WHATEVER IT TAKES For FREEDOM
There are underlying similarities between a freedom fighter and a person focused on achieving their respective definition of success.
Both consciously choose to NOT allow fear to govern their choices, the resulting actions and subsequently their lives. Rather they choose to move forward with courage.
Both are passionate, absolutely determined and 100% committed to do whatever it takes to fulfill their cause, which is to achieve success and freedom.
The underlying irony is that for each, there are seemingly constant challenges to deal with, obstacles to overcome and lessons to be learned.
Freedom fighters, such as Nelson Mandela and the signers of the Declaration of Independence, risked their lives and demanded everything of themselves to obtain freedom for their people, for their respective causes that were so much larger than themselves individually.
The same holds true for those who passionately and absolutely commit to achieve the success for which they have a burning desire. Individuals such as Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwaab, Abraham Lincoln and so many before and after their time, honed in with true clarity for what they wanted to create in their lives and then did whatever it took to follow through to get to their ultimate destination.
In all of these cases, individually and collectively, every single individual had a never stop, never lose hope, and never quit approach. To switch the perspective to a more positive focus, they each had complete faith that their “cause” was worth it and achievable. They had immense belief in themselves. They developed and implemented a plan of action and then did whatever it took to follow through to actually achieve the success they had dreamed of.
Yes, freedom and success both take effort and there may be blood, sweat and tears along the way… yet when you start living your “definition of success”, the feelings of fulfillment, joy, the ability to give and to make a difference, knowing you have created what you set out to do, makes it worth every second you took a risk, every time you stepped out of your comfort zone, every time you compromised and made the choice to do a bit more.
There is nothing like tasting, feeling, seeing and smelling freedom and success that you have personally created.
LIFE LESSON ONE – Freedom is on the Other Side of Fear
There are those who suggest that you shouldn’t fear anything. I believe that this is not 100% true. Every single person has fear of some sort. There are times fear can be used as a mechanism to temper our tendencies toward having a reckless nature. Certain types of fear act as a sensory feeling to preserve your wellbeing. This self-preservation mode of fear helps avoid putting ourselves into positions where we may encounter or endure physical pain or in extreme scenarios even keep us out of literally life-threatening situations.
I think there are different types of fear when it comes to self-preservation. One example would be considering the risk before actually jumping out of a plane with a parachute. This is a higher than normal risk activity where the chances of dying are much greater than most of the things you do on an everyday basis. Yet, I have friends who have gone sky-diving and said it was amazing. One of them actually went sky-diving because it was his single biggest fear and he wanted to experience what was on the other side of his fear. He said it was incredible, but will most likely not do it again. Some people sky-dive regularly and love the sense of the exhilaration, of the thrill. I also know of people who have been paralyzed from sky-diving or hang-gliding accidents.
Personally, I would never attempt to do a high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon. Why? Because walking on a high-wire takes immense skill that is the result of years of practice. I have no desire whatsoever to do something like this where so much risk is involved. (Do note that preparation often decreases the risk).
It is vital to wisely assess your choices, actions and any ultimate decisions to take part and invest in any situation where there may be the possibility of extreme emotional or physical risk.
When it comes to finding freedom and/or creating success, your choices tend to be based upon that which is not real. This includes fear of the unknown, self-doubt, criticism by others, disbelief, or any other type of conditioned fear. Fear must not be allowed to put us into a state of paralysis that results in our doubting that we can achieve or keeps us from jumping into action.
My two favorite acronyms for the word “FEAR” are: “False Evidence Appearing Real” and “False Expectations Appearing Real”. Deep within our subconscious minds we have become ingenious at creating evidence of all of the negative possibilities that may occur if we try to do something outside of our comfort zone, which directly results in our self-creating negative expectations. When we expect something negative, we will always strive to avoid this potential outcome, which in turn leads to hesitation and constant procrastination.
The irony of this is summarized by the two above acronyms for “FEAR“…
Subsequently we make up a constant barrage of excuses and alibis such as, “The goal I have is going to be too hard to achieve”; “It will take too long”; “I do not have anywhere close to enough money so I can’t afford to do this now”; or, “There is no way I will ever be able to find the people or the resources to even get started”.
Having the awareness to acknowledge and assess the realistic possibilities of the negatives, being aware of your fears and understanding that you must leave your comfort zone, being aware of that environment of familiarity which feels so comfortable and good, to have freedom and success you must go ahead and take the proverbial, yet literal, Leap of Faith. Worst case scenario, this is what you must do to gain the experience that it takes to learn and grow so you can achieve and gain.
