Give. Don't Hold Back.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank

I can still see my daughter’s face as I waved goodbye to her. Her expression of pride and joy is one that I will never forget.

I honestly believe this was the first time I saw that expression on her face directed towards me. I didn’t think I did much. I merely took time out of my day to read to her and her classmates.

Yet, to her, it was more than that. It was daddy giving her what no Elsa or Anna doll could ever give her. My time. She may not always express it, but I know that’s what matters the most. That I give of myself to her.

That’s what matters in life. That we give of ourselves.

Why should we hold back? Life is too short to live with regret.

Why should we wait until tomorrow? Life does not promise us the rising of a new day.

Everyone has something to give. However, not everyone gives because they fail to see the value in doing so.

Truth is: our life matters not because of what we get or have, but because of what we give.

If you don't have any idea what your personal life purpose is, realize this universal purpose:  We all have a talent, gift, and our time, that if given and shared, can help someone in this world.

Our path will undoubtedly get clearer as we bring light to someone else. So, give. Don’t hold back today because you are needed.

What can you give today to someone without expecting anything back that will make his or her day brighter?


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

Posted on December 18, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

Keep Smiling Your Way To Success!

There’s a Spanish proverb that says, “El hombre propone. Dios dispone.” Simply translated: We as humans make plans, but ultimately it is God who determines and places in order what actually happens in our lives.

Another familiar saying is, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I am not trying to make God out to be some sort of cruel deity. Nor am I implying that we shouldn’t make plans.

On the contrary, I know that in order to successfully achieve a goal or fulfill a dream, you must have a plan of action. No purpose is ever achieved without a plan that isn’t actually carried out.

Yet, the reality of life is sometimes things don’t go as planned. Many things can happen and often they do, but does that mean that whatever difficulty you encounter will ultimately stop you from achieving your goal?

If you face challenge after challenge, does that mean you are not qualified to go after your dream?

If your business ventures have failed, does that mean you won’t ever succeed?

If your situation doesn’t look promising, does that mean that the tides will never turn for you?

What you believe during difficult times determines what type of life you lead. If  challenges convince you that you aren’t any good and that nothing good will ever happen to you, then you’ll quit on yourself and your dreams as soon as life gets hard.

If your failures lead you to believe that you won’t be successful, then you won’t succeed.

If you believe the storms in your life won’t ever stop, then the tides won’t ever turn for you.

Your belief is important because you are what you believe. My question to you then is: Can you smile? Can you stay positive when things don’t go as planned? Can you keep believing in yourself and in your dream when the temporary circumstances of life tell you that you shouldn’t?

It’s all temporary. Successes and failures are. Trials and triumphs are. No circumstance will last forever. We cannot control what happens to us. We can only control what happens in us. We choose how we react to what happens in our lives.

It’s easy to smile when things are going well. It’s a breeze to continue going after your dream when all the doors are opening  for you.

But, can you smile when you’re getting rejected and feeling dejected? Can you continue to pursue your dream when no one seems to believe in it, except you?

You can. I am here to tell you that nothing can take away your smile for there is always something to be grateful for. I am here to tell you that the only person that can keep you from your dream is you.

Don’t sabotage your dream because something didn’t go right. Keep pursuing your dream. If you have to, re-adjust your plan. And definitely keep smiling.

 

What is one thing you can smile about that will help you stay focused on achieving your goal? Share with me in the comments below.


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

Posted on December 10, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

You Want Success? Go All In!

The winter season brings forth memories for many people. For some, it’s the times spent with loved ones. For others, it’s the excitement of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, decorating a Christmas tree, and giving and receiving presents.

For me, this season takes me back to my childhood. A time where the presents given to me were necessities such as socks and underwear as opposed to wants such as a Super Nintendo or Air Jordan’s. Regardless of what material things I received, the most important part were the lessons I learned during that time.

My mother was not a college graduate, much less a high school graduate. In fact, the highest grade she completed was the fifth grade. However, what she learned in Lima, Peru was the importance of working hard. If she wanted something bad enough, the victory wasn’t attained in wishing for it. Rather, it was in working for it.

