Each of us can leave behind footprints in the sand of time

“Lives of great people remind us we can make our lives sublime and, departing, leave behind footprints in the sand of time.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There are people who look at themselves and admonish any notion of becoming a person of substance or value, simply because of their circumstances. They adjust their goals and ambitions solely based on the achievements of others in their family or their financial situation. They automatically discount the notion that they too can one day become great, before their lives have really begun.

Greatness isn’t something that’s thrust upon you. You become great by the type of person you are, and what you accomplish during your time here, not by whom your parents are or how much money you’re born into.

You become great by living a sublime existence: by leading a life of high moral and intellectual value. You make your life sublime by inspiring awe and admiration in others, from your deeds and words. You live an existence that’s elevated in nature.

Being famous, rich, or even a leader doesn’t aspire someone to greatness. Throughout history, there are many more rich and famous who’ve been forgotten than poor ones who are remembered.

There are some who are remembered by what they did. That doesn’t mean they’ve become great. It simply means their actions, good or bad are remembered. Their name is associated with those actions.

The truly sublime are remembered for who they are. What they accomplish becomes secondary.

The sand of time is history. When someone leaves behind footprints in the sand of time, they are leaving behind imprints, of themselves or their actions, in history. These imprints, or footprints, last for generations. They become memories, footprints, which may never disappear, or take centuries to disappear.

All of us can leave behind a piece of ourselves to be remembered after we die, by acknowledging the fact that it is within our means to do so. You do so by leading a life whose main purpose is to benefit humanity. When you put humanity before yourself, the path to greatness will open itself to you. When you take that path, you too will leave behind footprints in the sand of time.

This quote is an excerpt from a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow first published in 1838 in the Knickerbocker Magazine called ‘A Psalm of Life”.

From Wikipedia: Longfellow wrote the poem shortly after completing lectures on German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and was heavily inspired by him. He was also inspired to write it by a heartfelt conversation he had with friend and fellow professor at Harvard University Cornelius Conway Felton; the two had spent an evening “talking of matters, which lie near one’s soul:–and how to bear one’s self doughtily in Life’s battle: and make the best of things”.[1] The next day, he wrote “A Psalm of Life”.

A Psalm of Life
What the Heart of the Young Man Said To the Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real!  Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

The only one who can make you give up is yourself

“Don’t give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don’t listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.” Sidney Sheldon

As you make your way through life, chances are you’ll come across people who seem to have your best interests in mind. They will appear to be kind hearted and smart. They will appear wise, full of wisdom, and will know the ways of the world. You listen to what they say, desperate for some guidance.

They tell you to forget your foolish dreams, that those dreams will never amount to anything. They tell you to trust their words, for they themselves once had foolish dreams. Dreams they had to give because they were too difficult for them to achieve.

They are your friend, and don’t want to see you making the same mistake they made. They implore you to heed their advice, to drop whatever dreams you have, and to do what you were intended to be, a follower, a worker, a drone.

These people are not your friends. They pretend to be so they can kill your dreams. Deep within their bosom, they have an emptiness that lifts when they spread gloom and doom to others. Seeing others succeed makes that emptiness grow, so they do all they can to make sure others don’t succeed. They are failures themselves, and seeing others succeed magnifies that failure.

So they pretend to be your friend, because they have a better chance of making you give up on your dreams and goals that way. They pretend to have your best interests at heart, but nothing would please them more than to see you give up, to see you fail to reach your goals.

Failures like to encourage others to fail.

The only person who can make you give up is yourself. FAilures can try all they want to make you give up, but it is only when you yourself give up that they succeed in their goal. You control your own destiny. Just because they’re failures doesn’t mean that you’ll fail as well. As long as your heart is beating, and air flows through your lungs, anything in life is possible.

Never let others kill your opportunities before you’ve even had a chance to prove yourself. Never listen to anyone who tells you that you’re a failure, or a loser, a quitter. You’ll only be those things if you listen to them.

Associate yourself with winners. Winners like to see others succeed. Ignore nay-sayers and get them out of your life.

Do you agree with Marilyn Monroe that everything happens for a reason?

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Marilyn Monroe

Everything that happens in one way or another has a direct impact on who you are. How you look at and react to everything that happens around you goes into defining who you are, and the outlook you’ll have on life.

Some people were always meant to be together, and never change. Other people change constantly, never giving enough time for a bond to fully develop. If the person you love now is different than the person you initially met, it becomes easier to let go, to move on.

There are some people, and you’ve met them, who’ve had the perfect life. Everything has always gone right for them. A good number of those people are usually unhappy. They may put on a happy exterior, but when you get to know them, you find out they don’t appreciate anything that they have. Everything has always gone right for them. You look at them and think how lucky they are. They look at themselves and think they’ve been cursed. They can’t appreciate what they have because it came too easy. They’ve never had anything go wrong to make them appreciate what they have.

Experience teaches us not to trust anyone, until they have proven themselves. It is mainly by trusting everyone, and getting lied to enough times, that you learn. If you never experience lies, you begin to trust everyone. In the end you become gullible, a perfect victim for con artists.

