I truly love this quote and it’s relevance can’t be underestimated or undervalued. I’ve never been a big fan of the saying (often as some sort of comfort to soothe failed engagements): “at least you tried your best.” I think the matter of “trying” is too often confused with the level of “activity”, not the integrity behind the efforts employed. I mean we confuse victory as the precise assessment of what we put forth when we know in certain instances, being victorious may not call upon our best depending on the quality of our competitors.
So how do we know if we “brought our best” to a challenge. Again, sometimes it’s more difficult to ascertain when the result is triumph but at least we know that our “best” was superlatively better than whoever we faced and our sense of satisfaction, or lack thereof, will rest on our view of what we did to prove it.
But the true measure of what we brought to the game is revealed through our losses (and they should be few) by the appearance of both combatants and utter confusion by the casual observers about who got the worst in their warfare. By that evaluation, we can be assured that our “best” may have fallen short, at least this time, but it was good enough to let our challenger know he was one punch away from being on the receiving end of defeat and wondering if it’s worth another engagement in a rematch.
So “trying your best” is certainly a good starting point but it’s an empty effort if you leave behind the characteristics and quality of the best within you, both intrinsically and what has been exquisitely developed through your work over time, that must be brought when the moment calls for its superb application. Simply put, you’ll know if you’ve “brought your best” when afterwords there’s not one element of your mental, emotional, and physically being untapped leaving you silently applauding yourself, not only for the result achieved but also by how little you saved of yourself to capture it so you’re at the point of being almost incapable of standing upright to enjoy it!
What’s so hard about making your dreams come true if you consider the recipe and mechanisms to reach them? First, it starts with imagining them for yourselves in a way that they seem real and thus within your reach. Next, you believe and have faith that you, and only you, have the capacity and capability to accomplish them no matter the obstacles. And finally and most importantly, you have to be absolutely 150% committed to putting in a determined effort to reach your destination without accepting that alternatives or options exist short of your dreams.
I’ve found that the only times I’ve ever abandoned any lofty goals are when I’ve surrendered that commitment in exchange for convenience and practicality, using paltry excuses, flawed justifications, and misdirected blame to comfort the loss of something I really wanted and could have had. You guys are at a stage where your dreams are closer than you realize and if you stay committed to and focused on your quests, what you dream about will turn out to being another among your growing prized possessions. I’ll provide the hope, support, and encouragement as you get there, while you guys do the heavy lifting and hard work necessary so in the end, we’ll all celebrate together in the kingdoms you’ve created!
I’ve learned it’s best to remember that as you move forward racing towards your stars, the target never changes no matter what we unexpectedly encounter. A change in goals is never the option, just adjustments in the directions to get them.
You know I never had a “plan B” in the event I didn’t go to law school and I guess if I did, I’d probably have quit along the way and given up on a lifelong dream knowing I could settle for a “realistic” alternative. There were obstacles that either were put in my way or I threw down myself but my “plan B” was always to just change the route and keep pushing until I got there in the end. I was too stubborn or stupid to understand that maybe I couldn’t get to where I wanted when others had their silent doubts that it would ever happen.
The point is that the goals you know you want and can get to never, ever change on anyone else’s terms or forecasts until you find out what the end of the road reveals and you know why? I firmly believe in you from what I know and have seen for so long to the extent that your goals don’t need a “plan B”, at least at this stage of your young life since you’re probably only a few steps away from them or closer than you know.
Sometimes all that’s required is just a change in outlook and trajectory when things don’t go as initially planned since our capacity to achieve all of our individual dreams will always be there. All it takes is you’re willingness to put in the time and work to get them and, ignore those who predict your own personal outcome when they don’t know enough about you or weren’t ever capable of doing the same things.
Very few things succeed on their own or by accident, or on the first attempts, and/or without a rebalancing of the mechanisms that take us to the revelations that await and are meant for us so never give up. Just don’t be locked into one approach and if necessary, do it differently to do it better than everyone else chasing the same things.
Remember, I want you to “have it all”, not because I’m your dad existing in delusion but because I know that you’re on the right side of history where so many have done much more beyond what you seek with a helluva lot less!