As an eight year old, I learned that first hand. My father made the decision his life would be better off with another woman and left us. This would have been the perfect time for my mother to give up and blame her ex-husband for leaving,  her upbringing for not providing more, and the world for not being perfect.

However, she didn’t. She had two boys whose lives were in her hands. To whom much is given, much is required. My mother understood that. There would be no quitting. Instead her way of thinking was:

I am single mother. 

That’s okay. That just means I have to take on two roles. I got this.

I don’t  receive financial support from my ex.

Not a problem. I’ll work a full time job from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Then I’ll pick up my boys and we’ll clean churches, office buildings, and day care centers. On the weekends, I’ll bake and sell cakes and make Guatemalan tamales. My boys will not lack anything they need.

I am divorced.

That’s definitely not what I envisioned for my life. Nevertheless, I have two boys who need my unconditional love. It’s not their fault their parents aren’t together. However, it is my responsibility to let them know that they CAN have the life they want. Regardless of the challenges that they have and will endure, it is possible for them to be successful.

For many Christmas seasons, I saw my mother labor for hours and hours to make over a thousand tamales that she would sell to churches and families around the city.

That was just another way that she went all it for my brother and I. She wasn’t ashamed of what she had to do. She just did whatever was necessary.

Sometimes we’re afraid to display our talents for fear that people won’t appreciate them. We’re afraid to take a leap, to jump, to risk for fear our plans will fail.

However:

Our question should not be,  “what if I fail?” 

Our question should be, “what if I succeed?”

What if the video you create inspires one person?

What if the business you start makes somebody’s world a better place?

What if your efforts and love change the course of someone’s life?

There’s only one way to find out what could really be. It’s not in holding back your gifts or talents. It’s in going all in!

What’s one thing you can do today show you are going “all in” for your dream, goal or career? Please share with me in the comments below.


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

Posted on December 4, 2014 .

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Success: It's Possible! Protect The Engine

Principle 4: Protect The Engine

Welcome to Part Four of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Success: It’s Possible blog series. Be sure to read the first three parts.

Four success principles that Johnson follows:

Principle One: Do What Successful People Do

Principle Two: Outwork The Competition

Principle Three: Be Disciplined and Stay Determined

Principle Four: Protect The Engine

Success is a hard fought journey. You will get tired. You will feel pain. Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, you will enjoy the many thrills that accompany success. What is important is that you have something or someone that keeps you balanced.

“Around every corner, always protect the engine that powers you.”—Dwayne Johnson, as quoted in Fortune Magazine article.

Johnson’s engine is his support team. For most people, our support team also serves as our engine because no one succeeds on their own.

It is foolish to think that this journey of success we are on can be achieved on our own. Of course, if your dream is small, you won’t need other people. However, if your dream is big, you will need people.

We all need an engine that will power us when we feel like giving up. Yet, we also need an engine that will warn us when life seems to be accelerating a little too fast. Whatever or whoever your engine is, protect them. They are necessary to your success.

Who’s on your support team?

Who do you talk to when the journey gets rough?

Who encourages you to stay on track when you feel like giving up?

Whoever that person or group of people are, make sure you value them.  Do not take them for granted.

Meaningful relationships are hard to come by.  They’re not just about sharing the good times. They’re about facing obstacles together, and still being able to say, “We’re in this together till the end.”

In closing, remember that Johnson has attempted many things throughout his life. He played college football. Did a short stint in the CFL. Became a wrestler. Started acting in films. Now, he’s started a production company. Some of his endeavors have failed. Some of them have thrived. Such is a true picture of any person’s journey of success.

In the midst of your journey, you will fail. The important thing is to not give up. Ever. From seven dollars to being one of the most recognized faces on the planet; always remember that success is possible for you.

Who is a person that supports you? Take some time today to express your gratitude to them for who they are in your life. Also share with me in the comments below why these people are important to you.


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

Posted on November 24, 2014 .

