Daniel Clark Bronx, New York, United States
To say that this chapter cut close to the bone for me would be an understatement. If I could’ve highlighted every sentence of this whole chapter as I was reading it, I would have. The whole first quarter of this chapter felt like it was speaking directly to me.
As irony would have it, I very nearly didn’t get to read this chapter and write this lesson plan for just the reasons described, procrastination. Oh sure, I could argue that I had a busy work week, that I was overly concerned about my cat’s health (more on that later), and that it’s just part of my makeup to put things off until the last minute. But anyone who has ever had a real Burning Desire knows that when the motivation is strong enough, absolutely NOTHING and NOBODY can stop them from pursuing it, regardless of where it may lead them.
I often remark that from my teen years onward, I was raised on a steady diet of fear and guilt. Growing up in a family full of authority figures was not easy to say the least; I was constantly being second-guessed, not being heard at family functions (i.e. talked over when I’m trying to speak) and in some cases, I would be forced to attend these events at the expense of something else I would rather have been doing, thus making it a double-whammy for me. It was almost like I was being given focus training on being indecisive. Much of this time period involved me being silenced by others who supposedly knew more than me (but weren’t necessarily wiser), who were just plain stubborn, or simply because they were older than me and thus that made them right about absolutely everything by default.
Now just to clarify, it was NOT always like this for me. As a child, I was pretty confident in myself, making decisions based on what I felt was right, for better or worse, and not regretting anything afterward. Sometimes, I would be greatly rewarded for my visionary thinking. My childhood was in all honesty a very happy one and one that I look back on very fondly. Thankfully, I can still remember the pre-teen me. A happy me. A confident me. A me that was not yet “indoctrinated” by the worldly people. I have always been grateful that I haven’t lost those memories as it served as a reminder to me that I wasn’t always like this, that there was a chance to see that version of me again someday soon.
But somewhere along the way, those closest to me found ways of snuffing my unique and critical thinking. They found ways to quash my hopes and dreams (at least temporarily) by way of criticism, or sometimes, backhanded compliments (“You’re too good for that!”, “You SHOULD be doing this or that”!) Eventually, like Hill suggests in this chapter, I just stopped voluntarily telling these people about my goals and ideas, knowing that if I did, I’m essentially giving them permission to attempt to veto my efforts. Telling these critics what I am attempting to do or how I’m attempting to go about doing it is just a forfeiture of power, something that unfortunately I have been prone to for a long time. However, one area that I am thankfully still unshakable in is when it’s a decision that involves a major impact on my life. I draw the line at the life-altering decisions. For if I cannot make those on my own, then I cease to exist.
Case in point: My cat had been dealing with struvite crystals since maybe late 2014 or early 2015, a type of infection in the urinary tract. If left unchecked, it could develop into a much larger problem. So, when I discovered that something was amiss, I acted on my instincts and took him to the vet. Those around me just figured “well, he’s getting older, but he’s fine considering, so why bother”? Not me. My little buddy and I have been through so much together and he has always been a very healthy cat. And even though he’s a senior now, I’m not going to stop caring for him. So, I took all of the steps necessary for getting him back to good health over the course of the past year.
Then I took him to the vet for a checkup this past week (once again, to the inexplicable chagrin of some people), not sure what to expect. On the advice of many a Mentoring For Free conference call, I did not even entertain any bad thoughts of the outcome. The vet checked my boy’s organs to find that everything was in perfect order, and after getting the blood work and urine test results back… Leo is now 100% crystal free! I couldn’t be a prouder “pet parent”!
If I hadn’t made my decision to stand up and say “okay, enough is enough! I’m taking him to be checked out”, and instead chose to say “meh, he’s older now, this is all just part of aging”, I probably wouldn’t be playing with him right now and soaking in his little “purrs”.
Oh… and did I mention that he is going to be 18 years old this June?
So while you may not be able to stop people from criticizing you, you don’t have to listen, even if it comes from loved ones. Don’t tell them anymore than they need to know, and wait until your efforts are premiered for the world to see before disclosing details. When you are freed from codependency, procrastination and other such obstacles to success, only then will you know your true worth. When it comes to friends or loved ones, it may be that they worry about your possible failure at something, or maybe it’s reflective of their own conservativeness, but don’t let their fears become yours, and don’t think that you have to listen to them, lest you be seen as disrespectful. My family had always been very conservative and usually took no risks. That may have worked for them, but I’ve got a lot of ideas and goals which would not be able to be realized simply by tiptoeing through life. Ultimately, this is your life story that you are writing, and only you can hold the pen.
“I should think that you Jedi would have more respect for the difference between knowledge and… heh heh heh… wisdom”.
~Dexter “Dex” Jettster to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
“I do not struggle to be perfect… only perfectly proficient”.
~Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin DOING”.
“…I can’t stand this indecision, married with a lack of vision…”
~lyric from “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
(I know I included this at the end of my last lesson plan, but it REALLY fits in with the nature of this chapter)