“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – J.K. Rowling
We all know that talk is cheap, and at the end of the day the words that we profess need to be supported by some type of action. Without that action, the words fall to the ground unfruitful. I also believe we know and understand that it is probably better to say nothing than to make promises we have no way to make real. But why do so many still choose to live their lives this way?
You know the ones that say a whole lot, have great intentions, yet zero follow through, especially when it can mean the most to a situation or individual. Now I consider myself a person who believes most people want to do the right thing and will honor their commitments, however I equally understand that many still will not, for whatever reason. And when I began to live my life with this understanding, I was able to release those that could break me, before they actually could.
Of course none of us can always get this right, but the more I am honest with myself and choose to listen to that gut instinct inside, I recognize who I am truly dealing with, I mean like who just showed up (at my figurative door) to engage with me, have that heart to heart talk or make peace with our past or present. I quickly realize whether they are making a conscientious choice to be truly transparent with me or if they are still simply pretending to be.
I have also learned that it is not my responsibility fix them, force them to be honest (even with themselves) or plead with them about their inability to be truthful. I can only deal with who showed up, not who I would have preferred to show up, because at the end of the day that is the truth I must accept and choose to deal with or not.
It is never our responsibility to change anyone. It requires way too much time and energy and it comes with no guarantee that the results will be favorable anyway. The better choice is we must deal with the circumstances as they present themselves and be willing to live in that moment, change ourselves to work with it or leave. Are there really any other options?
Sometimes I think we believe there are other options, (including present company) however after repeatedly hitting my head against walls of frustration believing somehow or someway things would work themselves out or something would change, they did not and I was left with disappointment and resentment, with only myself to blame.
I blamed myself because I was living in the mindset of what it could be, versus what it was. This illusion of what we want versus what we have must come into alignment. This is not to say that one day this ideal state cannot come into fruition, it is just we must acknowledge the reality (however painstaking it may be) of what we currently have.
Although the choice to deal with the issues of our realities may be difficult, this indeed is the journey towards living in truth and purpose. A purpose that has a means to an end because it not only accepts things as they are, but it allows the option of choice to enter in when a violation of one’s own purpose has occurred. We are no longer handicapped by someone else or victim to their own choice to be who they are, yet instead we give ourselves license to live in our own truth with the power to stay, leave or change.
When we fail to show up, whether in a personal or professional relationship, we inevitably limit and obscure our ability to stand for what we believe. We will always find ourselves living under someone else’s ideal of who we are and what we are supposed to become. Our voice is weakened and our disposition in life becomes counterproductive to a cause perhaps we once believed in or lived by.
Showing up is more than just being in the room. It is also more than just being loud, emotional or noticeably passionate. It is about believing is something to your core and taking a stand for it, despite the outcome. It is when we begin to live for things that even the threat of death, shame, embarrassment or ridicule cannot sway us. We have a voice, we have a purpose and we understand our truth and we are finally unapologetic about what it is. We are ready to show up.
It’s not often that I take a break from writing, but every once in a while we all must listen to our internal voice and respond accordingly. Today is that day for me. I’ll see you all next week.
“Be brave enough to have a conversation that matters.” – Dau Voire
Communication is the means to exchange information, whether personal, business related, relevant, irrelevant, good news or bad. Somehow and someway we all need to have a conversation with another at some point to simply talk about things. The subject matter usually ties directly to our own emotions and thoughts towards having that talk. The, “I can’t wait to talk to you” conversations are typically easy and will bring someone joy or encouragement. The ones we attempt to avoid, or procrastinate to have are the ones that won’t necessarily place a smile on the face of the recipient. The idea of that talk brings us angst and produces feelings of restlessness, but can be equally life-changing, crucial to all parties involved, and usually essential to living an emotional healthy life.
Although I am not qualified to explain how avoiding a crucial conversation affects us medically, I do know how it makes me feel. It’s as if I begin to live a life of duplicity. There is the man that everyone seemingly knows and interacts with everyday, and then there is that guy smiling to the world but internally struggling with one or several people on some particular issue that he just cannot seem to shake.
Even as we seek and receive good advice from friends or counselors and have great discussions that make us feel better, this is still not an antidote to having that talk yourself. Waiting only produces more angst and makes it harder.
Many times we are waiting for the perfect moment that will probably never arrive. We even convince ourselves it will be better delivered in a certain way and at a specific time. The problem is deep down we realize this is an excuse we use to gain more time, because after all we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Well have you thought about your own feelings and where they fit in the big scheme of things? While you are trying to protect someone else from being hurt or becoming angry with you, those same emotions begin to negatively impact you, due to lack of release. I believe it is a great characteristic to not take joy in the demise of another or celebrate the pain someone else is experiencing, and the fact that most people who tend to have a difficult time engaging in “that talk” feel this way, are usually the best at delivering the difficult message, simply because of their intent, which is never to hurt anyone.
