The Refining Fire

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.

Roy L. Smith

How many times have you started to do something, started off really well, then over time began to either lose interest or forget about what you were doing almost entirely? If you’re anything like me (and probably the greater majority of the human population), then it can become a chore just convincing yourself to continue doing whatever it is that you were so jazzed about just a month ago.

Why is this? Why do we so quickly lose focus on what we were ecstatic about starting? I look at people who have enormous success in their life and notice one common denominator that they all share – DISCIPLINE.

They refuse to quit, no matter who much it may hurt or inconvenience them. They have the “succeed or die” mentality that gives them the drive to reach the very top of whatever it is that they’re doing. While I don’t think that it’s 100% necessary to always be thinking “If I don’t succeed, I will LITERALLY die,” I do believe that it can motivate you beyond what you could imagine.

Rather, I believe that there are 4 steps that you can take that will greatly increase your desire to persevere during the hard times, and have the discipline to continue.

  1. Begin With The End In Mind: When you have an end goal, something that you can strive for and work towards, then your journey will have a purpose. You won’t just be doing something just because it’s a spur of the moment thing. Instead, there will be a reason for doing it.
  2. Find Your Why: What is driving you? Why do you desire to succeed so badly? Is it because you’re in a tight spot financially? To be a great role model for your kids or the people around you? Do you simply want to have a better life than what you currently have? This is the driving force behind your success; this is your own personal “succeed or die”.
  3. What’s Your Passion: You know that exercise in school where your teachers asked you if you could do one thing for the rest of your life and not get paid a dime, what would it be? While I’m sure I butchered that analogy, I think you get where I’m going with this. What is something you absolutely love to do? Something that you can spend hours, upon hours, upon hours of time devoting your time to? This will make your journey to success all the more enjoyable, and it won’t seem like a chore when you’re putting in the time day in and day out.
  4. Discipline Yourself: This last step might seem obvious, but absolutely needs to be mentioned. The first 3 steps, in complete honesty, are a farce if you don’t make a daily effort to be disciplined to do whatever it is that you’re doing. Steps 1-3 help, but at the end of the day you have to make the conscious effort to, at times, force yourself to do something you don’t feel like doing. That’s how people like Michael Jordan are revered as the best at what they do. They never had a sick day. They practiced even when they “didn’t feel like it”. They made the hard choices to be great, and I’m willing to bet that not one of them looks back and says, “I wish I had taken that day off”.

Begin with the end in mind, Find your why, What’s your passion, and simply discipline yourself. Four steps that I have been blessed to have personally seen people do on a daily basis, and are HIGHLY successful because of it.

What do you think? Do you think there should be more steps to this list? Let me know what you think!

A Greater Calling: Giving Yourself to the Needy

A weekly series that I think I’d like to start is every Sunday I’d like to discuss a topic of importance that I like from the service from church that day. While I understand that there might be a lot of people reading this that might think, “Woah now, I don’t go to church. What the heck, bro?”

Fret not, friend! I sincerely believe that the principles and ideas that we learn in church, should very seamlessly apply to our day-to-day activities. The things that are brought up, I hope, are things that every human-being can agree with.

That being said, if this is merely a tool to engage people in conversation, then I consider it to be a success. Conversation to my faith is not at all intended with any of these posts. That being said, let’s begin!


What does it look like to wholly giving yourself to something? If I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t think I can say. Sure, I’ve been extremely dedicated to something for a spell, but after a point either get sidetracked or slowly become apathetic to whatever it is that I’m doing. I was always, at some point, feeling very empty inside. Even doing things that could be considered “noble” or “admirable”, I just had that vacuum in my soul that I couldn’t understand. After reading through Isaiah 57 in church this morning, I discovered why.

Isaiah 57:9-10 read:

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.”

After reading this section of scripture, I was immediately convicted of a much higher calling than what I have been living. Don’t speak badly of others, and completely give yourself to the “hungry” and “afflicted”. It’s a road that is very seldom traveled and one that is sure to probably be the most difficult, but I fervently believe in the words, “your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” Something to think about as you start your week.

An End To Journey Toward

How often do we look at our lives and think, “I wish I had more of…”? We have an image of ourselves that we want to resemble, and picture things we wish to own and possess.

