Friendship

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Friendship is essential to the soul.  Regardless of how independent you think you are you’re going to need at least one good friend to survive in this world.

But what is a friend?

At it’s core, a friend is a someone who has your best interests at heart. Regardless of whatever situation you’re going through, you can always rely on your friends to help pull you through. A true friend wants you to succeed in all areas of life.

There are friends of mine that I’ve known for a couple of years that are just as special to me as those I’ve known for over a decade. Every friendship is different because I’d like to think that each friend fulfills a different purpose in my life.

A friend is bold enough to tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it. A person who agrees with everything you say isn’t a real friend, but a yes man.

A friend’s behavior should be consistent in public and private. In other words, if someone is talking negatively about a friend in your presence then you should immediately put them in their place. If not, you’re clearly a fake friend.

Cherish and nurture your friendships. As you grow older, your friendships should grow in their level of maturity. Challenge each other to do better. If you find that a friendship is becoming stagnant or too one-sided then cut if off. You should never have to force someone to be a friend.

I think it’s appropriate to conclude this post with the scripture Proverbs 27:17. For it paints a fine picture of what friendship looks like.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

 

 

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Today presents a slew of opportunities for you to chase your dreams and make a difference. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve done. Don’t harp on your own personal shortcomings when it comes to assessing your ability to do good.

Make the most of every moment you’re presented with because your time on this earth is precious. One day you will leave this physical world and stand before God to give an account of what you did with the time he gave you. This life isn’t designed to be lived for your own selfish means. Instead of chasing worldly pursuits, use your time to make a positive difference in as many lives as possible. Love others hard, and by love, I mean share with them the love of God. Treat others as you would like to be treated even when they make it difficult. Love your family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else.

Take chances even when those around you think you’re crazy. Life is too short to not spend pursuing your passion. You don’t want to waste your younger years toiling in mediocrity at some dead-end job. But even if you’re doing so, be sure to dedicate your free time to working on your passion. And if you find yourself chasing a dream into your 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s then my advice to you is to not quit. Keep at it with the same vigilance of a 20-year old. You may even fail, but guess what? Most successful people have failed at something. Learn from your mistakes, brush yourself off, and try again.

Love God with all your heart and soul. This doesn’t mean living by a legalistic set of expectations. You may mess up. You may lie, commit adultery, or even kill someone. Well I hope no one reading this ever commits murder, but you get my drift. Whatever the sin, ask God for forgiveness, change your ways for the better, and get back in the race. Serve God faithfully in your local ministry. Read your bible and seek to understand the scriptures. Pray daily and ask for God’s wisdom in those situations that weigh heavily on your mind. If you don’t know God ask him to come into your heart right now. Talk to God about everything, the good and the bad. He knows your thoughts from a far off anyway.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can be a Christian and still live an exciting life. There is nothing dull about Christianity.

Live your life in a manner that will leave a legacy for generations to come.

Every action you take, big and small, is another building block that will go toward creating the person you’re destined to be. And it all goes back to how you use your time. Use it wisely.

 

Discipline Your Gift

Jay-Z. Stephen Curry. LeBron James. Kendrick Lamar. Drake. Taylor Swift. Shawn Michaels. Ric Flair. Michael Jordan. Kazuchika Okada. Hulk Hogan. Steve Jobs. Satoshi Kon. James Joyce. Michael Jackson. Charles Dickens. Virginia Woolf. Hayao Miyazaki. Bryan Danielson. Nas. Stephen King. Prince. Bishop TD Jakes. Kirk Franklin. Jushin Liger. Dwayne Johnson. Steve Austin. Mamoru Hosoda. Rey Mysterio. Akira Toriyama. Kevin Durant. Tim Duncan. Kobe Bryant. Leiji Matsumoto. Madonna. Beyoncé. Hiromu Arakawa. George Clooney. Leonardo DiCaprio. Ice Cube. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Dusty Rhodes. Sean Penn. Kanye West. Johnny Depp. Janis Joplin. Julia Roberts. Nicole Kidman. Satoru Iwata. Shigeru Miyamoto. Billy Graham. Eminem. Ghostface Killah. Elvis Pressley. Bill Gates. Pablo Picasso. Rihanna. Jack Kirby. Stan Lee. Christopher Nolan. CeCe Winans. Jimi Hendrix. Vincent K. McMahon. Shania Twain. Randy Savage. Walter Cronkite. Coco Chanel. Kenta Kobashi. Truman Capote. Edgar Allan Poe. Ernest Hemingway. Bret Hart.

I could go on and on, but the one thing that every name on this list has in common is that they are and were some of the very best ever in their respective industries.

The only difference between them and your regular run of the mill athletes, actors, actresses, artists, musicians, writers, designers, developers, directors, tech gurus, and religious figures is that they disciplined themselves enough to work their God-given gift to perfection.

Discipline is the key in all of this. The world is filled with talented individuals who never take the time to sit down and perfect their gift. Talent means nothing without discipline. Train your gift to the point where you can do it better than anyone else. Only then will you be able to add your name to the list of greats.

You Matter

 

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Everyday you awake is a gift from God.

Whether or not you realize it, you’re an answer to someone’s prayer.  You hold the solution to their problem.

You have everything inside of you to make a great impact on the people in your environment–the students you attend school with, the members of your church, or the people you work alongside. You were born with an innate talent that has the potential to bring you before great men. You may not become president of the United States or the leader of a Fortune 500 company, but you have the power to make a difference in the lives of many.

Love your family and friends. They depend on you more than you realize.

Never take your life for granted. It matters. You matter.

PS: I’ve used the word you fourteen times in this post. To whoever is reading, this post was specifically written with you in mind.

