Seasons of Life

In this podcast, I would like to talk about the four seasons. Now for those of you who you hated geography in school, you can relax! This is not about the seasons of the year per se.

Yes, I will be speaking about spring, summer autumn, and winter but only as an analogy, as we embark on this conversation about the seasons of life.

For full disclosure, this podcast, which by the way is going to be in two parts is inspired by the teachings of the late Jim Rohn, who in fact did write the book, The Seasons of Life. So if the ideas I am sharing here sounds very familiar or somewhat familiar, you’ve probably read the book.

Now, growing up in Jamaica I did learn about the four seasons of the year but really that was just an intellectual exercise for me because it was always hot in Jamaica. We had summer all year long. It wasn’t until I started traveling overseas that I began to understand and appreciate the differences in the environment with the passing of spring, summer autumn and winter. In fact I chuckle every time I recall my first experience in spring. I was on the London underground heading from Heathrow airport to Waterloo Station to catch the train to Camberley, where I was about to start my officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. I remember the train door closing and this burst of cold air hitting me and when it did, my poor heart almost stopped. This took place in May. Springtime! But as far as I was concerned, it was already summer and I wondered to myself; “If it was so cold in summer, how in the world was I ever going to survive in the winter?”

But I tell ya, it’s funny how life changes. Our experiences give us such different perspectives. I started out being petrified by a little cool air in spring and today, I am a retired Olympic bobsledder. I love the cold!

As you well know, we have no control over our environment. We have no control over how and when it changes but as it changes….as the seasons change and our environment changes with it, we are definitely impacted by it.

Now, regardless of where you are on this journey called life….whether you are young, old, rich, poor, educated , not so educated, successful….not so accomplished…however, you would describe yourself or however someone else might describe you……each of us in some way reflect the environment…the physical, emotional, psychological environment …. that we find ourselves in. 

We are for the most part the sum total of all the people who have touched us and the events we have experienced along the way. Every person we have come across and everything we have experienced has influenced…have impacted us in one way or another.

Every thought we have entertained. Every book or magazine we have read….every newspaper clipping or Facebook post we have browsed through. Every movie , television show or youtube video we’ve watched, every radio program we’ve ever listened to,  has had it’s effect.

Similarly, every disappointment, every frustrated experience…..every victory or joyous experience…..every ounce of doubt or burst of confidence, every dream realized and dreams dashed have also impacted us.

In many ways though,.these things…the people ,the events, the experiences….they are like the seasons of the year. You might not have any control over the fact that they happened or even when they happened but you definitely have control over how you respond to them.

Of course, I know you know this but you have the ability to successfully navigate each season of the year and to come out OK on the other end. It all depends on how you choose to respond to your changing environment. But here is the good news…no, here is the awesome news….. the same is true for the seasons of life. Your response to the changing environment brought on by the seasons of life will determine whether or not you come out ok on the other end.

Look, I know it is oftentimes a difficult pill to swallow but what we are ……what we have…we have slowly brought on ourselves. No, it has nothing to do with the seasons. It has nothing to do with our changing environment. No matter what, the seasons are going to happen. The environment is going to change.The seasons will come and go, right?

We already know that it is a fact. It is an observable fact that as human beings we have a tendency to blame someone or something, the government, our manager, the traffic, the weather and so on and so forth, for our lack of progress.

But how about taking what I am going to call the responsible approach? How about recognizing that those things — the people, the events which have left their mark on us — those experiences which have impacted us in any way….whether that impact was positive or negative…..How about recognizing….accepting, yes, they happened but they are actually behind us now.?

I mean, If we are going to be honest….even the thing that happened to us yesterday is behind us. And so what is really important is who or what it is that is going to leave a mark on us today and the day after and the day after and how are we going to receive that influence….how we are going to allow those experiences to impact and influence us.

I often tell my audiences….It is actually a Jim Rhon quote…. but I tell them that what we have been is an established and unchangeable fact. What we can yet become is an unlimited, boundless opportunity.

That means you should not allow an awareness of your past difficulty…you should not allow any awareness of your misfortunes, frustrations and failures, to hamper your current and future possibility.

So if you believe that you deserve the success that you have been dreaming about, then it’s time to break off the rear view mirror of life  and concentrate on what lies ahead. We practice that every time we drive a car.

Yes?

