By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.
Scott’s Maxim: “There will be times when you feel that your efforts are wasted and you offer little value to the world. That usually means you’re on the threshold of a breakthrough. The ordinary give up easily. The extraordinary always seem to find a pathway to their dreams. Be extraordinary!”
There are multiple commencement events each graduation cycle and I try to be there for all of them. I’ve seen enough newly minted alumni faces to look behind the eyes and into their hearts. Peel away the excitement and anticipation and to some degree, every one of them harbors the same fear:
Am I really good enough, worthy enough to find a path to a happy life?
Sound familiar? That may be because the little voice is always asking us that question. Some of us are better than others at keeping fear, uncertainty and doubt from creeping out from behind our confident facades. But it’s always there.
These voices talk most insistently at night, when the distractions of the day quiet down and our dinosaur brains clamor for attention. Heard these before?
- A new competitor has emerged that threatens your start-up company.
- A project you put your heart into initially gets a huge positive response, until someone rips it out by the roots.
- You got some unexpected bad news.
- You’ve sent an email you wish you could pull back and delete, written a questionable social media post or spoken heated words you are now regretting.
When these things threaten to overwhelming you ask yourself these questions:
If your best friend confided this to you, what advice would you give? – We tend to be gentle, rational, patient, supportive and pretty darn smart when those we love ask us for our wisdom. Find your best friend and get an emotional battery charge. If that person isn’t near by, speak to yourself as you would to that individual you most cherish. And listen.
What can you do to create a positive outcome anyway? – Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable and remove yourself from the unacceptable. In each situation there are the seeds of opportunity. Watch for them. Plant and water them. And pick the best of them. And never garden at night. Do your deepest thinking in the morning, perhaps after some cardio and a good breakfast. Problems shrink and good ideas bloom in the light of day.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? – Can you live with it? The answer is always “yes”. If you ever hear yourself saying “no”, immediately seek professional help. That may be a sign that you could benefit from therapy or a readjustment of your brain chemistry. You have been given the greatest gift of all, the chance to live life to the fullest. If you don’t feel that way, find out why.
Ten years from now, how important will the things you worry about today really be? – Probably not important at all. Our earthly assignment is to discover our calling and work in its direction to the best of our ability. There are always detours on this road, but if you keep your eyes on your ultimate destination, you will deal with the most unpleasant things that face you now, without losing sight of your goal. This is the foundation of faith. That sometimes irrational belief that if you keep on keeping on, things will work out.
Statistics show that they usually do.
We humans love to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We overextend ourselves. We are easily attached to people and things that can lead us in the direction of suffering. When things go wrong we are quick to blame ourselves and are slow to understand that the greatest gift is the forgiveness you can give when looking in the mirror.
Whatever you are now facing, you will get through it. Pain is inevitable on the pathway to personal growth. Suffering is optional.
You -are- going to be ok. The first step to getting there is to believe it.