Kill The Laziness Seed Before It Grows

As a writer, I can attest to laziness being the main culprit behind my lack of productivity. Most pieces of writing advice I read say it’s imperative to write on a daily basis even if it’s nothing more than jotting my thoughts down in a journal. But laziness holds me back from writing a single sentence on most days.

Although my writing has been most affected, laziness has seeped into nearly every area of my life. Sometimes I’m too lazy to pray, exercise, or iron my clothes.

I must get this monkey off my back. Success won’t just fall into my lap. My book will never be written until I put in the work. My coworkers and family members won’t be blessed until I put in the time to pray for them.

For any readers going through a similar scenario, I encourage you to kill the laziness seed before it grows any further. Determine what mental/spiritual roadblocks are hindering you from living a productive life and cut them off at the root.

There are people in your world who need to see your greatness and your laziness robs both them and you.

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

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It’s human nature for us to always assume the worst in everything. Let’s take a look:

We’ll never be on time.

Something will go wrong with my presentation at work.

My children will never get their act together.

I never have enough money.

Let’s see what happens when we frame these statements in a more positive context:

I can be on time for work.

My presentation at work will go fine.

My children do have their act together.

I have enough money .

These sounds much better, right?

The words we say on a continual basis play an instrumental role in shaping our worldview. Instead of speaking and living as though the deck is stacked against you, begin living as though everything is rigged in your favor.

Am I saying that it’s easy to transition from negative to positive speech? Heck no! Will your positive speech automatically fix everything? Of course not.

But if I have the option to speak positivity or negativity into a situation then I will always choose the former.

 

Moving Forward

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It’s currently 12:45 am ET as I write this. I want this post to serve as a reminder to everyone grinding toward their dreams. No matter how far behind you think you are in life, don’t give up. Every morning you arise is another opportunity to reach your goals.

Don’t be concerned with those around you that belittle your ambition. Eventually they will be the ones watching from the sidelines as you cruise to victory.

The race is not given to the swift, but to the one who endures. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to get to the finish line. Just get there.

Outside Your Comfort Zone is Where the Magic Happens

 

It’s amazing what can be achieved by taking risks. We live in a world where we’re conditioned to conform to a standard set of rules for just about everything.

We go to school, graduate, and maybe go to college or technical school to earn an advanced degree. We get a job in our desired field and work until retirement. We watch the same television shows, eat the same food, hang out with the same coworkers, sit in the same seat at church, and generally try not to do anything outside of our safe zone.

On a bigger scale, we often do what others think is best for us, or what comes easy, instead of what is best for our own personal growth.

I’ve spent most of my life playing it safe in so many areas. Sometimes I’m scared that pushing myself to try new things will result in me having to work harder or look plain stupid.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by one of the ministers at my church to participate in our Easter Sunday skit. I mainly stick to ushering duties at church. My thought process is to stick with what I know best.

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I answered yes since the minister is someone I greatly respect. I was a bit hesitant, but I wasn’t going to flat-out refuse. Though I was a little uncomfortable when I started attending practice, I found myself getting more into the role and started having fun. Well, the big performance was yesterday and I nailed it!

Multiple church members congratulated me on my performance following service. I never knew that acting was something I’d enjoy so much.

As I was leaving, I bumped into another church member who told me that I seem to thrive in situations that force me to go outside of my comfort zone. I never thought of myself in this manner. I think I’m quite the opposite, but perhaps their words were conformation that it’s time I stray more outside of my creative, professional, and spiritual boundaries.

In what ways have you been able to step outside your comfort zones?

Chase Your Dreams

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I spend a lot of time writing about dreams on this blog. Not the actual dreams you experience while sleeping at night, but the short and long-term dreams you wish to achieve someday.

I feel it’s my duty as a blogger to inject some level of hope and optimism into my writing.  If someone takes the time out of their busy schedule to read my blog then I owe it to them to write something that will make some kind of an impact on their life.

Dreaming is such an important part of life. No matter how big or small, you should always be striving toward something. My eventual dream is to write a book. I’m not exactly sure what kind of book it will be, but I do know that it will be inspirational in tone to some extent. Every encouraging blog post I write gets me closer in that direction.

If you don’t have any dreams then I encourage you to grab a sheet of paper and jot down three things you’d like to accomplish. Keep it practical, but don’t be afraid to launch out into the deep. Then begin working to mark each one off your list by a set time. Putting a timeframe on your dream is crucial as it will help you remain focused in reaching key benchmarks along the way.

Don’t let another day pass without working toward your dreams.

Embrace Your Flaws

This world is full of phonies. Far too many people are concerned with being a carbon copy of others instead of embracing their individuality.

You were created as a one-of-a-kind being, flaws and all.

Speaking of flaws, now is a good time to discuss retired WWE superstar AJ Mendez Brooks, better known to fans as AJ Lee. In her new autobiography, Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules, Mendez Brooks goes into ample detail about living with bipolar disorder.

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“But the interesting thing about flaws is that they truly are in the eye of the beholder. Weaknesses can turn into strength with just a simple shift of perspective. One day I made the choice to stop throwing myself a pity party. I would embrace what society taught me to shun. What was once my shameful secret was now going to become my secret weapon, she writes.”

She elaborates further.

“When I harnessed its seemingly uncontrollable might, I realized bipolar disorder’s powers could be used for good. My diagnosis didn’t have to be an affliction. That is the gift that being bipolar gave me. I used my gift to take myself from being homeless to being an athlete and entertainer on international television.”

You may think there is something wrong with you because you don’t look or act a certain way. What if you were created this way for a reason. The very flaw you think is holding you back could be what elevates you to a higher level of living.

How are you making your flaws work to your benefit?

As Mendez Brooks writes, “embrace your ‘crazy,’ your ‘weird,’ your ‘weakness,’—the things that others will mistake as flaws but will end up being your greatest strengths.”