This is a guest post from John Haydon , who has a brilliant blog over at JohnHaydon.com. John inspires me every day and is one of the most giving and genuine folks around.

Every New Year, I think about what I’ve accomplished the previous year. When I’m done, I’ve felt refreshed and ready to get to work.

But many times, looking back doesn’t feel so good. Five years ago I had a bone cancer scare. Three years ago, I went though a divorce. I went from seeing my son seven days a week to less than three which, as any father knows, is heart breaking.

In 2009, I also had a string of heartbreaks, challenges and set-backs. I’ve also had many, many victories. Having hope and conviction is easy when you’ve just had a victory. Not so easy with set-back.

I promise this ends on a positive note, so stick with me, ok?

Firewood

There’s a Buddhist saying that “a fire burns brighter when logs are added.” The idea is that only through challenges does one forge a brighter, more expansive way of living. I mention this because we sometimes tend to see obstacles and set-backs as a negative. We fail to see the growth rings.
Maybe this is because it’s easier to just say “Oh, I’m sorry… that must be tough”, and think we’re lucky not to be in his/her shoes.

But why not be in their shoes? Why not be excited about an opportunity for self-transformation? Is it that deep down, we don’t believe in ourselves?

We see people “crushing it” all around us. Not despite the obstacles, but because of the obstacles!

How Mama and Mark Crush It

Mama Lucy lives in Tanzania with her kids. When her children were old enough to attend school in the 1990s, her country had no schools. She had to take her kids to Kenya to get an education – separating them from their home. She stood up against this injustice by building a school with money she earned on as a chicken farmer. And now she has a school with over 350 kids.

Mark Horvath had a promising career in television, but because of his drug addiction, he became homeless. He lost all his possessions and his family. With nothing left, he considered suicide. But then he had a spiritual awakening that put meaning around his struggles. Through his faith he quit drugs, pulled his life together, and eventually launched InvisiblePeople.TV.

The one thing Mama and Mark have in common is fire. They both burn for different reasons, but have used their struggles as the fuel.

Remember that feeling of failure I mentioned? Now I know that feeling is based on a misconception that winning in life means no challenges. Winning is inside – how we respond to life. To “crush it”  is to burn brightly. To “crack” is to confuse ends and means.

So for 2010, my goals focus on cause rather than effect. On learning how to better start a fire, and fan it with hope.

My sincere thanks to John for sharing his thoughts on what made his past year, and what he hopes for next year – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow when I offer up ten of my personal favourites from this blog over the last 12 months.

20 comments
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Jeff Hurt
Jeff Hurt

From the wheels of a social media train touching the Twitter tracks and creating a viral spark to the flashpoint of an awesome blog post bursting with flames to the intensity of lightening and the heart's integrity -- each of *these people created a wildfire that spread and increased the fuel load through modern engagement and community. Thank you fire starters for lighting and leading the way.

*These people include Mama Lucy, Mark Horvath, John Haydon and Danny Brown.
.-= Jeff Hurt´s most recent blog post ...What Nonprofits Can Learn From The Digital Age: Hierarchies, Heterarchies & Networks =-.

John Haydon
John Haydon

Jeff - You're equally as guilty if there ever is an arson investigation. ;-)
.-= John Haydon´s most recent blog post ...How to install Google Analytics on WordPress and Posterous (video) =-.

Danny
Danny

Why have I not known you've had a blog all this time we've known each other? I feel so stupid! :)

Love your idea of a social media train, Jeff - here's to us all taking many cool journeys together in the future!

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

What does crushing it mean to you, John?
.-= Ari Herzog´s most recent blog post ...How the Ad Agency of the Decade Proves Giving is Glorious =-.

John Haydon
John Haydon

It means crushing self-doubt and self-limitations.
.-= John Haydon´s most recent blog post ...How to install Google Analytics on WordPress and Posterous (video) =-.

Mark Horvath
Mark Horvath

Holy Smokes! I just saw this. What a honor. thanks John and Danny - you guys rock!

faith had lots to do with my homeless crisis 15 years ago. But these days I seem to feel it's much more tenacity and/or endurance that get's me through.

I joke when I speak that I lost two houses in my life. the first one I was on heroin and I liked it so much more than the second. These last three years have been nonstop crisis after crisis and once again I have lost almost everything. Two years of unemployment will do that. At times I will admit that my faith wavered and I learned that the only real faith is, God loves me no matter how bad your circumstances seem. the hard part is holding on until things get better! And they do get better!

too me there are two choices: lay in bed depressed crying about you situation. I call this "blanket time" and even today I find myself wanting to crawl in bed. the other is take actions to improve yourself and the situation. surprising the little actions sometimes are the hardest to step into. But they are so important and do count.

don't waste a good crisis! looking back if I had got one of those cushy marketing jobs I applied for (some even a second and third interview) there would not be an invisiblepeople.tv. If I had not lost my house to foreclosure this past May I would not know what it feels like - foreclosure makes your feel dirty. And if I wasn't eating $1 'cardboardish' Pizzas I may not really understand how hard it is to eat right when in poverty. My financial situation has not changed and in some ways is worse, but I have never felt closer to my purpose on life than ever before.

because I didn't give up there are people who were homeless sleeping inside tonight

great men are ordinary men who do not quit!

