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COVID-19: Tough Times Don’t Last but Tough People Do!

Great speaker Robert Schuyler stated that tough times don’t last but tough people do. I really find myself coming back to that quotation a lot during these COVID times because people are going through different challenges, be they physical or financial. There are challenges as it relates to what’s going on with our loved ones or even in our own personal lives. But you have to remember that at the end of the day, you’re not given anything that you don’t have the ability to handle. And one of the things I often say in many of my speeches is that there may be challenges that I have been given that if they were given to you, you might not be able to handle. And on the flip side, there might be challenges that are given to you that if they hit my doorstep, I may not be able to handle.

I like what Les Brown said that oftentimes, we’ve been picked out to be picked on and sometimes you just feel like life’s always beating you down and always trying to get at you and take something from you. You have to understand, at this particular time, that this is something that it’s just testing you. There’s a difference between school and life. In school you get the lesson and then you get the test. In life you get the test and then you get the lesson. I want you to think about how you’re being tested today and how you’re going to pass this test!

How are you being challenged right now and what are you doing that’s going to allow you to be able to step up to the challenge? You have to decide to fight because once you stop fighting for what you want, what you don’t want automatically takes over. As soon as you give up, you’ve lost. One of the things I want you to remember is to understand the importance of community and the importance of reaching out and asking for help. Like someone once said, ask for help, not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong and you are strong!

We are all strong people and the strongest people get tested in the strongest ways. So don’t put yourself in a position where you feel like you have to go through all of this alone. Put yourself in a position where you tell yourself that you’re going to thrive! Reach out to your community and ask for assistance and offer assistance too! As the late Bill Withers sang, “Lean On Me.” It’s a powerful and this is a song that I’ve been playing in some of my fitness classes at the end because it’s something that we need to do. You need to lean on people and you also need to let people lean on you.

Another thing we have to do is you have to decide that you are going to come out of this on the other side in a better way. One of the things I realized when I was going to be home with all of us in terms of my family was to commit to getting myself into better shape before this shutdown happened than when I went in. I had to say that to myself because even if I didn’t say that I would have been succumbing to what some people are already calling the COVID-15 or COVID-30 as it relates to gaining 15 or 30 pounds from not being able to maintain a regular exercise routine. I’ve had some setbacks in this process but I am still on the path. Without that affirmation, I would have given in to my injuries and my appetite would’ve taken over, trust me!

I knew I was going to have to make certain dietary changes. I was going to have to maintain my workout program with adjustments. Before the quarantine I had to wake up at 5:30 to get the kids ready and out the door to school by 8. Now I don’t have to do that so there are two and a half hours to get it in at least 30 minutes to work out. We’ve also started doing bike rides as a family together and weekends in, which also wasn’t really happening before with our schedules.

This is just one example. What can you do where you’re at, what can you do with what you have right now where you are? Are there new opportunities to find a workout or the new opportunities to find and spend time with the kids? Are there new opportunities just to do anything different or special right now that you weren’t able to do before? We can talk about all of the challenges that the COVID situation presents, but it also presents a lot of opportunities and you have to ask yourself, are you positioning yourself to take advantage of them? These are some of the things I want you to think about as you go through your week, as you go through your month, the next couple of months, and possibly beyond.

You CAN get through this. We just have to do some mind shifts, some changing of our thinking, and lean on the people that we need to lean on. Set your intentions from the beginning so that this whole crisis and pandemic doesn’t set them for you. If you’re able to do these things, you’ll be able to take control of your own destiny and you’ll be able to take control during this crisis. And just remember, you’re never alone and never, ever, ever give up. Tell yourself every single day that you are not alone, that you’re not going to give up, and that you know you’re a tough person who’s going to last through these tough times. We are going to get through this together. I wish you all the best. I hope that you continue to do your best and forget the rest and let’s get through this together! I know you can handle this because you’re not giving anything that you don’t have the ability to handle! Let’s go!

NOW is the time time to grow! Don’t let Coronavirus stop you!

