The Bhagavad-Gita – the ancient Indian Yogic text – says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. I first read this when my life was in turmoil. Compared to my brother’s existence, to his home and his good marriage and to his children, I was looking pretty unstable. I was divorced, contemplating bankruptcy for a second time, and sleeping on an air mattress in an empty apartment. It wasn’t until I acknowledged my condition was entirely my own doing before I did something about it. More importantly, it was only when I forgave myself for these dreadful decisions that I was able to move forward. Within months I was reading the biographies of successful people including Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Cyrus McCormick Sr., Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr.
John D. Rockefeller said, “I do not think that there is any other quality as essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance.” But it was something Martin Luther King, Jr. said that gave me a perspective I needed to believe in myself after all my imperfections and mistakes.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
His words made me realize I could make a difference regardless of my circumstances. I began to make incremental steps towards my personal and professional goals. My philosophy was that anything was better than nothing. I also set in motion a long-term outlook on how I wanted my life to be. The major challenge was to prevent anyone from discouraging me and my dreams. The key would be to follow my gut and not my heart or my head. My gut always spoke first and usually gave me the answer. My heart on the other hand is emotion based while my head is analytical and fear based. They usually argued until I either made the wrong decision or no decision. Different people are moved by different things but your gut will tell you how to make a difference.
What moves you? What is your gut telling you? Successful people don’t just sit around and think (head) about what they could do or get excited (heart) about all the possibilities. They do it. And discontinue equating success with money. Success isn’t something you acquire. Success is using every ounce of perseverance to venture into uncharted territories. It is overcoming the fear of the unknown and creating your own way forward. It is finding your way out of the rut and the blueprint of just surviving. What keeps you deep in a rut is not seeing alternatives. Without realizing you have alternatives, you have no vision to guide you when a choice must be made. Without all your options, you have no destination to move forward and no reason to alter your course. You stay where you are because you simply cannot determine any new direction.
So again I ask – what moves you? What is your gut telling you? Does the prospect of changing frighten you? Change brings with it the possibility of failure, rejection, disappointment, and pain as well as the chance that getting what you think you want will not solve your problems after all. In my former condition, I blamed everyone else for my problems and the fear of failing one more time kept holding me back. My gut was telling me I was creative, inspiring and had a lot to offer. My heart was hurting while my head was telling me I couldn’t afford to fail again. Fear causes you to sacrifice probable gain so you can avoid possible pain. Fear is a powerful and quick teacher. Its lessons are learned on the gut level – and rarely forgotten. There are no slow learners where fear is the teacher. Think of the young child who learns “no” to touch a hot stove. The very first time he touches the stove he gets the message – and he does not have to think long and hard about it. He gets burned and immediately decides that he does not want to feel pain like that again. So, he stops touching hot stoves. Throughout your lifetime you learn similar lessons in the same way. You learn to fear, and avoid much more than physical pain, however. You have been hurt before. You have been disappointed, rejected, embarrassed, or belittled. You have lost things you cherished and failed to get what you wanted. When you remember these experiences, they stimulate all sorts of painful, negative emotions (heart based). The thought of feeling these emotions again frightens you, and you begin to avoid any situation or circumstance that presents the possibility of disappointment, rejection, or embarrassment. As a result, your fears and avoidance behaviors limit the number and kind of risks you are willing to take.
To rid yourself of fear (head based) and make a difference, you must face your fears by acknowledging them and then confronting them. You must take a good long look at your fears and see how they limit you. Then you will be able to take steps to counteract those fears, control your anxiety, and move forward once again. Take the journey toward achievement by discovering the cornerstone for total and lasting success: Making a Difference. Listen to your gut and do it!
© Steve Gilliland All rights reserved.