In order to gain you must work hard and take some level of risk (such as stepping outside of your comfort zone or doing something very unfamiliar). Many people end up worrying and creating stress, which seems quite normal, but which is actually a choice. The all too prevalent worry and stress syndromes are almost always a result of subconscious fear. A huge irony of life is that the more you focus on your fears, the more likely they are to come true. The solution lies in focusing on the process that will get you what you want, take you closer to your ultimate destination, rather than allowing your fears to consume you. Life, leadership, business, sports, relationships, and academics all work this way.
Franklin D Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” As noted earlier, certain types of fear are necessary to help keep us safe. However, for the demands of life, freedom, progress, success and achievement and realizing your incredible inherent potential and for being who you are being called to be, fear creates “false expectations” and “false evidence”. These lead to hesitation, procrastination, heightened self-doubt, worry and all the things that will serve as obstacles to being your best and to getting to where you really want to be in life.
We must intentionally be our best, be courageous to take the steps necessary to live our purpose and achieve our dreams, to be who we believe we are called to be, whatever the cost. We must have the attitude “Whatever it takes!”
I believe fear is the biggest single obstacle to freedom and success on the planet. FEAR also stands for “Forget everything and run”. Fear distracts us from being who we need to be, keeps us from doing what we need to do. It keeps us from creating something better, from aspiring to greatness. It can even lead us to forget our dream. Fear can be powerful beyond belief. The irony is that fear only exists in our head. You can’t smell it, hear it, see it, touch it or taste it… yet it can halt you in your tracks and keep you from achieving your future destiny.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Inc., one of the most successful companies the modern world has seen. Jobs and Wozniak certainly did NOT allow their fears to get in the way. And there had to be many of them such as the fear of not getting funding in the beginning and people saying they were crazy because no one would want a home computer. They did not allow anything to stop them. Their vision was for every home to have a computer and they pursued this dream with everything they had. Theirs is truly an absolutely incredible success story that was fueled by their purpose, belief, commitment, hard work and their constantly taking calculated risks.
Later, Steve Jobs did not allow fear to run him into hiding after Apple Inc. kicked him out of the very company he had founded. Apple ended up asking him to return and he took them to where they are today, to being one of the most recognized brand names in the world, with customer loyalty second to none, and a company with more money than the U.S. government!
In my opinion, Abraham Lincoln was the greatest President in our nation’s history. He led this country through one of the most challenging times we have ever faced, a time filled with extreme differences, prejudice, difficulties and even hatred… all resulting from different opinions regarding slavery.
Throughout the Civil War, Lincoln never allowed his fears to take over. He did not run into hiding when both the North and South suffered huge losses of life from the major battles of the Civil War. Rather, he focused on what he wanted to achieve and on how to make it happen. Abraham Lincoln stood for, fought for, what he believed in with everything he had and as a result, the individuals of our country gained freedom.
As mentioned in the previous blog, Nelson Mandela continued to stand for his beliefs. He carried on, denouncing apartheid and the battle against it, even while being imprisoned for 27 years.
The fear you are experiencing may seem or even feel real because you’ve had terrible experiences and “suffered” failure. No one wants to continue to go through more of the same. Realizing that “failure” actually provides the opportunity to learn and grow is one of the greatest epiphanies anyone can have. Be aware of when fear starts to impact your energy and emotions. Have the courage to gain clarity, to develop a plan and to persistently take action so you can begin to achieve and create your success and your freedom.
The above historical examples of Apple Inc., President Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela are available to everyone as examples of what can happen when you take a stand for a cause or vision you believe in and take courageous action. Just imagine what can happen when instead of unknowingly focusing on your fears, you choose to act on your faith.
LIFE LESSON TWO – Be and Do with Intention
What would you actually commit to doing to achieve the success that you want? Your desire and commitment to do whatever it takes is the tuition you must pay to graduate to your success.
First, it is essential to write down the definition of what success means to you. Then you must list the components, the actions, achievements and goals that will lead you to this place.
It takes a plan to map out the journey and to be able to track and measure your progress. Write down your plan of action according to what you believe you can do and taking into account the resources, time and money you have available and then immediately start taking action!
Being consistent and persistent will make the difference. Making a little progress every day has a compounding effect for your plan and the results you get. (The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is an excellent read specifically covering how taking consistent action leads to compounded results).
Those who end up sitting around, wishing for what they want and think they need, will end up going nowhere. This is like going round and round in the proverbial toilet bowl. When you do not step out of your comfort zone by taking empowered action, there is only one place you end up.
When I committed to begin the transformation of my physique, I weighed in at almost 250 lbs. I knew I had to start slowly and be persistent in order to build up my physical fitness and become much more aware of my eating habits. First, I started walking. Then I moved up to playing basketball (now this I got excited about!).
