The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.- Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Lasting Impression
Holding onto a two-goal lead, the underdog Japan finally succumbed to unrelenting pressure from soccer powerhouse Belgium at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It was a devastating loss because Japan was close to doing what no one thought possible.
No one would have blamed them for any anger or negative emotion expressed in light of the loss they experienced. But what happened next was a testament to the quality of the Japanese players and fans at the World Cup. A picture of the team’s locker room after the game showed an immaculate space, and a thank you note left behind. This legacy was also noted with the fans, who, while other fans acted disorderly, especially after losses, stayed after matches to pick up trash after their games, regardless of victory or defeat.
Japan did not win the match or the World Cup, but this quality act of fastidiousness is a reminder that no matter the circumstance, quality is always the way you win with people and in life. When you bring authentic quality, you will always stand out. Here are three ways you can always win by investing in quality:
Our thinking environment is largely responsible for the decision-making process we hold. Thinking is like a well, and decisions are the water. For better quality decisions it requires a better thinking environment. This starts with a healthy mental diet. What does this consist of?
It begins with a disciplined determination to grow and renew your mind. This is followed up by introducing practices or a regimen that will facilitate my commitment to grow and bring about mental prosperity. My daily practice begins with prayer and Bible reading. Regular exercise and enough sleep (a friend told me that mental consolidation occurs during sleep) are practices that likewise contribute to a strong mind. At this stage, rejecting practices that will contaminate and impoverish my mental health just like junk food does to the body is just as important as introducing good practices.
Next, I regulate the level of exposure to different experiences that can influence my mind negatively or positively. I do this through protecting my gates (eyes, ears, and mouth) which are crucial to maintaining an ideal internal temperature that promotes growth. I keep tabs on what I am reading or watching, the music I listen to, the people I spend the most time with, and the places I go to ensure that they all work in tandem to develop me mentally. I can never forget this quote from Martin Luther, who ignited the Protestant Reformation, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
The goal behind an excellent mental diet is to avoid what author Gordon Macdonald calls “mental flabbiness” in his best-selling book, Ordering Your Private World. He says, “In our pressurized society, people who are out of shape mentally fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and human relationships.” He then provides the gloomy forecast of those that fail to pursue mental growth, “Not having the facility of a strong mind, they grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others.” Be intentional about pursuing mental growth. For your thoughts become your words.
Words can help or hurt. They can quench a thirsty soul like cold water to your body on a hot day. Or can sink it to the depths of despair and discouragement. There is a proverb that says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The words we both say and hear have a lasting effect on our lives and others. Mother Teresa accurately noted, “Kinds words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Pastor and author Joel Osteen made this astonishing observation, “Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds but ten years later, the wounds are still there.” Sometimes when we speak, our words originate from our moods instead of our mind. When our moods take hostage of our minds, we are prone to utter what we later wish we hadn’t once the mood changes. On occasion, I have spoken harsh words to my wife because of a mood born out of an incident in a different setting, like work or in traffic. It is only later that I apologize and become transparent that my words are not a reflection of my thoughts toward her but a rogue expression of my mood. I tend to maim those closest to me with words triggered by a temporary mood that affects the internal temperature of my soul. I am working on this daily by being more open to sharing my heart before allowing my mood to control my mind and ultimately my mouth.
So, before you utter a word, choose wisely what you will say. I always believe that we can be tough without being mean in the heat of the moment, especially with our words.
Remember, we get to choose our words before them but don’t get to call them back once we have spoken them. Choose quality words. They will always be worth much, even though they cost little. And eventually, they become deeds.
While most people often dream of doing great things, I have noted that highly successful people have mastered the art of doing small acts in great ways. Much like the Japanese team that cleaned up their lockers even after a deflating loss, we can perform quality acts against the backdrop of disappointment or low to no expectation of immediate reward. Repaying evil with evil perpetuates a downward cycle, but overcoming evil with good turns you into an agent of change and a light in a dark place.
I do my best to live by the G6:9 biblical principle that states, “Don’t grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Quality takes you from average to exceptional. We cannot rise to be exceptional on the wings of mediocre actions. Bring your best! And when quality is your modus operandi, your actions will not only benefit you but they will touch others in a way that leaves them better than you found them. This is how you live a legacy worth leaving.
Final Thought: Quality words and acts stem from quality thinking. As the value of a house is raised by renovations, so does the quality of a life increase through the renewing or renovating of the mind.
Keep on Keeping on!