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Success: It's Possible! Be Disciplined Stay Determined

Principle 3: Be Disciplined and Stay Determined

Welcome to Part Three of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Success: It’s Possible blog series. Be sure to read parts one and two if you haven’t done so.

Four success principles that Johnson follows:

Principle One: Do What Successful People Do

Principle Two: Outwork The Competition

Principle Three: Be Disciplined and Stay Determined

Discipline and determination are easy traits to talk about. It’s another thing to embody them.  There’s no doubt to the people who work with Johnson that he embodies those two traits.

“I always used to say the most committed actor I ever worked with was Jackie Chan. But Dwayne—this guy has worked out and eaten twice before he gets to the set. When I’m still dreaming, he’s up transforming his body.” –Brett Ratner

Johnson attributes his success of staying fit to the regimented schedule he keeps. His schedule and training serve as his anchors. If you have a goal, you must have a plan. What’s your daily schedule look like?

It’s not easy to keep a schedule. Not in the fast paced world we live in. Or with the many distractions that easily take us away from our dream. Idealistically, we want a stress free environment with no hiccups or hang-ups. Realistically, that’s just not possible.

It takes discipline to stay on a schedule. You have to be willing to say ‘yes’ to things that will aid you on your journey of success. You must also be willing to say ‘no’ to things that are not beneficial to you.

Success comes down to these questions:

How bad do you really want it?

If bad enough, what are you willing to do in order to achieve it?

When you can answer, “Yes, I want success bad enough I am willing to do whatever it takes to attain it.” Then you will stay disciplined.

You’ll wake up earlier. You’ll work more hours. You’ll seek help. You’ll do whatever is necessary because you want success.

Once you have disciplined yourself and are on a schedule, you will then realize the journey is not effortless.

The journey will get bumpy. You will go uphill and find dead ends. How will you be able to continue your pursuit?

DETERMINATION

“If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.” - Ron Scolastico

Are you determined enough that every day you will stick to your schedule and do something that will get you closer to your dream?

It’s not enough to want the best for your life, if the effort you are giving is not the best.

Determined people stay on track through the good, the bad, and the ugly because they know one day the wall that stands in their way of success will come down.


What’s one thing you can do daily that will benefit you as you pursue your dream? Share with me in the comments below.

Be sure to come back for the fourth principle.

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

Posted on November 20, 2014 .

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Success: It's Possible! Outwork the Competition

Principle 2: Outwork The Competition

Welcome to Part Two of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Success: It’s Possible blog series. Be sure to read Part one if you haven’t done so.

To recap part one: I recently read an article about Dwayne Johnson that detailed his rise to stardom. What immediately stood out was that Johnson did not allow his failures to derail him from success.

He went from being cut from a semi-professional football team and having to go back home with his tail tucked between his legs to being one of the most recognizable faces on the planet.

I found four success principles that Johnson follows.

Principle One: Do What Successful People Do

Principle Two: Outwork The Competition

What sets Johnson apart? Ask any of his directors, producers or cast mates and they will tell you, it’s his work ethic.

One of his former producers said, “I’ve been in meetings where certain actors’ names come up and there’s a hesitation to cast them, because they don’t ‘work for the movie.’ They’ll show up at the press junket, but they don’t put in the effort after it films. Given the choice of two actors equally right for the part, the studio places the value on someone who will go out and tease the film.”

Johnson is well known for promoting his movies and projects across his social media accounts. With every tweet and Instagram post, he creates an instant buzz for his projects.

It’s his enthusiasm and belief in his projects that sets Johnson apart from other actors. Some entertainers may say they believe in their new movie. Johnson’s actions prove it.

Johnson does what other actors won’t do, and that works in his favor because as the producer said, the studios value the person who will tease (do work) for the film.

When you do what your competition is hesitant to do, you are more likely to come out on top. Even little things you think may not make a difference do.

People value hard work. They also value when you go above and beyond, and place importance to details, even the smallest. That’s what separates the ordinary from extraordinary. 

