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500+ for 50 – day 15: the body blow

When a fighter steps into the ring or cage, he enters knowing that the battle before him could very well be his last.  No matter how hard he has trained or how well he has performed in the past, there is always a distinct possibility that his opponent may have his number on this particular night.  So it takes a lot of courage, a lot of guts to walk into the arena willing to lay it all on the line.  That’s why fighters prepare for the inevitable adversity that lies ahead with training methods that push their minds and bodies to the brink of collapse.  They understand the risk of being employed as a warrior, and they’re prepared to handle the potential consequences of their profession. 

I find the resiliency of a fighter’s mind to be one of the most intriguing things that I’ve ever encountered.  I grew up in southeastern PA in the 1980’s.  And although I was just three years old when the movie hit theaters, Rocky IV became one of the most memorable flicks of my childhood.  How could you not love the Italian Stallion?  He was the definition of everything that is American…a simple, working class Philadelphian who was tough as nails.  Rocky was never the most graceful or physically gifted fighter in the ring but he was always the most determined and resilient.  It was not his talent, but rather his heart and will that carried him to every single triumph.  And ol’ Rocko could take a punch, that’s for sure.  You could not knock out the Stallion.  To do so, you’d have to kill him. 

One of the most powerful shots utilized in the ring or cage is the body blow.  It can turn the entire direction of the fight around.  Many fighters can manage the punches delivered to their head because the pain from the blows absorbed arrives instantly and then passes.  A potent delivery to the body however creates a delayed, menacing agony that only grows deeper as the fight progresses.  Even the most determined fighters have a hard time recovering from a devastating body blow.  Although the initial connecting hit to the midsection is rarely enough to drop the opponent to the mat, what the strike to the body does is encourage the opponent to drop his hands.  And this leaves his head open, clearing a path for the knockout delivery. 

Very few fighters have the mental toughness and stamina to keep their hands up when their body has been beaten like scrambled eggs.  The mind will naturally direct your body to drop your hands to your knees. And if you don’t hit the override button in your brain, you’ll only leave your frame open to further damage.  Your head will be left vulnerable and your midsection will be kept in harm’s way if you aren’t able to keep your fists near your face and your elbows tucked against your sides.  If you don’t react to the pain accordingly, you’ll open the door to far more devastating consequences.  And your opponent WILL knock you out.

Life’s a lot like this.  We can focus our will in preparation for the battles that lie ahead of us.  We can train day and night, developing our minds and bodies to sustain us whenever we encounter the inevitable obstacles that will arrive on the road to victory.  We can gain intimate knowledge of our opponent and we can work to perfect our skills in the ring.  But the one thing that we cannot do is avoid every strike that’s delivered in battle.  And from time to time, we will encounter the body blow that will threaten to turn the course of fight in the opposite direction.

Let me coach you from your corner…  This is not a time to let down your guard.  You need to absorb the pain and carry on with the fight.  I know that it hurts, but you’ve still got your feet beneath you.  There is still a willing desire in your heart that is anxious to carry you even now when your mind is begging you to quit.  So tuck your chin and set your fists tight near your face…align your elbows against your ribs…widen your stance…focus your eyes on your opponent…gather your composure…and KEEP FIGHTING! 

Your mission in life does not change because you encounter pain.  You need to retain the mindset of a professional fighter.  If reaching for greatness is a part of your job description, than you need to be willing to roll with the punches.  You’re going to get hit.  And every once and awhile you’re going to encounter a blow that threatens to change the direction of your journey, but stay the course!  Resiliency is everything on the journey to success.  Take it from Rocky, you don’t need to be the most skilled fighter in the ring to excel, you simply need to be willing to take the hits and keep moving forward.  If you can gather yourself after a devastating body blow, you can avoid the knockout punch and regain the momentum necessary to direct the fight back in your favor.

You know my favorite part of every Rocky movie is that turning point in the fight when you hear the bell toll and Rocky begins doing the unthinkable…fighting back relentlessly when he is visibly broken, bruised, and left for dead by every critic in the arena. 

I think I hear my bell tolling now… I guess it’s time to finish the fight. 

May God Bless!

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500+ for 50 – day 14: dream killers

I’ve had several new beginnings throughout the course of my life.  So it should be no surprise to anyone that my blog is so aptly named Setback2Comeback.  I’ve ventured down some very dark and treacherous roads.  And I’ve lost myself in the hopeless abyss more times than I can remember.  But somehow I’ve always recovered, thanks be to God.  His presence has been the glimmer of light in the distance that has guided me out of the most troubling times in my life.  I will forever be indebted to Him for the grace that He has bestowed upon me in moments when I’ve allowed myself to be led astray.  Despite my best efforts to push Him away at times, He has never given up on me.  So I can’t help but believe that He has a greater purpose in mind for my life.  And that’s very comforting.

