Monday, 29 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Crazy

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are usually the ones who do" 
Walter Issacson about Steve Jobs 

You'll probably never be short of people queuing up to tell you that you can't change the world. But all it takes is one dream, idea or opportunity; and a persons crazy enough to pursue it, to change the face of the world forever. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Balancing Your Future With Your Present

Last week I wrote a blog post about the importance of having vision for your life. I got a really good response from readers, which was great. A few people commented on the post, suggesting that while vision for your future is important, it's a greater priority to be at peace with your life and enjoy the 'moment'. This is a sentiment that I fully support. If you can't enjoy where you are in the moment then you're on a one way road to ruin.

Vision for the future and a recognition of what you have now are complimentary, there should be a balance between the two. A balance where you strive to meet your ambitions whilst enjoying your life in the moment. Without vision, your life can become stale, and without an appreciation of the moment, your life becomes hollow.

I mentioned before that I am a carer for my wife, who has a chronic illness. When illness impacts your life, like it does ours, it can become easy to put your life on hold. For the longest time, we did this exact thing. We, in effect, were stuck in a place where we were waiting for our lives to begin.

There's an element of wisdom in this. You have to be realistic about what you can do when sickness has such a massive impact on you. You get to a point, however, when you realise that you can't sit back and wait, for years, for your situation to improve, when it might never change. We learnt that we can't just look to the future, we had to enjoy where we were at present.

We work hard to strike the balance between having vision for the future and enjoying the present. To maintain this balance, even the simplest things can make all the difference. Me and my wife have a vision board in our house and then make sure that at least once a week we have a 'date day' where we focus on each other in that moment.

What do you do to make sure you strike that critical balance between having a vision for the future, and making the most of every single moment?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Hardship

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
― C.S. Lewis

When you're in a fight, you have to expect that you're going to take some punches. They're going to hurt, and they might just knock you on your backside. The blows you take will make you strong.

I don't think that it's a coincidence that people who achieve incredible things, have often gone through hardship which prepared them. Just look at some of the great men and women of history. Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Freda Carlo and Henry Ford all either failed, or suffered great hardships, before their destiny was realised. 

When I go through hardship, I try to remind myself of this quote. Frankly, It's not easy. Eventually I start to believe it. When I believe it, I get excited. I'm excited to see where all this hardships will lead. The greater my hardships, the greater my destiny will be.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Vision Casting

One of the principles which I have intentionally adopted over the last 12 months has been to always have vision for my life. I think that it's important to always have a vision of what you want your life to be. I try to have both long term, and short term vision, which I'm always going back to and re-assessing.

Before I got married, we first set out a vision for what we wanted our marriage to be. I did the same thing when I started this blog, and when I began fighting against my mental illness.

There are two reasons why I think that having vision is important to having a great life.

1) I believe that people with great vision change history, and that people without are doomed to repeat it.

2) Without vision you don't know your destination, let alone the road which will lead you there.

Vision should be flexible. Realistically, you can't predict the future, all you can do is give yourselves goals. Those goals might have to change if circumstances call for it. The important thing is that you replace them for something else.

Vision should be achievable, but audacious. There's no use in setting yourself unachievable goals, but at the same time don't limit yourself. My visions for this blog is simple, to reach the world. That means that I want people all over the world to read it. This vision, is however, long term. I don't expect to do that in a year, or even two. My Vision is wildely audacious, but I'm giving myself an achievable time frame to do it in.

Vision should be divided between the short term and long term. Obviously reaching the world with my writing is a long term goal, but, I also always have short term goals set. For example, at the moment, my goal is to sit an exam on the 13th of May. Before that, my vision was to start regaining control over my life. By having short term vision I'm able to not only keep myself moving forward, but also, I'm regularly achieving things. I spoke about the importance of recognising achievements in an earlier post.

I know that so many of my readers have amazing potential. I'm frankly excited to hear what some of you are going to achieve.  I want to know what your vision is and, if you don't have any, why not?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Fighting Talk: Dignity in Victory

"Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss"

There's an impressive amount of wisdom in this sentence, and it needs little description. In fact, I'm going to keep my contribution short, there's nothing I can write to make the statement more impacting.

I'm going to keep these words in my mind this week. Remember, I spoke of using words like a shield. When I feel under pressure this week, I will remind myself to never give in.

Will you fight this week? And when you gain the upper hand, will you do so with dignity?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

How you can follow me

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You can easily follow my blog using Bloglovin. This is an easy way to keep in touch with all your favourite blogs. Alternatively you can follow my blog by entering your email address into the side bar and receive an email every time I post. Make sure you never miss out!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Making Diamonds

As I promised when I first started this blog, I want to write about my process. There is no value in talking about my aims, and my end point, without talking about how I got there. Last week I wrote about the dangers of comparing yourself to other people. Rather predictably, within a week, I've fallen into the same old trap.

Before I divulge all, let me tell you a little bit about myself. 