“If you want to be creative in your company, your career, your life, all it takes is one easy step…the extra one. When you encounter a familiar plan, you just ask one question: What else could we do?” –Dale Dauten

Don’t be afraid to take the extra step because to succeed: you will have to do more than you may want, more than you think you are capable of, and more than your competition.

It is the people who do what others don’t do that reap the rewards those others can only dream and wish for.

There are many people chasing after the same prize. What can you do today that will separate you from others? What chance can you take that others may be afraid to take?

 Success. It's possible. You only have to outwork the competition.

 

Share with me your what you will do today to outwork the competition and be sure to check out Parts 3 and 4.

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

Posted on November 18, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Success. It's Possible! Just Bring It!

Principle 1: Do What Successful People Do

Picture this scene. You get fired from your job. The bills pile up. No one is hiring.

What do you do?

Imagine your only option being to go back home. You make the call and your parents arrive to help you move back to their place. While in your mom’s car, you reach into your pocket to find all you have is a five-dollar bill.

How do you feel?

Ashamed. Defeated. Embarrassed.

This is not how you pictured your life to turn out. Yet, sometimes things happen that completely change the trajectory of our life.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson found himself in a similar situation. Unable to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL, he tried his luck in the CFL (Canadian Football League). However, after two months, he was cut from the league. His only option was to fly from Canada to Florida, and call his father to pick him up and bring him home.

Back home, he emptied his pocket and all he had were seven bucks.

To think that someone who only had seven dollars to their name would one day be the top grossing actor of 2013 seems unfathomable. But realize this: success is possible.

Johnson was recently interviewed by Fortune Magazine, and in that article, I found four reasons why he is successful.

When you find yourself in a pit, you only have two options: Stay in and die. Or get out and live.

Johnson didn’t stay down. He got out of his pit, worked hard and succeeded by:

Doing What Successful People Do

When Johnson was fifteen, his family was evicted from their apartment. Seeing his mother crying because she couldn’t afford to pay the rent, gave him a reason to make sure she never experienced that embarrassment again.

Johnson wasn’t a perfect fifteen-year-old kid either. He got into trouble. Yet, his mother’s suffering was a spark that made him decide he would become successful.

So, what did he do? He did what his heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone did. He built his body. Eventually, his transformation and newfound focus led him to a football scholarship to the University of Miami.

Success leaves clues. If you want to succeed, model those who have already succeeded.

There is no need to reinvent the formula. Study what successful people do. Learn their habits. Discover what drives them. After doing so, apply it to your life.

There’s no point in gaining information if you are not going to do anything with it.  Education isn’t merely about learning information and facts. Education is actually derived from a Latin root word that means, “to draw out from within.”  Therefore, education is really about applying what you have learned.

It’s time to execute instead of making excuses.

It’s time to do instead of just wishing.

It’s time to become instead of simply dreaming.

What can you practice from someone you admire that will help you on your journey of success? Share with me in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Part Two of the series, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Success. It's Possible!

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

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

Don't Stop Believing

The following is an excerpt from a reflection I wrote on eternal3.com back in January of 2010. Almost five years have passed and for me, what I wrote then, is a reminder to keep believing. Regardless of time passed and difficult circumstances you may be facing, we must always believe that we can live out our dreams.

Someone once wrote, “In order to achieve you must believe,” which leads me to conclude that success begins in you. That statement makes it seem easy. I wake up one morning, look at myself in the mirror and say I’m going to be a wealthy man! Yet, is it really that easy?

It can be. If you truly put your mind to do something AND work at it, then you can become wealthy or whatever else you put in your mind to become. Yet, the reality is that most people either: a.) Can’t fathom believing that they can achieve or prosper or b.) Want to achieve or prosper, but are lazy and don’t want to work for it.

Don't stop believing!

Yes, there is a blessing for you.  You may have to fight to get it. You may have to work countless hours to attain it, but regardless of what you think, your “it” is out there.

One of the greatest men in the Bible is David. David is considered by many theologians to be the greatest king Israel ever had. Before David became king, he was taking care of sheep, which wasn’t a prestigious job, but he was faithful at it. In fact, David once killed a lion that was trying to harm his sheep. I would have let the lion enjoy the sheep. Who am I to deny the king of the jungle his delicacy of eating lamb? That was not David. He took his work seriously, but even with his work ethic, David was overlooked.

