I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in situations where people around me don’t want to take control of anything in their lives. They choose to whine about their status, complain about how it’s everyone else’s fault, and refuse to accept their role in anything. What’s difficult about this is when you see the potential that others have and refuse to tap into, there’s a level of frustration that bubbles up. Many times, it’s the people who are living in fear of being held accountable or expected to perform, which are the victims of their own misfortune.
I will give you a prime example. Let’s look at a lot of the churches that are dwindling in attendance. Forget the fact about Corona for a minute. Even before the virus attacked with such a fervor, many churches were struggling to gain a stronger following. Why? Was it because of the fact that there are a lot of people who are no longer believing in organized religion? That’s part of it. But one of the biggest issues that I’ve witnessed over the years is the lack of communication and the rigidity that exists within change. There’s a lot of folks out there who detest change. They find comfort in their dwellings and don’t want it shaken up. The problem with that mindset is that when everyone becomes complacent, then churches and other organizations are less likely to grow because the freshness doesn’t exist. As a society, everything that holds interest to us was fresh at one point. The more it becomes stale, the more robotic the movements. Eventually, people have a choice they must make. Do they grow with their communities? Or do they just exist and eventually die off? When no one stands up for change, they will eventually die off. Cycles of life are not just limited to our bodies. They are a part of everything we encompass.
Another example is one that frustrates me immensely. I have a few friends that have some of the best potential to be leaders. One of them has been until his health took a nosedive. Another one went to school and got some degrees under his belt. He hasn’t done much with his degrees. In fact, he took a job working in a position that he was overqualified for and continues to hang out with those who are strung out on drugs. He doesn’t want to be a leader and yet I question why. If he didn’t want to lead, then why did he waste time at school? When you go to obtain more education, you are leading yourself to a better life. You are challenged in every way possible by those who are competitive and like-minded. Being afraid isn’t an excuse. If anything, it’s a crutch.
I have another friend who has tried multiple courses and never found the right niche. She starts something and very rarely follows through. She views herself as a leader and yet has never gotten the credentials to back up her research. I suppose in her mind, she thinks she is well versed in the areas that she studies. A degree doesn’t mean that someone is better than someone else. In fact, there are a lot of people who are very well versed in areas. Many of them have spent a lifetime perfecting their craft. They don’t all have degrees. Yet, they are always willing to continue learning and don’t profess to know everything. Experience can wipe the floor with degrees sometimes. Unfortunately, many companies only see what’s on paper. They don’t see the value everyone has to offer. It’s up to each of us to show what makes us stand out. While she is extremely talented in research, her application skills need a lot of tweaking. There are some areas in which experts can effectively challenge her. Yet, in her mind, she believes that she is right and doesn’t understand the effects she is enforcing will eventually be put to a test. The question is will she be ready for that test?
Let’s call another friend of mine out on a few things. He has not had an easy life in the past decade. He was falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He served time, obtained skills, and is starting over. He has been given opportunities to change his status. When it comes down to it, he can’t bring himself to move forward with his life because he’s afraid of what will happen if he stands up to those who caused him to lose his freedom. His family is trying to help him understand that if this group managed to put him away for something that he didn’t do, who else have they done it to? The owner of the establishment where he used to work is not the most honorable of men. He pays his staff only once a year. It’s not a very profitable business for anyone but him. He has hired minors to work there and yes, I mean minors. There have been several under the age of sixteen who have worked for him on the premises. His family and friends are trying to make him understand that the job he is currently working in, while a blessing, is what he can expect to do long term unless he makes provisions to change it. He’s the one who is going to have to face the music and stare down his fears by saying that he isn’t going to let others live and determine his life for him. Until he gets to the point that he’s willing to take a stand, it won’t matter what anyone else around him is willing to do. I was willing to help him with some courses in computers and he’s put those off as much as he could. There’s a lot of things in this world I can do but I can’t force someone to do something they said they wanted to do. In this case, actions speak volumes. Words are just that – words.
Speaking of his family, his sibling has taken control back in her life. She made the decision to live her life by obtaining higher education and pursuing dreams that she didn’t think was in her reach. She’s one of the most talented women I’ve ever known. She has been skilled at so many things but never found something that she is more passionate about than the law. She’s now volunteering with many different organizations and starting to lead a life that makes her feel fulfilled. It’s difficult for folks to understand but if you watch how her eyes come alive when she speaks about the law, you see the passion that overtakes her. She becomes animated and loud but her voice isn’t just carrying noise. It’s carrying a desire to provide a better future.
Then there’s me. I am a five foot two package of adrenaline and dynamite. I have great ideas but can’t always focus. I’m learning how to change this. I used to think that what I had to say was irrelevant. That no one would care about the contributions I made. I let fear control my decisions and thus, was guilty of every single thing that I’ve mentioned here. I’m not perfect. I fight depression and anxiety every day but I know that if I don’t make an effort to change my life for the better, I will always be bitter and frustrated with those around me. That’s why I made it a point to step away from folks who were dragging me down and started engaging with those who are positive. When I get up every day, I have a plan of things that I want to accomplish. They are my tasks for the day. I’ve started exercising a minimum of thirty minutes a day and drinking more water. I’m watching my diet, and networking with a lot of folks that I had never even thought to engage with previously. I’ve had to change my mindset on a lot of different issues. Nothing in life is truly guaranteed. The only real guarantee is that we will all die one day. I choose to live my life with zero regrets.
I’m not saying that everyone should lead. What I am saying is that too many people are just drifting through life because they think that their voice and opinions don’t matter. There’s a lot of folks out there who are tired of the same old things and even more exhausted from the people that they work for or with getting credit for the things they do. We all need balance in our lives. There needs to be an appreciation within ourselves that we are good enough and that we do have voices that are needing to be heard. Nothing in life is fair. But if we don’t speak up, if we don’t step out of our boxes of fear, and if we don’t try, then we are doomed to stay in our shells. Others will lead while we stay back and accept the norm. So what if you didn’t like school? Fall back into learning. There’s a world out there waiting to be explored. You can’t explore anything if you aren’t willing to stand up for what you want. Learn to be happy with yourself.
If you see yourself struggling with issues all around you, take a step back. If you don’t know what you want, that’s normal. A lot of folks don’t. What’s important is that you take the time to learn about you. You may have interests that you never even knew. If you become interested in different skills, imagine what you can bring to the table in many different venues. If you allow your heart to be opened to new people and opportunities, imagine what you can learn from various cultures and groups. The point is that everyone on this earth was born with a unique set of skills. Don’t sell yourself short. Believe in yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose and let’s say you put yourself out there and are rejected. So what? It’s painful and frustrating but if you keep at something you love doing, eventually you will get an opportunity. Keep at the things you love most. You never know where it might lead you and in the process, you don’t know in what capacity you’ll be chosen to lead.