Am I here to shame anyone for feeling or thinking this way? Absolutely not; that would be called hypocrisy. I, on an almost daily basis, am constantly picturing myself doing bigger and better things; being a CEO of a major corporation, having boatloads of money, having a family, finally owning a Jeep, or even getting a tan.

Being someone who wants to continue to improve their situation and work for something greater isn’t, in my opinion, wrong in any regard. It’s what America was built on, and there’s a lot of merit behind that. And while I highly encourage the people in my life to look for something to strive towards, pursue something in life that make their wildest dreams seem addled and obtuse, I want to desperately point out that while we’re reaching for our prize, do not neglect the joys that you will have from the journey itself.

Ernest Hemingway said it best:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Like always, I love feedback from anything I post. I will personally respond to each and every comment, negative or positive! Also, this post was highly inspired by a post I read by Seth Godin. You can read his thoughts here!

Misguided Loyalty: Being Loyal to a Fault

A little over a year ago I made a blog post talking about the idea of loyalty, an idea that I do everything in my power to represent. Looking back, there is incredible wisdom that a man that I have a great amount of respect for shared:

“Misguided loyalty can be as harmful as the other is good…It’s not just about being loyal but being loyal for the right reason”

As I’ve matured (a whole year!), I see so much more truth and wisdom behind this than my younger self had. I’m sad to say that I was someone that had “misguided loyalty” to a degree that I was practically living a life that someone else wanted me to live. Getting a little personal with everyone, I’d like to share perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned from my experience:

BEING LOYAL DOES NOT MEAN BEING A SLAVE

If that giant title didn’t make it clear, then let me state this again. Just because you are loyal to someone or something, does not mean that you are a slave to it. There is nothing that should guilt you, shame you, blame you, hurt you, or pressure you into remaining loyal to something or someone that clearly doesn’t value you or your time. This relationship, if you can call it that, is toxic; it’s damaging and destructive and bears absolutely no fruit whatsoever. What should you do if you’re finding yourself in this spot? Plainly, I think there are two possibilities that can take place:

APPROACH AND DISCUSS

This, in my opinion, is the best option. I will always be an advocate for talking issues out with people that you have problems with. If you never talk about what’s going on and how you’re feeling, then there is no hope for a resolution. Ever. For all you know, the person who you feel is abusing your loyalty could just be ignorant of  their behavior and completely turn around after your conversation. Always approach them and be completely truthful with how you’ll feel. In the long run, I highly doubt you’ll regret at least making room for reconciliation.

CEASE AND DESIST

You can always leave. There is nothing stopping you from removing yourself from a toxic relationship, and in many instances you absolutely should. There are times when there can be no discussion, and just leaving is the best option for you and your life. While sometimes this may seem “cowardly” or “the easy way out”, there are instances where there is nothing else you can do and sometimes, you need to remove that cancer from your life.

While I know that this isn’t the “end all, be all” to people who abuse your trust and loyalty, I found that these are probably the two simplest methods of fixing the problem and I sincerely hope that you can learn from my life experiences. Like always I highly appreciate feedback of any kind, whether it be an agreement or disagreement. Until next time, y’all have a great day!

Do Not Go Gentle…

A QUICK WORD

First and foremost, let me apologize for neglecting this blog for so long. Sadly, other events took priority in my life and I’ve been missing writing these posts for quite some time. However, I’m very excited to be posting again. I plan on great things coming much more frequently.


THE ACTUAL POST

Something that has been on my heart and mind as of late is the concept of hope. A word that we use very loosely in our day-to-day vocabulary. “I hope I get to…” or “She was hoping I would…”. While I’m not saying that we should stop using that in our conversations, I think it’s good to actually sit and think about what the word in a context that’s a little outside our every day definition:

to cherish a desire with anticipation

Without fail, this is my favorite way to define this word (thanks Merriam-Webster!). I like to imagine a young child entranced by dozens of presents underneath the tree on Christmas morning. I know that for me and my sisters, Christmas morning could never come fast enough. Just that burning desire to rip into our presents and see what Santa (he exists) brought us the night before; hoping and praying that we received everything that we asked for.