So whether you have been contemplating on how to engage in a difficult situation at work, having a dialogue with your spouse about something you have been withdrawing from, or speak to your best friend about something that has bothered you for years. There is no better time like now to start the conversation.
What has helped me during these often stressful moments is to comprise the talk with several short conversations. The situation did not develop overnight, so it will not be solved that way either. Do not seek to fix it with one talk, instead take it in small bites and deliver the message with honesty, courage, integrity and compassion.
If necessary write your points on paper and address them specifically, one by one. This tends to be my approach, because its easy for me to lose my train of thought in the heat of the moment due to the potential emotional duress the conversation brings me in the first place.
Of course we are all different. Some folks can deliver a hard conversation like deliberately dropping a microphone on a stage, walking away, without ever looking back. I am not that guy and probably never will be, so my process will look different and perhaps even weak to some, but it is nonetheless my process.
At the end of the day, respect for others, dignity towards the people I claim to care about and living by the golden rule matters more to me. Even with those that deserve less, I still give it, and you should attempt to do the same. Just not at your expense and suffering.
So have that talk, make it plain, make it true and be direct. You will feel much better in the long run, if not immediately. Your honesty can only be respected, even if it takes years for the recipients to fully understand and connect with your words and motivations.
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Unknown
Have you ever thought about what a trapped mind looks like? Well imagine anything that does not have the ability to move about freely in its surroundings or environment. Sort of like being in a cage I suppose, bound only to what it can see or possibly touch. Either way it is a life that is lived with limitations and restrictions.
So it is with our mind. Everyday there are millions of people walking along in life, living beneath their God-given potential and capabilities. And as much as we have heard (or said in some cases) that ignorance is bliss, it is most certainly not, especially in this case. In other words that new common saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”, can be harmful when it comes to the capacity in how we choose to live our lives.
So what about that potential we are all born with, but may never have the opportunity to tap into for various reasons? How does that happen and why does it? In many cases it is a divide of ethnicity, education and sheer accessibility to people and things that have the ability to broaden how we think about ourselves, our communities and the world in which live in.
There are obviously many extraneous factors and deep layers that contribute to our minds becoming numb, dull and lacking the ability to see past our current status, however I will never be satisfied with simple and one-dimensional answers, like certain groups or classes of people simply cannot learn, lead or see past their own history. But what saddens me is if we simply do nothing and accept this as a way of thinking we will inherit patterns for ourselves, as many already have and continue to do everyday.
So how often do you challenge yourself or someone else to stretch past the comfort zones in which they currently live under? How many times per week do you reflect on your life and see yourself doing more or going beyond what you could imagine? How often do read? Yes, it may seem far-fetched or sound like a crazy concept, but I dare you to try it or encourage someone else to as well. How about a child? (Perhaps your own)
Our words can become the keys or locks to someone’s enlightenment. They (our words) are that powerful, because we will only strive for what we can ultimately see in with our mind’s eye. And if we can expand the horizons of that outlook to a potential that goes beyond our family history, existing communities and neighborhoods, or what is portrayed on social media, we will inevitably help to set some minds free. Imagine that.
We will never live past what we cannot first authentically accept for ourselves. So if you are trying to encourage a group of young people to believe beyond their current circumstances or challenge young adults that their limitations only exist in their minds, you must first begin to live that way yourself, regardless of your age. Even when it is difficult, our decision to press through the doubt and unbelief will not only solidify our hope and determination, but it will inevitably open doors. Not just the doors of physical opportunities, but the intangible ones that live in our minds. You know, the ones that come in the forms of hopes, dreams and desires.
Start freeing your mind today. Let nothing limit you or discourage you. Divorce, lack of education, family dynamics, fear and lack of confidence are only opportunities. It all depends on your perspective and willingness to believe that there is more outside the confines of what you already claim to know and understand.
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.” – Zoey Sayward
Most of us can relate to knowing what it looks like to not quit or give up, but willing ourselves to hang in the battle does not necessarily equate to doing better. One can strive to hang in there and keep pressing along, but what if you have not found a way to not just improve your process or life outlook, but answer the question of what actually inspires you to remain, believe and fight for what you want? I will tell you what happens. You will go along for a while on sheer determination, but eventually succumb to your tank being empty, once again.
