Posts tagged #choices

Do What The Great Ones Do

As a speaker and writer, I do my best to learn what makes the “great ones”—orators and authors of the world renown—great. I study their speaking and writing styles, their word choices and use of language, their presentation skills and means of grabbing and maintaining the attention of their audiences. More than anything else, however, I study their lives, specifically the obstacles and trials these men and women had to overcome on their paths to success. What I glean from my examinations I integrate into my own life because, if there is one common thread of human character that links the past, present, and future, it is our ability to persevere.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

As evidence of this, consider the example of a poor, single mother who once lived on welfare. Divorced and jobless, she had been diagnosed with depression and had even contemplated suicide. Then, while taking a train trip one day, she had an idea for a novel. She worked on her book in local cafes while her baby took naps in the stroller. Once her manuscript was finished, she submitted it for publication; it was rejected countless of times before a publishing house finally accepted it. This woman’s birth name was Joanne Murray, but today people the world over know her as JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

In a commencement speech at Harvard, Rowling mentioned something about failure that I believe is very relevant for us to truly understand and grasp what perseverance means.

She said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Rowling did not allow her difficulties to keep her mired in poverty, but rather endured them and, as a result, became the world’s first female billionaire author. She is literally living the “rags to riches” fairy tale, all because she chose to persevere rather than surrender.

Struggles in life are unavoidable. As surely as the sun will rise, they will come. Some may batter us so badly that we will want to give up on everything we have planned, but that does not mean we must allow them to steal our hope. We can instead choose to see our trials simply as steps we must take along the path to greatness.

Remember this: You always have a choice; persevere or surrender? The great ones; leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, artists, etc. know that greatness comes because they choose not to give up on their mission. 

What will you choose today?

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You Matter

“The small choices and decisions we make a hundred times a day add up to determining the kind of world we live in.”—Harold Kushner

Last Tuesday my mom asked me to take her to a birthday party celebrating a friend of hers who had lived with us for a few years during my childhood. She had turned ninety years old. What a milestone!

As I sat at the party, holding my daughter as she slept in my arms, I thought about whether I would live that long, and if I did how would my life be remembered. What would I leave my daughter, family, and people who had the opportunity to meet me with?

Many people don’t struggle with the fact that they will die. Death, after all, is inevitable. Most people, however, do wrestle with the thought of having lived a life that didn’t matter.

There’s not much worse than reaching the end of your life thinking you didn’t make a difference.  For we all desire to be significant. And as one author wrote, we all want to be, “somebody’s somebody.”

How many people, young or old, just want to feel that someone cares about them? How many of us would give more effort at our job knowing that what we do is viewed as important?

We want to know that we matter. We want to hear it. We want people to tweet and instagram it. Sometimes, the recognition we crave though will never come. Does that mean we’re insignificant and don’t matter? Not at all.

We do matter.

You matter. In fact, the choices you make today matter more than you will ever know. What you do today determines the type of world you live in. The power is in you to create an atmosphere that can help or hurt not only yourself, but also others.

You are important. No matter how big or small you think something you do is, you never know what your act of kindness can do for a person and where it can lead them.

The smile you give to a person who’s hurting CAN brighten up his or her day.

The belief you have for a kid who feels they have no hope CAN change their world.

The gift you give to someone CAN make him or her feel like they’re on cloud nine.

The time you spend with your loved ones CAN let them know that they are special.

The love you express CAN make a difference.

Love and being loved is what makes life meaningful. If your heart is filled with love and you’re able to freely share it with others, that’s success. For as Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived—that is to have succeeded.”

What can you do today to let someone else know that they matter too? Share with me in the comments below.

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A.C. Cristales is a motivational youth speaker, leadership consultant, and author.  He has been working with students, educators, parents and youth workers for more than 15 years. 

Posted on October 24, 2014 and filed under Blogs.