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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Using Focus to Achieve Success

An axe hitting various points on a tree trunk will not chop the tree down, but should it strike the same point continuously, it can bring down even the most colossal of trees.

Focus is then imperative to success.  In order to succeed and achieve something enormous, every day needs to be dedicated towards achieving that goal.  Should you let that energy go elsewhere, the likelihood that you will succeed greatly diminishes.  The higher the goal, the more focused you must become, because in order to succeed, it means that every single swing counts.

Let's say that you have about a thousand swings in you.  You could either generally aim it at the same place and use a good 600 swings to achieve that goal of knocking down a tree, or you could take precise swings and strike 400 times and knock that tree down.  The better the focus, the easier it becomes to succeed.  Efficiency is all about being deliberate in your actions, that no matter the circumstances, you take the best possible steps (or swings in this case) in order to achieve your goal... however, be warned that we have more than one tree to knock down.

In my life, I have multiple dreams.  I'm going to be a world class endurance athlete.  I'm going to serve and help as many people as I can with what talents I have.  I would like to be the best me that I could be.  I would like to have a good family... but if I were to focus all my attention on only one dream, the others would suffer because of it.  It's important to balance that focus in order to have a holistic life.  In focusing all my attention on others, I would in turn forget to help myself and thus impede my own personal development, limiting what I can do to serve those around me.  Therefore, we must be willing to always take that time to step back and assess where we are, so we could develop and mature accordingly.

In focusing too little, we aren't able to succeed in anything.  In focusing too much, we lose the ability to live a holistic life.  As with everything else, we must live our lives in balance.  Don't be someone that has too many things to do that nothing ever gets done... but at the same time, don't be that person that focuses entirely on work, and loses their relationship at home.

The power of focus allows all of our strength to go to a single focal point, making the greatest impact, and allowing so much to occur.

Imagine a magnifying glass.  It can focus the warm rays of the sun into a focal point and immediately combines all that energy, causing the kindling to combust.  In the same way, focus has the potential to maximize your efforts, allowing you to accomplish countless feats.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Today, after a run, I had an interesting conversation with an older gentleman.  I was talking about how I wished I could run more instead of having to drive everywhere, and he told me, "Your body is built to run.  Mine is not."  To which I said, "Actually, I molded my body to get here.  You can too." and he paused for a moment, chuckled, and replied, "You're absolutely right."

We often focus on talent but dismiss skill.  You see, skill is something that we earn through hours and hours of hard and concentrated effort.  We all start out with our unique set of strengths and weaknesses, but it is up to us to harness what we have and make it better... perhaps even transform our weaknesses into strengths.  Though we may be blessed in certain attributes or are given certain experiences, it is our responsibility to nurture what we have and direct it.

Some accept their strengths and weaknesses and do not mature.  They accept what they were born with, the experiences they have... yet they fail to use them as a springboard to leap higher and achieve even more.  You see, events will unfold whether you are in control or not.  Things will happen in your life, whether you like it or not.  Afterwards, it's you that will translate and see the situation, and then either use it as an excuse for failure, or as a reason for further growth.  It is up to you to react to the situation and limit yourself or be proactive about it and raise your potential.

When we figure out who we are, it does not define who we will be.  Rather, it gives us a better idea of what direction we ought to go... and how to get there.  Progress, then, is success, and when we are 'happy' remaining at where we are, we become stagnant and are not truly happy with who we are.  Therefore, it is vital that we search for ways to become stronger.  First, identify who we are, the talents we have, the experiences we received, the passion within us, but don't stop there.  Grow.  Mature.  Develop.

Keep striding forward.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Finding Joy in Where You Are

Today, I ran for 80 minutes.

That's a simple way of putting how my run was today.  However, I can also say that same event in a totally different way.

"As I walked out the door, ready to go out, the sun shone brightly, warming my skin, the first mile on the sidewalk warmed my legs up as I made my way towards Knoxville.  As a soothing wind caressed my whole being, I fell into a trance as I glided down the hill and made a turn to cross the bridge, looking at how the light touched the water, waves glistening.  As I made way down towards the river, I was eager to run on such a beautiful day, and two and a half miles in, I came upon a few water fountains spraying up on the sidewalk, and without a moment's hesitation, jumped through the cool water.  Soaked and smiling, I continued running as the sun dried me out, getting into a decent pace, running down Neyland Drive, making my way to Tyson Park, passing by a few families of geese.  As I passed by the UT Gardens, I looked down on my right and saw that there were a few turtles laying on a log lazily, soaking up the sun.  Ahead of me, a few cyclists were casually riding, and little by little, I began to reel them in.  Passing them, the lady in front was saying, "Oh my goodness!" making me smile even more, and as I waited to cross a road, a kind individual in a car waved me across, and I waved back.  As the forty minutes were up soon, I checked to see how far I'd run and wondered if I could continue this journey at the sub-seven minute pace I was going.  Slightly sore, but enjoying the pace, I began my trek back, passing other runners, and thought about how wonderful today was.  As I began running on Neyland Drive, I noticed a large boat lazily going the same direction as myself, and little by little, I inched forward bit by bit, pulling ahead.  As I came back, I came across the same fountains again, and embracing the cool water, I went through again, smiling once again at how silly I must have looked to those around.  Climbing back up and crossing Gay Street, I made it right in the nick of time before the boat passed underneath, and with that glorious feeling, I continued on, looking at my watch wondering if I would indeed come back in 80 minutes.  Seeing that I needed to speed up a good bit, the fun atmosphere shifted into a competitive one, as I started picking up my speed to see if I could indeed get back in time.  As I began climbing up the first hill on my last mile, my legs burned and I wasn't sure how I could keep this pace when it was suppose to be a 'casual' run, yet I pushed those thoughts aside and continued on.  As I came through the last tenth of a mile, I looked at the time, and realized that I wouldn't make it on time, but kept the pace up anyway, and finished 20 seconds past my allotted time to finish a wonderful run."

Now most people reading would wish that I stuck with that one simple sentence... but as for me personally, the feelings I had while running, a sentence doesn't do it any justice.

In our lives, we tend to shorten our experiences into small efficient stories that tells us what we've done, the achievements we've accomplished... but we fail to take in the details that describes the experiences we've gone through.  We focus too much on the results of our effort that we forget the journey itself.

In taking note of only our successes or failures, we lose the struggles we go through, the decisions we make, the experiences we gain, the people we meet.  It's not just about the details either.  It's about our view of each little event, where we open our eyes and take that time to appreciate what we're going through.

During the times of pain, we appreciate how we recognize our feelings... how our character and circumstances collide.  We open our hearts to and give ourselves the opportunity to understand where we stand.  It is then we are able to understand that pain is necessary, yet suffering... it's optional.  Joy or suffering, both come from within, and we have the capability of choosing either in our circumstances.

In the moments where things seem mundane, it seems hard to find joy... but once again, understanding that joy comes from within, it makes it so much easier to appreciate the world around you.  You begin to take in the details you are used to ignoring.  You welcome what may be a given as something special.

When something good happens, we usually get happy... and forget about being joyful.  Happiness is something that comes along for a ride and then goes away over time, while joy... joy stays with you for a longer jaunt, as a part of your character.

You see, joy does not come from the events that occur in your life, but from within.  It is up to us to harness that joy inside and use that joy as a lens to look through, seeing the world in a more beautiful way.  Joy has always been a part of who we are, but with the things that go on in our lives, sometimes we forget to utilize the capability it has to bring light to our lives.  Once we harness the joy within, we can use that to help those around us to realize their full potential, and one individual at a time, we can make this world into a joyful place.

Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

-Mother Teresa