For a season of my life this was definitely my practice. I was often so quick to just keep going, that I failed to recognize, understand and assess why I became frustrated in the first place. This led to quick restarts, but quicker stops because eventually I lost momentum and realized my mind and heart were not aligned with the steps I was currently taking. And because we seldom know what we don’t know, I remained on this vicious cycle until things came crashing down on me.
Life lessons can be so hard to ascertain, I mean like really get them, to a point where you are making changes that impact how you live, how you think and you fully understanding why. The why is so important, because that it is where our inspiration lives. The thing that breathes life when we are down, the thing that speaks yes to our hearts when outside forces are saying no, and the thing that empowers us to continue to believe when we are surrounded by doubt and unbelief.
So I ask again, what inspires you to do better? Whether you are seeking to become a better parent, a better spouse, a better partner, a better student or a better employee, whatever your situation is we all need to dig deep and find out where our inspiration lives. Like the wind beneath the wings that causes an eagle to soar through the air, it is essential, invisible, yet powerful. It will give you life amongst dead things and cause you to walk tall throughout discouragement.
What inspires you to do better?
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations” – Unknown
If life is like climbing a mountain or embarking on a long journey, when do you take a moment to glance back and see how far you have come? I know that many experts tell us to never look back and I get the reasons and potential dangers associated with it, but when you can do it and not dwell, have regret or question your current state, it can be a healthy moment of encouragement, reflection and reassurance for your soul.
In some cases, we were not supposed to make it or get this far, but we did, and to the dismay of many naysayers, doubters and haters. However this post is not to celebrate those doubters, but to celebrate you for never giving up and always believing in yourself and the goals that are/were set before you.
Even if you have not yet arrived at your ultimate goal and still find yourself struggling along, the fact that you are still persevering with purpose is enough to help you press further and longer.
I have so many examples of why I should not have made this far, it even surprises me at times, however I know that I have a purpose here on earth and many goals I have yet to achieve. This is enough to fuel my desire and continue to drive me with determination and fervor, even at the worst of times, and as we understand it and continue to live, the hard times do not stop. They actually graduate with us as we grow. Imagine that.
But whether you realize it or not, as the new challenges come to distract, disrupt and diffuse your effort and momentum, lessons that you carry with you while undergoing the many hardships you have faced and overcame are designed to remind you that you had and have what it takes for what you face today. It may not feel like it or seem like it, but you do.
The perspective you carry is the key to your success, because that is what shapes your thoughts and ideas about where you currently are, and more importantly, what you think about where you are. If your perspective highlights an image of mistakes, regrets and what you should have done, that will ultimately have you second guessing all the work you have done, and doubting any progress you have made thus far.
That said, if you can glance back for a moment and be encouraged, based on how you are living today, you are in a good place. Now is the not the time to stop, or become arrogant. Continue to walk in humility and remain open to learning and growth. Be mindful to share with others and help them avoid the pitfalls you fell into if at all possible. And most importantly remember, you are here!
“Life is like a camera… Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives, And if things don’t work out, Take another shot.” – Unknown
Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew that you should step up and do something or say something, only to quickly talk yourself out of it? I imagine it happens to the best of us at any given time, but for some maybe too often. For some it is much easier to remain silent and allow others to voice their opinions while we watch and listen, albeit painfully.
Many years ago this was me to a tee. I always took second fiddle to someone notably (at least what I assumed) smarter and more experienced. I was very comfortable with this approach until I was not, and equally realized it was not furthering my career path or providing me with any notable opportunities.
So after becoming frustrated with my own ineptness and lack of drive, I decided to change things. I first thought about the years I already had. At that time I was about ten years into my career and felt as if I knew a few things that were worthy of advancement and opportunity. Only problem, no one else knew. It was the perfect secret I had kept to myself for years, until one day I heard a voice deep within that said, “It is time to step up and no longer be silent.” Immediately I knew what the words meant and how I needed to apply them.
At that time there was so specific opportunity or profound job to speak of, but I held on to those words regardless. Ultimately it would be those words that literally changed the path of my career.
Sometimes what we hear today is not for now, but for what is to come.
I literally had no idea what was to come, but I knew what I heard and I was going to hold on to that instruction no matter what. Eventually (about 2 years later) an opportunity presented itself for me to apply the words, and I did. The rest is truly history. Today I sit at the highest position I can hold in my particular line of work, but I still hold true to those words as if I have more to accomplish, because I do.
Just last week I had the opportunity to present to my executive committee. It was an event I did not initially sign up for, but after careful review of what was going to be discussed I realized that I needed to be there, because it was a topic that I am very passionate about, and have experienced good success with. So I got in touch with my direct team and asked if they would mind if I tagged along with them. They agreed and I was off to our corporate offices. The old me would have settled for someone else delivering the message.