When the prophet Samuel was looking for a new king for Israel he went to the house of Jesse. Jesse showcased to Samuel seven of his sons, and deliberately overlooked David because he was young and thought he was not fit to be a king. Yet, David was the one Samuel was looking for.

When a giant named Goliath taunted the Israelites for forty consecutive days, David was the one who was brave enough to challenge Goliath. However, people doubted that David could take care of the giant. Goliath laughed at him, and King Saul tried to give David his armor because he didn’t think David could defeat the giant. Yet, David didn’t need the king’s armor. David slew the giant with a sling and a rock.

After slaying Goliath, David became well known, but with fame and recognition, came jealousy and betrayal. King Saul now wanted him killed. The people who followed David betrayed him and wanted him stoned because things didn’t go the way they had planned. David was not deterred though. With no one by his side, David, “encouraged himself in the Lord.”

Perhaps, you have been overlooked and that has caused you to stop believing in what you want to accomplish. Maybe people have viewed you and your dreams with doubt and that has destroyed your desire to further pursue your dreams. It could be that those whom you trusted upon have betrayed you and their betrayal has left you heartbroken. Being overlooked, doubted upon, and betrayed can kill you and your dream, but it doesn’t have to. You must do what David did. You must encourage yourself.

Understand, sometimes you have to be your greatest supporter and biggest cheerleader. You have to be the one that tells yourself, “My dream is going to happen. My vision will be fulfilled.  Nothing will stop me!”


What will you say to yourself today to provide you encouragement?


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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 November 11, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

To Succeed, You Must Endure

Do you journal? I know we live in a fast-paced society, but I would encourage you to take some time to write down your thoughts. If not daily, at least three times a week. Research has shown that journaling provides several health benefits. And who doesn’t want to live healthier?

This morning, I re-read something that I wrote in 2010 about endurance. Endurance is simply the ability or strength to last. Maybe, this week you’ve been feeling weak. Perhaps, the motivation from yesterday no longer exists. Don’t give up. Whatever you want to succeed in demands your ability to endure.

Sorry to disappoint you, but life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. However, in you, is the strength to withstand anything life brings your way.

Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote. May it encourage you:

I can’t tell you when you should no longer pursue a goal or dream. I can’t tell you when it’s time to throw in the towel. I can’t do either, unless, of course, the pursuit is damaging your life, and therefore you must let it go. Other than that, though, the answer to those questions lie within you. You and only you know when it’s time to kiss good-bye your hopes, goals, and pursuits. Maybe you’re at that point right now, but before you pucker up your lips, allow me to tell you that anything worth having is worth fighting for. You’re probably thinking, “A.C., I’ve been fighting for years and still I have nothing to show for.” That maybe true, but if the desire hasn’t abandoned you yet, and it’s constantly tugging at your heart, then know it’s because it’s still there for you. Just remember though, I am writing about things you are desiring that aren’t going to destroy your life and send you into a hole you can’t get yourself out of. On that account, I urge you to use wisdom and get understanding on what is good for your life.

Why do I continue my pursuit? Maybe because I’m crazy and foolish to believe God will use me in a mighty way like He said He would. However, as Ive grown and matured, Ive realized its all about timing. That is why I continue plugging away because I know that no one who plants a seed today sees a harvest tomorrow. The harvest comes with time. How much time? Sometimes more than we’re willing to wait. Other times, more than we can take.  Anyone can start a race, but the prize goes to the one who endures to the end. Will you endure?

Whatever difficulty you are facing right now is not here to stay. It will pass. Remind yourself of that, and remember you can endure anything that comes your way.

 

What is your reason for enduring the hardships of life? Share your comments with me 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 29, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

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.

The Journey of Success, Part X, Invest in Yourself

Warren Buffet said, “The most important investment you can make is in yourself…the best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.”