I want to ask you a question that comes from John-Leslie Brown: if you had to be who you are today for the rest of your life, would you be happy? Only you can answer that question. It’s very easy to let other people try to answer that, but it really all comes down to you. As somebody once said, if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you want something more, you have to do more. You have become more. During this time right now, when so many of us are home, what are you doing right now to do more, to become more, to be more? Are you reading more? Are you exercising more?

So many companies from fitness companies to literature companies and everything in between have been offering free services. If you don’t have an Audible account and you can get one free for 30 days. Sirius XM radio also has a trial version. There’s “YouTube university” with tons of free videos to help you educate yourself. There are so many things you could be doing right now to build your knowledge. You can come out of this smarter and in better shape if you truly commit!

So now is not the time for wallowing. Obviously there are some of us who are going to deal with some real health concerns either to ourselves or to our family and real time will be needed to deal with that. There is no question about that and we are seeing it daily. But outside of that, there’s a lot of time for you to get to those projects you didn’t get to before. There’s more time for you to get to the reading. There’s more time to get to just about anything that you feel like you can do You may need to wake up earlier to get these things done, which may mean, dare I say, going to bed earlier.

My main point is that if you’re fine and everything’s working for you, keep going on autopilot. But if you know that you could do a little bit more; an extra pushup, read an extra chapter, writing a little extra online work, now’s the time to get it done! Start building the habits that are going to carry you over when you get out of here. Like I said, if you know you could do better, do better! As Ziglar said, you can always better your best, and if you’re home right now, now is absolutely the time to do that. So get out there, BE you. BE great. Don’t use this as a time to shrink away from your greatness. You use this as a time to G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness!

The Best Me (an affirmation)

Repeat (with passion)!

There can only be one me!

There was no me before me

There will be mo me after me

And since I’m the only me

That the world will see

I will be the BEST me

That I can be!

G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness!

They say greatness is a choice but what have you chosen?

You’ve been frozen in time and broken in mind

For too long the same song playing in your head

Living in breath but better off dead

But who said you didn’t have the power?

Who said this is not your hour?

You’ve been showered with a steady stream of words that kill your dreams

But since you’re still breathing then someone done lied to you

Tried to deny you of your own potential inside you

If you’d just decide to let no one deride you

Don’t even let them get beside you as you unearth the new you

Stop listening to naysayers and decide to do you

No more pity parties, sobbing and boohoos

If no one told you you’re great then let me be the first to

If you have the thirst to drink from faith’s fountain

You’ll develop the might to move mountains

We move tons of dirt to find an ounce of gold

So I ask you to move tons of hurt and find just one ounce of your soul

You’ll be on the path to control your own destiny

Getting out of your own passenger seat and driving your own car

Reaching for the moon but maybe landing among the stars

You have greatness inside you but you must choose to be great

Blaze a path of excellence, leave fear in your wake

All you need is already inside you just believe in yourself

G.R.O.W. towards your greatness and discover your true wealth!

Take control of your future!

I read a quotation that you cannot control what happened in the past, but you can control the future. I would say at the very least you can planfor the future. What happens in the past is over. As Willie Jolley said, use your past as a place of reference, not a place of residence. Don’t get stuck in the past. Whether it was negative or positive, use it to fortify you and motivate you to go forward. As you plot out what you’re going to be working on for tomorrow, remember your car has a bigger windshield in a smaller rear view mirror so you can spend more time looking forward and less time looking backwards.

So today, start thinking of how you can have a forward vision and an idea that’s going to propel you into the future as opposed to a practice that’s going to keep you in the past. You weren’t meant to stay there. Go forward because that’s where your greatness lies. Use your past as a place where you can learn from what happened so you could have a stronger future going forward and start today. You’re worth it!

If you want to watch video of this, please visit my YouTube channel.

