Encouragement.

Why is it beneficial to be encouraging of others in their day to day tasks? I’m not talking about their specific work or school-related assignments but the little things they do every day that makes our lives a little better. Think of your friend who smiles at you when you are having a tough day. Think about those challenging days when a parent offered encouragement and reassurance that you could make big things happen if you put your mind to it. This is what the world needs a little more encouragement towards better things and a little less weight behind negativity.

It starts with me. A better world starts on a personal level more trust in others, a better believe that people are generally good, and a little more effort to listen to each other.  Sounds pretty easy right? It isn’t as easy as it sounds to trust others when we hear all the bad that could, has or is happening around us. It’s a challenge to see others as good when we lie to each other and even ourselves about the reality of the situations we live in daily. It’s hard to listen when we want to be heard, to be recognized, to be understood. We want so much from others but are at times unwilling to give to those we want to listen. Three simple steps to a better world that sound so easy, but are so hard to commit to.

Acknowledging that we can change the world in three steps is encouraging and a direction we can all get behind. If you start to look outward at what you can give to others you’ll see more easily all that others are giving to you. Life is a great maze that we all navigate a few feet at a time, why not be brave enough to trust others to help us forward, speak good words to each other, and listen a little better to those who need to be heard.

So who agrees that it starts with me?

Passion.

I know that I’ve referred to Anthony Bourdain a few times over the past weeks as someone who lived a life that inspired me to get out there and be a better human. To get out there and find what connects us by sharing a meal, and talking about real issues that have impacts on the way each of us lives daily around the world. I recently started reading his book Kitchen Confidential and have learned about the experience that jumpstarted his passion for food and culture.

He talks about a summer spent visiting France visiting family, sampling new foods, and immersing his young self in a culture other than his own. He talked about his youthful attitude for testing the rules and his parent’s patience as they traveled around the country as a young family. The defining moment that eventually steered him towards a career in the culinary world, eating an oyster fresh from the ocean on a Frenchmans boat. That was the moment he knew that food was his future and he would eat near anything anywhere in the world. From here he became a chef, writer, and travel documentary maker each of his different professional ventures around food showed the world the flavors that connected us.

In my humble opinion, he lived a life that the “most interesting man in the world” could envy. He taught us how to be less afraid of what we don’t know, to live with others, to live with passion. That is something few of us can say they do well, living each day with a genuine passion for life and its twists and turns. Why are we afraid to follow our passions? Are we afraid of the unknown? Are we afraid to take the route that’s a little more exciting but a little less safe?

Living life with a passion for what we do daily sounds like a challenge for us common folk who work 9-5 jobs that we use to pay the bills just to get by. These jobs may not be our ideal / dream careers but they are a segue to bigger and better things ahead as long as you play your cards right and be invested in what you are doing at that time. Have passion in the little things so as you work to bigger things your passion shines through in full.

Why.

What is your why? Why do you do things that way you do them? Why are you willing to face adversity to reach your desired destination in life. These are thoughts I’ve had before when I hear about someone with a big dream that seems to be a bit more than they probably can bite, chew, and swallow. Meaning I’m not sure why they really are doing things the way they are doing, I’m probably not alone in wondering about these things.

As a youth in central Utah, I used to sell corn on the side of the road next to the high school every fall for a few summers. My Father, Grandfather, and I would go pick the corn then we’d park the truck on the side of the street and I’d sit there till the sun went down or I’d sold all my corn for the day. I learned a few interpersonal skills with people and how to sell products to folks which is a benefit to me to this day. One of the most memorable experiences for me was trying to sell a bag of corn to a man carrying a giant cross across the USA who stopped through our little town on his way to California.

I asked him about his cross and why it had a wheel on the bottom. Man, “It’s designed to make the walk easier as I carry it.” Me, “Why are you carrying that thing? Don’t you think it would be faster to leave it behind?” Man, “Yes, it would be easier, but I want to show everyone that I can carry this heavy cross from New York to California.”  Me, “Ummm, okay, but why?” Man, “I told myself if I could do this, I could do anything.” Eight or Nine year old me didn’t get it then but have never forgotten it to this day. This man had a purpose to walk across America with a heavy wooden object, and I hope it helped him see he could do anything. I did, however, sell him some corn to fuel his trek.

To this day I see and hear about people who are setting out for challenging journeys as adventurers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and scholars. I can’t always relate to nor understand their vision for choosing the challenges they have decided to claim. I can confirm that choosing a challenge that people don’t understand can be a catalyst to the greatest adventures of one’s life.

Share your why with others, and enlighten them on your vision. If they doubt you or don’t understand that is okay. They might catch a vision similar to yours one day, and take off on their own journey fueled by nothing more than why.

Speak up.

Speaking up can be a challenge no matter who you are in a uncomfortable situation. The ability to say what you need to when it’s needed to be said is a tactful gift that few have. A few thoughts on sharing the hard truth.

First off, use your words wisely. Say what needs to be said, don’t beat around the bush when delivering the message but be tactful with the way you say it. People may not appreciate you speaking up and saying what needs to be said at first but will respect you for having the gumption to say it.

