I scrolled past this picture on Facebook the other day. It was the first time in a long time that I had seen anything that actually made me think on social media.

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Do I agree with what this picture says? Yes, but it surpasses this month.

Black History Month is not the only thing that media targets. A majority of enjoying life has been subjected to media and how it interprets life for us. It actually speeds time up to the point where you can’t enjoy life for what you have — especially if it isn’t what you see in movies, on television and social media. That goes for whites and blacks and every month of the year… Not just February.

I believe a person’s level of success in anything will have some correlation in his/her ability to tune out unnecessary distractions in the world (or media). For me personally, I like sports. But I have  to realize that it’s hard from me to tell how fast time is going by because I’m living for the next game, series and championship. The NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR all profit from me; I profit nothing from them. These luxuries, must be enjoyed under strict regulations in order to attain spiritual, financial or any other personal growth. I call them luxuries because I can’t afford to entertain myself with someone else’s success.

In short, if you let these four events in the picture distract you from Black History Month, maybe you should reprioritize. If you let anything distract you from a goal, you should reprioritize. Life can pass by you regardless of your race and there are no shortages of distractions to keep it from happening. Set your own priorities.

Winning and Losing Where It Counts

I think it’s best if I start by stating “success is relative”. Whatever you attain to in your life will be what you make it. Your goals are not mine, and mine are not yours. So how then, will we compete? Competition has replaced so much of what should be individual success and ambition.

Through the overwhelming amounts of media that we are being subjected to on a daily basis, it is becoming harder and harder to differentiate between what we really want in life, as opposed to what has been shown to us and set as a standard of success. Whatever it is that you do, or whatever your profession is, you should aim to achieve the highest honor or award in that area. In doing so, it will be harder for any of us to become distracted by what we see others with or what their goals reward them with. When success has been materialized as much as it has been, you can be easily dissuaded from your course to prove you can “win”. If I’m not working towards a million dollar deal, I lack ambition; and until I’ve reached a million dollars, I’m not successful. I’m sorry, but I have to refused those standards.

“Reggie, that’s loser talk.”

Well tell that to an Olympian. They train four long hard years straight, to win a gold medal that is not even worth a thousand dollars. I know what my goal in my field is and every time I find myself in a battle over word choice, I let that goal be the deciding factor. Now I will gladly accept whatever “things” or opportunities that present themselves on course to my goal. And every single day I wake up and take another step towards that goal, I’m a success. Forget what you heard! I trip out when I think about the audacity of people who try to measure other people’s success by their standards. I especially get upset when it causes people to deter from their purpose. If you are a comparer that way, or become entangled in someone else’s comparison, you will never be happy or win at life. I don’t care what you get to show for it, I feel as though you lost, because you don’t even know why you have whatever it is that you’ve attained. You won’t appreciate it the same because you let someone else dictate what you want.

Winning has become such a reward that people will discredit their own time, practice and efforts if they do not come in first place. If you’ve seen the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, you may remember one of the tagline, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” The quote itself is hilarious, but I think more people think that way than we realize. Will you tell your child that though? No! If you see your child put in a little sweat and effort, you will be just as proud of him as you would be if he had won first place… and if you wouldn’t be, you should probably do some self-evaluations. Everyone wants to win and succeed. I’m sure all parents want their children to win and succeed. Therefore, it’s best that you know what you should be doing and why you are doing it. If you know what and why you’re doing something and where you are headed, you will win.

What really cracks me up though about this whole winning thing, is when I hear people say, “I hate losing”. Most of the time you hear that phrase, you’re probably participating in something that does not even financially benefit you or something that does not even contribute to what you do as a professional. For example, the last few times I’ve heard it, I was playing basketball, cards or video games. Like really? Do you hate losing at your job? Do you hate losing money unnecessarily? Do you hate losing productive time? Well you hate losing the wrong things. Hate losing what counts. It seems that in those instances, people hate losing because their are bragging rights involved. Some type of irrelevant pride. If you beat me in a game of basketball… so what? I’m not in the NBA. If lives or money isn’t involved, I can shake your hand with a “Good game” and go home just as happy as I came. I understand that some people just have a “competitive spirit”, but I need to see at least in one area where that competitive spirit has paid off for you.

In 2012 I submitted a piece to into a poetry contest of 5,000 applicants. I made it into the last 500 contestants before being counted out. I was upset, that I didn’t win of course. I counted the fact that I was in the top ten percent of contestants as a good place. Then I waited for the winner to be announced and compared my work to hers… New goal. That’s because it’s in my field. Im not upset at the person who is better, but I will be upset with myself, if I don’t put in the necessary work to be closer at winning the next time.

