TOUGHNESS

I recently gave a speech for our local National Guard unit. I was speaking on toughness, or as the Army calls it, resiliency. In my view… toughness is something that has to be developed. Merriam-Webster’s calls resiliency “the ability to rise above adversity”. How many of you consider yourselves to be tough, or resilient? How many of you honestly can look down at your life and say unecquivocally that you have that trait? In my eyes, we all have it, but in varying degrees. In my case, I had to grow into this. It was painful and took almost 35 years. This is something near and dear to me. I love seeing people “get over”. I am all about “putting people over”. Toughness is a whole hell of a lot more than using curse words, talking loud and being overbearing. Some of the toughest people I ever met were under 5 feet tall, under 100 pounds.

I am sure a lot of you are reminiscing by now, looking at your body, looking at the tattoos, the scars, memories. If you grew up in my era (late 1990s/early 2000s), you can attest to a shift in the overall consciousness of Americans.Seems to be a less confident, less resilient people now. More groupthink, less “rugged individualism”. More victimhood rather than a “can-do” spirit. I will leave you all with this: Do not be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to be hurt. Never fear anything.

The LAST MAN STANDING

Have you ever felt that you are in a valley in life? That everything you do is seemingly “in escrow” for a later time, but you need things now? Add to that, the people around you are not making anything easier, whether they complain a lot, whine, or whatever it is that they do? Troubles, trials and tribulations are the name of the game in life. We do live in an era where people have been softened up with “sweetness and light” coming from every angle. What is more confusing, there are those who actually do have answers, but their manner of delivering the answers further isolates and frustrates the people in need. How can you make something out of the seemingly endless cacophany of voices that all promise you that they will help you, make things easier and bring things to a head? I am no expert, guru or any of that. However, I can tell you about how it is imperative that you think for yourself. Thinking for yourself, personal accountability, stuff like that, is a lost art in our world today. But HOW do you think for yourself, when it is easier to go with the flow of media, popular opinion and groupthink? It is something to behold when you see someone using the brains God gave them. It is amazing to see men and women accomplish their own dreams instead of seeing people go on some track that allows them to live “life on autopilot”. How many times have we on social media or on our blogs, comment on those who we deem to be “stupid”? How did they get to be mentally deficient? And what makes us, any better than they are? Is there some disconnect that we haven’t figured out yet? Is it because it is 2014? Is it because we live in such an affluent society that even a growing class of people who do not have the skills to pay their bills is nothing to fear, since “we got ours”?

i simply wanna say that the times in which we live, it is more important than ever to realize we must “break out of the matrix” and begin to THINK FOR OURSELVES. I know it’s not very popular to be a thinker. I know it’s not very popular at all to have a set of beliefs that prides itself on a deity, or “rugged individualism”. If it were all to end today, what would you want to be said about you in the history books? To be THE LAST MAN STANDING, you must realize the times we are in, the urgency of life (as it passes all of us by to some degree), and just how frail we really are. It takes brains, brawn, desire and the willingness to endure tragedies, troubles and disappointment. As it says in Psalm 30:5, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning”. 

For those of you who this hits, I hope it helps you, as writing is therapeutic for me.

For all of you seeking something in life, remember this old Roman proverb: PERDES OMNES QUI ADVENERUNT (Destroy All Who Came).

How Far Have You Come 2014

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I am putting myself out on front street again. Ya’ll know I am not afraid to do that. This pic is of me from 1990 (8th grade). Yes, I was a stuttering, bucktoothed, short kid who lacked the self-confidence to do anything. I posted this on social media this past Thursday for a #throwbackthursday meme. I was a bit embarrassed at first, until God pulled me aside and showed me how far I have come in my 37 years of life. In fact, the past 5 years have more than made up for the previous 32 that came before it. All the things I have conquered through faith, perseverance, diligence and sheer will. The question I pose to all of you is are you still growing? Are you still making strides to BECOME something, someone great? Or are you just wanting to sail through life, make money, have fun, have friends and die? Only you can answer that question. I, for one, can honestly say, though I am just getting started, I HAVE COME A LONG WAY BABY. Never allow yourself to settle for anything less than what you want out of life.

Only through pain, strain, defeat and conflict is anyone ever going to achieve anything worthwhile. Yes, greatness is within all of us, but are you willing to suffer, starve, fight for what you want?

Toughness: Is It In You?

Toughness is a word bandied about a lot. But what is it? As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, toughness is  being able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking (which is also the definition of my first name Kente’); strong and resilient. Toughness is also defined as being aggressive; pugnacious. Seems to me that toughness these days is nothing more than comparing resumes, overtalking someone else, name-calling and throwing around big, politically-correct words, followed by a fistfight. That is not toughness. Toughness, at least my definition of it, is simply an attitude of resilience. Not giving up on anything or anyone. Nowadays, it looks like everything and everyone is disposable like a paper cup or plastic silverware. We have recreational dating, we have all kinds of things that are strictly for fun. We literally have entire industries based on the flippancy of people. It is 2014, and look at how weak everyone has become. In our “progressive” world, we have modern families, we have everything that is top-shelf. Toughness is not promoted. Why? Toughness is sorely needed. Comedian Chris Rock recently stated that “kids need bullying”. Why on earth would he say that? In my estimation, he was referring to the toughness created by dealing with people who hate you and decide to mistreat you. Life is not fair. The attempts by the popular culture and the political class to “level the playing field” is ludicrous at best. Life is tough. It does not stop. Time doesn’t stop going. So I ask you all who are reading- is toughness part of you? How many of you have beat a drug problem? Or stopped drinking? This past week made three years for me being sober. I do not miss drinking. At first, I would fight the temptation not to drink. As time went on, it went away.

