, focuses on the finish line, and clears every hurdle that comes up, he will not finish.
If you have things in your life that you would like to change, or see completed, hen the decision to start the race is entirely up to you. It is your race and you are the only competitor. All you need to do is start running, clear each hurdle as it comes up, but if you keep your focus on the finish you will win, and you will gain the prize.
Recently I was pondering over my life and thinking about who and what I have become. As I did this, I began to think more on the actual word ‘become’.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that the word ‘Become’ means ‘to happen, come about and arrive’ and is a compound of the two words ‘Be’ and ‘Come’.
I have often heard people say, “Twelve months ago I would not have imagined that I would be where I am today.” Have you ever thought or said that? I know there are times that I have. Why do we say those things? It is because we often look backwards over what has happened in our lives and the only forward planning we have can be quoted with the phrase “Que Sera Sera - Whatever will be, will be”, but there is no hope or direction for us when that is our mindset.
I realised how often we look in a backwards direction over our lives, but instead we need to look forward. When you think about it, who I choose to ‘be’ today will determine who I will ‘come’ to be tomorrow. If I don’t like who I have ‘come to be’ (or be-come) then I need to change who I am being today, so that the change will result in me having a new out-come. I can look at my past and cry with tears of regret over it, or I can remember the ‘glory days’ where things have gone better then planned, but neither viewing can change our future. Our remembering should be used to learn from, and plan for an even better future.
Who have you be-come? Who would you like to be-come? The power to change that begins with you. So does the choice.
We’ve had our son home from school for the last few days. Today as a means of passing the time, he was watching the movie “Cool Runnings” which is a story of four Jamaican men who entered the first Jamaican bobsled team in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Their first days on the track were somewhat of an embarrassment. However, as they days progressed, it soon became obvious that they were becoming a force to be reckoned with.
One scene in the movie I found quite powerful. The captain of the team, Derice Bannock, was so inspired by the Swiss team, that he began to imitate them, psyching his team up the way the Swiss did, counting at the start of a race the way the Swiss did, and pushed his team in the ways of the Swiss so much that they became frustrated and nervous. Because of this, when it came time to race in front of the crowds, they totally fell apart.
What turned them around and brought an incredible change in performance and unity within the team was a comment made by one of his teammates at the end of the day when they were debriefing. As he expressed his frustrations, he stated, “I didn’t come up here to forget who I am, and where I come from... If we look Jamaica, walk Jamaica, talk Jamaica, and is Jamaica, the we sure better bobsled as Jamaica”.
Sometimes we too can be inspired by the words and actions of others and try to imitate them because they are successful, or are liked by others or are wealthy or whatever else our reasons can be. I remember growing up, my mother would continuously quote famous people that inspired her saying, Gloria says this, or, Joyce says that. I remember asking her one day, “That’s fine mum, but what do you say?”
We often imitate others. Many people like to model themselves after famous people. It is both good and necessary to have mentors and coaches who can speak into our lives, but we still need to be genuine to ourselves. One thing we can easily forget (and I’ll personalise this) is that I was created to make a difference.
No one can do better than I can, that which God placed me on this earth to do. In the same manner, no one can be a better you, than you can. We can’t make a difference to others while we are trying to be someone else. Be an inspiration to others, rather than an imitator of others. Be true to yourself. You are unique! You are special! Put one foot in front of the other and begin moving forward, because you were created to make a difference in this world.
How have you gone with your New Years Resolution (NYR)? Statistics show that after 6 months, more than 50% of people who made a serious NYR have failed to see them through. After 12 months, more than 90% of people have failed. It makes you wonder why with those kind of statistics one would even bother thinking about New Year's resolution? In January, I shared techniques for setting a new years resolution that will help you stay focused. However, the thing we need to keep in mind is that a NYR is all about change – serious change, and what better time to start making a change in your life than today. Anyone who sets a NYR is a person who wants to see change. New Years Day is only one day. You don’t need to wait until the next one comes around to make changes that will improve your kind of life. Do it now!
Anyone who has ever tried to change any part of his or her thinking, emotions, or behaviour knows that it can be a difficult task. The question that we need to ask ourselves is: Why do we have such a hard time making important changes in our lives?
Let’s face it. Change is difficult. There is an old saying. “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. Quick and easy methods that we so often see can often leave you feeling like a failure. Not only does change bring challenges, we have to face hurdles and baggage that may have been in our way for many years, maybe even from our childhood.
Types of baggage include low self-esteem, anger, fear of failure, perfectionism, a need to control, and need to please. These cause us to respond in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours as we would have when we were children, rather than how we should as adults. These behaviours, and the emotions that associated with them are learned, and are often difficult to break through, although far from impossible.
Foundations for Change
Change starts when we come to realise that it is too painful to continue doing what we are doing. In life we are all motivated by two things - pain and pleasure. Everything we do is either out of our desire to gain pleasure or our need to avoid pain. We will actually do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure.
Pain can be an incredible motivator for change. I remember stepping on a broken piece of cup a few months ago. The direction my foot travelled (down) changed rapidly once I experienced enough pain to register the fact that something needed to change. Now you might say, “Well that’s obvious!” but that is exactly how things are in our life also.
Change also requires that you exercise courage. Change requires risk, and this can often scare people away from going for it. The courage to change means that we are going to have to be willing to acknowledge and confront certain aspects of our lives, and this is something that some people don’t find very easy.
Because change is uncertain, the only way to change is to take a leap of faith that involves a fundamental belief in the vision of who, what, and where we want to be in the future.
One thing we need is a realisation that hurdles and obstacles to change exist, and a determination to clear those hurdles and obstacles is necessary as we pursue our goals.
... Part 2 next month...