What is success to you? How do you define it?

Courage is Mandatory

We all want different things, but I’ll tell you this: Rarely does anything worthwhile ever come easy (love and friendships included, since they all have their own challenges as time passes). Staying the course is something I wasn’t very good at most of my early life. Determination and excitement? Heck, I had enough of that for ten people. However, once it came to putting in the day in and day out effort needed to achieve anything, I absolutely burned out or lost interest in hundreds of cases. I’d say “I’m going to become a (fill in the blank),” then never achieve it. Whether it was learning the guitar, becoming a professional hockey player (my first childhood dream that meant everything to me) or a ton of other goals, I rarely followed through by putting in the work needed to get there.

“Nobody Hits Harder Than Life”

I remember that quote from the film Rocky Balboa (Rocky part 6, my favorite of the entire series). After Stallone says that line, he says “but it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it’s about how many hits you can take and keep moving forward” – or something like that. You get the point: Every single challenge we face has a lesson inside of it (sometimes several of them) that can change how we approach things the next time around. One of these lessons that has come to me many times has been that if I don’t commit one hundred percent to something, I’m not going to achieve anything.

I had to learn that one a ton of times before it finally hit home: Even though there are no guarantees the truth is that if I don’t commit to anything in life, I’ll achieve exactly that – nothing. Even when we do give our all to something, life can throw a curve our way and we might need to re-evaluate what we’re doing, what we truly want in life and if we’re going about achieving it the right way (whatever that is at any given time).

Life Literally Beat Patience Into Me (Though My Lack of it Pushed Me to a Suicide Attempt and a Lot More)

I’m not one to ever sugar-coat the truth, as much as I’m an incurable optimist with a default setting growth mindset. The truth is that life is a battle sometimes, and heavenly other times (with a ton of in-between moments along the way as well). No one said it would be easy, but no one ever told me it would be this hard at times, either. Welcome to life – it’s all what you make of it, come hell or high water. We all go through ups and downs, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we need to trust in ourselves beyond any negative moment or period of anxiety, despair, depression or any other challenging experience. That can be super hard to do when we’re furious, sad, angry, frustrated or feeling horrible about something – it can be easy to act out emotionally in a moment and make things even worse. I know that one well, in fact.

Too damn well…

You’ve got to forgive yourself for your mistakes, things you’ve done that you might not be proud of (we all have them) and the guilt or shame of the past to be able to truly move forward – forgive yourself as much as possible, anyway. I know it’s not a black or white proposition…welcome to being human!

Carry On! Your Story (and Mine) is NOT Over

Success, whatever you define it as, comes to each of us in different ways. As long as you keep going, listening to your heart, your mind – whatever “speaks” to you, you’re honoring yourself and giving yourself the best shot at a life truly lived, regardless of the outcome. This is a journey, my friend. No one said it would play out like a fairytale (though it has for me in ways, I admit very gratefully, yet it took horrible moments to have it play out that way).

Yours in this wild, sobering journey called life,

Jeff