The reality is we’re all fighting back. The choice is yours not to tap out…. you can always get back up after falling down. – Denise Schindler
Act of Courage
After all that has happened this year, the biggest act of courage that many people have shown is to keep going forward. In retrospect, this quote from Dr. John C. Maxwell, “One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage” provided me with necessary fodder as I navigated the twists and turns of the year. Courage, in its distilled form, is doing what you are afraid to do. Fear does not depart fully, but the choice to act is not swallowed by fear. In other words, you do it scared. It could be restarting your life after a divorce, living after losing a loved one, starting a new career, going back into the job market after closing down your business, or doing school online. As Mary Anne Radmacher put it, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, (whispering), “I will try again tomorrow.” That whisper into the darkness of life’s circumstances is the courage to keep going.
To encourage you to keep going, there are five questions that will guide this month’s blog posts:
1. The question of influence – October 1
2. The question of thinking – October 8
3. The question of words – October 15
4. The question of narratives – October 22
5. The question of investment – October 29
Today, the question of influence will be the starting point.
Influence vs Control
While many people believe that gaining control is key to moving forward, I believe finding positive influences is of greater value and benefit. Trying to gain control often presents a false positive because no one has full control of their lives. What is the difference between influence and control? When we seek control, we end up alienating ourselves from others. In the end, we find ourselves stagnant or back-peddling in life. Being a positive influence and pursuing the right influences, on the other hand, pushes us into transformational relationships that are paramount to moving forward.
Positive or Negative
I learned the phrase keep on keeping on from my dad. It was how he signed my daily homework report in primary or middle school. Even when my performance was not the best, those words reminded me to keep going. They still ring in my heart today. Who or what influences our lives is reflected in the direction our lives take. Social distancing does not prevent social influence. Who are your strongest influences? Do they propel you or inhibit you? Impact is determined by influence.
Influences in our lives are like wax in our ears. A healthy amount of wax protects the ear from dust and other small particles. But wax buildup can cause blockages and, with it, a temporary loss of hearing. Healthy influences add value to your life and keep you going when you have lost the enthusiasm to go on. Unhealthy influences, like wax, build-up, cause blockages in our lives, costing us progress.
Wax build-up that goes unattended can result in ear infections. Similarly, unhealthy influences in our lives that go unchecked can infect our dreams, goals, and impede our progress. After ascertaining your strongest influences, determine what qualities they bring out of you. Depending on the influence, is your determination to keep going squelched or stoked? Is your passion for life ignited or extinguished? With such a premium placed on positive influences, how do we attract the kind of influences that encourage us to keep going?
Finding Positive Influences
Freeing yourself of negative influences and finding positive ones requires intentionality. There have been days I have chosen to wallow in negativity like a pig in the mud. It is then that the power of positive influences becomes of immense benefit. Positive influences act like a light switch. They come along and turn on the light switch in your life when all you want to do is sit in the dark. They help you drain yourself of all excuses and rediscover your enthusiasm and fire to forge ahead in life.
Anyone can become an influence on us, depending on time and exposure. As wax build-up is allowed to continue, its effect on the ear becomes evident. The wax may not be visible but its influence is unmistakable.
How much time do you spend scrolling through news feeds? How much exposure do you give to good books, articles, and podcasts that edify, encourage, and challenge you to keep going? How much attention are you giving to foster the transformational relationships that will keep pushing you onward? Who or what becomes an influence is a choice we make with our time. The better we steward our time, the greater chance we have of finding positive influences.
Final Thought: The choice to keep going is one we must make daily. There are many reasons to throw in the towel. But with positive influences we can find timely encouragement to get back up again and say, “Life may not be going as planned, but I still believe better is on the horizon.”
Keep on keeping on!