While I take pride in my ability to restore myself following periods of trial and tribulation, I know that this type of rollercoaster ride of recovery that I’ve been on cannot sustain itself forever.  If I am going to fulfill my purpose here on earth I am going to need to stop sabotaging my efforts.  Rebuilding is a tiresome process.  And my mission requires consistency.  So it’s critical that I form new positive habits by making committed efforts to advance both my mental and physical well-being.  Inevitably, adversity will present itself as it always does.  And I will need to be conditioned for peak performance when times get tough to ensure that I do not fall victim to the darkness that beckons.

I’ve found that it’s whenever I’m on the way to achieving something truly positive in my life through faith inspired action that I am tested the hardest.  And despite the fact that I consider myself a resilient and determined individual, I’ve failed those tests many, many times.  I’ve allowed the vulnerabilities within me to steer my wheels off course repeatedly and have been led back to feelings of insecurity, lack, heartache, and often times both mental and physical anguish throughout the duration of my life.  And my hard work has become at times nothing more than a sacrifice to the darkness which far too often finds a way to prevail over the light that so desperately wants to shine vibrantly from within my soul.  I routinely become a victim of the dream killer.

Dream killers are everywhere.  The world is filled with them.  And they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Because I’ve spent the better portion of my life getting to know them well through my own personal battles, I thought that tonight it might be useful for me to share a few of the more common varieties with you.  Perhaps then you’ll be able to more effectively identify their presence so that you can disarm them before they make their desperate efforts to lead you astray.  After all, you’ll want to stay on course with your life’s purpose.  Your light was meant to shine, and you can’t afford to waste away your days on this earth riding a rollercoaster of defeat and repeat.  Your time for greatness is now.

Here’s my list of 10 of the most common culprits that you need to be on the lookout for…

  1. Insecurity – a tough nut to crack, insecurity leads to devastating outcomes as it manipulates the mind into obsessing over personal inadequacies that do not exist, causing individuals to close themselves off, resist change, and settle for far less than what they truly deserve and are capable of achieving.
  2. Money – a tasty bait that’s hard not to take, money’s lure leads many dreamers to failure, tempting them with promises of comfort and wealth that could lead to either inaction or recklessness depending upon the vulnerabilities of the individual – money is not an adequate measure of success and its attainment should never be the sole mission of anyone, it should simply a byproduct of your hard work.
  3. Fear – false evidence appearing real, fear is the ultimate dream killer because it can literally stop a man dead in his tracks as he involves himself with devastating irrational thoughts and emotions over perceived threats of danger or pain that have been elevated to emergency status by his manipulative mind.
  4. Lack – the sibling of inadequacy, lack discourages the dreamer from getting started as he obsesses more over his present circumstances than the destination that he seeks, causing his imagination to be sacrificed to reality and ensuring that his journey never truly gets off the ground.
  5. Critics – you’ve got to love them, critics are bound to show up, no matter what path you’ve chosen in exploration of your dreams, but you can’t allow them discourage your efforts – keep your eyes focused on the prize and let their cowardly attempts to dampen your spirits ignite a fire of motivation within that will carry you to new heights.
  6. Negativity – self-directed or second hand, negativity is relentless in its efforts to disable the dreamer and it’s one of the most difficult threats to disarm – only by flooding the brain with positivity through visual and audio based exercises, meditation, prayer, and visualization can we outwit this monster – it takes a truly devoted commitment to expel negativity from your life.
  7. Technology – a double-edged sword, technology can be excellent when put to effective use, but it can also be a major distraction that will be delighted to steer you off course in a heartbeat – if you’re going to do big things, you’re going to need to set your cell phone aside, turn off the TV, and spend a little time with yourself free from distractions – your personal development requires it, and your dream will thank you later.
  8. Debt – totally evil in nature, debt makes every effort to limit the flexibility of the dreamer by holding him in financial custody, beckoning him to look back on his shortcomings rather than forward on the opportunities lying ahead that could lead to lifelong financial independence if he is simply willing to see his dreams come to fruition.
  9. Busyness – an epidemic in our society, busyness robs us of our creative positioning as we become overly involved in rather meaningless activity often in efforts to postpone action directed towards the development and success of our most important commitments.
  10. Judgment – a cruel reality in our society, judgment is something that we simply cannot escape no matter how hard we might try, so we’ve got to learn to roll with it – we need to accept the fact that some people won’t see the value in our dreams and that we might be labeled as crazy or flawed for our unconventional methods for achieving success – and that’s okay, because in the end there’s only one Judge, and He’s not of this world.

Beware, the dream killers will be waiting for you on your journey to greatness.  But fear not as you’re well prepared to ward off their threats to interfere with your success.  Don’t settle for the rollercoaster ride of defeat and repeat.  You can win this battle today.  There’s no need to waste a lifetime on setbacks and comebacks.  Your dreams await you – go take them.

May God Bless!