An Open Letter: This Thanks Is For You

Dear Everyone,
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.

Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.

Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.

Sincerely,
Deryle

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You Are Young Enough to Change

I don’t know what age people become “too old” to change so I’ll say this: You are young enough to change for the better. As I prepare for the next step in my career, I’ve gotten some great advice from a few seasoned professionals who each said, “Whatever the next step is, life is too short to do something you’re good at but that makes you unhappy.” It’s the truth. I’m not saying that I am unhappy but there are days where I ask myself “How can I make the most out of my talents?”

Don’t just jump without thinking about it but don’t not think about it. What really gets your wheels turning? What do you go to bed thinking about and then wake up with on your mind? Answer those questions and figure out how you can make a career out of it. It could be in working for yourself or you could work for an already established entity. While the point isn’t necessarily ownership, it is certainly happiness and it’s not being a slave to any place or person.

No matter what stage you’re at in life, you owe it to yourself to start your days with a smile. Figure out how you can do that and do it. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a fantasty. All we have is now.

By the way, taking that dope photo above? That made me happy.

 

Make following your dreams a priority.

Fear of a Unicorn

“Yesterday is a memory. Tomorrow is a dream. Right now is all there is.” — Anjan Basu

We cannot allow what may or may not come to hinder us from greatness. Like every unicorn, every tomorrow is something every living person imagines but no living person has ever seen.

The world could end tomorrow. Or, tomorrow you could find a mega millions lottery ticket. Aliens could invade the planet tomorrow and prove everything you think to be true wrong. What I’m saying is your idea could succeed or it could fail. But it will certainly fail if you don’t put in the time right now required for the former. Any combination of 8 million things could happen with every second that passes. All we have is right now..

I’m not saying don’t fear unicorns. There’s nothing wrong with fear. But when that fear prevents you from experiencing right now, you’re letting your imagination beat you.

 

Make living in reality a priority.

Rain or Shine, It Sings

As I write this on a dreary spring forward Sunday morning, I write with one thing in mind: Even on a rainy morning, a bird gives its all to sing. That bird doesn’t know if today is its final day to sing. It doesn’t know which note will be its last. It just knows that a part of its purpose is to sing its song from the tree in the morning and, therefore, it does just that.

How often do we shirk our responsibilities or our purposes because it’s raining? Whether we decide not to dress decently, at the very least, because of literal rain or we choose not to give our all because of a storm we are currently going through, we are disrespecting the Creator and all those who invested time, money, or energy into their belief that we could be something great.

You are important and the world needs your gifts, so don’t sell yourself short. Take that risk. Apply for that job. Let go of that comfortable thing that is only hindering you. Get up every day and sing your song. Live your purpose. The bird has a lot less to sing about than we do and, yet, he’s out here on this overcast Sunday. I’m willing to bet he’ll be out there with that same intensity on the next sunny Monday too.

 

Make being great every day a priority.

It’s OK to Want to Quit

… as long as you don’t quit.

For me, yesterday was one of those days that all dreamers have from time to time. I felt like I was underperforming. I don’t know if it’s because the anniversary of my dad’s death is around the corner or because I’m turning 30 or just because I looked at those running to my right and left instead of focusing on the finish line.

Whatever the reasoning, I didn’t feel that I was where I needed to be in life. I started thinking about all of the money I could make by giving up on my dreams. It would be much easier and more secure to do that but I know it wouldn’t be beneficial to me in the long run. I wouldn’t be happy and unhappy people make people unhappy.

So, no matter how difficult it may be, I’m committed to my dreams for as long as I can. If necessary, I will sacrifice my happiness for those I love, but at this point in time, I don’t have to so why should I?

 

Make your dreams a priority.

Is Your Blade Growing Dull?

When I was in undergrad, I intellectually stimulated almost every day. Sure, there were the Saturday nights when the most intellectual discussion was how fast can we finish the beers at the track team’s party (shoutout to the homie Devon Smith), but regular days consisted of my group tossing around ideas about how we would take over the world while either eating in the cafe, working off our cafe eating in the gym, or making sure we still had access to the cafe/gym next semester by sitting in the library to keep our scholarship dollars rolling in.

I miss those days — the days when we dreamt and planned more than we worked ourselves into an apathetic torpor. Whether the goal was entrepreneurship or figuring out how we would climb the corporate ladder or improving the quality of life for others, we used our minds in an unconventionally imaginative fashion.  Their iron sharpened mine and mine theirs.

I still talk to (but rarely see) many from my circle, as many of us have gotten bogged down in the mundane and monotonous movement from Monday to Friday, only to pray on Friday for the weekend to move in the slowest motion possible and, conversely, for Monday morning to prey on us as hard as we pray on Monday for Friday. This is week in and week out. We do it for the bills and the insurance, the 401(k) matches and the paid days of sick leave, benefits which ultimately catalyze the very mental health days that we end up taking and retirement we long for (because I am convinced that I will never truly want to retire from a passion but I’ll be in a hurry to leave a job). Security holds many of us hostage, which is ironic, because our “security” only secures the prison we have chosen for ourselves.

Instead of security, we should reach for risk, which lies in having those around you  keep you sharp and hungry and thinking outside of the box that would become a cell were you to think inside of it. To keep from being a prisoner of habit, you must have friends with whom you can toss ideas around over a glass of bourbon on the rocks or a good game of Spades. Those who remind you that you are not the smartest person in the room. A circle whose skill sets don’t mirror yours but, instead, complement them. People who specialize in various fields so that, when one of their clients/friends needs help in your field, you’re going to be the first to get the referral.

Today, I charge you to reconnect with an old friend who once inspired you. Whether they pushed you to strengthen yourself spiritually, financially, physically, professionally, or otherwise, give them a call or shoot them a text. See when you all can get together for coffee or lunch or a drink after work. If they’re in a different city, find a time when you all can meet somewhere just to catch up. While I love technology, there is something magical about tossing ideas across an actual table and working through a problem face to face. In short, allow their iron to sharpen yours and do the same for them. It’s the only way you’ll get out of this stagnant stupor that “security” supplies.

 

Make sharpening your sword a priority.

Defining Your Dreams

This past weekend, I was at a retreat for a community service organization I am a member of and one of my fellow members was talking about the time he, a former lineman, ran a blocked punt back for a touchdown. The newspaper headline read “LINEMAN FULFILLS LINEMAN’S DREAM”, accompanied by a photograph of him crossing into the end zone.

Great headline except for one thing: that wasn’t his dream. He said that, as a lineman, his dream wasn’t to score a touchdown. It was to “knock someone through the fence.” See, a lineman’s job is to shine but in a different way. The team could score until the scoreboard was broken but if a lineman spends the entire game missing blocks, he had a terrible game. His job is to do all that is within his power to help the team win. That’s how he wins the game. And he knows that.

The problem with many of us is that we let too many people define our dreams for us. Everyone doesn’t want (or need) to be the star of the show. Getting rich may not be on your bucket list. I personally no longer want to be the president of the United States (the bar has fallen so far since 45 started that I’m not sure it can be called an accomplishment anymore). There are many roles to be played in life and everyone has been given different talents so they can play the role they were afforded. A lineman isn’t going to regularly score the game winning touchdown just like a quarterback isn’t regularly going to put his body on the line to make the game winning block. Do the two happen sometimes? Sure. But when they do, they’re anomalies.

Define your own dreams. No other person in this world can do that for you.

Make professional development a priority.