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!

A Year In Review

I have to apologize right upfront, I am not taking a look back at 2020 but rather want to talk about 2021.

As you think about the year ahead, what does it look like? What are you excited for? What are planning on accomplishing? What milestones will you celebrate?

In other words, when you take look back at 2021, what will you “Year In Review” look like? Just so we are clear, you are the one that will control what happens. Sure, there will be challenges, speed bumps and even set backs, but the focus on your goals and how you respond will determine your success.

I was able to gain incredible insights from the book “Essentialism” by author Greg McKeown. He states, “Essentialism is not about how get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done…it is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

The ability to focus on what is essential is something I have struggled with but the times I do, my success increases exponentially. When I commit to using my energy to accomplish those items that are of most important, I notice my energy levels actually increase, not decrease because of the effort it took.

What are the essential actions you must take today, tomorrow, next week, next month to ensure you accomplish what you want to in 2021? How can you decide what are the essential actions or priorities?

Here is what McKeown shares:

1- Explore and Evaluate

2- Eliminate

3- Execute

Each of these items are pretty self-explanatory but if you want to know more of the specifics I suggest you check out McKeown’s book.

I can tell you that each step takes time to ensure you don’t short change yourself. You want to be honest with yourself so you get dialed into what are those most essential things you need to do. I love this takeaway McKeown shares. “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

So I take us back to where I started, what is your 2021 Year In Review going to look like? What are the most essential actions you need to take that will guarantee your success?

This can be an awesome year if you want it to be. It comes down to your motivation and desire to focus what is most essential.

You’ve Got This.

Let’s Start With “Why”

Time to get real. Why do you do the things you do? Take a minute to ponder that question and the responses that come to your head and heart.

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Some Why Questions

Why did you get up this morning? Why are you reading this blog? Why didn’t you say “Hi” to the person you walked by in the hall? Why did you “comment” on that one Instagram Post? Why did click the “Like” button on that Tik Tok but not that other one? Why did you leave her/him on read on Snapchat for the entire day? Why did you kiss that boy/girl? Why are talking bad about that person or group of people? Why didn’t you give your best effort today? Why did you lie to your friends about what happened last weekend?

Okay, I think you get the picture, the question why should hopefully open our eyes. Depending on how we answer the questions above and many others like it each day we may or may not like what we see. So I return to the initial question I posed, Why do you do the things you do?

In short we can respond by simply saying that’s just who I am. Not a bad place to start but it is time we go a little deeper. To do this we must ask the next obvious question which is who am I and why am I this way? The answers to these questions will be as numerous as there are people in the world but there will be one common thing, our experiences are what shape our lives.

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Sure, it is much easier for me to say that now when I have had many experiences throughout my life that have shaped me but I wish I would have realized this as a teenager. There is no doubt had I made this connection, I would have been nicer to others, more aware of those in need around me, more respectful to my parents, siblings and friends, not so caught up on who is dating who and why am I single. I would have made sure others felt included all the time. I would have ensured that no one group of students was not so influential on my own decisions. The truth is, I would have made better decisions.

I have felt very strongly that teenagers especially right now need to know that every decision they make has an impact, it will be for good or not so good. That impact will be felt by them and others either directly or indirectly. Having been closely involved with so many teens throughout my life but especially over the past 3 years I can see with all my heart that they are amazing. They have so much potential and talent. They have hearts that are caring. The problem is that many have been influenced by those who do not make the best decisions. They have allowed popularity and clout to fog their sight. For so many they would respond to the question why do I the things I do with a simple, because my friends do it.

For the parents and adults who have influence on teenagers, please let them know how much you love them, care about them and that they are amazing. Do this often.

For the teens who are reading this, you MUST take responsibility now for the decisions you make because they are influencing what you do everyday. Remember, we don’t get to pick the rewards and/or consequences of our decisions, thus we must make it a pattern in our life to make good decisions, even when others don’t.

Be a leader.

Be an example.

BE A HERO!

be a hero