Recently we had some old college friends over for a barbecue. Thank goodness I’m not as old as them! 😉 When I casually told one of them I was the clinical Director for my organization, he couldn’t believe that the guy he knew in college was the director of anything! I could see his point as my only objectives in life back then were to chase women, play basketball and find different methods to anesthetize myself! (smile) But, that was a lifetime ago… Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think how sad it would be to be the same person you were 35 years ago. None of us are the same person we were back then, nor should we be. This life is all about growth and finding out the obstacles that stunt our growth. So are you ready to find out some things that may have been stunting your growth?
By far, the number one culprit for impeding your progress in life, as Emerson aptly stated, is “carrying about that corpse of a memory.” What you did at any given point in time reflects how you thought at that point in time. It means nothing else. To assign your future course in life to a hodge-podge of foolish past decisions is the height of insanity. In fact, you are completely free to be today whomever it is you choose to be. Your past served only as the preparation ground to grow the person you are today. You needed your mistakes as much as you needed your successes. The difficulties you are experiencing right now are remnants of a course you have yet to complete. Figure it out so you can take the exam and move on.
Dwelling on the past, even yesterday, is a fool’s game. Learn whatever you can learn from it and immediately move forward. Spending your days incubating some failure serves only to guarantee future failure like a runner looking back in the race. The hotshot swimmer in the Olympics was so preoccupied with his opponent that he failed to even medal. Staying your mind on your past is being preoccupied with your opponent. No matter your inherent goodness or practiced virtue, you are going to fall prey to that spurious other power at times and for that you owe God nothing but a commitment to move ahead. How many good-hearted folks do you know who are locked into some past event, imprisoned in the decisions of yesterday? Let it go and move ahead!
Another impediment to future growth is the overuse and abuse of those squirrley little vices that promise you transport to another time and place. Do you remember the commercial where the 30-year-old is extolling the virtues of smoking marijuana when his acquiescence is suddenly interrupted by his mother’s voice in her home, in whice he still lives? Drugs and overindulgence in alcohol press a perpetual pause button on your life, stymying future growth while waiting for you to move out of that phase. Fun and games are all fun and games while your life is fun and games, but every man’s life has a day when he has to forgo fun and games for the work he must do. Indulge if you must, but find a way to balance your fun with the stuff you have to do! Go to work!
Of all the opinions that matter in life, the most important one is the opinion you carry of yourself. Enter your circle of friends and family that work together in unison to define just exactly who you are and where you fit. And again, in the words of Emerson, you are loathe to disappoint them! If you were “always” the joker you must continue to be the joker. If you were ditsy and scatterbrained, that moniker must stay with you for life. People in their estimation of you allow no room for growth or change. Of necessity they cannot because of their compulsion to fit your present life into their past estimation of you. But, growth demands the change and your responsibility is nothing more than to allow your present life to speak for itself! The fact that you were “never” the smart one is only a limitation in their minds, not your own. My dad still thinks I’m not mechanical though I’ve repaired my fair share of broken stuff. Once I configured an OshKosh B’gosh buckle into a door latch, but now I’m just bragging! The point is, your only limitation is within yourself. Answering to public opinion; to your friend’s judgments; to your family background is like blaming your unmowed grass on the sunshine and water. Mow your own grass and no defense is required!
People’s opinions are in reality a judgment on their own lives. If they are callous and unforgiving, you must be also. Their suspicions of you are a testimony to their own motives. No man can possibly know another’s motive and until that person has lived in your shoes they have no opinion that matters at all. We don’t fault the poor mother who steals so her children can eat, nor can we fault another man for his hidden poverty we cannot readily discern. Underneath it all, people are basically good and kind and seek a means to express their goodness though a thousand voices scream to the contrary! Be your own self doing your own stuff that you know you must do. The value of your choice is determined by you and you alone… Other people cannot stunt your growth unless you allow it. Refuse it and grow!
Your life has a specific design in a specific place at a specific time. Your job is not to find out what the world wants, but rather to find out who you are and what you can best offer to the world. If you can do that, your life will grow in unparalleled dimensions.
You are not the man or woman you used to be, thank God. Instead you are the sum total of all the lessons you have mastered thus far. I say, get your PhD…
Just some good thoughts…