When we could afford it, my wife and I joined a gym and have had access to group, classes, cardio machines, a great swimming pool, both machine and free weights ever since. It was on, and so was I! In addition to the physical activity I learned more about healthy nutrition and started “doing the diet”, becoming much more aware of what types of food I ate and how much. (And I thought I understood healthy eating habits before… wrong!).
Learning was truly a part of the process. Learning what exercises to do, how to do them correctly, how many reps, how many times a day, a week. Variety is important as weight training, resistance, cardio and stretching all play vital roles for balanced fitness.
I did the same with my Coach V LLC business, which is an unbelievable passion for me. I coach Life, Leadership and Business, and speak professionally in these realms. Back in the beginning, I did not have the money to promote the way I am able to now with videos, a great and impacting website, social media, being an author, and so much more.
For my keynote speaking, I realized the importance of “practice” and committed to speak anywhere I could for free and through this actual experience began to promote my speaking services. This in turn led to getting paid speaking gigs… which in turn provided personal life coaching opportunities and actual coaching clients… and the impact I was having with these individuals led to my becoming an executive speaking coach… and this level of courage to do what I dreamed of doing in turn opened doors to tremendous opportunities, some planned and some a wonderful surprise. Now I ask myself, “What next?”
When I founded Invictus Foundation, it all started with just me, 3 other coaches, and free use of a football field. As we started to make progress, we created by-laws, filed for nonprofit status, and started having fundraising events. We now have an annual program with over 60 coaches, on average 170 kids per session at our football programs, and incredible free services including lunch and sport drinks! Every kid gets a free t-shirt, has an experience of a lifetime, receives empowering and potentially life-changing encouragement, and goes through basic life-skills training. We are achieving our mission of impacting today’s youth through one-on-one, integrity and core value based interaction.
These are a few real life examples demonstrating the results that come with taking action. If I had merely hoped and sat around waiting, I would still be doing the same thing… sitting there.
When you want things to happen, you must jump into action. You must be clear on what it is you want, you must design, develop, implement and follow a plan of action. You MUST TAKE ACTION, consistent and persistent action. Then, and only then, will it seem like people will start knocking down the door. When you are BEING the person it takes, you will do what it takes… and you start attracting amazing things and people into your life. These people may simply want to meet you, they may want to join you, they may want to purchase your product or service.
Once the cycle has started, you still can’t simply start sitting on your backside, you’ve got to continue with the persistency. You can build a team of like-minded integrity and core-value based people who are drawn to your passion and energy and who love the process as much as you do. When the process is FUN, it changes everything yet again. Life becomes more and more joyful and fulfilling and you become more and more grateful
Zechariah 4:10 reads, “Don’t despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”. You must START and persistently do whatever it takes to create the compounding effect, and you will start to attract what you need. I know because I’ve been there!
LIFE LESSON THREE – There Are Only Two Ways to Fail… Don’t Start or Quit
The most impacting life lesson I can share with you has been proven over and over throughout time and history. Every reaper of success has learned this lesson…
“There Are Only Two Ways to Fail… Don’t Start or Quit”
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie
The two most recent NBA Champion teams in 2015 and 2016 have proven this Life Lesson. They knew that to achieve their dream of being World Champions that it was an all-out, now or never, “Don’t Quit!” scenario.
The 2015 Golden State Warriors and 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers were irrelevant for decades. Yet they set their sights as high as they could go and subsequently proved that WHEN you never quit, it’s possible to achieve your loftiest dreams.
I have a feeling you’ll be seeing these two teams contend again for the NBA Championship in the very near future. They are not guaranteed the success of winning, but because of their “Don’t Quit” mindset, they have created the opportunity to realize their definition of success.
To highlight the mentality of a champion, here is an inspiring poem written by Edgar A. Guest (with some Coach V “edits”):
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When life is pressing you down a bit –
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is weird with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
As the poem reads, “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.”
WHATEVER IT TAKES for FREEDOM – A Closing Champion Thought
These life lessons will afford you every opportunity to gain the freedom to believe, plan, act and achieve in every phase of your life. Don’t allow fear to guide your actions. Choose courage and hope instead.
Do whatever you can with what you have and pay whatever the cost to achieve. And lastly, don’t ever quit!
When you take action to apply these life lessons, you will transform your life. Not because I say so, but because Life and Success say so. Freedom is vital as it gives you the choice to do whatever is necessary to succeed. Without the freedom to choose, you will be condemned to always chasing contentment, which leads to being mediocre and discontent.
Challenge yourself today! Choose to be the Champion that you’ve been called to be, that you are destined to be.
Release your Champion,