When it’s all said and done, your success will be determined by what you did and did not do. If you don’t succeed, placing the blame on people, your upbringing or a lack of resources will not fly. Success is dependent on you.

Do you desire to be successful? If so, are you investing in yourself? Understand that no one can take away what you do to better yourself or situation. They may take away your job, partner, or money, but they can’t take away the knowledge you gain by investing your time and energy into your purpose.

When you invest in yourself, you devote all your resources into doing whatever it takes to get better, knowing that your investment will bring forth positive results.

Think of a person with an exceptional talent who never realized their full potential.

What do you think stopped them?

Doubt. Fear. Opposition. The list goes on. I believe talented people never reach their full potential because they don’t invest in themselves. Talent will only take you so far. It is what is inside you that will help you reach the mountaintop. That is why you must invest in yourself.

For years, I’ve heard how much potential I have as a speaker, leader, and educator. I’m not going to lie; at first it flattered me. The past couple of years though, I’ve gotten sick of the word potential.

I’m tired of hearing of “my potential.” I don’t want my life defined by what could be.

He could be great.

He could be one of the top speakers.

He could be president of this organization.

All potential shows is what could be. Taking action makes it a reality. If there is a business, talent, goal or dream inside you, now is the time to invest not only in it, but also in yourself. These are three things that have worked for me and that you can do to invest in yourself:

1.     Be a good manager of your time – Time is the most precious resource you have. Wake up everyday with an agenda and stick to it. Remember, if you don’t have an aim, you’ll never hit the mark.

2.     Learn, learn, learn – If you want to be the best you can be, you must have a hunger to learn. The more you learn, the more you apply. The more you apply, the more you grow. Look for workshops, clinics, and trainings that will help unleash your potential.

3.     Block out the noise – You will have people tell you, “You’re wasting your time going to that,” “why are you reading that book”, “you don’t need to do that,” etc. You can’t expect someone who doesn’t have your vision to see what you see. Since, they’re not going where you’re heading, you can’t expect them agree with what you do either. They'll say it's foolish. You'll know it's wise. Therefore, whatever negative opinions they have, block them out!

Maybe these things aren’t what you are accustomed to doing. No one ever said investing was easy. It will cause you to leave your comfort zone, but the greater the investment, the greater the reward.  Stop living with what could be. Maximize who you are, sharpen your skills and become what you were meant to be.

What steps can you apply today to invest in yourself? Share with me in the comment 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. 

Ready, Set, GOAL!

According to a survey conducted by Gregg Harris, sixty-seven out of one hundred people have set goals for themselves. Out of those sixty-seven, only ten have a real plan to reach their goals. Of those ten, only two will act on their plan.

Did you know that up to $500 million is spent on personal development products each year?

The majority of people desire to get better. They’re not content with an area of their life. There’s a void. Something is missing.

A void will keep a person on a job that pays the bills, but doesn’t unleash their potential. A void will keep people in harmful relationships even though their hearts yearn for something more meaningful.

However, there’s always a breaking point when life challenges us to make a decision. The moment when we set goals such as:

I will graduate from college and get a good paying job.

I will find another employer that appreciates the hard work I do.

I will find a mate that will love me for me.

The types of goals that can be made are endless and dependent upon each individual. Yet, the desired outcome is the same; we want a certain area of our life to be better.

With a goal in mind, we start picturing ourselves walking across a stage receiving a college degree. We envision making a six-figure salary in a job that provides monetary and personal satisfaction. We visualize taking a vacation to St. Tropez walking along side our soul mate.

Yet for most, that’s as far as the goal will go. Why? Because there is no plan in place to achieve it.

Sixty-seven percent of people set goals, but only ten percent will have a real plan.

Realize that no matter how great your goal is, without a plan, it is simply wishful thinking.

You can’t just think and expect things to happen. I can think all day about making a million dollars, but with no plan in place, it will never happen. The plan will lead you to your promise.

Only two percent will act on their plan.

Many people will not achieve goals simply because they do not go after them. If the goal burns in your heart and a plan has been written down, what are you waiting for?

