Are you living in your reality?

How often do you want to change something? Maybe it’s your career, profession, location, the situation at work, etc?

Now, how much time to spend thinking about all the things that are wrong with your situation or reality? What about spending time thinking about how much better xyz would be? 

The only way to truly change one’s reality is a willingness to actually live in their reality. This is much easier said than done. Why? Because it is much easier to think about the perfect situation rather than take the time and action necessary to create that new reality.

I have seen this many times in my professional career. I have watched executives who think they are leading in an effective manner, they often talk about their successes and maybe even their failures but yet they are disconnected to the reality around them. Employees listen but struggle to embrace what is being shared. They feel such a disconnect, lack of transparency, and communication it is very difficult to listen to and believe this executive. Statements such as “if he/she only knew what was really happening or what employees are really saying they would be shocked”.

When a leader is not living and/or understanding their current reality, they can cause both direct and collateral damage that can cost the company in a variety of negative ways. From a loss in revenue, confidence, respect, and trust to a complete deterioration of company culture, the lasting impact of leaders who are not grounded in their true reality can be felt for years.

When we have the courage to live in our reality we give ourselves the greatest chance to change it. Taking control of one’s future is all about taking control of their current reality. Although it will often be a challenge, taking control of where you want your life to go can be one of the most rewarding, empowering, and impactful actions we can take.

So how can we check to be sure we are living in our reality, here are some ways to know:

Value Your Time. Spend your time creating an actionable strategy for where you want to go. Stop spending time complaining about where you are. Stop telling others how frustrated you are with your boss, and colleagues and how “unqualified” they are for the position they are in. Control what you can control l. For the most part, you decide how you use your time. If you value time, then start taking back control of it. Prioritize what matters most, both personally and professionally. If you want your reality to change, time is one of your most important assets, value it.

Respect Is A Two-way Street. How can you expect others to respect you and your experience if you do not first have respect for yourself and second others? One of the most impactful ways to demonstrate you have respect for yourself is by understanding the reality you are in. Always be sure you are performing at the highest level of what you are paid/asked to do. It makes it very difficult for others to show respect for someone who spends their time complaining, gossiping, and disrespecting others when they are not fulfilling their own duties. Let your actions speak and your words support. 

Own It. When you truly take responsibility and accountability for your reality, you own it. When you own it, you can change it. No longer are you blaming others, focused on what others aren’t doing, and being disconnected from what your reality is. You create a plan with realistic goals and actions that can lead you to the reality you want for yourself. Understanding the power and empowerment that comes from owning our situation is crucial in creating the reality you want. Do not underestimate the need to take ownership of your reality.

As one who has fallen into the trap of focusing on others’ reality, I have tried to learn from those times to actually improve my own personal reality. It has not always worked out how I planned but I did learn. As I have gotten older and further down the road in my professional career, I have to regularly check myself to ensure I don’t lose sight of my own current reality. I am grateful for those around me who have helped me focus on what I can control in an effort to improve my future.

Awareness Is A Superpower

When is the last time you asked a friend or family member, coworker, or business partner how they are doing, and genuinely meant it? Now, when is the last time that you were genuinely asked how you are doing? If these were difficult to answer, I am sorry, you do matter.

You may not know it, but the truth is awareness or the ability to be aware is an incredible superpower. That’s right awareness is a superpower. When we are aware, especially when it comes to other humans, we open the opportunity to help someone in a number of different ways, ways such as: providing emotional support, finding clarity, sharing insights, be a shoulder to cry on, among many other ways.

Awareness is one of the quickest and most effective ways to give comfort to others because awareness demonstrates caring and authenticity.

Let’s take a look at some definitions of the word awareness:

  • knowledge or perception of a situation or fact
  • concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development
  • astate or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns

Have you ever noticed a friend, family member, or someone you know post something to the effect of “I’m taking a break from social media”, “I need to step away for a little while” or maybe they just stop posting completely? For those who are aware and know that individual, this is can be a very important time to reach out. It may be as simple as a text, call, email or just stopping by to see how they are doing. Just the act of being aware and then doing something with that awareness can have quite an impact. It can truly be used as a superpower.

There is no shortage of opportunities for us to be more or better aware of those around us. Whether in our own homes, in our places of work, on a team, or even on social media, if you take just a couple of minutes looking, you will find someone who is desperately wanting someone to just notice them, notice their struggle, pain, heartache, loneliness, etc. As humans, it can truly be difficult to proactively reach out for any type of help or say we are not doing well. Whether is pride, how we were raised, or how society might label us, we feel it is a weakness. However, many are willing to drop hints or clues in an effort for someone to become aware and hopefully reach out.

Let me be very clear, no matter what the situation is, reaching out for help, and sharing with someone you trust that you are struggling is not a weakness but rather in an incredible strength. And for those who become aware and proactively reach out, you become a hero which is why I feel awareness is a superpower.