Toughness is an attitude. And attitude is everything. By toughness, I don’t mean living like an outlaw, destroying everything in your path. Take me for instance. I am an Army vet. I stand 5-11, weigh 238 lbs. I am a guy who likes to fight, military history, etc. Some of the toughest people I have seen were women who didn’t raise their voices or their hands to anyone. I sat and listened to their life experiences, their wisdom. They talked to me in a very soft voice. Old ladies. Tougher than a “two-dollar steak”, as the old saying goes. I am a big believer in what is called “self-talk”. Self-talk is what you say to yourself. Lots of people think that talking to yourself is some sign of inherent mental illness. That perception couldn’t be further from the truth. People tend to believe what the world says about them more than what they believe about themselves. It is a sad sight to see, a person who is a doormat. People who believe lies about themselves. As you all know, I am not a man who is afraid or ashamed to talk about himself. I battled fear, doubt, insecurity, depression, anger and angst for years. A lot of my “issues” came from my self-talk. The more you dwell on the negatives in your life, the weaker you become. Mentally weakened people are not tough. You see it in sports, like in a football game. One team may be stronger, more athletic, more well-like by people in general. The other team may be despised and a “gaggle of hooligans”. The less talented team wins with ease. Why? Mental toughness. One team will bring confidence, swagger and the will to win that crushes the other team. Such how it is in life. People must understand that no amount of knowledge, no adherence or compliance with the popular opinion on “social issues” will help you win in life. The issue of toughness is all about being able to endure hardship, as life is all about loss, pain and being able to withstand it without being destroyed by it.

In closing, I am living proof that life doesn’t have to be a series of losses, or whatever you are fearing. People fear conflict so much they will concede to anything that guarantees ease, peace, tranquility. It is imperative to develop toughness. But how do you develop toughness? In my succinct opinionation of it all, it is to realize that nobody owes you anything. Nobody is responsible for you eating, nobody has to help you. It is all about taking personal responsibility for your life. Using self-control, discipline and never giving up on your hopes, dreams and goals is essential to developing toughness, mental toughness I should say. Physical toughness and strength is also something that has to be developed through calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, running), weight-training, stuff like that. I would rather have a weak body than a weak mind. In summation, toughness is something that is developed. No one can do it for you (most folks will assist you in your demise). It is all about your level of pride in yourself, the level of determination to achieve and succeed in life. Never allow life to crush you. Life in my eyes is nothing more than a long, drawn out war. Conquer life or it will conquer you.

GET YOUR FIRE BACK

I gotta ask the question here: How many of you have tried getting things done, but could never really enlist the help you needed? How many projects, dreams, hopes and visions go unfufilled simply because people are afraid, skeptical, arrogant, etc. It has happened to me several times. I tend to think about these types of things when I am working, or doing something around the house. It used to KILL me at how folks act. I made sure I got the upper hand, as I do now. The key is to simply lay all that down. I didn’t say I gave up. I didn’t say I backed off of what I was shooting for. I laid the disappointment, the anger down. I laid it all down, and started hitting the books again. I prayed, I got my mind right. Now I am on the trail again. I keep working. Got a new job this past week. I refuse to allow circumstances, people and disappointments get me down and to sour on my God-given dreams. I will never allow that to happen. How many of you have given up on something because everything seemed tough, rough and bad all over? Well guess what- winners never talk about what they are going through. They talk about what they are going to. GET YOUR FIRE BACK. Never allow anything, anyone to dictate what you think. Why would you allow hard times to keep you from what you were put on Earth to do? Why allow someone to steal your dreams? I don’t care how bad things may be. People everyday overcome their obstacles, they climb the mountains and plant their flags. This is exactly what I am doing. This is what I am looking to do. I got my mind trained on it. I think about it 24/7. I challenge each and every one of you to make sure to get you fire back. Get excited about life again. Start setting goals, and stick to them. Make sure you enjoy life, as opposed to merely enduring life. Life isn’t easy. In fact, seems to get harder everyday. All of you gotta commit to victory in life… and to commit to God. GET YOUR FIRE BACK. It’s not too late to see your dreams come to pass.

 

Loser Mentality

fearisaliarOne thing I have been seeing a LOT of lately is people with what I call a loser mentality. It is something I cannot stand ONE BIT. People have gone brain-dead. Folks are so soft now. Every now and then, I take a walk on the streets. I see a lot- like fashion, attitudes, stuff like that. I wish people would toughen up. Now what I mean by a loser mentality, is the attitude of “small thinking”. It soon morphs into a lifestyle. It is based on the fear of loss. The fear of loss is something most people have. I used to have that kind of thing rule me. One day, after losing everything, I made up my mind to never ever live that way. Once I woke up to just how my life was controlled by fear (thanks be to the God in Heaven), I was repulsed. I was scouring my life, looking at everything. When I say everything, I mean everything. Every experience, I scrutinized (I am my toughest critic) EVERYTHING. I ended up making a list of personality traits that I wanted, and still remember going to the dictionary, looking up words that I liked- like dominate. I ended up coming up with a laundry list of words. Then the words I meditated on religiously.

After looking up the words, I started implementing words, quotes, even imitating a few people I admired (in my life, and from television to a degree). If you follow my blog, you know I am not ashamed to talk about myself. This subject/topic has always been one “near and dear” to my heart. I hate seeing people fall to fear. I hate seeing people not be able to break through to realize their dreams and goals.

In closing, I will say this: for those of you who are “religious”, you can pray to whoever your diety is and gain strength from your higher power, still drawing from your experiences and conquering your fears. For those of you who claim no religion, you’re gonna have to dig deep and get it in that way. In any case, your life is “all on you”. There is no way around this fact of life: there is, was and always will be conflict, change, things of that nature. That much is clear. Cowering, hiding behind fear, your past, whatever- is not going to help you accomplish anything.