Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne so long, most people don’t remember a time when she wasn’t queen of the United Kingdom. In February 2018, it will be sixty-six years since her coronation. But sixty-six years isn’t the extent of her public service. Prior to becoming Queen, Elizabeth was heir presumptive. In that capacity she was already undertaking public duties during the Second World War.
During Elizabeth’s reign, the world has seen unimaginable triumph, like a probe from earth landing on an asteroid flying through space, then sending information back home. It’s also seen unbelievable devastation resulting from destruction both natural and human-made.
The majority of us only have our own lives and those of our families to reign over. From that limited perspective, we also face difficulties and triumphs. It’s easy to accept triumph, but what do we do when courage is called for? What we do when things are difficult is what defines us and our futures. We are not only courageous in life and death situations. It takes courage to keep trying in the face of adversity. To get up again after falling down. To say yes when everyone around you is saying no.
When you feel like the winds pushing against you are too strong and you’d rather just give up and simply let your goals blow over you, remember, from the perspective of one who’s seen everything, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat. Rather, they push against that defeat with even more determination.
Problems get in the way of us doing things. They create stumbling blocks or insurmountable mountains. They make us feel like we can never get where we need to go.
It’s true if you wait for a problem to go away or hope it will go away or decide there’s nothing you can do about it and give up, then yes, the problem will definitely stop you from achieving your goal.
However, what if you decided to think of each problem as an opportunity. An opportunity to try a different approach. To talk to different people. To learn something new.
So often things that start out as problems turn out to be inspirations. They lead to things and situations that are better than our original plan.
Life and how you feel about it and what you get out of it are all a matter of perspective. When you run into a problem. Instead of worrying about how you’re going to get around it, search for the opportunity buried inside it. You might find buried treasure.
Sometimes you put everything you’ve got into a project or a task or a test or a relationship and you’re successful and all that effort pays off. Other times you put in equal amounts of effort only to lose out on that job or that relationship or whatever it was you were so intent on acieving. Sometimes it feels like life just isn’t fair and you know what – it’s true. Life isn’t fair.
Life doesn’t bend its will according to effort or the good intentions of the people living it. Sometimes, a lot of the time there’s someone else more qualified or with better connections or who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to grab away that thing you were trying so hard to get.
You can throw your hands up in the air, say life isn’t fair and walk away or you can realize there’s a competition out there for everything and if we want anything badly enough we’re going to have to throw ourselves into that competition. And sometime’s we’ll win and more often we won’t.
But that’s okay because if we’re intent on not walking away, every loss brings us closer to another opportunity to try again. To try with new insights, new perspectives, alternatives, variations, renewed determination. Wanting something isn’t enough, working really hard isn’t always enough. Life isn’t fair, but the only way you’re going to find out what you can get out of it is by coming back and trying again.
As Confucius says, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
For many of us the morning starts off with a stop at Starbucks. It’s become so popular we don’t even think twice about the fact that we’ve somehow morphed from a double double society to a tall, no fat, soy one.
As of Today, Howard Schultz former CEO of Starbucks is ranked one of the richest people in the United States, but he certainly didn’t start out rich. On the contrary, he started at the other end of the money spectrum.
An athletic scholarship got Howard into Northern Michigan University where he received a bachelor’s degree in communications. From there he worked as a salesman for Xerox and then general manager of a Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer.
While working in that job Howard visited a new coffee coffee-bean store in Seattle, called Starbucks and became intrigued. A year later he joined Starbucks as Director of Marketing. It was his idea to switch from selling just regular coffee and tea to espresso beverages. The story however, doesn’t fast forward from there to Howard becoming a billionaire several years later.
The original owners of Starbucks didn’t want to go into the restaurant business. Because Howard saw such potential in his idea he left Starbucks and went to work on securing funds to open up the chain of coffee houses as he imagined they could work. After opening up his own coffee shop he was eventually able to buy the original Starbucks location from the original owners. From there the rest is, as they say, history.
Howard Shultz had an idea about how he could change the coffee chain industry. He was so passionate and sure of his idea he pushed it forward past naysayers and less forward-thinking colleagues.
Howard Schultz believes that by surrounding yourself with people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible. He was right!
George Bernard Shaw is the author of Pygmalion, the story of a professor who makes a bet that he can take a destitute flower girl from the street and teach her so well that she will pass for a duchess at an upcoming party at the ambassador’s place.
The same story is also told in the movie “My Fair Lady.”
Eliza Dolittle does pass for a duchess at the party. With a little tutoring, she is a transformed woman. Dramatics of the relationship between professor Henry Higgens and ex-street urchin Eliza Dolittle aside, the story is a perfect illustration of George Bernard Shaw’s observation, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
Where you start does not determine where you will end
Just because Eliza Dolittle was born into poverty does not mean she hasn’t got the intelligence and capacity to be something else. She is perceived as a duchess because that’s how she presents herself.
People will generally take you at face value. If you present a confident, competent exterior, people will assume that’s what you are on the inside too.
Just because something or someone is one way that does not mean it or they must always remain that way. Current circumstances are not a snapshot caught in a drop of amber that always must remain as is.
As one of eight children in an incredibly poor family, who on Earth would have thought that Alice Walker had any power at all?
Circumstances do not determine the person
Alice Walker did. She realized her circumstances did not determine the person she was or the person she could be.
Already set on the right path by parents who made sure she could go to school during a time when most black kids were expected to stay home and work in the fields at a young age, Alice understood other people could not determine the course of her life.
If Alice believed she didn’t have the power to do anything other than work the land she would never have worked hard enough in high school to earn a full scholarship to college.
Recognize your personal power
If she didn’t believe what she had was worthwhile enough to share with others she never would have written the Pulitzer Prize winning The Color Purple.
Coming from nothing to a full life of everything, Alice Walker is living proof that each of us has a well of power inside us. It’s our job to tap it!
Sometimes while we’re trying to get into the job market, we feel like we need to be like everyone else. Wear the right clothes, say the right things, think the right thoughts, so we’ll be accepted by the powers that be.
Make a good impression, not the same impression
Although it’s important to make a good impression to be liked and appreciated by others, you certainly don’t have to make the same impression as everyone else.
You bring unique thoughts, insights and ideas to the table. It’s important to build up your confidence to the level where you feel comfortable sharing them. The more you believe in yourself, the more others will believe in you.
Create your own box
You shouldn’t feel like you have to live in the same box as everyone else in order to get ahead. People don’t make an impression on others by being just like everyone else. They make an impression by being themselves.
Remember, every time there’s a bright new idea out there, that becomes the bright new thing everyone wants to talk and think about. Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing, think about that bright new thing you can do.