(A Favorite I Wrote In 2015 To Jason As He Turns A Year Older Today – It Seems The Message Has More Meaning Each Year He Grows)
“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” – Dalai Lama
Jason because I’m your Dad, I’m going to leave this for you to think about because it took me a lot longer to put into consistent practice. The easiest decisions we make for ourselves are either the most obvious or convenient. Oftentimes the hardest decisions are the ones that are best for ourselves because of not only what we gain from them, but the things and people that we give up or are left by the rode side on the way to the destination we want to move towards. We are strengthened if we exercise kindness for ourselves and find the inner peace that are the most important and basic components that will get us towards where we hope to end up. I think the answer doesn’t really change to the questions that continue to confront us in either our minds or God’s eyes and His role I believe is solely to give us additional clarity and strength to make those difficult decisions. Also the results don’t change other than to grow more problematic when we end up delaying them for the sake of ease, convenience, or avoidance of the inevitable confrontation. You are the only one who can provide the greatest gifts to and for YOU as you get older because the situations and circumstances are fading from my and Mom’s control but never our support.
Read this again: “In reflecting on the times of my life, it occurs to me that the difficult, arduous experiences always pass, or at least wane to a tolerable level. On the other hand, thankfully, the positive, uplifting aspects of my life’s journey seem to hold strong and steady throughout, as long as I appreciate and nurture them.” What we think we lose while we are young coupled with the importance we apply to them will fade in time sooner when you’re younger, and the other things that fill those gaps will make us question why we didn’t act sooner!
I’m no genius but I can tell you that there has not been one thing I’ve lost in the past, including my parents, where that void wasn’t eventually filled somehow and somewhere to give me something that would allow me to continue to see a future full of optimism. I’m not just talking about the addition of you and Christian in my life, but all things including what I surprisingly discovered along the way while recovering from an injury where I didn’t expect to learn so much from. It’s funny how things just worked out that way from the most unorthodox circumstances and with it, the peace I was seeking slowly settled within my soul where it could be best served.
“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard
I was thinking (yes again) about the difficulty of accepting not only the consequences of our actions but of the circumstances and situations surrounding them. During our early upbringing we were somewhat led to believe in the concept of a perfect and utopian society and existence. I think it was meant to fuel our early belief that anything was possible and that we can overcome any obstacle. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a laudable approach and I do believe that everything is achievable until proven otherwise but the bigger questions are when we really reach that point and who defines it?
As we experience and encounter more, we are faced with the challenge of alterations to our previous plans. What to do? Nothing if that’s what you accept as the final product of your efforts. Maybe that’s good enough for some who find a morbid satisfaction with the inequality of fate. Better to deflect blame through inaction than have to strain to uncover how much additional control we can exercise when faced with what may just be temporary setback.
We’re all going to get answers to what we ask and strive for and how we interpret them is fundamental to their achievement or sadly, our disregard. When we receive a “no” initially and accept it as the final response, maybe we didn’t understand that the answer was only “not yet”! “Failure” is often accepted when we fail to interpret it as we’re “a bit closer” or “almost there”! “Going as far as we can go” is often confused with “going as far as we’ll try”! I guess what we learn (or may never know) about ourselves is what we can still sense through complete darkness and silence.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to realizing when you’ve reached the end of a road. So rare is it that the route that we meticulously planned out ends up traveled along through its precise coordinates. But why do so many end a journey when a road is blocked requiring only a change in directions? Our compass may remain pointed in the same direction but it’s foolish to think that there will never be detours and delays. It doesn’t mean we don’t press on, or continually attempt to push immovable obstacles – that’s a waist of energy and painful. We just need to exercise some ingenuity and creativity to figure out how to move around them to get towards the future we’ve designed.
I remember something I was told about “judgment day” when a man was in front of Saint Peter and judged to be unworthy of entering Heaven. As the door was closed and the man dejectedly began to walk away, he heard a woman’s voice and as he looked down away from the door, the Virgin Mary had opened a nearby window allowing him to enter into God’s kingdom!
I’ve always remembered that story to remind me that when we feel we’ve lost hope, it does not mean all hope is lost! If needing shelter while on the way to our destination and a door is closed, it doesn’t mean it’s locked. If locked, at least knock because someone may be home to let you in. If still no answer, then go to another door or window and knock because if someone is home, there’s a chance they’ll help. If they don’t or still no answer, there’s rumor of a poor couple who found shelter in a manger and gave birth to a child that changed the world!
So be among the gifted to recognize that change is just part of our existence and every wrong calculation just requires reexamination of the equation. We all make poor or unfortunate choices but I only regret the following mistakes: 1) those that hurt others; 2) those that I didn’t learn from; and 3) those that caused me to quit because I didn’t readjust my thinking to pursue what still could have been achieved had I just tried differently.
So maybe nothing is really lost until we stop searching until the last sunrise has passed out of our final vision. Maybe the answers will be different than hoped for but then again, what did we surprisingly discover and lovingly cherish about ourselves and our lives? What I find new about me each day makes me hopeful that I may have another to get closer to what I wish for, regardless of how it ultimately turns out.