Empowerment. What a buzz word if I’ve ever heard one. Let’s empower women to become all they can be. Let’s unleash their potential on the business world. Let’s give em a chance. How will we accomplish this noble goal? By grouping them all together to fight against the unfairness they’ve faced for centuries of course.
Good idea? Sounds like a terrible idea to me. You see, by simply grouping certain races, sexes, or whatever other label you want to put on individuals, you actually isolate them from the rest of the people. Even worse, you ASSUME that the group contains imaginary linkages that bring them all together.
While a lot of women may be emotional and find shopping to be their favorite pastime, that is far from the truth for all of us. And let me tell you, I’m not exactly lacking in confidence which is what the majority of articles out there suggest I am. Guess what? WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS.
Just like some men that thrive playing football and others who would much rather play a game of cards, the variance within each said group is HUGE. And why limit it to the sexes? Why not understand that any group out there has a wide variety of people in it. So please stop labeling the entire group as one unchanging body.
A group is actually an abstract thing which is why collectivism ultimately fails. Individuals exist. Groups are imagined. Now, I understand why leaders do group women or certain races together to pinpoint the issues they are facing overall. Sexism, racism, and unfair disadvantages definitely still exist in certain parts of this world. And they unfortunately always will to a certain degree.
Yet, the way to give people a better chance for success is to focus on awarding performance among INDIVIDUALS. You see, there will always be people that work harder than others. So, by awarding individuals based on their performance, you open up the playing field. Please stop grouping us by race, sex, or whatever other label you want to throw out there.
Screw it. Let’s pinpoint what it takes to succeed and go that route. Let’s extend a hand to the person who doesn’t have all the tools, but has all the potential. Let's tackle unfairness on a case-by-case basis in order to truly understand its root causes.
Instead of generalizing who's to blame, let's realize that there are many contributing factors and not just one group at fault. Let's get back to our belief in the American Dream - that despite where you came from, if you put in the hard work, you can succeed. Let's get back to that kind of hope that built our country. One unique individual at a time.
When I get to know someone, I ultimately only care about one thing: their character. To me, it does not matter whether you are driving a Bentley or an old Ford Taurus (like I used to). What matters is what is underneath it all. Who are you as a person? What is more than skin-deep?
Surrounding yourself with individuals of high character will not only make your life easier, but it will open up countless doors. Conversely, if you find yourself in a group of people that only seem to bring out the worst in you, you might want to rethink who you spend your time with. While we cannot always control our environment, it is important to ask yourself, am I surrounding myself with people that ultimately want the best for me?
Below are five questions sure to tell you the strength of one's character:
1. Do they respect your time?
We all have been late before. But, arriving on time to meet someone truly shows them that you care. You should ALWAYS arrive on time or early in a business setting. Yet, certain situations do occasionally prevent this from happening. If you are a sales professional stuck in traffic on your way to meet a client, give this person a call to let them know the current situation. Doing this will show them that you care and that you respect their time just as much as your own.
On the other side of the spectrum, if your friend or date seems to constantly be blowing you off, take note! While there are a variety of valid excuses, you have the right to stand up for yourself. Still, it is important to note that if you made loose plans in the first place, then you cannot blow up on someone for being late. But, time is a scarce resource. If someone does not respect yours, spend your time elsewhere.
2. How do they treat the janitor?
You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat those that hold less "power" than they do. If a person does not give those individuals the time of day, you can pretty must guess that if you were ever in the same situation, you would be treated the same way.
I try to stay away from people like this. Due to a variety of outside factors, the rich/popular/powerful of this world can easily have their lifestyles taken away from them at any time. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being any of these things! They are all great! But, they should not determine your friend group. Conversely, your good friends should remain constant regardless of these factors. Would your friends treat you the same way if you were the CEO as they would if you were the janitor?
3. How often do they brag about themselves?
EVERYONE should be able to be happy about certain things in their life and express these sentiments. However, if those in your network only seem to glamorize their own lives, you might want to rethink who you are spending your time with. A person of high character does not need to build themselves up to feel good about who they are. I admire individuals with what I call "quiet confidence". For instance, those that are rich, but you have no idea that they are rich, because they do not find it necessary to tell you.
In the same token, a friend of mine was in Nashville awhile back when he had a long conversation with a man at the bar. This man was telling him how he needed to support the struggling bands that work so hard to do what they love. It wasn't until later that my friend realized that this man was a famous country singer because girls were rushing up to him to ask for his autograph. The man never felt the need to act like he was above anyone. Quite refreshing, if you ask me!