We might glance in the rearview mirror periodically to check our surroundings but our attention….our focus is on what is up ahead. You know as well as I do that if your focus is on the rear view mirror, there is little to no chance that you are going to reach your destination.

So, think about this. How do you respond to the seasons of the year?

You don’t wear a thick coat in the middle of summer, do you?

How about during the winter, do you strut around in a swim suit?

I think not!

As I mentioned earlier, you respond accordingly. You respond to your circumstances appropriately. So in the winter, you will wear a warm jacket but in the summer, you will wear lighter clothing.

What I am saying is that when it comes to the seasons of the year you respond in a way that will lead you a successful conclusion.

So, if you are indeed serious about the kinds of success that you want to achieve, then it’s time to respond appropriately to your current situation — the seasons of life. We already know that these circumstances will impact you. That’s not a secret. So the question is, how are you going to respond? Knowing fully well that it is your appropriate response that will determine how things will turn out.

So, you might want to start by taking an inventory of the people and circumstances that are currently touching your life.

Think about it. It is those influences….it is those people and circumstances that in many ways are going to determine what lies ahead for you. Their effect on you is going to significantly impact the size of your next crop —the extent of your success.

Along life’s journey, we attract quite a varied mixture of people and circumstances in our lives and as you know, every person and every circumstance impact us.

And guess what?

If we don’t change anything about these things in our lives, we can guarantee that our future will simply be a repeat of the past. And whether or not you have thought about this, let me tell you……not every good or favorable experience in your life will continue to serve you. Not every person in your past deserves to have the same role in your future.  I once heard a popular radio Disc Jockey, ”Not everybody who starts with you can go with you.” That is so true. And sometimes that is the price you have to pay for success.

You see, the nature of life is of such that everything has a price. Technological advances in our civilization for example, has brought us many wonderful things but many would argue that it has also created, added to, precipitated many challenges including for example, climate change. Cell phones, social media and the like allow us to be always in touch with thousands of friends but yet we lack the human connection that is so important for our emotional, psychological and social well being.

What I am trying to say is that positive human progress has a price. Every advancement or success in our personal lives has a price.  Personal advancement or success brings with it a loss or sacrifice.

There is always some kind of negative situation that we have to deal with on a daily basis and so what is required is for us to have the wisdom to both recognize the negative sources and when it becomes necessary cast them aside.

Look, would you willingly drink poison if you knew what it was?

Of course not!

But how many of us have relatives, business associates, friends that are in our lives or we find ourselves in circumstances that affect us in the same way drinking a glass of deadly poison would affect us and yet do nothing to make a change?

Don’t you find that interesting?

You would not willingly drink a glass of poison that you know would slowly kill you and yet you hang around people and situations that are sucking the life out of you?

Yes, a glass of poison kills but make no mistake about it, poisonous people and circumstances also kill. They kill the thirst of achievement and success. They trample on ambition, they snuff out your hope and stifle your enthusiasm. So whether the poison comes in a glass or in the form of a person, guess what?

The results are similar.

I mean, what is the difference between the guy or gal who has given up their life and one who has give up hope? If you ask me, I’d say not much!

Reading inspirational books is an important part of any personal development program, yet there are those who won’t read because they have friends who will laugh them to scorn. OK, then but what is the difference between a person who cannot read and one who is unwilling to read?

The end result is the same isn’t it—-Ignorance!! …Right?

You might find that you are stuck in a dead end job and yet you have people in your life who are discouraging you from finding a better one or maybe going back to school in order to upgrade your skills. They themselves might feel stuck where they are but lack the courage to do anything about it and figure you should stay right where you are and keep their company or it could be that they genuinely care about you and don’t want to see you get disappointed if you fall short in your desire to find a better way. What I want to remind you of though is that for you to feel happy and contented, you have to feel like you are making progress. The happiest people are those who like what they are doing or at least working to get on track to pursue what they believe they were meant to be doing.

Again, there are those who regardless of their motivations or intentions will discourage or even sabotage your efforts to have a better life. And you might even feel bad because if you succeed, you will have to leave them behind, and yet that is exactly what you must do in order to break free of the perceived limits that society and circumstances has placed on you. That is exactly what you must do if you are ever to feel like you are making progress and in the process feel happy and contented.

