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?
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.