4. Do they talk behind other people's back?
This one is simple: If a friend, boss, or anyone is constantly talking behind others' backs, what makes you think they won't do the same thing as soon as you leave the room? Yes, we are all human and venting to friends is one of the best things on this earth! However, there is a fine line. Your gut will tell you if someone really has your back or not.
5. Will they help you if it has no benefit to them?
I have been stuck in my car in the snow too many times this winter to count. However, someone has always come to help, whether they were annoyed with me or not. This really shows their high character when they had absolutely nothing to gain from pushing my car out of the snow.
Yes, this is a bit of a silly example, but truthfully, you never know when you are going to be in a lousy situation and who will be there. Whether it be your car or something much bigger, it makes a world of difference to be surrounded by people that truly care and want to help you out no matter what!
However, do not expect for every friend of yours to be this good! In your life, you will have a variety of friends. Only expect a few of them to truly have your back at the end of the day. You can either think of this negatively or simply cherish what these few outstanding people have done for you.
In all, asking yourself these questions will help you to surround yourself with more of the right people. Sometimes, this will be out of your control and these people will test your character. But, remember who matters and thank them for all that they have done for you! You never know when you might need someone to lean on someday. Make sure that you have the right people to call when you do.
Todd Senff was living the non-stop lifestyle: working long days to chase money in SoCal, staying in great physical shape and enjoying his small amount of free time at the lake. To many, this is known as the American Dream: working your butt off to land that perfect opportunity and looking good while doing it.
But, sometimes life has a way of wrecking your plans. Case in point: Todd was enjoying his life of financial freedom when doctors found a tumor in his brain the size of a golf ball. Waking up from this trauma with the mental capacity of an eleven-year-old, he admits that if he had not kept the right faith, he likely would have committed suicide.
What problems have YOU dealt with lately?
Below Todd describes how he was able to withstand the hard knocks of life and come out with an entirely reborn perspective:
1. Could you describe to us what your life was like before your injuries?
Well, working 14-16 hours a day 6 days a week, chasing money, working out, running, dirt bike riding, camping, and lake trips when I did take time off.
2. What specific health problems did you encounter?
A golf ball size brain tumor on my right frontal lobe near my motor strip,
Staph infection in my brain from surgery,
Paralysis on my left side from two back-to-back surgeries,
PTSD from the brain trauma,
Brain damage (I woke up with the mental capacity of an eleven year old),
Months of rehabilitation.
3. What was your lowest point?
Losing my ability to provide for my family, and then losing my family.
4. Were there times when you felt like you had lost all hope?
No, He was always with me.
He, I mean God (Elohim, YHWH, Jehovah, Christ, Emanuel, the true and living God).
5. What motivated you to keep going through all the pain?
6. What is your life like today?
Blessed with the Hope I have in Christ..
7. What advice would you give others that are re-entering the work world after an extended departure?
Keep the faith, trust in Christ, He will provide.
8. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My desire to provide and make a better life for my two daughters.
9. What advice would you give your daughters for when they begin their careers?
Have faith...Don't believe in you. You are not enough.
If my hope was in me, I would have killed myself most likely.
Put your faith in Christ.
10. How have you found meaning in life outside of your career?
Serving others by serving the Lord. Simple as that.
Thus, whether you currently have faith in something greater or not, you must ask yourself:
What if this happened to me?
What if everything that I am working for is taken away?
What if my life ends up looking NOTHING like I thought it would?
How will you deal? After all, you can work until there is nothing left and it can all be taken away in a few moments. What will you have then?
I suggest faith; faith in something greater.
As humans, we tend to see things at face value. When we are happy, we think we are on the best path. Everything is easy. But, have you ever considered the positive outcomes of challenges in life? Oftentimes, overcoming these obstacles makes you a better version of yourself that you never would have become otherwise.
So, stop believing that you have all of the answers in life and that you should understand every twist and turn along the way. A great deal of life is and always will be out of your control. Let go of that already! Instead, have faith in life’s path, whether you fully understand it now or not.
Apple Cofounder & CEO, Steve Jobs, outlined this importance of having trust throughout life:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
So, stop living for yourself.
Stop obsessing over all of the wrong things.
Instead, decide to trust the path and not yourself. Your life might look much different than what you thought it would be, but maybe your perspective is not telling the whole story.
Maybe there is an even better story just waiting to be written if you would only have faith.
When I saw The Notebook for the very first time, I wept like a little baby that enjoyed hearing its own cries. And, no, this was not due to the charming love story that every girl falls in love with, at least, in the beginning...
