My siblings and I attended a Catholic grade school that was run by an order of nuns who didn’t tolerate any nonsense —- Period. They’d have given Navy Seals a run for their money
Even my mothers voice quaked a bit when one of them would call the house. My brother Joe and I would sit on the steps and listen to my mother say Yes sister, yes sister. I’m sorry sister. We’ll talk to HIM sister.
HIM? A sure sign it was me or him. We’d start doing a quick inventory of what sort of trouble we’d caused in the past twenty four hours.
When Joe was in second grade his teacher told my parents that he wasn’t doing his homework. Everything had gone along fine for the first few months of the school year and then mysteriously he stopped turning in his homework.
Naturally worried mom and dad asked for an explanation. Was he sick? Did he not understand what he was being taught? What was it?
His explanation? He’d pray each night that an angel would visit our house and do his homework.
Easy-Peasey lemon squeezy, right?
To the best of my recollection he was told that while he could continue to beseech the gates of heaven for help, he had to start carrying his own water.
Why am I telling you this?
I am privileged to work with people who are committed to improving their lives and their careers. They define success in a lot of different ways and when things get a bit too much and life is a bit shaky, I tell them the story about Joe, the angel and the homework.
I tell them we are all looking for an angel to do our homework. Some of us stand in line twice a week hoping that the lottery ticket we purchase is going to wipe away all of our woes and then we won’t have to deal with life and all of it’s surprises. Some of us pray. Some of us daydream.
I remind them while successful people may call upon angels for inspiration, and guidance, they don’t turn over the keys to the condo.
There’s a lesson here. Of that I am sure.
We are always going to hear the siren song of the easy way until we realize the easy way isn’t easy at all. It just causes us more misery and many of us, like Joe, made it through second grade and went on to bigger and better things He got past hoping for the angels to make him look good and became a successful architect He and his wife Susan have raised two prolific writers and a mathematical genius who gave them four very cool grand kids.
I gave it a lot of thought. Here is what I came up with. Here’s the one piece of advice I’d give to younger me:
Stay in faith. Whatever challenges life throws at you, no matter how many people suggest you are crazy or are critical of what you think and what you believe, hold fast to those beliefs as long as they are not harming you or harming anyone else. Don’t let the gale force winds of skepticism blow you off course.
I have been there.
I have done that.
I would tell my younger self that you will see amazing peaks where you get a glimpse of the wonder and beauty of creation and all it’s manifestations. So much so that it will take your breath away. You will accomplish some absolutely amazing things. Take the time to acknowledge them, to savor them. They are yours and yours alone. Let no one ever rob you of the joy and pleasure you receive from simply being you. It is your most precious gift and talent. You have a patent on it. No one who came before you and who will come after you will ever be you!
You will experience the lowest of the lows at times. You’ll doubt yourself and everything you believe in and you’ll wonder how you made it this far. Those nagging voices in your head will go “needer-needer-needer.” I’d like to tell you a way to avoid this but there isn’t one. It’s called life and no matter how many people approach you with a whiz bang, quick fix idea, it is still called life. Pain is required, suffering is always optional.
Did I say that you will doubt yourself? Please remember that most things that happen to you or those you hold dear, those things that cause you pain, frustration and angst, are not of your doing and mostly beyond your control. Learn from them, retain the lesson and move on. – Stay in faith with yourself and everything you believe in.
Find something to believe in and hang on to it for dear life. Let it become your brand, your identity, your badge of courage and your signature that you write with a flourish. Don’t let other folks ridicule those ideas and try not to fall prey to those who want to take advantage of you.
I don’t care if your greatest joy comes from sidewalk art or of becoming the president of a Fortune 5. Just be you and squeeze every moment of enjoyment from being you that you can manage.
Don’t let anyone steal your dreams or short circuit your journey
Learn to trust and to love even if that trust may be broken and that love never returned.
Finally put yourself in the other persons shoes. They have great joys, great fears and great ambitions, just like you. They are going to stumble and make mistakes just like you. They are not perfect and either are you.
It’s why this life we live is called a journey.
That’s what I’d tell the younger me and that’s what I’ve learned in the past ten years.
When I sat down and wrote the the things I’ve accomplished in the past ten years and the things and struggles I’ve overcome in that time as well, it took my breath away.
Damn I’m pretty good
So are you.
If you would like to read more of my stuff, click the link to my Facebook Page and like it to receive notifications.
I used to be. I hated it. I ran from it like you run from an over due bill! I was one of those Ready, Shoot, Aim people. I used set my goals on the run.
An eighty percent success rate used to be good enough for me.
Every self improvement class I took or talk I heard always began with the exhortation that you will not land in the pantheon of the great and powerful without setting goals.
“So let’s begin by writing your goal for this course….”