For the last three years I have been a carer for my wife who has a chronic illness. She relies on me everyday, all day, for even the most basic of daily tasks. It's a full time, unpaid and draining job. Obviously, this has a massive impact on our lives.

It can be incredibly frustrating to have your life dictated by something which is wholly out of our control. We can work as hard, or be as prepared, as possible but have the carpet ripped out from underneath us at any point.

I often look, as i have done this week, at other people my age and find myself being jealous. I'm jealous that they don't have the same restrictions or responsibilities as I do. It's easy to look upon someone else's life and assume that they have it 'better' than you.

At times I can even become quite desperate. Begging God to take the sickness away from our lives, and being angry when things just get worse.

No good ever comes from making these comparisons. By doing so, I'm ignoring the great parts of my life, and painting an idealised picture of others'. I love my wife. she is so worth everything we go through together. Frankly, by being bitter and wishing my life situation away, I'm missing an opportunity. The struggles I face, build who I am. They change how I think.

Life may be hard for me now, but later I will look back and be thankful.  Like a diamond, all the pressure and heat put on me now will make me stronger.

Vision on our Wedding Day

Until then I will continue to remind myself to focus of the truly remarkable parts of my life, my relationship with my wife included.  To recognise that people would kill to get what I have, and realise that even my hardships would, one day. give me diamonds.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Fighting talk: Fighting To Get Back Up

"It's not whether you get knocked down that counts, it's whether you get up"

Over the past few months, I've taken a few hits and I've been knocked down. My depression has been at its worst. I've gone from sickness to sickness and have felt physically broken. I've even had to take the decision to re-sit my final year of university. I effectively buckled under the pressure of being a full time student, a carer and working a part-time job.

Despite everything, I'm fighting to get back up.

I know that it doesn't matter how many times I get knocked down in life. What matters is that I will always choose to get back up and contend to stay on my feet.

A few weeks ago a wise friend reminded me that just because you might be struggling in life, it doesn't mean that you're failing. If you're struggling, then you're still fighting. If you're fighting, then you haven't lost yet.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

I'll have what they're having

If there's one mistake that I have made over, and over, again, it's to persistently compare myself to other people. It's a poisonous habit. Comparing yourself to another person is like judging a book by its cover. You can only see what's on the outside. The real detail of the ink stained pages that make up someones life are hidden from your view.

There's nothing wrong with being inspired by other people, or wanting to emulate a quality, but you have to remember that everyone is unique. Other people are different, not better and we can rarely truly judge what another person's life is like.

I often find myself taking the best attributes of all the people around me and comparing them to myself, wondering why I don't share every single one. Obviously, this is a ridiculous standard to strive for.

I am going to stop repeating this habit, before it causes me any more harm. To do this I am going to force myself to think about what I do have, instead of what someone else has. Whenever I find myself comparing myself to another person, I will stop and list five things which I have. These could be talents, objects, people, or whatever else I value.

My list
1. I have a beautiful wife.
2. I am intelligent and have ideas.
3. I have friends and family willing to support me in times of hardship.
4. I have faith in an amazing God.
5. I am audacious in all aspects of my life.

That list was surprisingly difficult for me to make, not because I have too many great things to add to it, which in reality, I do. It was difficult because my mind isn't used to thinking in such terms. I'm not used to thinking about what I do have, I'm used to searching for what I don't have.

If you can relate to my experiences, then I recommend you to try to follow the same method as I am, I'd love to see your list. Let me know if you have any thoughts on my idea.

Writing your own list in the comments section of this post might be a useful exercise to get you started. It was for me. It's easier to recall something than it is to create something.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

New feature: Fighting Talk

This is the first post in what will be a weekly reoccurring source of encouragement and inspiration for my readers. I've always found words to be incredibly powerful. Words have the power to destroy, or to build up, a person. When I need to be inspired, I look for quotes, or bible verses, and use them to build me up and protect me. I use them like a shield to block any negativity which comes my way. 

From now on, at the beginning of each week, I'm going to post on here some words to inspire and encourage so that you can shield yourselves against inner and outer critics, and begin your week with momentum.

This week's post


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

By William Henley

This poem by William Henley has become very well known. Famously, Nelson Mandela recited it to himself in prison when he needed to find strength. By posting this, I'm not being very original. I expect many of you have heard it before. If you haven't then I'm delighted to be the one to share it with you. I wonder, however, how many of you know the story behind the poem?

William Henley wrote this after losing his legs to tuberculosis. "Black as the pit from pole to pole" refers directly to his amputated leg and artificial replacement. In addition to this, Henley, by this point, had lost his entire family to the illness.

For me, knowing that this is the background to the poem gives his words additional power. If he can speak of an unconquerable soul after enduring such hardship, then so can I, no matter what the world can throw at me. This poem inspires me to keep on fighting, no matter what blows I take or hardships that fall on me. He inspires me to overcome depression, illness and the pressures of being a carer. Despite these obstacles  I will continue to fight to achieve great things. My head will be bloody but unbowed.