Needless to say, the presentation went extremely well and our team received rave reviews. It left me feeling humble, grateful but most importantly thankful. Thankful for listening to that small still voice inside on a crowded train one day almost 20 years ago.
How about you? What “thing(s)” have you not yet accomplished that you know is a part of your calling or purpose on earth? What still prevents you from pressing towards it? Could it be gender, race, religion, divorce, education, a criminal past, doubt, fear or an unbelief in yourself? The list could be endless, however it does not have to be what continues to stifle you or cause you to shrink back.
One day several years ago, I had to realize that I (Henry Nutt, III) was more than his past, no matter what anyone else had to say. My poor choices, two divorces, color of skin or lack of confidence would not be able to stop me. Matter of fact once I realized that the only person that could stop me was myself, I begin to break free of the bondage I had placed on my ability to make progress.
I removed the naysayers from my life and replaced them with people who believed in me (there weren’t many, but enough). I read great books, and put into practice what I learned.
Today, I am nowhere near where I want to be, but certainly far removed from where I once was. My life has purpose and I continue to cultivate and nurture that purpose with attributes that foster hope, community and love.
So, no matter where you are in this journey called life, it is never too late to start over, regroup or find a new path. We only need the will to do it, and begin again or for the first time.
“Before you assume, learn. Before you judge, understand. Before you hurt, feel. Before you say, think.” – Unknown
Life is full of surprises. There are so many distracting, unplanned events occurring daily across the globe, let alone in our personal lives. Sometimes it’s hard to know who to listen to or what direction to go. The noise is often overwhelming, uncontrolled and relentless.
The many circumstances in my life (and more often than not, the tragic ones) have taught me some great lessons. One lesson in specific is how to be still during even the most daunting events. Without this ability I would have certainly lost it on more than a few occasions.
Nowadays one would have to live in a cave (without available WiFi) to be sheltered from a continuous media stream of bad reports, tragedy and potential life changing circumstances, and so since living in a cave probably is not the most effective way to raise a family, have productive relationships or earn a living, how does one maintain tranquility and stability in such a volatile world filled with information that instills fear, anxiousness and hopelessness?
Even for those of us that walk by faith and believe in someone/something greater than us, the issue can still be troubling, cause us to fret and live with uneasiness. You know, those days when you are preoccupied with circumstances more than you are focused on what is front of you, or when your sleep becomes restless because your mind is filled with all of the “what if this happens” scenarios? Have you been there? I certainly have.
Well being there is one thing, but staying there is something entirely different. These days we must choose to live in a different way. A way that perhaps challenges your status quo, threatens your television time and maybe even parts of your social life.
It has been said that if you want to keep something from a black man, put it in a book, because we do not make time to read. We are caught up with self-indulgence, which usually looks like being fancy, being more concerned with what we have and how we look, versus who we are or who we are becoming. Of course this is true for anyone, but you understand my point hopefully.
I choose to look inward and force myself to be still by tuning out outside forces and noise. It is imperative for my state of mind to remain at peace and to be at my best more often than not. Simply wishing it will happen does not work. It must be deliberate and purposeful, therefore requires a scheduled time that I give to myself. I call this going inward.
It is a time when I close off to the entire world and pray, stay quiet, reflect, think and most importantly, listen. Listening is a skill that seems to be the most challenging, yet when we choose to commit to it will be also be the one time where we are able to learn more, and respond more effectively with enriching words of wisdom.
Nothing can substitute the inward life and in these unpredictable times it is imperative that we spend time with ourselves, our God and hear what we must hear, so we can know what we must know and remain calm during the storms of life. There is no question that we live in unprecedented times and our state of mind must remain intact and on point.
So today I encourage you to examine your life and how you are spending your time. Turn down the outside noise and go inward. Make a date with yourself and practice being still and listen. You will be amazed how much you will hear and learn.
“He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.” – Benjamin Franklin
I have always been one to lose stuff. A wallet, (with money or a check in it) car keys, a phone, you name it. If it were not lost, it was certainly misplaced for a good period of time that usually drove me and those around me a little bonkers. Thankfully I have become a bit more careful when it comes to losing or misplacing my belongings, however nothing can compare to the loss or displacement of losing our peace of mind.
Honestly the two do not compare at all actually, because when we lose our peace there are usually other contributing factors, often not in our direct control or cognitive thought. And although losing my keys will prevent me from physically getting from one place to another, which is really important, losing my peace will prevent me from even having the desire to arise for a new day. Who cares about keys at that point, right?
