Before the new year began, I found myself sitting alone at a table tucked away in the corner of a small Starbucks inside Barnes & Noble, franticly jotting down notes while sipping on a warm cup of hot chocolate.
Prior to sitting down, I stumbled upon a book called The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon, author of the bestselling book, The Energy Bus. In it, Gordon describes how the power of optimism, positivity, and vision can not only shape and create a culture, but the world.
Ever since I downloaded the iBook, The Majesty of Calmness by William George Jordan and Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, I've become fascinated by the idea of what makes a successful person. Is it their wealth? Ideas? Where they are born? Vision? To a certain extent, all of those factors come into play, but what Gordon explains in The Power of Positive Leadership has continued to shed light on what it means to be successful.
"Throughout history we see that it's the optimists, the believers, the dreamers, the doers, and the positive leaders who change the world. The future belongs to those who believe in it and have the belief, resilience, positivity, and optimism to overcome all the challenges in order to create it."
This is why I was franticly writing in my notebook! Such a profound statement nearly broke the led off my yellow #2 pencil.
Optimism and your vision has the power to change the world. What is your vision?
On December 30, 2017, my sweetheart and I celebrated our third anniversary in a small cafe in De Pere, Wisconsin eating chocolate chip pancakes larger than my head and a scrumptious, strawberry cream cheese stuffed french toast.
Not wanting to go home right away, we decided to head to our local movie theater and watch The Greatest Showman featuring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.
If you haven't seen it, it's about P. T. Barnum, a visionary who rose from living off the streets, to creating a show business that brought people from all walks of life together. Though I won't spoil the ending, I will however say that it taught me to never give up on your dream.
In the beginning young P. T. Barnum falls in love with a young girl and immediately knows that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Shortly after meeting, music begins to fill their lungs, and young P. T. Barnum sings with gusto,
'Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
A million dreams for the world we're gonna make
I honestly could go on and on about how this movie brought me to tears because at this point in our lives, we felt like P. T. Barnum and Charity, his wife.
"They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy... I don't care, I don't care so call me crazy, we can live in a world we design."
I can't tell you how many times this same thought came into my head throughout 2017. My sweetheart and I made a lot of hard choices, not because we necessarily wanted to but rather we felt it was the right thing to do. It hasn't been easy, and to be honest some have called us crazy (and probably think we have lost our minds), but the vision of a world we want to make has got us through the most difficult times.
Countless times my parents have told me, "I am amazed at how positive you've remained... no one else in our family could do what you are doing right now." Though that may be true, I credit it to the firm belief that there is a more positive and brighter future ahead.
Sometimes you just have to jump
After I graduated from college, I quickly realized that no one is waiting on the edge of their seat to offer you a job, let alone give you a chance to prove who you are. However, I did learn that those who are willing to jump with the knowledge that there is a landing zone, but unknown of its whereabouts, are those who have the power to change the world one idea at a time.
There will be times in our lives where we are faced with choices that will shape our future, and regardless of the research, head scratching and brainstorming, the only somewhat logical choice is to jump, hoping that your parachute opens sooner rather than later.
Before every training event, the Army will fill out a DD2977 or a Deliberate Risk Assessment. This said form is what dictates, determines, and identifies possible hazards or associated risks with an upcoming training event. Every factor is put on paper and looked over before continuing with the training exercise. If the training value is greater or outweighs the associated risks, the necessary steps are taken to move forward.
Though we aren't expected to fill out this form every time we make a decision, it does put into perspective what truly matters, and the risks we are willing to take in order to make our dreams come true.
The Future Belongs To Those Who Believe In It
History teaches us that it will repeat itself time and time again. Such a well known statement has been proven, tested and shown in our every day lives. In the scriptures there is an Old Testament story that suggests the following: faith is always in the future and those who believe in it.
Lot (Genesis 19) is warned that he and his wife need to leave Sodom and Gomorrah, a city that was about to be destroyed. Before fleeing the city, Lot was warned to escape for his life and to "look not behind thee." Such a charge must have sent chills down his back because as he fled towards the mountains, he ran full speed ahead, not looking back to what was happening behind him. However, his wife, must not have sensed the importance of "look not behind thee," for she became a pillar of salt as the story says.
Regardless of whether or not she turned into a literal pile of salt, the lesson we can draw from this experience is one worth noting; faith is always pointed towards the future, and it belongs to those who believe in it.
When you begin to realize that you have the power to create a world that you believe in, whether thats in your personal life, in your community, or in your organization, the setbacks and stumbling blocks will only be become victories that you can raise a toast to and celebrate.
Failures aren't 10,000 lightbulbs that don't work nor are they strikeouts that define who you are, but rather are moments that bring you closer to your next home run.
Remember, when such moments of diversity come, don't stop running, don't slow down, and don't give up. Faith is always pointed towards the future, and it belongs to those who believe in it.