“I don’t have one. I was hoping you’d give me a bit of guidance. If I knew what I needed to do why in the hell would I waste invest my time being here!”
That just seemed way to overwhelming especially for a recovering perfectionist! I mean, the goal had to be absitiley and posilutley perfect right from the get go or it didn’t have meaning to me.
It was maddening.
Do you know many of us stumble right out of the gate?
It’s why gym’s and fitness clubs are a great business to invest in. We agree to pay for a year, show up for maybe three weeks, and the owner vacations in Cabo San Lucas while we are trying to figure out what went wrong. We arrive, very quickly I might add, at the conclusion that we are failures and being skinny, healthy, happy and buff ain’t for us. Sigh.
Can I share something? It’s not us. Really it ain’t.
It’s our perception of things.
I walk into the gym and here is what I see:
People who resemble the Incredible Hulk doing all sorts of things that would cause me to rupture and hemorrhage to death if I even thought of trying them. Sweating, grunting, high fiving each other. Of course, they all just jumped off the pages of Vanity Fair or GQand wear designer work out gear.
I take a quick look at me
Flabby, bald, overweight, old, straight from the cover of Mad Magazine
Okay I’ll stop. I’m depressing myself.
Wanna know something else?
Neither one of those scenarios are 100% accurate.
It’s a mindset issue. I set a goal of being healthy and happy and full of activity for the upcoming year and here I am – I’ve been there for ten minutes and I’m already contemplating my exit strategy.
But here’s the thing. Most of the time we set a goal that shoots way above what we can accomplish in the time frame we set and we fall short because we’re don’t know what living in that neck of the woods means, or feels or how we’re supposed to act once we get there. Besides we have our dear friend the internet, convincing us that the click of a mouse or pointer will send us on our way to sensual Nirvana, all for twelve easy payments of $397 dollars!
But then, like magic,after stubbing my toe and bumping my head more often then I care to admit I saw the problem.
When I was a production supervisor I was given the task of managing a department that was under performing. One of the first laws of production management is to reach a set standard. That means you paid the bills. Anything above it is profit. Anything below it is, well it’s not good, lol. Standard is often defined as 70% of maximum capacity. My department was running roughly at 50%. Every morning we were told to walk around with the previous days production report and advise our machine operators whether they made the standard or not. This wasn’t a lot of fun because I can tell you that if you suggest I’m incapable of doing my job every day of the week, I’m going to give you all sorts of reasons as to why it ain’t my fault.
Know what I mean Vern?
I came up with a plan. I took a huge risk.
Remember that the obstacle to reaching our goals is a matter of perception. I started generating a report that took the operation towards the desired standard in incremental steps. If you currently operated at 55% of standard I’d ask you to reach 60% in a months time. I’d ask you how you could do that. I’d ask you to involve other people. In other words I made it a goal you could see and reach and personalize.
Each step of the way, I’d sit down with you and review each weeks performance. If you didn’t hit your target we’d talk about why. It might have been a material problem or a mechanical problem and after putting this practice into place for a couple months my machine operators opened up and added a “I had a bad week. It will be better this week.”
(I think that’s called being human.)
In a years time most of the operators were making standard consistently. Here’s why:
I involved them in setting a reachable goal. A goal they felt comfortable with.
I removed some of the pressure. Raising the standard slightly each month made the machine operator relax and be more attentive to obstacles. They felt a sense of accomplishment as they saw positive progress.
I allowed them responsibility for reaching the goal. I let them be their own advocate for correcting problems that prevented them from reaching the goal.
I could go on and on…………..
But the coolest thing was they started working together, communicating and listening. Those 40 or so people taught me a valuable lesson. They taught me to listen before I reacted. They taught me to break things down in chunks I could handle at the time. They taught me to live in the here and now and look what I could do to effect small changes that added up to a large change over time.
They taught me to look at progress and not perfection.
That, believe it or not, was in 1984. Since then I have a pretty good track record of reaching my goals. (There are a few that kinda sorta fell of the rails but that’s another story for another time.) I am confident that when I set a goal I’ll reach it because here is the first question I ask myself when I decide to set a goals.
“What has to happen tomorrow today for me to begin the journey towards reaching my goal?”
One of my favorite movies of all time isWhat About Bob?with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. Dreyfus is a therapist who wrote a book called Baby Steps.
I’ve embraced that practice of taking baby steps in my life and my business. It’s all about progress not perfection. It’s about sitting down and deciding that the here and now is the here and now and running full tilt into the obstacle in front of me is only going to give me a concussion.
He was standing on a street corner dressed in a colorful, flowing robe. To everyone who walked by he’d offered a leaflet and a smile.
I ran into him just as the light turned red so we stood next to one another for a few minutes. I felt awkward. He just smiled at me.
Where you are. Is where you should be, right now!