7 Steps to Reduce Work Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and…it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.” Despite all of the technological advances that were supposed to make life and work easier, we as a society find ourselves more burnt out than less. AIS states that the top four stress related issues are workload (46%), “people” issues (28%), juggling work/personal lives (20%), and lack of job security at (6%).

Work stress has been linked to everything from emotional disorders to heart attacks so it is imperative that you do everything possible to achieve the work-life balance that can lead to as little stress as possible. Below are 7 steps you can implement (some immediately) to reduce your own workload stress.

  1. Choose your work associates wisely.

Like attracts like! If you surround yourself with people at work who are constantly negative and complaining, you will become that person as well and by default become more stressed. It is amazing how in the very same job, one can find people experiencing near heart attack level stress while others have never been happier. Sometimes it is related to the company you keep. Make a list of your top 3 associates at work. Are they bringing you up or brining you down? Are YOU bringing them up or bringing them down? Surround yourself with people who are positive and enthused about work and it will rub off on you.

  1. Make a workout routine and stick to it.

You are the number one person responsible for your health. Regular exercise can help you deal with work related stress. Commit to working out at least 30 minutes a day. While at work, engage in activities that keep your body active such as taking the stairs instead of elevators, sitting on a Swiss ball instead of an office chair to better stabilize your core, utilizing chair stretching routines, and walk outside during lunch time. Too many of us have jobs that are extremely sedentary but if you happen to have that type of job, you can still find ways to move.

  1. Pack your lunch!

Bringing your own lunch will prevent you from spending money on junk food every day, which you’re more likely to do if you’re stressed at work. Too many of us are stress eaters. At the very least, you want the foods you stress eat to be healthy. The more healthy food you can bring from home, including snacks to keep at your desk, the less likely you will be to consume food that is not healthy for you. Also remember to drink more water! The water cooler should not just be a place for gossiping. Drink the water!

4.  Leave work AT work!

Do your best to not put yourself in a position where you are always available via text messages or emails by your supervisors. Your time after work should be YOUR time! Some of us get excited to have a nice work phone that makes us look more important. The problem is that doubling the number of phones you have can double your stress. Some of us also work in jobs where we work with people overseas, which can also lead to constant interaction with your job at all hours of the day. Set proper boundaries so you are not, in essence, “on call” 24/7.

  1. Keep work at work.

This is a little different from #5. Do not go home talking negatively about work and obsessing over things you cannot control. Use home to reconnect with family or engage in other hobbies like reading, exercise, and sleeping. We are not getting enough sleep in our society and adequate sleep is a major part of stress reduction. Also institute rules at home like “No tech at the table” so family meal times can be devoted to conversation or maybe journaling if you live alone and want to enjoy quiet time. You have to be proactive in putting your tech to the side so you can focus on getting back in touch with yourself.

  1. Seek out mentors.

If you really want to advance at your job, finding a mentor can prevent you from reinventing the wheel. Find someone at your job who can show you the ups and downs of the job. I have spoken to so many workers who had an “If I only knew then what I know now…” mentality. You can reduce a great deal of stress by learning from people who came before you. Do not expect people to volunteer to mentor you. You have to actually ask someone.

  1. Keep building on your skills.

The economy and skills that are valued are always changing. Always look for opportunities for growth. Take additional courses, read more books, look for other certifications that can help you advance. Watch more instructional YouTube videos instead of music videos and sports stories (unless they’re related to work). If you can show that you are committed to actual growth, you are going to gain more attention from the powers that be. Too many times people complain about their position at their job but are not doing anything to advance themselves. Do not fall into that trap!

At the end of the day, your happiness matters. To the best of your ability, find jobs that you are passionate about. As Zig Ziglar said, you career is what you’re paid for and your calling is what you’re made for. If you have not yet found that job you are passionate, at least put yourself in environments where you are celebrated and not tolerated, as Les Brown advises. Also consider starting your own business since many of us are building up the bottom line for our bosses while our own lines are bottoming out. You deserve the best and that requires dealing with as little stress as possible. Work should be a daring adventure, not a place of endless anger, frustration, boredom, and anxiety. You have the power to make it happen. Get to WORK!