A perfect time to take the leap? There is no perfect time.

The right circumstances? There aren’t any.

The guarantee you will not fail? You will fail.

There’s a risk in pursuing your goals. However, there’s a greater risk in not pursuing them and never realizing what could be.

This past Monday, I stepped on a scale and for the first time in years, I weighed less than two hundred pounds!

It’s a great accomplishment for me because eighteen months ago, I made a goal to live healthier. It would have never happened without a plan of: eating better, exercising consistently, and believing that I could lose the pounds. However, having a plan was not enough. I had to carry it out.

Do you have a goal? If so, great.  Don’t stop there.

Get a plan. Write it down. Make it visible to you and follow it daily.

Last and most importantly, go after your goal.  It’s waiting for you.

What goal are you wanting to accomplish? What's your plan? Share with me in the comments below.

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Posted on October 16, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

The Journey of Success, Part VIII, The Shift

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”—Norman Vincent Peale

A week ago, I met up with a friend and accountability partner who reads my blogs. He told me how my blogs make it seem like I am crying and sad. Totally not what I intended and definitely not what I expected to hear, but I appreciated his honest assessment.

When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to start doubting yourself and throw in the towel on your dreams. However, that’s when “the shift” must occur.

A shift is defined as a change in position. Therefore, the shift I refer to is the shift that must occur in our mind. When we see things not functioning, automatically our minds will tell us, “It’s not going to work. You’re a failure.”  

That’s exactly what I’ve experienced lately as I’ve pursued my dream, but a reason why I have not quit is because of the shift in my thought process.

The most important person that can speak life into you is YOU. You have the power to dictate how your life will turn out. I know it’s far easier to give up than it is to go on. However, I am here to tell you to go on.

Go on after your dreams.

Go on and better yourself.

Go on and love again.

It’s not easy to think positive. Not when negative people at work surround us. Not when the majority of things we hear are negative. Yet, our success is dependent on how we think and what we speak into our life.

Here are five things you can do today to live more positively and create a shift in your mind that will help you on your journey of success.

1.     Observe and listen – Are your thoughts negative? Listen to what you are speaking in your life. If it’s negative. Stop it right there.

2.     Smile – Life is not perfect. You will experience difficulties, but even in the midst of them, find something that makes you smile.

3.     Exercise – Go for a walk, jog, or lift weights. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym. Do one of these things for thirty minutes to reduce stress and to positively affect your mood.

4.     Influences – Are the people in your life adding value to you? Or are they subtracting from you? Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and lift you up when you are down.

5.     Speak positively! – Tell yourself you are going to make it. Things may look bad now, but know they will not stay that way. Say a positive phrase everyday. It doesn’t have to be long. It can simply be: I will not quit! 

“Two men looked out from prison bars,

One saw the mud, the other saw stars.”—Dale Carnegie

What do you see?

Which one of the five things will you do today? Share with me in the comments below.

About the author:  A.C. Cristales
Youth Motivational Speaker, consultant, and future pro on the Senior PGA tour. 

The Journey of Success, Part VII, Create Opportunity

Last week I tweeted the following:

 Opportunities don’t always knock. Sometimes you have to create them.

By now, I wish I had a calendar full of speaking engagements, but I know they’re coming. Though there have been leads that I haven’t booked, I know someone’s waiting.  When things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to lose focus and ask questions such as:

What do I do now?

What did I do wrong?

What must I work on?  

Personally, for me I ask myself, not why, but what now?

What can I do now to quench the thirst I have that knows I was chosen to share my story to touch and impact many lives?

Mark Twain wrote, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

I wasn’t born just to speak, but also to empower. I wasn’t born just to entertain and make people laugh with my style of speaking; I was born to inspire. I wasn’t born to follow the crowd into mediocrity. I was born to blaze new trails and lead others to do the same.

I know the reason why I am alive! Which is why, I can have a bad day where I am knocked down. In fact, the referee may even be close to counting me out, but right before he is able to ring the bell, I am back on my feet.