As for cognitive thought, I firmly believe in Maya Angelou’s quote that states, “When we know better, we will do better.” This is why it is imperative to learn lessons, and apply those lessons as soon as we learn them. When we choose to not acknowledge or live by this creed, we probably will find ourselves repeating poor choices, stifling our growth and surrounding ourselves with people who do not promote our good welfare, which is a pretty good indication that we are not living in peace yet.
Quite honestly, we mess stuff up with the best intentions. We hurt those we love the most, but authentically desire to do them well. We make promises we cannot keep, and commit to things that are not sustainable by our own strength. We are easily influenced by societal pressures (whether we care to admit it or not). We see what others do and swear we will never become like them, until we are the splitting image or worse. Was this just my life or can anyone else relate?
Life can be like a whirlwind. Things are always changing and for every question we have, there are 100-plus more answers to navigate through, from well-intentioned family, friends, acquaintances and I’ll add the internet. How do we know which road to take, what job to pursue, which school to attend, should I date him or her, should I marry him or her, do I get a second opinion on a negative diagnosis? It can all be quite overwhelming. I have been there, done that and on many occasions I might add. And I suppose I will experience more of it in the future. That is life. The real truth is in life we can always count on most things changing. Imagine that.
However as things change, which they will, we can remain more consistent and stable even in the hardest of times. It all begins with what we are doing with our time. There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Simply stated, what we are attempting to shape will be impacted by who and what we allow to have dominant influence over it. Whether a marriage, a child or your own mind. It will become and respond to what it exposed to the most. That said, consider what and who you allow in your space. Be selective and protective, like your peace relies on it.
There are no quick fixes or easy buttons to press to obtain peace. My personal route for peace comes in my relationship with Jesus, however even with Him, it requires something from me. It is a personal decision to surrender my life in way that releases control, and anything that requires me to give up control, my personal control, is not an easy an easy thing to do. So consider the cost, weigh the options and decide if you are ready to no longer be at the helm of your own life. Seems crazy I know, but what good things have you accomplished alone, really?
“Have you prayed about it as much as you have talked about it?” – Unknown
When life gets unbearable, what do find yourself doing? Not what you say you will do, but what you actually do when all hell breaks loose in your life. If you are anything like me, what you say you will do and what you actually do, does not necessarily match up. I wish they did, but sometimes my expectations do not match my actions.
It certainly has nothing to do with my lack of vigilant prayer or good intentions. It’s just that sometimes things work out how they work out. These moments test my resolve like no other, and all that I have and hope to be, seem to lie in the balance, but it is moments like these that truly test where I am, versus who I claim to be.
Am I strong like I say I am, or are those just words? Do I remain vigilant in rough times or do I falter at the first sign of difficulty? I must admit, it is a little of both, depending on the circumstances, but one thing I have learned is having a quiet place to pray, mediate and reflect is essential for my peace of mind and staying focused during a challenging season.
As I endure tough times and pass through moments that test my ability to stand, one thing I have found to help more than anything else is my alone time with God. I am not simply speaking about a few moments of prayer time in the early AM of PM, but a one on one encounter that literally redirects my focus and outlook.
This only happens in my secret place, and unfortunately I do not always make the appropriate time for this encounter to occur, but it is nonetheless essential for my overall well-being and balance in life.
Life issues tend to become distracting and noisy, and as humans we tend to place our focus on those “things” that seem to mean more in the moment, but we ultimately must surrender to a power higher than us for true peace and clear direction.
I can list the many distractions that tend to mean more, (at least in the moment) like work, family, a spouse, children, bills, etc. But when life issues come at me in such a way where I fail to be at my best, nothing else is more important than me, because my actions will impact everyone else that I claim to care about. It is kind of like what they tell us just before a flight. “Get your own oxygen first, then help others.”
My secret place is just that, my oxygen. It is where my dreams, hopes and beliefs our birthed and nurtured, and that experience must be deliberate and purposeful, otherwise my mind will be moved with every wave and idea that comes my way.
My time alone with whom I personally believe is my all in all is imperative to an existence filled with purpose during my dark days, hope when all seems to be falling away beside me and personal joy when happiness is just not sustaining.
I am not here to tell you how often you should be going to your secret place, only that you should. The signs of you going without have a way of mounting up quickly. These signs tend to manifest themselves in ways like ease in becoming irritable, losing sight of what is more important and becoming overwhelmed in times when you normally would not.
We tend to know the signs, but fail to respond appropriately when we are there. I am encouraging you to not wait until something drastic happens, but become more proactive and vigilant about your peace of mind. Be more about the preventative work, and acknowledge that you matter more. Someone is relying on you to be at your best, and we will never be at our best when we come half cocked.
Go to your secret place and be still. Hear from God and learn what it is you need to know. Your world will be a better place for it.