Show up in life!

I want to talk about the importance of showing up. Have you shown up for your life or have you lived in fear of showing up? It has been said that 50% of life is showing up. How many opportunities have you missed out on because of fear of showing up? Have you lost opportunities at love or a potential career or something else? 

At the end of the day, you showed up on earth and that means that you have something to do here. There is something that you need to accomplish. I encourage you to stop being scared and show up in your life and be fearless! As Ziglar said, fear is nothing but F.E.A.R.-False Evidence Appearing Real. Most of what you worry about will never happen so just show up, grow up, and GO UP! 

G.R.O.W. towards your greatness! (a poem)

They say greatness is a choice, but what have you chosen?

You’ve been frozen in time and broken in mind

For too long the same song playing in your head

Living in breath but better off dead

But who said you didn’t have the power?

Who said this is not your hour?

You’ve been showered with a steady stream of words that kill your dreams

But it seems that since you’re still living that someone done lied to you

Tried to deny you of your own potential inside you

If you’d just decide to let no one deride you

Don’t even let them get beside you as you unearth the new you

Stop listening to naysayers and decide to do you

No more pity parties, sobbing and boohoos

If no one told you you’re great then let me be the first to

If you have the thirst to drink from faith’s fountain

You’ll develop the might to move mountains

We move tons of dirt to find an ounce of gold

So I ask you to move tons of hurt and find just one ounce of your soul

You’ll be on the path to control your own destiny

Getting out of your own passenger seat and driving your own car

Reaching for the moon but maybe landing among the stars

You have greatness inside you but you must choose to be great

Blaze a path of excellence, leave fear in your wake

All you need is already inside you

Just believe in yourself

G.R.O.W. towards your greatness and discover your true wealth!

Reflect positively on the end of another year

The end of the year is upon us and what do you know? You’re still here. Despite all of the many tragedies we see in the world today, you still woke up today, blessed to breathe a new day. Have you ever stopped to really ponder what that means? What better time than now to do just that. Even though your day may not be going great, are you still grate-ful?

I am learning more and more how to appreciate each day, each moment with my family, and each moment with you. This holiday season, I really suggest you make an effort to do the same because each year that passes is one you will never see again. Oprah once said that when her time is done on earth she wants to look down and say “I knocked that earth thing out!” You can’t accomplish that if you do not focus on being present and enjoying each moment while you have it to enjoy. Don’t let anyone take your peace and potential happiness away…not even YOU! Happy holidays to you and yours!

Reflections on giving birth, fear, and faith

Last week, Kendra gave birth to our third child and first son. Having not gone through the process in 6 years, it was indeed a surreal experience. All of us have experiences in our lives that cause us to develop an extra sense of motivation: a new job, new relationship, etc. For me, the birth of a child tops the list. But with a new child, new job, new relationship or anything else new, there is also fear that comes along with the excitement. I have decided that with any new event that comes my way, I am just going to embrace the fear and then replace it with faith.

Zig Ziglar once said that fear is nothing but F.E.A.R: False Evidence Appearing Real. He reminded us that most of what we worry about never happens so we should focus on what DOES happen as well as what is in our control. My anxiety over whether I will be able to do all I hope for this child (and my other children) was a challenge for the first two days but then I had to remember that every second I spend on that anxiety is a second I could be spending productively working so what I fear does not become a reality and the same is true for you.

This is how you must live your life. The thought of not accomplishing something in my life because I was too scared to try it sickens me and keeps me up at night. It should sicken you too. If I do not reach my goals, I will proudly be able to tell my children that I fearlessly worked as hard as possible on my goals and my hopes will be that they will be inspired to work hard on their dreams as well as hard, if not harder (and smarter) than me. Having this mentality will do more to help them than telling them I was just too scared to try and indirectly validate their own fears. Life is meant to be lived boldly so get out there and live it to the fullest! The world will be a better place for it and you will set a shining example for generations to come!