When someone tells me that in their quest for a better lifethey are worried or might feel guilty about leaving their love ones or friends behind, I remind them that those people are always welcome to take the journey with you.

But that is life man!

As life changes fromone season to the next….as soon as you start to make the change for the better, some of your friends will abandon you. They will claim that you got rich and switched!

Is it disappointing?

You bet it is!

But on the other hand it is just a natural part of life. As the old saying goes, ”Birds of a feather flock together.”

It therefore means that if you change your feathers, if you change your outlook on life….if you change your perspective, if you have a new vision and new goals, if you have developed some new habits….if you’ve done all of that you are going to stop flying with some birds. Or perhaps more accurately, some of the birds are going to stop flying with you. It has to happen! It has to happen because your feathers are different.

You guys just don’t connect on the same level any more.

Your priorities are different. Your interests and your desires are different.

Only birds of a feather flock together so once you’ve changed your feathers, you’ll have to find other birds to fly with.

As the noted author and Wall Street financier Ziad K. Abdelnour reminds us “ You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.”

So I exhort you, don’t fall for this “get rich and switch” guilt trip. You have a responsibility, dare I say, you have an obligation to be the best you can be. You have an obligation to live up to your full potential, so if your get rich and switch guilt tripping friends want to stay behind, that’s on them. That’s their choice. They are the ones who accepted mediocrity and settled for the status quo.

Here is the challenge for all of us…at least those of us who are striving to live a better …more successful life….those of us who are curious to find out what it is they could possibly achieve if they simply launch and go after it.

It’s time to take an inventory. Yeah man, it is time to take stock of where we are, what we are doing and where we want to go.

I call this a process self evaluation.  In fact, very few processes or if you will, very few skills, are as important to your personal development as being able to take a step back and honestly analyze where you are and what you need to do in order to get to where you need to go.

Now, to be sure, honest self reflection in and of itself can be very challenging and there is no doubt that in this hectic journey called life, it can be equally challenging to press the pause button.

Putting your fingers in the middle of your palm to signify a time out can be very unnerving. But we do need to do that from time to time. We do need to examine or as Jim Rohn puts it, sift through “ the debris which we have  collected over the years.”

We do collect a lot of garbage along the way, don’t we?

We spoke earlier about not knowingly drinking a glass of poison but yet we cling to ideas, beliefs and habits that limit our progress.

We hang around people and circumstances that suck the life out of us. We hold onto and cherish friendships that impede our personal growth.

We hang around people who have no drive and purpose. People who tell the same old stories and the same tired jokes. These people don’t add one iota of value to our lives —the conversations that they engage in—the beliefs they espouse—none of it is progressive. Not one bit!

None of it is positive, None of it uplifting, yet we choose to spend time with them.

Many of us have close personal and business ties with people who behave in immoral, unethical if not illegal ways. Their modus operandi is to “beat the system.” They delight in finding shortcuts for increasing profits and decreasing value and have no qualms about cheating, belittling or abusing others.

If the implications weren’t so dire, it would be laughable but in so many ways, we go thorough life exposing ourselves to negative people and ideas, perhaps not giving enough thought to the fact that, whether we like it or not, our environment is going to impact us.

When we fail to remove ourselves from the company of those whose ideas and actions don’t uplift us in any way, it retards our own growth and success.

Again, I know it can be a hard pill to swallow but this is part of what I describe as self evaluation…..or sifting through the debris,

I know it might not be popular…it might not be the sexy thing to do or think about but……many of the people, attitudes, habits, beliefs, opinions, philosophies….all of that stuff that we have accumulated  over the years …the truth is that if we are to push ourselves to the next level….if we are to honestly try to improve our lives….we can’t afford to hold on them—the ideas,the people we hang out with and so on.

Something has to change!

OK….let’s take a break here!

You are listening to Keep On Pushing radio….……and we’ll be right back.

Thanks for staying with us….you are listening to Keep On Pushing radio and I am your host Devon Harris

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So, we’ve been discussing the seasons of life. This is part 1 of a 2 part series inspired by the teachings of the late Jim Rohn.

Earlier, we spoke about the fact that while you may not have any control over the events, the people, the experiences that have impacted our lives….because they are like the seasons of the year…..they are going to happen, but you definitely have control over how you respond to them.