John Haydon
John Haydon

Mark,

You said "tenacity and/or endurance" get you through, but isn't what gets you through your reason for being tenacious? I ask because in my life, when I have a kick-ass reason, then everything else falls into place: My passion gets amped, people want to support me, I have renewed hope.

John

Ooooo, I like this: "great men are ordinary men who do not quit!"
.-= John Haydon´s most recent blog post ...How to install Google Analytics on WordPress and Posterous (video) =-.

Danny
Danny

And that's what makes you the giant you are, Mark - thank you for being you.

Nicola
Nicola

An inspiring post. And definitely mirrors my experience and the things I've been reading about this year. My biggest breakthroughs have come after some form of loss or adversity. Learning that there is light at the end of the tunnel has been one of my greatest lessons.

I like the fire references - this is one of my favourite quotes: Galway Kinnell - On some hill of despair the bonfire you kindle can light the great sky - though it's true, of course, to make it burn you have to throw yourself in
.-= Nicola´s most recent blog post ...the best stationery =-.

Jay
Jay

Danny & John

Thank you for sharing these inspirational thoughts and for highlighting the notable lives of real "difference makers" and what "made" them/makes them.

All of us can identify with the realities of overcoming difficult obstacles both past and present. I particularly relate to John's story re the heartbreak and isolation that results from divorce, and separation from loved ones.

I have so appreciated being introduced and connecting to 12for12k and the many amazing people. The community models right action and gives purpose and inspiration to "pull up" and pitch in. The giver is always the greatest beneficiary.

peace & blessings to all

Jay
.-= Jay´s most recent blog post ...Visual Arts Junction -Valle Pintado Writing Contest is a Tie - Congratulations to the Winners & Merry Christmas - Season's Blessings to All! =-.

John Haydon
John Haydon

Thanks, Jay.
.-= John Haydon´s most recent blog post ...How To Integrate Your iTunes Podcast Into WordPress (video) =-.

Danny
Danny

Hey there Jay,

Right back at you, fella - been a pleasure getting to know you over the last 12 months, and sincerely appreciate your support of 12for12k.

Here's to empowerment through adversity :)

John Haydon
John Haydon

TJ. Man's Search For Meaning was an epic book for me. I read it in my late teens and found myself re-thinking how powerful my perspective can be in solving problems.

TJ McManus
TJ McManus

Thank you for your post John & Danny. Thought provoking and inspiring at the same time.

Victor Frankl survived the Nazi Death Camps (Auschwitz I recall) and studied many of the survivors. The common theme was those with a REASON to live, did so. The reasons varied: to see lost loved ones, revenge, move to the 'promised land', etc.

From a lot of reading, of the people who reach some level of 'enlightenment', most do so through a 'dark night of the soul'. Very few do so by living in a monastery and praying.

It does seem the challenges are what make us stronger. Then, this must have been a good year for many, including myself. Best wishes for 2010!

Danny
Danny

Hey there TJ,

Thank you for sharing that - I'll have to look more into Victor Frankl, sounds an amazing story. And his reasoning for those that survive sounds intriguing.

Julie Walraven
Julie Walraven

Hi Danny and John, Much food for thought here. I have had my share of challenges, set backs, and struggles. Watching Mark Horvath's video made me have tears running down my face. As I come from a Christian perspective, I make decisions through prayer. I've been praying what God wants me to do now that I resigned my role with Wausau Whitewater. I also have to be careful to focus so I don't get buried. But this post reminds me of some of the things catch my heart and that's a good thing. I am already committed to one new project, Project Step-up for 2010 but there are a few other things on my thought-list... prayer list...

Thanks for all you both do!
.-= Julie Walraven´s most recent blog post ...Giving the gift that Really Keeps on Giving =-.

John Haydon
John Haydon

Danny - thanks for having me!
.-= John Haydon´s most recent blog post ...How To Integrate Your iTunes Podcast Into WordPress (video) =-.

Danny
Danny

Always a pleasure, fella - cheers for being here in 2009 and looking forward to more shared friendship in 2010 and beyond.

John Haydon
John Haydon

Hi Michael! A fine sword is created by hammering out impurities (various metals) that exist in the steel blade. The impurities represent our self-doubt and stupidity. The hammer represents the various obstacles we come up against. Whenever I avoid an obstacle, I feel relieved once it blows over. But I have not removed my impurities.

Michael Martine
Michael Martine

Love the metaphor, and it's true: without struggle, challenge, adversity, and even tragedy, we wouldn't have the best of who we are. Steel is not forged without a fire.
.-= Michael Martine´s most recent blog post ...Artist Blogging 101 =-.