I have personally watched in both my personal and professional life just how important and powerful being aware can be. I am so grateful for those who have reached out when they have felt something wasn’t right. I feel blessed to have been aware of others who needed someone and were willing to act by reaching out. Awareness is something that has become a personal value for me.

Awareness does not take money, nor does it take professional training, it does take effort as well as understanding. You must be willing to actively listen to your heart as well as others. It may mean making uncomfortable decisions to reach out while not wanting to offend or make it worse. However, when awareness and action are combined with authenticity and compassion a positive impact can happen. You can become the answer to someone’s prayer of need. That may be a family member, friend, co-worker, boss, or just someone you have connected with virtually.

It’s okay to use your superpowers for good. I believe when we do use our superpowers, they become stronger, and we are given more opportunities to use them.

I strive on a regular basis to be better at being more aware, I know I fail at times or miss opportunities to help others, but I keep trying.

Heroes are never ashamed to use their superpowers for good. Be a hero and use your awareness to bless the lives of those who need it.

Time to go be a hero!

A Realization About Life

I have tried most of my life to be positive, happy and optimistic. I was taught the importance of being kind, caring and respectful by my parents, siblings, leaders and teachers. I learned the value of hard work and that failure does not mean the end. I have felt victory, triumph, as well as loss and defeat. I am blessed to have been taught that emotions are real and it’s okay to be emotional.

I have tried to be a good friend, loving husband, father, son, uncle and human. I have missed the mark on many occasions. I have offended people by word and/or action for which I am sorry. I have let people down. I have tried to always comfort those who need it. I strive to live what I believe but still have a ways to go.

With all that said, I have come to a very real and unapologetic realization, mental health matters.

Now, by no means is the a new topic but because it has really played quite a role in my personal life over the past while, I have felt the need to share my reality.

I have found that depression is so powerful and influential in ones life. What was once a life of that I assumed was simply a rollercoaster of emotions was identified as anxiety. Sure, I felt labeled at first but then got comfortable with my reality. Upon becoming with my new normal, something more was about to hit me head on. I did not realize nor was I really prepared for depression to be a part of my life.

I remember taking one of those assessments to see if you are depressed. The doctor looked at my report and said, “interesting, based on these results, you are one happy person.” So you can imagine my feelings as I came to an understanding of my depression. Every emotion from hurt, pain, loneliness, anger, frustration and sadness. Why? Probably because my initial human instincts was that I was damaged goods and people would look at me in way that was not, well good.

In truth, depression is not about an individual feeling broken, it’s about an individual having a breakthrough. Being honest about how you feel is not a weakness, it is a blessing and a strength. For me I continue to struggle with so much of what is associated with depression. I have some pretty down days. I have feelings of falling short of my potential, minimal motivation to do things, sadness, loneliness among other emotions. Trust me, it’s not fun. But I am learning more and more on how to manage my emotions. This often comes by observing others who are dealing with similar mental health challenges.

As I look back on my life and all the things I have done, the jobs I have had, the places I have traveled, the knowledge I have gained, the one thing that has helped me make it through tough days are thinking about the people.

The students I taught, the players I coached, the people I hired, the leaders I developed, the leaders who taught me. I miss these people. It is something I have struggled with my entire life. I get attached to the people because I genuinely love and care about them. They have brought so much good into my life. But ironically, there are times I feel as though I did not do enough for those around me, care enough, teach enough, and those thoughts start me down a path I don’t enjoy. I can only control what lies ahead, not what is behind.

I find so much joy and happiness helping and serving others. I love listening to others so they know I care. I know there are many amazing people in my life but that can be difficult to realize when you are dealing with depression. I have never wanted to feel like a burden on others, which doesn’t help with feelings associated with depression.

So the big realization in my life is this, I am human. I will continue to press forward with determination and resolve. I will keep my head up and when it falls, I will muster the strength to lift my head again. I will never stop my love and caring for others. I will continue to find time to do those things I enjoy. I will not allow depression to be something that defines me or how I live.

I share this not for a “whoa is me” but rather a “this is me.” I extend my deepest love, empathy and support to all those who struggle with mental health. You are awesome. You are cared about. Even though you may not feel or see it, there are people in your life who love you and want to be there for you. Let them in. It has been one of the hardest things for me but I can see how it will help in so many good ways.

Finally, the world we currently live in is broken in so many ways. This is feeding into the stereo typing, labeling and judging when it comes to mental health. People are using it as a weapon. We cannot allow that to happen. We must replace the world of negativity and fear with compassion and care. Never pass up an opportunity to ask how someone is doing. You may never know how much it means but trust me, it can be a life changer.

We can do this, we are all heroes!