GREAT is Totally Up to You
There’s an old story of a Chinese man who had a successful, healthy and popular son. His neighbor once told him how fortunate he was to have such a son. The old man responded, “It will pass.” Then one day while riding his horse the son fell and broke his leg. The neighbor came to the old man and told him how sorry he was for his misfortune. The old man responded, “It will pass.”
At that time a great war arose in the kingdom and the old man’s son was not forced into the army because he had a broken leg. Once again the neighbor congratulated the old man on his good fortune, and once again the old man said… “It will pass.”
Fortune/misfortune, good/bad, better/great. Truth is: They will pass. Successes and failures come and go. That’s life. And yet, each of us has several things that are truly GREAT in our lives… if only we choose to look at it that way.
No, I’m not talking about the famous society. I’m talking about a little club baseball team that I coached in the 1990’s and my son played on. My experience with the Aztecs was truly great. It was better than great; it was great-abulous. We entered 34 tournaments; played in the championship game 28 times and won the whole thing 24 times. We were rated the number one team in the country in our age group several times.
But what about the one State Championship game we lost—on an error. Or the many games my son played didn’t play so well. Or the upset parents. Or the terrible umpires. Did I think the Aztecs were great then? No way! I was so angry I could have strangled someone. There were times I hated the Aztecs. Looking back, it’s easy to see where the problem with great or not great was: The problem was me! It was all about the way I chose to evaluate the situation.
Since then I have taught myself to watch baseball very differently. When my son or his friends or kids I’ve coached are playing, I try not get anxious for success. Instead, I look at them and smile, thinking about how much fun they’re having. I simply enjoy them and enjoy knowing that a small role in their success was because of their experience with the Aztecs. That’s GREAT!
Now, am I capable of maintaining this attitude all the time? No way! I frequently fail horribly. I get anxious if they don’t get a hit or if they make an error and fail to succeed. But then, all it takes is a reminder. I remind myself that the kid is trying his best and he’s having fun doing something he likes to do. It’s all about the attitude I take watching the game.
But What About Genuine Tragedy or Terrible Circumstances?
“It will pass.”
David Wilcox wrote an insightful song titled All the Roots Grow Deeper in which he sings:
Prosperity will have its season
Even when it’s here, it’s going by
And when it’s gone, we pretend we know the reason
Cause all the roots grow deeper when it’s dry.
Businesses fold, marriages fail, we lose our health, our child becomes an addict. Too many tragedies to mention. Yet in every tragedy I can also point out to you a winner; someone who has overcome the tragic experience. Overcoming does not mean making a failing business or marriage successful. It’s not about success or failure.
It’s all about seeing with the eyes of your heart. In spite of the tragedy, can you see the beauty around you now? And do you have the power to look forward and realize that “all the roots grow deeper when it’s dry.” That’s what overcomers do and that what YOU CAN DO!
From Disappointment to Opportunity to GREATNESS
No matter where you are in life, you DO have something GREAT to say about it. But it requires that you have a serene attitude, an opportunistic perspective, and conscious choice to discover YOUR GREAT THINGS:
- A Serene Attitude: Scott Peck said it best in three words, “Life is difficult.” I have an anxiety condition, so serenity is very difficult for me. Nevertheless I make it a priority. In times of high anxiety I breathe, I re-evaluate the situation, I let my mind browse through options. Most important for me is that I pray for God to take total control of my life.
- An Opportunistic Perspective: The vast majority of issues or situations or difficulties can be turned into new opportunities if we don’t stay stuck hoping the problem will simply go away. I work with a lot of people who are drunks or addicts with a boatload of problems: jail, divorce, loss of kids, loss of all possessions, no driver’s license. A great majority of the people I work with have hit rock bottom. And yet, in a good recovery program I have seen hundreds regain a great life. And most have done it on a very minimal income. When you’re at the bottom there is only one place to go: UP! That’s an opportunity. Many take it. Although truthfully, more fail to make the necessary adjustments.
- Discover Your Great Things: One night, I was depressed and convinced that life just sucked. For some reason I decided to write down a Success List of all the great things I had done. It was shockingly long. In spite of a childhood that made me literally crazy and do radically stupid things, I managed to become an Eagle Scout, get an athletic scholarship to UCLA, become the directing manager of a carpet mill with over a hundred people working for me, and receive two MA’s in Theology (one lacking a thesis). And I did this before I was 35. I’m 64 today and the list goes on and on.
Everyone has a GREAT THINGS LIST. You just have to ignore your depressing present and review the good parts of your present AND your past, even if it is filled with tragedy. Your great things can be family, play, hobbies, avocations, your job.. anything.
Do this and then think of David Wilcox who reminds you that “prosperity has its season. Even when it’s here it’s going by.” But David Wilcox also reminds us that in the bad times “all the roots grow deeper when it’s dry.” When they’ve grown deep enough we spring up with new blooms of greatness. Things WILL get better.
So… what are your GREAT THINGS? Tell me about some of them!