It came out of nowhere. I was gonna ask Are you talkin to me? But, just like that he turned towards the next passer-by and was gone.
I was expecting a live long and prosper, or maybe to embrace life and it’s beauty.
Instead I get told that where I was is exactly where I should be. The right now part really threw me for a loop. I’m standing on a street corner in downtown San Diego. That’s where I am supposed to be? It made no sense.
It went against everything I’d ever been taught.
You were to keep looking ahead, always striving for more.
You shed your faults, and your negative feelings and replaced them with bigger and better things. A bigger and better you. Someone who was capable of scaling great heights!
The “Next Big Opportunity.”
Lose weight, gain weight. Work out. Run hard.
Build your business, six figures next year, seven the year after! The sky is the limit.
Ain’t that what the gurus and goal setting mahatmas encourage us to do? Aren’t we supposed to be like all them-there other folks?
Can I get an Amen?
I wanted to run after him and tell him that he couldn’t lay something like that on me and head off into the sunset. I needed more. It wasn’t fair.
Where you are. Is where you should be, right now!
What the hell does that mean?
It was 1995 so there was no smart phone. No GPS. This is where I was supposed to be at that moment in time? Now what?
It wasn’t till I injured my back in 2011 that I began to understand. I was in excruciating pain. My active lifestyle came to a grinding halt. My life became a parade with me sitting on the curb and waving while everyone else marched by.Wait for me, wait for me, I’d yell. Six months earlier at the age of 57 I ran in my first 5K race. Now I had a hard time navigating my way into the shower.
When I tried to hop out of my chair, I’d get no farther than few feet and I’d have to sit down. I was doing a lot of live training for people at the time and when I’d set the room up for the event, I would strategically place chairs along the perimeter of the room so that after 30 seconds or so I could sit down.
Hey, it beat the snot out of falling down!
Loving presence arises when we can say, “This Belongs.” -Tara Brach
When it finally sunk in here is what I realized:
There is no fatal flaw inside of me. I wasn’t being punished for something I did or didn’t do. I’ll clean it up for ya but it dawned on me that “stuff happens.”
I was where I was supposed to be and no matter how hard I rejected that notion it didn’t change anything other than to make me really angry and frustrated.
Not only accept my current situation but embrace it. I may never move with the agility of who I once was.
I am learning to say “this belongs.”
I’d kept devising strategies and goals and meditations and all sorts of stuff to heal me. One doctor told me there was “nothing wrong with me.” I should simply lose weight and exercise. Uhm, okay. I needed help walking up the incline to get to his office. I should do what? But hey, he’s a doctor. He knows.
No he didn’t. It only made things worse.
I spent over three thousand dollars trying to “get better” until I realized I’d never admitted to myself the “here and now” was having an injured lower back.
Hurting my back wasn’t just injury. It was a message for me to slow my roll. Take a pause and heal.
Notice that there are absolutely no qualifications, exams or dog and pony shows required. It doesn’t matter what I look like or don’t look like. My income is irrelevant and so is my ideal client list.
We arrive on this planet with a bag loaded with gifts and talents. It’s a custom order that is designed just for me (and you!) No one can use those gifts exactly the way you can use them.
You know what? We try to. We break into someone else’s stash and take a few things that we know in our heart we can do better than they can do. Until we can’t. We say it’s not fair.
How come you get to…… and I don’t?
It’s all part of our conditioning, I imagine. Part of the bigger, better, faster and sleeker mentality that hits us hard in the face every morning when we get up. It’s the What have you done for me lately trance.
Color me as guilty the next person.
Then I got this email. From The Universe of all people!
So very much can happen, John, in a lifetime or even on a single day of a lifetime. Yet I can assure you that whatever has or will happen in yours, no matter what chasms you cross, heights you scale or how many people you love or are loved by, when all is said and done and you take that final look over your shoulder. what will humble you the most will be, that you got to be John Jurkiewicz . Of all people! ~~~ The Universe
I can’t tell you how I felt when I read it. Awe struck comes close.
I get to be me.
And you get to be you.
All of us, in the here and now at this moment in time.
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you may notice I am not conventional in the slightest. It’s me being me as best I can be. (I’m sure you’ve noticed as well that I fracture the English language and all its rules and regs with out mercy.) I am a life, business and mindset coach whoendeavors to combine all three experiences in helping you create the very best opportunities in your life.
To that end, next weeks blog will be titled Are You Uncomfortable Setting Goals for Yourself? Don’t worry. We’re not going to do a deep dive on what happened to you when you were five. I’m going to share some strategies to help you cope with your reluctance to set goals. It will have nothing to do with SMART goals. (Actually I ridicule them a bit. I felt bad about it for a bit. I got over it.)
One more thing: Follow and subscribe. Please! (Sounds needy, doesn’t it?)