Almost childlike, I feel like that’s how people as a whole should approach their lives – with hope. Hope in knowing that while you might be going through the fiercest storm in your life, there is always hope. It’s when we lose sight of that hope that we start to spiral downward. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen some incredible examples of such hope and perseverance through close friends and family. Seeing them struggling just to get through the day, just to try to live a normal life, just to get out of bed; they hold on to the thought that one day it will get better, and this is nothing short of inspiring.

I’m super excited to start blogging more frequently. I really love talking and engaging others in conversations about different topics, so it makes me very happy that I’m not being lazy anymore and doing this again. I love feedback, comments, anything you would feel comfortable contributing or sharing. After logging on today, I saw several extremely inspiring comments about people who really enjoyed reading the few posts that I have, so that has coincidentally made my fire to do this even bigger. As a parting word, here is an amazing poem by Dylan Thomas. I first heard it while watching Interstellar this past weekend (which is a great film – you should see it):

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

When To Look Back

As much as I can, I try to write in a journal that I keep. A journal that is talking about the events in my life at the moment and my thoughts and feelings. Every few months or so, I like to look back on the things that I wrote, and often times I find myself laughing. I look back and read these words and I think to myself, “Man, you sound like a 13 year old” or “Wow! What on earth was wrong with you?” On the other hand, there are times when I think, “Wow, you handled that pretty well!” or “Maybe you shouldn’t say that to her again.” The interesting thing is I think that doing this can be good thing. Looking back on your life and reflecting on where you were, and where you are now. Here are some reasons why I believe that looking back can be a good thing:

  1. Growth: How can you know if you’re growing if you don’t have a frame of reference? Looking back on past decisions and how you reacted, as opposed to how you might react presently can be a huge indication of personal growth.
  2. Insight: How many times have you reacted to a problem in the heat of the moment? Maybe you said something you didn’t mean, or reacted in a way that you wish you could take back. Looking back on these times can help provide you with a good idea of how to approach similar situations in the future.
  3. Accountability: There have been times in my own life where I have written down things that I need to get done, or would like to do in the future. Looking back and remembering these can encourage you to get back on the horse and finish what you started.

These are only a handful of advantages to looking back on your life. While there can be tremendous gain from doing so, be wary to not “dwell” on the past. Often times people can get stuck in a rut, depressed, angry, or bitter about things that have happened in their lives. You have an amazing ability to choose your attitude. Choose to look at those events not as a way to pull you down, but rather as a method to learn and grow from.

When Justice is Done…

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If someone were to ask me if I could tell them what was happening in the world right now, my response would have something to do with living under a rock. I have intentionally turned a blind eye to the world and what is going on in it for the past two years for the sole purpose of my own sanity. Everywhere we look, watch, and read we see what terrible things are happening across the world. Revolutions for freedom and liberty turning bloody and violent, dictators rising to power, wars raging, people dying. Injustice. Why would I voluntarily choose to let these things influence my thoughts, my emotions, my outlook on humanity?

This was my line of thinking two years ago, and while I can’t say that I’ve completely changed my perspective on this matter, I can say that I view it differently. I look at the things that happen in the world, people starving, tortured, and murdered, and I think of only one word; injustice. Shouldn’t the right to vote and express your opinions in a non-violent and civil manner be something anyone can do without fear of being imprisoned? Shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity to make the best life for themselves and their family that they can?

“Where does this injustice stem from,” you may ask. I would like to offer a different question. Instead of asking, “Where does injustice come from,” I ask, “Where do we get our sense of justice?” How are we, as human beings, able to discern an action from being just or not? There must be a standard to which we are comparing justice and injustice. So what is this standard? Simply put, apart from a good, loving God, we would have no standard to measure an act being just or unjust. We would be living our lives, selfishly pursuing our own ideals and only doing what is best for “me”.

Asking myself this question has changed my cynicism towards the news. Do watch it everyday? No. Do I think that the greater majority of it is hogwash? Yes. But it is a constant reminder that apart from God’s goodness, I would have no possible way of discerning right from wrong. Justice from injustice. Light from Dark. Good from Evil. I want to leave you with this thought:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless -I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality namely my idea of justice was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)