Sometimes, when everything seems to be going perfect, they suddenly fall apart. Your resolve and your faith get tested. You feel like giving up. You question how this could happen to you, after all of the struggles you’ve gone through to get to this point.

Being the kind of person you are, who’s suffered one tragedy after another to get to reach that happy place, you pick up the pieces and start rebuilding. But something changes. You try to duplicate what you had, but for some reason, things happen on their own. Initially you question this, blinded by your anger.

It doesn’t become apparent until you’ve finished rebuilding what fell apart that you realize that it was meant to be. That what you’ve had, what you thought was good, pales in comparison to what you have now. You realize that if things didn’t fall apart, you wouldn’t have found what you have now. It could be the person you thought you loved has left you. You don’t realize it was just an infatuation until your perfect mate, your true love, comes along. If the other person never left, you would never have found your perfect love. It could be a job you thought was good, that suddenly isn’t there. You realize you never really loved that job, until you come across a job that you look forward to each morning, and hesitate to leave each afternoon.

When you begin to understand that everything happens for a reason, that bad things don’t just happen to you, is when you really begin to understand and appreciate life. When you understand people change one way, while you change a different way, so you can each go separate ways. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It only meant the two of you weren’t meant for each other. It is when you come across someone who changes with you, who makes changes that compliment your changes, that things fall together better than before.

Know that every bad experience happens for a reason, and will eventually make you one of the happiest people on this planet.

Falling in love with you was beyond my control

“Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control.” Author Unknown

Who we meet for the most part is beyond out control. We can try to limit the number, but fate will step in from time to time to bring two strangers together. A car accident, an absent minded bump while walking, two carts bumping in the grocery store. When least expected, fate will bring two strangers into contact with each other.

What happens next is within your control. If you like the other person, you can chose to interact, to begin a conversation, to get to know the other person better. You can chose to become friends. This is something which happens all the time with people, especially when coming across someone with a personality that complements theirs.

Most interactions never get beyond friendship, or slowly fade as time goes on.

Once in a while, not too often, something happens that neither person has any control over. One day out of the blue, when you’re talking with your new friend, it will happen. It could be something the other person says, a slight move, a facial expression, or the touch of their hand that triggers something within. You lose track of time. Your brain stops working. You eyes get the slightest of tears, so slight that it’s just enough to make them look like they sparkle.

You notice the lips, how full they are as they move, although you don’t hear anything coming out of them. You notice the slight bump in the nose, how it’s perfect. You look at the face and body, seeing nothing but perfection.

Your heart begins to beat faster, giving your checks a reddish tint. Your forehead gets hot, reaching fever like temperatures.

You remember how you met. How it was destined that you two should meet.

And then you look into the eyes. You admire the beautiful color. You look beyond the eyes, into the person and goose bumps appear all over your body.

You quickly look away, realizing what just happened.

Now you hear the other person yelling at you, asking what’s the matter. You say it’s nothing, but you need to go.

You my friend, have just fallen madly and deeply in love. It was not something you planned or asked for. It wasn’t something you could have prevented. How could you? You had given up on finding love a while back and was content with just having friends.

If you’re truly lucky, the other person will get the same feelings, at the same time or shortly after. When it happens, that is what’s known as ‘True Love’, the kind of love that lives on forever.

Would you chose experience over integrity when hiring?

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Warren Buffet

Integrity is one the most important character traits in a person. Integrity is how you judge if a person is trustworthy or not. Here are some definitions of integrity:

Merriam-Webster: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility

Oxford Dictionaries: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

Macmillan: the quality of always behaving according to the moral principles that you believe in, so that people respect and trust you.

Wikipedia:  a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.

When you hire someone with integrity, you are hiring someone who is honest, is moral  and can be trusted to perform the task that they’ve been entrusted with. In essence, you will have someone who will watch your back.

When you combine intelligence and energy with integrity, you have someone you can trust to run your organization for you, someone who doesn’t need to be watched or supervised. Someone who will have your best interest in mind when making decisions, not theirs.

If you only look for intelligence and energy in people, and hire someone without integrity, your troubles have just begun. You will no longer sleep soundly at night. You will have someone very intelligent and full of energy going after their own agenda. Rather than looking out for what’s best for you or your organization, they will be looking out for what’s best for themselves. They will use that intelligence and energy to lie, cheat and steal to get what they what.

A person without integrity will have you believe they have your best interests in mind in order to get what they’re after. Once they get what they want, their true colors will appear. Heaven help you and your organization if you put someone with intelligence and energy but no integrity into a position of power.

You can educate someone to improve their intelligence level. You can motivate someone to give them more energy. Their is absolutely nothing you can do to improve a persons level of integrity. It is a character trait. It is something which defines who a person is. Integrity is developed over time, from childhood until you die. It can change, but usually takes a catastrophic event to cause a person to change.

