It’s Whatever You Think It Is

Windshield bugThere’s an old joke that goes, “What’s the last thing that goes thru a bug’s mind when it hits your windshield?” His ass!

I thought of that joke (I’m not totally sure why) as the clock chimed 2:00. You see, about a week ago, I threw my back out. It’s something that happens once or twice a year, usually caused by an insignificant movement on my part. It’s been happening for several years now so I’ve come to understand that it will leave me in intense pain for 7 days. Since I did it last Friday while painting the basement of my house that was supposed to have already been sold AS-IS, I knew that it was around 2:00 when it happened. A couple of days ago I told Susie that I’d be completely recovered at 2:00 today.

When the clock struck 2:00, I thought of the joke about the bug. You see, his ass may have been the last thing to go thru his mind, but he had full control of his last thought (if you’ll allow me to anthropomorphize the little fella). And thoughts are powerful things that we often forget to take seriously until it’s too late.

Henry Ford is most often credited for saying, “Whether you think you are creative or not, you’re right.” A lot of things about us fit into that sentiment. Maybe most things do. I’m not talking about that whole Rhonda Byrne Secret thing. You aren’t going to make anything significant happen without putting in the hard work. But if you don’t start with the right thinking, the hard work won’t be enough.

My niece started blogging this week. Her first post was titled Lost on the Road to Should. In it, she hints at this same concept. We can spend our lives thinking about what we should do. All of us have had those times in our lives where we stopped thinking about what we should be doing and focused instead on what we want to be doing, or even better, on what we are doing. These are the times when we feel most alive. Can you feel me?

Zig Ziglar used to talk about getting rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’! He said we needed a checkup from the neck up. The man was incredibly corny, but his words contained powerful wisdom. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one can help you get where you want to go. And believing in yourself starts with the thoughts you have about yourself and your situation.

I believe that’s the primary difference between people who grow up in hard times who make their way out of them and those that don’t. It’s easier to blame your surroundings for your situation. But it’s not right to do so. You have to own your piece of it and do something about it. When we circle up at the beginning and end of our Back on My Feet runs, we say the Serenity Prayer. Now those of you who know me know that praying isn’t a common activity for me. But the Serenity Prayer holds the key to moving forward. It is my checkup from the neck up.

So that poor little bug, when he realized that he was unavoidably going to meet his doom, could have had his last thought be one of woe for his predicament, or, since the end would be the same, he could have gone out thinking what a wonderful time he’d had while he was here.

And me. I’ve spent all week sitting on my couch reading good books and watching bad movies. I’ve done rounds on the heating pad until I started to believe I was some of Arby’s brisket, approaching my 13 hours in the roaster. I’ve been to my acupuncturist, and my wife has massaged Deep Blue into me each night before bed. I’ve done the work. It’s past 2:00, and I’m recovered. The declaration I made a few days ago didn’t make my back better, but it set the expectation in my mind for when it would be. I don’t plan to go for a run or a long bike ride tomorrow, but I won’t spend the day sitting on the couch watching bad movies and reading good books. I’ll go back to my normal routine.

What about you?

Talent

I just finished John Maxwell’s book, “Talent is Never Enough.” The title explains his premise pretty well. He describes the concept of a Talent Plus person, and proceeds to list the pluses. One of them is character. Maxwell talks about how character is required to be a successful person. His reference to character is one of several that have caught my attention in recent days. I suppose we’ll see many more references as the Presidential election cycle gets into full swing.

I’m bothered by all these references to character. In Maxwell’s case, he really does mean character as I would define it: that combination of attributes that determines one’s moral and ethical compass. It’s what makes us do the right thing even when we could get away with something less. Most references are actually cloaked attacks on someone’s character, or lack thereof. I found Maxwell’s use more interesting in his connection of character to talent to create success. I’ve always believed that talent is not enough to succeed, and I’ve always believed that character is important. I never put the two together before. Talent and character help define the people that I look to as role models.