Perspective. Mindset. Context.
Essential elements for you and I to maintain as we live out today and tomorrow, within the story that is OUR LIFE.
My perspective? My mindset? My context?
I am thankful for it all.
If you know me at all, you probably know I’ve been blessed with a pretty detailed memory. One that allows me to remember most of my life (and yours, if I know you well enough 🙂 ) pretty accurately, with an abundance of meaningless details that trigger other memories, with more meaningless details that trigger more memories, and so on.
Many of you have told me that I remember more about your life than you do!
Mesh my memory with my journal essays from my teens to the present, combined with content-collecting tech tools like Facebook, Evernote and computer hard drives, and woah, I’ve got a true dramatic piece of entertainment to remember, read about and look at, called MY LIFE.
I’m so thankful for it all – ESPECIALLY the ignorant and unfortunate.
In reflection, the majority of my decisions have been ignorant, producing unfortunate outcomes that have been difficult to deal with. I mean, that’s life, right?
However, some of those ignorant decisions actually had a genius storyline that only God could have written.
How about the time I decided to move to Alabama from my amazing family in New York (I was an only child, nephew, and grandchild), all by myself at the ripe age of 20 years old, to accept a baseball scholarship at the University of Montevallo (UM), thinking it would increase my chances of playing pro baseball? The ULTIMATE blind, “DREAMER” decision.
Injury-prone and discouraged, I barely had a full season of at-bats in my two years on the field at UM. However, I am pretty thankful that I made such an ignorant decision at the time, to learn what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, accomplish what I have been able to accomplish as a leader in my national network of friends, family and business partners, and meet my wife Yazmin right here in Alabama to start our own family.
Mark Twain said it best – “To succeed in life you need two things; IGNORANCE and CONFIDENCE.”
I thank my parents for teaching me to be fearless with ignorance and confidence.
Mom NEVER said, “James, I know that’s your dream, but I am worried you might get hurt. The world is a tough place.”
Her and the rest of my family told me, “GO GET IT.” I’m thankful for that.
It gave me permission to be ignorant with confidence. It also showed me how to parent my two (soon to be three!) children.
One word that Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) left out of his success ingredients, however, is PERSEVERANCE. I’ll add a simple, cliche quote to go with this word – “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”
On a day like Thanksgiving, where you are told to count all your blessings, think about your failures and tough times, and how you’ve been able to work your muscle of perseverance.
If you’re going through a tough time today, be confident in the ignorance that may have gotten you here or even the uncontrollable force that made this situation come about, and work your muscle of perseverance to get stronger.
Uncontrollable force? How about the almighty God? We always hear celebrities, athletes and people in general, thanking God when something amazing has happened to them. I have heard quams of resentment from my network about this, so let me share another story of perseverance with you from “The Loser’s locker room,” with thanks to Him whose plan is completely sovereign.
I remember it perfectly. The ball was hit so high into the sky, just beyond my range at shortstop, so I started to run toward left-centerfield to make a play, but I ran into a teammate trying to do the same thing. We hit heads quite hard. The people I know who were there, compared the sound to two football helmets colliding.
Laying unconscious in shallow centerfield, as a mere twelve year old boy, blood coming out of my eyes, nose, ears, and mouth, with my forehead skin sunken into my diminished skull… The chance to persevere began.
I woke up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and told my mother, “this is gonna have a perfect ending. It’s gonna be a great story to tell.”
Reconstructive surgery mended the dozens of skull pieces throughout my head, into a pretty decently organized forehead. The extreme theories of deformity, epilepsy and death that was so potent going into surgery, remained a theory versus the reality of the miracle that was my merciful survival, a sparing that only God could provide.
Today, my challenge to everyone, is to embrace and thank God for the tough, unfortunate happenings in our life. They are the pieces necessary to complete the puzzle that is our lives.
These pieces all work together to bless us with the things that are much easier to be thankful for.
When we built our new home this year, I needed a room where my morning prayer and reflection would preserve the essential elements of living out our story – perspective, mindset and context.
It is one of the last projects I was able to finish in getting settled into our new home and it’s also the most simple. Nothing complex, but something very basic and private. A room with pictures of the moments that help make my story. The people who I pray for daily with thanks and gratitude. I am most thankful for, because they all make my story. Good or bad.
It’s insurance. I am not going to forget where I’ve come from. I’m not going to look at the ignorant or unfortunate with anything but an extreme amount of thanksgiving. Because the great things that God has blessed me with, took a whole bunch of ignorance, confidence and perseverance to be able to get to a point of receipt.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to HIM (Phil 4:6).