Second, keep your message simple and filled with the truth. Allowing the discussion to be built around fluff and misinformation can deteriorate the trust you share with the person you are conversing with. Keep the message as lengthy as it needs to be but not too long. Use clear words that communicate the message effectively without question, use strong statements that effectively relay your message without belittling the person you are talking to

Thirdly, be mindful not to back your communication partner into a corner. When giving a hard message it’s essential to deliver a clean message with the intent to help not harm the other person. Giving others clear options will be a safe bet to avoid emotional defense and rebuttal from another. Although you clearly know where you want or need the conversation to go have options for another than can effectively lead them through the desert to the oasis that is your desired resolution.

Is this an easy skill to learn? Not really. Is it a good way to become a better communicator? Yes, say it as it needs to be said, use your words wisely, share the simple truth of your message, and keep the trail ahead open with options that lead your communication partner to a clear understanding of your desired outcome. You’ll fumble a few times until you get the hang of delivering the hard message, but once the message is delivered and you can breathe a sigh of relief it’ll be easier to relay the next time around.

Legacy.

What do you want to be remembered for? Your ability to smile through challenges, kindness towards others when it is needed most, your zest for life? or your work ethic? There are countless things to be known for and remembered by. Each day we are forging experiences that will be used by others to remember us by when they think back on us.

Each of us can look back and remember someone who was a light in the darkness, or a stain on the situation. There are also those who we have forgotten entirely due to the fact that they weren’t key players in the experiences we think back on. These are facts of life we will be remembered for the things we have done, or forgotten entirely by some.

When I think about the legacy others are leaving for me to remember I think warmly of the experiences I’ve had at wrestling tournaments watching my father coach others through successful defeats of their opponents or comfort and coach them through defeats they suffer themselves. My father as a wrestling coach taught me how important it is to show up ready for anything, to be prepared for any outcome, and to recognize the opportunities for growth in any situation.

Being taught how to look at opportunities doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard losses that take some time to work out. However, during these times you can stand tall, recognize the struggle will pass, and you can still look your opponent in the eye and shake their hand knowing that the next match there might be a different outcome.

One thing to remember is these challenges aren’t always against other people, we can agree that some of the hardest matches we will face against are the battles fought within, against ourselves. We are our own challengers more often than most will want to admit. However, there are many who are the strongest, kindest, happiest people we know who’s championships are won without anyone seeing the event happen.

Your legacy can be a variety of many things. Successful businesses, holding public offices, works of art, tales of travel, or being known as a mentally strong person who has balanced many things and smiled through the hardest days. Be confident and know that you are great, you can always do better but today, you’re great as you are your legacy is still being written.

Process.

Whenever you begin something new there is usually a build-up to actually starting the journey. There is a process we have to pursue before we can actually say “I’m doing this.” Every January a new wave of gym goers flood the gym with new resolutions to lose weight, improve their flexibility, lower their hours on Netflix watching from the couch, or on doctors orders. No matter the reason, these people are attending the gym and willingly putting themselves into a new routine that they are not going to love. Their backs will hurt, pride will be crumbled, and their comfort zone will be left behind.

Why is that you might ask if you’ve never been to the gym between January and March because we hate admitting that we’ve let ourselves slip out of youth, strength, and ability. Most all of us who have endured this process know that day one back at the gym you start out lifting heavy like you used to and the next morning you struggle to perform routine tasks without a little grimace from sore muscles and joints. Day two you might lift a little less weight, and recognize this is a better decision for the start of your marathon back to better health.

The process of self-evaluating your next moves in life doesn’t only apply to get back into the gym, it goes for everything you might be preparing to do. Creating a vision of where you want to be in the future should be looked at as a marathon instead of a sprint. It’s the steps taken along the way of a set timeline that will make all the difference in where you will end up.

As a writer, I’ve chosen to write Three Hundred Words A Day for 365 days, to build up my writing portfolio one day at a time, improve my vocabulary, and share inspiration with others. For others, their processes might include running a distance every day, taking a picture of a different subject each day, say kinder words to others as often as you can muster, or test out a new recipe each week while prepping a meal. Though these processes are similar they will be very different for each person who takes the effort to work through the struggles they might have to enjoy the process one day at a time.

Mistakes.

We are afraid of these, mistakes. This has become a word that is despised and even frowned upon because so many of us look at perfection and excellence as the ultimate goal. Mistakes are challenging, of course, they can throw off entire projects, ruin relationships, and could even flatline a career. However, some mistakes can help a person change course to a better happier life.

Many people are well known and self-identified perfectionists if something they do doesn’t go as planned or per the status quo, they have a hard time making sense of what to do. Some will avoid the activity altogether in the future out of fear of messing up or embarrassing themselves. What more people need to remember is that it is okay to make mistakes. The biggest reason it is okay to make mistakes is that the more mistakes you make the more educated you can become in a subject or task. Remember becoming a true expert in a subject means you are well acquainted with the failures as much as you are with the successes.

Is it easy to fail? Not at all. Is it easy to see the growth opportunities when we fail? Nope! Then why should we be willing to mess up, fail, or make a mistake? Because this allows us to see more than one side of the situation we may be faced with. How can you relate to someone who falls just short of their goal if you’ve never fallen yourself? How can you help list another when they are devastated after spilling ketchup on their shirt right before the big meeting if you’ve never spilled something on yourself before a big moment yourself?

The list is endless because the opportunities to mess up are endless, mistakes happen more than we realize and often the mistake goes unknown to others because we aren’t looking for peoples weaknesses we are looking at their strengths. Remember, Making a mistake should be looked at as an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to look down on ourselves.

So get up and start doing things, try new things, learn what works and what doesn’t and see where that gets you.