And in the same way that you respond appropriately to the particular season of the year—you wear a thick coat in winter and light clothes in the summer to ensure that you come out on the other side ok—you respond in an appropriate manner to the seasons of life as well in order to ensure that you come out on the other end successfully.

We touched on the fact that every advancement in your personal life comes with a price. Sometimes, that price comes in the form of the relationships you have.

We spoke about the fact that you would not knowingly drink a glass of poison but yet you spend time hanging around people and circumstances that are just as poisonous. With their old tired jokes, leaky logics and less than uplifting conversations, they drain the life out of you and kill the thirst of achievement and success. And so therefore, something has to change.

I’ve said it time and time again….if nothing changes …nothing changes.

So yes,exercising the discipline might not be fun…., but if our attitudes, our habits and hence the results we get…..and the level of happiness and contentment we enjoy in our lives are ever going to improve then yes….if we are going to be able to successfully navigate the seasons of our lives……we need to exercise the discipline necessary to weed out the garden of our lives.

That might mean that you should cancel the appointment or meet up  because doing so is better than simply spending time with people who will simply waste your time.

That might mean switching topics because doing so would be better than prolonging a conversation that only degrades and not uplift.

That might mean telling the truth no matter how painful it might be because that would be better than a half truth.

So at the risk of sounding repetitive but I feel that this is an important point that warrants repeating so let me state it again…

Self evaluation is an important process to go through. It is an important skill to have and practice.

Most of us, I don’t believe, readily think of this, but we have to recognize that each person you come intact with…each person you allow into your world either contributes or destroys. Well sometimes they do both to varying degrees.

And that’s exactly why you have to be vigilant. That’s why you have to be more vigilant. Consistent self evaluation is necessary. You have to be willing to do some sifting and do it often. And let me emphasize that this is not a random, haphazard, process of indiscriminately throwing things out. It is a far more delicate and deliberate. It is a careful, thoughtful process of selection, rejection, review and change.

So yes, It is really a delicate dance.

As I just mentioned each person who enters your world or whom you allow into your world, to varying degree is adding or subtracting. Some come bearing gifts of encouragement, praise, support, mentorship, and kindness.

But most are afflicted with some kind of disease. The disease of toxic attitudes, faulty philosophies, caustic conversations and leaky logic. And they like to look for someone who is nice. Someone who will listen to them, so that they can  dump their verbal garbage and emotional baggage in your mental factory.

Your challenge, in fact one of the major challenges you will face in life is having the ability to stand guard, carefully examining and sifting through the ideas and thoughts you allow  to enter your mind.

You can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that the criticisms and suggestions of others take a constant toll on your life.

The complaining and criticizing, the condemning and beat down of others, the doom and gloom kinds of conversation….they are not only shaping our moods but over time they are also molding our way of thinking and eventually, our character. So no, it doesn’t always hit you like a sledge hammer. It rarely hits you like a sledge hammer. It is far more subtle. It seeps in. It’s like poison gas, you don’t know that you are breathing it in until you feel the effects.

So here is how it happens. Here is how we drink the poison. Here’s how it seeps into us.

During our early years as children, we often find ourselves around adults, who, although they wanted nothing but the best for their children at times behaved impulsively . For example, parents will tell us that we are bad or naughty, worthless or worse. Teachers, even though they are trained and should know better, will describe kids as slow, disruptive or just as a bad student. Unfortunately, these well intentioned adults in our lives don’t realize just how damaging those words are to a child’s self esteem and confidence and ultimately their character.

Yes, well intentioned but misguided parents, teachers….adults in general unleash one unkind and damaging barrage after another to their kids.

Sometimes they openly compare them to another child who they think they should measure up to. Often asking…”Why can’t you be like  John, or Mary.” Again, even teachers who you think would know better have been known to act in this way.

Now as these children grow into adulthood, saddled with the conditioning that their circumstances and in part, the adults in their lives have created for them, they eventually start to associate with others who are most like them. Remember birds of a feather flock together.

Right?

For example, people with low self esteem tend to hang out with others who also suffer from low self esteem.  Jocks hang out with other jocks. Nerds hang around other nerds. Successful people tend to hangout with other successful people while those who are struggling to find their way always seem to find others who are faced with similar challenges.

In essence, and I think I mentioned this earlier, what we have become is reflected in the lifestyles that we lead—the conversations we engage in, the books we read, the people we hang out with and so on.