The path to success and happiness

“Whatever else may be shaken, there are some facts established beyond warring: virtue is better than vice, truth is better than falsehood, kindness than brutality.” Quintin Hogg

The way to prosperity is through many paths. The way to happiness is through many paths. The way to riches and rewards is through uncountable paths. There are some who would have you believe otherwise. They would have you believe that there is only one path to all of these.

For many, the way to prosperity and happiness is through riches and rewards. The way to riches and rewards is through vice, falsehood and brutality. For them, any other way is for the week and ignorant.

There are a few who will never bend, who will always know that success and happiness comes from being virtuous, kind and truthful. For them, there will never be enough riches or rewards that would alter these constants. They may be tempted, and some may even fall under the temptation, but they will all know what is right from wrong. Those who fall will be forever haunted by their conscience.

Those who acquire riches and rewards through vice, falsehood and brutality will never become content or truly happy. No amount of riches and rewards will ever be enough for them. Their misery is that they will always want more.

History has always shown that virtue is better than vice, truth is better than falsehood, and kindness is better than brutality. Men, women and nations who test these premises have always succumbed to their own vices, falsehoods and brutalities.

And yet, more keep thinking the path to prosperity and happiness is through riches and rewards. The way to riches and rewards is through vice, falsehood and brutality.

The true path to riches and rewards is through virtue, truth and kindness. The path to success and happiness is being content with whatever riches and rewards virtue, truth and kindness bestow upon you.

What makes a great writer?

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”  Mark Twain

Writing what comes into your mind is simple. You simply put down on paper what appears in your head. Good writing is going back and rewriting what came out of your head so that it makes sense to others. Great writing is agonizing over every single word seven or eight times, until you’re finally satisfied that you’ve put down on paper the best possible words, in the best possible order.

A writer may look at a new manuscript a third time and think all the right words words have been used. It isn’t until the writer reads the manuscript a fourth or fifth time that he’ll notice the wrong word here and there.

A reader will not notice the wrong words. The reader will think all of the words written were meant to be written. The reader will see a story which makes little sense here and there.  The difference is that a writer sees the right words in his mind while reading a story. His mind knows it should say ‘lightning’ so his eyes see ‘lightning’ instead of ‘lightning bug’, which is what may be on the paper. Readers must rely on what’s on the paper in front of them, so they see exactly what’s written.

Great writing is the difference between using the right word and the almost right word. There’s nothing more difficult to a new writer than finding the right words. For an experienced writer, finding the right words is simple. What’s difficult is finding the right story to use those words in.

When a writer does find the right words, and the right story, magic happens. The story promotes itself. The story goes viral.

What makes a great writer is not the story that he tells, it’s the words that he choses to tell that story. Every writer thinks they have a great and unique story to tell. It isn’t until public opinion expresses that sentiment, until every reader feels compelled to tell everyone they know to read that story, that the writer knows he’s found the right words.

 

 

Humor and imagination: we need both

“Imagination was given to us to compensate for what we are not; a sense of humor was given to us to console us for what we are.” Mack McGinnis

Human beings use imagination to make up for what we lack. We can’t all reach what we go after and so once in a while we like to dream, to let our imagination carry us away from reality.

Through imagination, the impossible becomes real, the unreachable is reached, and our ideal perfect life is achieved. We may not be secret agents, but one of us became James Bond, 007, through imagination. When we open the door, our modes of expression allow others to share a part of our mind, to share the imaginary world we’ve created.

A sense of humor allows us to look at what we’ve become and to laugh. If we can’t laugh at our own shortcomings we might as well give up.

Laughter helps us deal with the here and now. Laughter lets us say “we haven’t reached our dreams yet, but that’s okay, it’s not the end of the world”

Laughing at what we are opens the door for our imagination to conjure up ‘what will be’. If the world is fortunate enough, we may even put the output of our imagination down onto paper, sharing our ‘what will be’ with everyone else.

 

 

Are you a procrastinator? Are you always missing opportunities?

“”Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” ~Victor Kiam

Wait until later to do something and you’ll be putting off opportunities for another time as well. Do it now and opportunity may come. Don’t do it, and there’s no chance that opportunity would appear.

Opportunities come to everyone. The ones who make the most of the moment also find the opportunities. They almost stumble upon them by accident. They are the missed opportunities of someone else. The things someone else decided to leave for another day.

Opportunity is like a lover. Keep either waiting too long and they’ll both be gone, gone to someone else.

Everyone comes up with great ideas from time to time. The procrastinator waits for another day to do something about the idea. If that day ever comes, someone else would have thought of and done something with it.

The procrastinators also shot opportunities time and again. They keep putting things off, until they are forced to act. When they do act, it’s either too late and will cause more damage, or done in a rushed manner, again causing more damage. The procrastinator waits too long, then acts without thinking, killing opportunity.

This comes from first hand experience, having assassinated opportunity time and again, by putting important things off for another day. We really do assassinate opportunity when we continually put things off. And then we wonder why some people seem to get one opportunity after another. It’s because they did today what we put off for tomorrow.