When everything seems to be going against you, remember,
the airplane takes off into the wind, not with it.
— Henry Ford
Have you thought, I’ve been down some dark roads, and they’ve left scars? Do you believe that the road you’ve traveled and where you’ve been makes you who you are, scars and all?
That was the habit of living as a victim before reclaiming the power you’d given away. Where you’ve been only reflects where you’ve been, not who you are, and not who you are becoming. When you don’t have a strong sense of who you are, you say things like: “I’m just like my father;” “I’m just like my mother;” “Well, that’s what happens when you’ve been married for 20 or 30 years;” “That’s the way I was taught.” How long can you use these stories to give away your power to be You? You may have learned the habit from someone else. That doesn’t excuse your habit of diminishing your greatness.
How long can you carry the burden of that story to use as an excuse? Yes, it is an excuse, to avoid making the shift that will change the story. No one has power over you. Only you have the power to create who you are—and you have more power than you can imagine. Every day, in every situation, and in every moment, you are making a choice. Words cannot hurt—even your own words, unless power is given to them to hurt. From the time we grew old enough to understand what “No” means, and speak the word, we have owned our actions.
A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Nowhere in this famous quote does it say that when a great man makes a mistake, he feels blame, failure, worthlessness, defeat, or loss of self-esteem. He has the realization that it’s a mistake or miss-step—one that took him to an outcome he didn’t want. He owns the mistake and learns the value it has taught him, and he decides to do it differently next time.
I like to compare the road traveled to running. When I run, I run for the exhilaration, for the feel of forward momentum. The road traveled is behind me. In each moment of the run, I’m looking at what’s ahead. If I spent my run connected to the path I already traveled, telling stories of my past, and thinking of myself as I used to be, I’d keep myself in the past, tripping over it, again and again. Those roads were dark, not because of the villains that took me into darkness, but because the darkness was me before the light of awareness came on inside of me. Those roads are done.
Pause to Write.
Take a moment to make a small list—or a long one if you’d like—but a list. On one side, list where you have been, including your failures, your blunders, and your “oh shit” moments. On the other side, list where you are today.
I was homeless. I have a beautiful home now filled with Love.
I was broke. I want not.
I was unloved. I am greatly loved.
I never left my town. I’ve been all over the world.
The idea is to briefly visit the past, just to see where you were, and then focus on the now, this very moment. The direction of our focus determines the direction of our lives. It’s ok to look over our shoulder for a moment to see how far we’ve come, but we can’t look backward. We can’t hang out there. We’re not going that way. Don’t set yourself up for crashing, because you’re not looking ahead.