But, let me ask you this?

What if you woke up one morning, dissatisfied with how your life has unfolded up to this point and you wanted to raise your game, what do you do?

Well, my assumption…….what I think you first have to  do is to accept the fact that progress, the process of Keep On Pushing, is as much a process of doing as it is a process of undoing. By that I mean that you have to be willing to leave behind…actually scratch that…..it is more that a willingness…..you have to actually leave behind the people, the circumstances, the way of thinking that has been negatively influencing you and holding you back.  You have to undo the impact they have had on you. You have to disengage from those influences.  Sources of anxiety, worry and doubt, low self esteem and so on,….you have to cut them loose. Any attempt to push yourself up without severing what Jim Rohn calls these “mental anchors” will make the task next to impossible.

When I speak about Keep On Pushing, and if you haven’t done so as yet, I invite you to listen to my podcast entitled Keep On Pushing……but for me that idea….that philosophy isn’t just about pushing past or overcoming the obstacles in our way. It is also about change and more importantly it is about growth.

You see, at our very core is the human drive to to rise — to reach ever increasing levels of success. When I speak of increasing levels of success;  I don’t  simply mean moving up the corporate ladder,  I don’t  simply mean buying a bigger house in a gated community, increasing the size of your portfolio  or accumulating wealth in other ways; yes of course these are some of the rewards you reap for your effort. But when I speak of reaching increasing levels of success, I am speaking in the broadest terms — moving your purpose in your life forward no matter what your goals are. So if your goals are to increase market share,it applies. If your goals are to improve your relationships, getting better at  what you do, getting better grades, it applies. It also applies if your goals are to raise amazing children , growcloser to God, or make a valuable contribution to society. The list goes on. This drive is imperative. Successful people share a profound urge to strive,  to take their game to the next level, to make progress, to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.

This is our natural state.

What is not natural for us is wallowing in self pity, misery, and failure.

But, unfortunately, we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned in those states so getting back to our natural state of achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams as I said earlier is going to take some undoing. And that process of undoing is going to take time and effort.

It will take time and effort for us to become aware of our unlimited potential. It is going to take time and effort to keep on pushing when the results we get are less than satisfactory and friends are telling us to quit.

Yes, it is going to take some effort to find the right balance and to take life as it comes — the achievements and disappointments, the joys and sorrows, triumphs and frustrations.

Becoming successful is a lot of work. Failing is a lot easier. All it requires is malaise and neglect. In short, a bad attitude. That’s all failure requires….a bad attitude!

It is interesting or rather it is ironic that that one of the few things we have control over in life is our attitude and yet, many of us go through life behaving as if  that is not so.

If we define attitude as how we respond to to the events in our lives., then why are so many of behave as though we have no choice over how we respond to the events that take place in our lives.

It is through our attitude that we demonstrate and decide whether or not we are going to push forward or  give up. It is through our attitudes that we chose whether to set goals or wing it —to fly by the seat of our pants.  It is by our attitudes that we decide to take responsibility for the results we get in our lives or to blame others. So, as you can see, our attitude plays a major role in whether or not we succeed or fail.

This is what noted pastor and educator Chuck Swindlol has to say about attitude…

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

So yes, it is our attitude. It’s not what happens to us but how we respond to us that determines our outcomes. So it is our attitude that determines how well we ride out the changes that take place in our lives. Of course, we know that life is constantly changing.

In fact, Nothing ever stands still. Nothing ever maintains its current state, identity or shape for very long.

Nature cycles through the seasons of change and transformation effortlessly. You just have to look around to see what I mean.

The sun rises in the east and in the process brings us light and then it brings us darkness as it sets in the west.

Long periods of drought and barren farmlands is followed by rains and productive fields.

The sweltering heat of August gives way to the cool temperatures of October.

And us human beings we transition through physical  and psychological stats as well.

Times of deep sorrow are followed by unrivaled joy.

Disappointment and frustration gives way to celebration and times of lack and need give way to abundance and prosperity.

So yes, life changes and it changes constantly.

And the major challenge for all of us to learn to experience and navigate the ever changing cycles of life without being changed by them.

This concludes part one of our two part presentation on the seasons of life.

I am Devon Harris.

This is Keep On Pushing radio.

Thanks for listening and as always.

Keep On Pushing!

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