Together.

We are better together, we do better together, we work better together. I don’t know how else to say it, we need to do a better job at being united together to help each other to become better people. It’s something we all see every day the stories designed to divide and weaken us.

We see this no matter where we turn, the idea that we need to look down on others and unite against them because we do not see the world as others see it. That because some believe in one truth and we believe in another that there isn’t a common ground that we share. Are there bad people out there? Yes, many but overall we can agree that people are good and can surprise us if we give them the chance.

What are we? We are the human race, all struggling everyday with challenges that involve money, relationships, mental and physical health, food, borders, education, and work. We all breathe our way through another day and hope that our days can be happy, each one hopefully better than the last.

Together we can contribute to a better world for everyone if we are a little nicer, at little more patient, a little better to listen, and a little better at understanding each other. Is this the easy road to take? Once again no, but this is the best road to being more people together.

The Unknown.

What do you feel when you think of the unknown?

Are you fearful? Needing to have a plan of what is going to happen next? Do you feel hopeful that everything will play out without any real problems? Do you even worry about it? If you were to ask ten people about their thoughts on the unknown everyone’s answers would vary, and you would find some who feel similar to you but others who’s take on the unknown are vastly different than yours.

When thinking about the unknown we need to accept that failure as an option for us. If we are able to accept the unknown we need to be prepared to fail at least once as we go forward. Accepting this frees us from the fear of failure as we start out new ventures with old or new friends.  Don’t be afraid to fail, know that you probably will.

As your wading through life allow the unknown to enrich your experiences every day. We never know what is coming our way every hour is different and we never know what might happen to us. It’s best to accept that enjoying life and its unknowns will be the happiest route to go. I’ve been on both sides of the fence with accepting and fearing the unknown, I can confidently recommend that you embrace the unknown and let it enrich all that you do.

When I first left the USA in 2007 I traveled to Peru and soaked up every moment of this experience. I jumped at the opportunity to try new foods, babble in poorly conjugated Spanish, and interact with all the locals I could. My time in Peru was a life changer that put me on common ground with the world, and a desire to see everyone as equals. I was fearless in a new place and recognized that the unknown was creating an unforgettable experience.

I’ve used the same mentality with every new culture and country I’ve visited since. Have I always been accepting of a new culture and the unknowns that come with it? No, but the more I jump in and immerse myself into the local culture the better my experience is and the more genuine the conversations become with the locals.

Having apprehension about the unknown is okay, just don’t let it spoil a good time nor hold you back from living a full life of genuine happiness.

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.

Limit.

There I was climbing with people I barely knew, climbing a route I’d never researched, testing moves I had never used, and loving every moment of the struggle or wiggle as I climbed to the top of the route. I was afraid to fall, afraid to embarrass myself in front of strangers and climbing gurus. Yet when I fell no one laughed, no one shouted you can’t do it. I only heard encouragement from my new friends and alternate moves that I might be able to try using to move a little farther up the route.

After what seemed like an hour or so I had wiggled, pulled, and pushed my way to the top of the route that earlier had me second guessing my willpower and abilities. I was grateful for that moment when I reached the top to look down at my friends and celebrate that moment with them when I had climbed the toughest climb of my young passion for climbing.

Many of us have heard the phrase “you can’t do that.” or “you won’t make it.” by others who doubt our skills, abilities, and willpower. (Perhaps by others who doubt themselves because they tried, failed, and gave up instead of finding a way to complete the challenge in their own way.) They look at us and set limitations for us that we haven’t thought to set for ourselves. These assumptions can cripple goals, deflate confidence, or fuel the desire to accomplish lofty goals even more. I’ve been affected by both mindsets personally,  there are countless people who have limited me based off my looks, not my abilities.

These moments when we feel limited or helpless are heavy times. They can defeat us before we even begin our journeys, these moments are pivoting moments that can define you. These moments when the fight is the hardest, you have the option to allow those who limit you to win, to tell you what you can and can’t do, resulting in a type of learned helplessness.

An attitude of I can’t is a quicker destroyer of lives than an attitude of instead of doing it your way and the way you might think I should do it let me show you how I’m doing it. Some might say this behavior and attitude are dangerous because what if you fail and prove those who limited you right? I say that failure is a guaranteed step between you and the outcome you desire. You alone set your limits, how far you decide to go is entirely up to you. Just do your best, stretch a little as you go, and indeed you’ll step outside of the limits they set for you and reap the reward of true freedom in your own comfort zone.

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.

Opportunity.

As a young person, many of us will hear the statement you’d hate to miss out on an opportunity like that or you’ll regret it if you don’t take the chance on this. Of course, there will be hundreds of missed opportunities over a lifetime because we took different paths and chose the opportunities that made the most sense to us at that time. Looking back on life you can say one of two things, I wish I had done_____ or I chose to do _____.

Each of these is vastly different from the other. One references a life lived unsure of one’s decisions and footing, the other references confidence in the steps you took along the process and the experiences that were never second-guessed. Many unwittingly live life in fear of choices they could make that might affect them in a negative way. These people are generally not unhappy folk. However, many are those who spend their days wondering “What if” instead of “What’s next” and enjoying full fearless lives.

Few people live a full life filled with steps that find solid ground and don’t spend their days looking back on what might have been. Choices are made and forward motion is taken towards a loose or firm goal in sight. While others might not understand the madness behind your choices but that doesn’t matter so much. In the end, few can look back and say I made it through the thick and thin and here I am filled with experiences I do not regret.

Today’s the day to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. Book that trip you’ve always wanted to, begin to study the topic your passionate about, stop worrying about what others might think if you jump on a bike and cycle 3,000 miles for personal growth. Take ownership of your future by evaluating your options today and truly believe in you. It’s not always easy but it’s a great way to start, perhaps even the first step on your journey of a thousand miles.