It was due to one particular scene that gets to me every time, perhaps because it became all too real to me several years ago. When the elderly version of Alli, played by the wonderful Gena Rowlands, begins dancing with her late, great love Noah in the nursing home, she is suddenly overcome by an all encompassing fear and confusion.
Goodbye to Reality:
This utter loss of reality is due to another evil spell brought on by Alzheimers Disease that has begun to take over her life. Every time I see this, I cannot help but feel for all the people that actually have to experience this horrendous disease. Among the millions, my grandmother was one of the victims that spent the last fourteen years of her life being broken down by its terrible side effects.
She, like all, was undeserving. Luckily, I was old enough (around 7 years of age) when she was diagnosed with Alzheimers to still remember who the real Marcia Brewer was.
Simply put, she was like an angel from Heaven; she never said a curse word and always made everyone around her laugh and smile. I could only dream to be as sweet as she was.
Marcia Ann Brewer
But, the creepy part of the whole situation was that Alzheimers took her over completely and turned her into an entirely different person.
Saying Goodbye Twice
To me, all too soon after diagnosis, my grandmother had already passed. The woman that sat in front of me was someone that I loved, but someone that I did not know. Not only did she no longer know me, but I no longer knew her, either.
Quite a sad ordeal if you let it take any space in your mind at all, yet the hardest part was definitely not for me. Her husband, my grandfather, shared the greatest burden of all of us.
My Grandfather, who I used to call Grandad, was quite the hero to me. He took care of my sick grandmother for years on end and never complained once. I am in awe of his strength, still to this day, years after he, himself, has already passed. To watch your wife slowly turn into someone else and forget who you are is a larger struggle than I have ever had to face. Yet, it is all too common for many people across the world today.
The Truth of Alzheimers Disease:
To put this all into real terms, today, over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimers Disease, including an estimated 200,000 that have yet to even reach the age of 65 yet. Even more shocking, by 2050, up to 16 million are expected to have the disease, as predicted by the Alzheimers Association (“A Future Without,”2013). However, it is vital to note that this disease affects much more than just the respective victims of Alzheimers Disease.
As I stated in the case with my grandfather, the caregiver is often the one hit the hardest by the after-effects of this ugly illness. In fact, 60 percent of Alzheimers and Dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress level of caregiving as high or very high. Within this group, over one-third report symptoms of depression.
In other words, Houston, we have a problem.
So, what are we doing to resolve it? I do not know about you, but it obviously runs in my blood, and probably many of yours as well. This may be sad to think about, but it is necessary for us to take action now and find out what is in our hands and what we simply cannot control.
After all, even if Alzheimer’s does not "run in your blood”, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s to American society in 2013 will total an estimated $203 billion.
Specifically, that is $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. Unless something is done, Alzheimer’s will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion (in today’s dollars) in the year 2050. Costs to Medicare and Medicaid will increase over 500 percent.
Now, that statistic is not so easy to ignore, is it?
Therefore, there are 3 main things that you can do right now to make a difference:
1. Research to find out more about Alzheimers Disease in order to enlighten yourself and others. To get started, here are a few examples of great resources:
2. Donate to the Alzheimers Association to increase the speed at which research is accomplished so that better drugs can be created for this currently incurable disease. To do so, please visit the following:
3. Lastly, read below to learn how my grandmother was still able to speak to me even after her death.
The Last Messages:
While looking through some of my grandmother’s old things, I came across a very well-worn Bible of hers. The Bible was literally overflowing with notes of hers that explained some significance to her, in some way. Whether you are a Christian or not at all, this was extremely exciting for me to learn of my grandmother’s personal thoughts years after I had the pleasure of speaking to the real her that I missed so incredibly much.
Here are just a few of my favorite quotes she spelled out for us to read.
"Any woman who is married to a man who thinks he is smarter than his wife is surely married to some smart woman."
"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its worries and sorrows, but it helps only to empty today of its strength."
"He who loves money shall never have enough. The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness…"
So, if you could get anything out of this little story that I have shared with you, at all, please let it be that you understand how quickly time is fleeting…that this urgency should give you less time to waste worrying about yourself and more seeking out your purpose in this life and what you can do to make life a little better for others.
To me, there is really no other way to live. If my grandmother taught me anything, it is to make the most out of what we have and to make your life not about yourself, but to give it a greater purpose.
If you are wondering where to start, why not a make a difference in something that virtually affects all of us already? After all, 'tis the season to be thinking of others.
A future without alzheimer's. (2013, October 28). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/research/overview.asp
The notebook [Television series episode]. (2012). South Carolina: Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332280/