Don’t want to win in something that has nothing to do with you. Don’t want to be the best at something without putting in the work required. Go back to those childhood lessons like, “winning isn’t everything” but “Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability”. Have fun learning and progressing towards being the best without competing out of negativity and simply wanting to be better than an individual. You want to be the best, not better than someone. Being the best will automatically make you better than the competition and will ensure not having a ill-feelings toward anyone.

That’s just me though. You can call me uncompetitive, weak, passive or whatever else you can think of to call it. I guarantee though, that I win at whatever it is relevant that I’m doing. I’ll get what I want; and whatever goal I set, I’ll attain.

That’s confidence talking, not arrogance or ego… We will discuss that next.

Be Proud of What You Do

Being proud of what you do can save you a lot of energy and stress over a lifetime. I feel as though no one should spend time doing anything they cannot do so proudly. In order to do that though, it takes more practice and determination than what it sounds like at first. When you decide that you are  going to do something and set a goal and a plan to get it accomplished, there will be more distractions that have never presented themselves to you.

Proud: Feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or credible to oneself

Now it would seem that being proud of what you do or what you stand for would be fairly simple; But that’s not always the case. The first thing that you have to find out is who you are. Find out what your passion is and what it is that you do! If you have to write out a list and number them in order of importance, then do that. Let your number one God. Christ should be your center and will hold the rest of the priorities in place. That is where the necessary balance will take place, because there is a very thin line between being proud and being arrogant. Humility is a must. One thing that I have always been taught, is that you can humble yourself by giving glory and honor where it is due, instead of wanting all the credit for oneself. Or instead, you can enjoy a pedestal seat until your own ego and reputation outgrows your character. When that happens, humiliation is around the corner, and it will be especially difficult to accept correction and change. Humility can be learned anytime, but the sooner the better. Learning a lesson can be an inconvenience if you’re a slow learner.

Learn to deal with being different. If you have a knack for cars, working with your hands and enjoy fixing things, you may make a great mechanic. That may sound silly, and because of that silliness, someone will deny themselves a life that they would really enjoy. Why? Because “No one wants to be known as a lackluster mechanic.” That’s an opinion that someone who is not in your shoes may have… And if someone is not in your shoes, do not let them dictate where or how you walk. Everyone is different. If your different is a bit more different than your peers, that only means you have a larger area to grow, less congestion, job security or whatever you want to call it. This could possibly be the hardest part of learning to be proud of yourself though; being different. Everyone will have an opinion on what you should do, how you should do it, where, and why you should do whatever it is you decide to do. At the end of the day, your vision will have done a complete 180 degree turn from what you had in mind when you started. If fixing cars does not work for you, let it be because you found out that it wasn’t what you thought it was. Try it. Experience it. Never let it be because you were convinced that it was not a good idea before you even attempt it. If you are convinced that it wasn’t the best choice before you try it, at least let it be because to talked to another mechanic. A dentist can’t a provide you with the proper information you need for the life you are trying to live as a mechanic— which leads me to my next point:

Surround yourself with likeminded people, doing what you are doing, and going where you are going. It’s easy to lose focus of your goals when you are surrounded by people with different goals. If becoming a mechanic is your goal, but you go to class with aspiring dentists everyday, at the end of the semester, you will be more dentist than mechanic. The bad part about that is, because you did not fully commit to neither, you will in turn be neither dentist nor mechanic. I’m using dentists and mechanics as examples, but you can apply whatever it is that you want to be to the same principles, whether it be a Christian, relationships, careers or whatever.

I’ll give you an example: I was talking to a very cool guy a while ago; older guy, but cool. While discussing family and marriage and all, he told me that the best thing he ever did for his marriage was to get a side-girl. I knew then that, I could not take any marital advice from him. I mean, really?! I think we’ll stick to the sports conversations.

Once you make up your mind what you are going to do and start on that path with likeminded people, you can stand tall against whatever fears you might have faced before. Fear and confidence do not get along together. Without confidence, you can’t be proud of what you do or who you are. You have to get past your fears and self image. If you have a failed attempt, let that failed attempt, be a lesson learned, not a reminder that you failed. Let the failure stay in the past, and bring the lesson learned forward to further your progress. Never let the past scare you into an attempt not to try again. Practice and redo and then practice and redo again.

Once you follow these steps (in whatever order you may), and put in the time, you will be able to stand and be proud of your work. If someone has something in your field better than yours, you won’t feel inadequate, but instead will set a new goal since you are already learning and growing. The feeling of inadequacy only comes when you have not done what you know you can to excel. I am convinced that if find your gift and purpose in life and wholeheartedly put in the necessary, you will accomplish what you set out to do.

Summarized List

  • Keep God first
  • Find yourself
  • Find people like yourself
  • Deny fear and failure
  • Be proud! Announce yourself as what you do, not what you are. Speak it as though it is; until it is. BE PROUD!