I am a fighter. I know one door closing doesn’t mean another one won’t open. I have to keep knocking. I have to keep working. I have to keep believing.

The greatest enemy you will ever fight is yourself.  You will doubt yourself, question your abilities and have moments when you don’t believe in your talent.

Don’t quit. The opportunities you are waiting for may not magically appear. Some you will have to create. Others you will have to claw and fight for.

The past two weeks, I spoke to twenty groups of students.  Four days of sharing one of my keynote messages for five straight hours. It was physically draining because I made sure my delivery and enthusiasm was at its best for each group.

Last Friday, however, I was dealing with a severe head cold and my entire body ached. I didn’t think I was going to make it through five sessions, but I did. As I took the microphone and shared my message, I was strengthened. There is something invigorating about living life with purpose.

I’m not going to sit around and wait for opportunities to arrive. I will create them.

If I really believe my purpose is to empower and help people, I will find an audience and do so. It doesn’t matter if I speak to 5, 45 or 4500 people, I know my purpose and I will live like it. 

Do you know why you were born? Do you know why God created you?

You have a purpose.

If it’s to write a book, stop wasting time and write it.

If it’s to record an album, find the resources and do it.

If it’s to start a business, get your finances in order and start it.

If it’s to graduate from college, be diligent with your studies and obtain the degree.

Whatever your purpose is, create the opportunities today to help you achieve it.

Posted on October 3, 2014 and filed under Blogs.

The Journey of Success, Part VI, Life is Beautiful

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. – Melody Beattie

A couple of months ago, I read Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, a memoir that centered on author, Mitch Albom, having meetings with his college professor, Morrie, during his last months of life. Morrie was a Sociology professor, who developed Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and as much as he wanted to continue teaching, his body did not allow him to do so.

What did Morrie do now that his strength was being sapped from his body? He continued living. Even as his body was deteriorating, he wanted to make the best of his situation. He was determined not to die silent.

Imagine being unable to no longer do the things you love to do.  Imagine not being able to dress yourself or go to the bathroom by yourself. Morrie loved to dance and swim, but as Albom wrote in the memoir, ALS is like a lit candle that “melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax.”

In the midst of suffering through this disease, Morrie’s spirit was never taken. His body no longer had the same strength, but his soul and heart were more alive than ever before.

Morrie, a true educator, wanted the days and months leading up to his death to be the final course he ever taught. He wrote several aphorisms about accepting one’s own death and the Boston Globe published a feature story on Morrie.

The feature story in the Boston Globe prompted tremendous support for Morrie. Nightline even did a story on him. However, gaining nationwide recognition was never Morrie’s purpose. I think he just wanted to show people that even though he was dying, he still had a purpose.

I love Morrie’s transparency in detailing to Mitch how there were many mornings when he would cry and feel bad about his condition, but then he would let it go.

“You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now.”—Morrie

 Two weeks ago, I surprised my daughter at her school and had lunch with her. I can still picture her astonishment as I walked to meet her and her classmates. I had made her day. Little did she know, she had made mine as well. In the center of my uncertainty, my lunch date with my daughter was a little piece of heaven. 

The journey I am on to become a successful, full time professional speaker has not been easy. I know I keep playing the same song, but I feel I must share that with you.

The plans we sometimes make for our lives don’t always pan out. I don’t believe that is a bad thing either. I just believe that there is something greater happening behind the scenes. Regardless though, we need to realize that life will present us with tough situations. The important thing will always be how we react to them.

In the past few months:

I’ve been rejected, yet I am still needed.

I’ve been hurt, yet I still smile.

I’ve been hated, yet I am still loved.

I’ve been lied to, yet I still hold on to what’s true.

I’ve been delayed, yet I still move forward.

Every day we are alive, we have something to be grateful for. The fact that we are breathing is evidence that life is not finished with us.

Life is beautiful. Even when it rains. Even in moments of loneliness. Even in darkness. I believe that life is beautiful. We just have to find the beauty in every moment, and when we do, be grateful for it.

 

What are you grateful for? Share below in the comments.

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under Blogs.