During the first few years of our marriage, my wife Christian and I experienced some very difficult financial hardships, which dictated the state of our mindset. I had a startup business that was drowning and we were struggling to make ends meet. We were in a very deep, dark financial hole and we couldn’t see any way out. The more we tried, the deeper we went. Then, one day the unthinkable happened—the electricity got turned off for non-payment.
That day I had to take a wash-up in the sink with a freezing cold gallon of water from the refrigerator. I sat on the floor in front of the bathtub and cried like a baby. I screamed up to God and asked Him why? I asked Him was that all He had for us; was that all that life had to offer? Deep down inside, I knew the answer was no, and that was all the shimmer of hope I needed. From that day forward, I made up in my mind that our lights would never be turned off again. I made up in my mind that I would do everything within my power to change all of the financial problems we faced. And, I did. Of course it wasn’t overnight because the problems weren’t created overnight. But, the key is: I made my mind up that we wouldn’t struggle anymore. We changed our perspective about our problems. Instead of seeing them as problems, we used them as stepping stones to financial freedom. Instead of allowing them to kill us, we allowed them to motivate us.
[ctt title=”When you change your perspective about problems, your whole life will change. That is the only way to overcome your problems.” tweet=”When you change your perspective about problems, your whole life will change. That is the only way to overcome your problems. @cortneyssargent” coverup=”02Pbq”]
Whether the problem is with your personal finances, marriage, family, business, job or a combination, you change the trajectory of your life. It doesn’t matter how big your problems are; what matters is what you choose to do about the problem. Life is going to happen every single day and I promise you that it won’t all be nice. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do about it. Instead of focusing on the 10%, focus on the 90%.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Will you choose to sit back and dwell in self-pity and apathy, or will you choose to step up and take your life back? Make life worth living, instead of living by default.
If you’re not happy and don’t have joy in life, you can change that. If you don’t like your situation, you have the power to change your situation. But, you can’t change your situation if you don’t know what the reality of the situation is.
I was recently talking about some issues that plague the black community and I submitted that the problem isn’t really the problem; the real problem is the mindset. He followed up by asking me a very good question: how do you think people in the Black community can change their mindset?
Well the answer is simple, but the application isn’t. In order for anyone of any race to change their mindset or lifestyle, they must be INSPIRED and INFORMED. When someone is inspired to do something, it ignites something on the inside of them that makes them want to do different than what they’ve previously done. What I want to talk about today is the second part of that solution- being informed.
Being informed is the first step to real, lasting change. You can change your mindset, your money, living situation and entire life – but it all starts with being informed. You may still be living the same lifestyle as you were 5 years ago because you haven’t been informed about anything different.
I can’t explain this in depth like I’d like to right now, but I will at a later date. For now, take this for example: If you go to the doctor he’s going to ask what’s wrong. When you tell him that you’re hurting, he’s going to ask where. Why does he ask questions? Because he can’t help you if you don’t INFORM him of what’s specifically wrong with you. If you don’t tell him where you’re hurting, he cannot help you. Of course, he can guess, but that will relegate him to giving you solutions to problems that don’t exist. And, that’s what many people do: try to fix stuff that’s not broken.
Instead of running from the issue, address it head on by acknowledging it and applying a solution. Quit putting band-aids on your wounds. Instead, tell THE doctor what’s wrong so He can apply the correct solution to your ailment.
Even though you may not like your current situation, whether it is your finances, business, church, home, school, or marriage, you need to accept it for what it is. That’s the first step to making it better. How can you get out of debt if you have no idea of what’s on your credit report? You can’t. How can you become financially free if you never answer the creditors phone calls? You can’t. How can you have a better marriage if you don’t sit down and converse with your spouse? You can’t.
Here’s my final piece of advice on this Motivational Monday: Don’t be afraid to face the truth. And, sometimes, that truth may not be as bad as you’re making it out to be. But, there’s only one way to find out…
What’s green in your life? When you don’t take care of a pool or fish aquarium, algae grows, bacteria gets in the water and eventually it turns green, or even brown. To get rid of that algae, you must treat the water with chlorine and pool shock. Depending on how contaminated the water is, it can take several days for the water to clear up. In order to keep algae from growing, you must take care of it on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.
Our lives are the same way.
[ctt title=”When we don’t take care of certain things in our life, algae grows and our water turns green. What’s green in your life?” tweet=”When we don’t take care of certain things in our life, algae grows and our water turns green. What’s green in your life?” coverup=”02Pbq”]
Is your marriage contaminated? When was the last time you took your wife on a date? When was the last time you appreciated your husband. At your wedding when you said “I do”, the real dating started at that moment. Never forsake being friends with your spouse; this is what keeps the fire burning.
Is your family life turning green? How much quality time are you spending with your children? Right now your children need you more than ever; don’t ignore them because you’re too busy. How about your other family members? Don’t be so occupied with work and life that you don’t call those family members that you don’t talk to often. We’re all busy and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. I know you’ve said before that you don’t have time to do something. The reality is though, you DO have time, you just choose to do other things with it. Make time for what’s important.
How about your finances? Is your bank account green? What are you doing today to get you and your family’s finances in good shape? Set small goals and take small steps toward fulfilling those goals. It’s not impossible; you just need to adjust your mind-setting from I CAN’T to I CAN.
Finally, has your spiritual relationship become contaminated? Again, yes we’re all busy but you must make time to spend in your Bible, meditation and prayer. There’s an awesome 5-day Bible plan I read a couple weeks ago that I’d like you to check out. It’s called The Lies of Busyness: Devotions From Time Of Grace. It’s very challenging and straight-forward. It has encouraged me to make spending time with God a priority. This really hit home for me and I’ve found myself reading the plan over and over. Here’s the link.
What’s green in your life? This week, I want to encourage you to start the maintenance process to get you water clear. Get rid of all that algae and make your water blue, again. It may seem impossible, but it’s not. YOU GOT THIS! Be encouraged and have an AWESOME week!
Today’s motivation is about using up your deposits. I’m not sure who wrote this analogy, but I find it POWERFUL and it really gets the point across. Allow this to motivate you today!
Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. What would you do with that money? It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. You can’t go to the ATM and just withdraw all of it out. You must slide a debit card in order to use the money. What would you do? I’m sure you would swipe that card until every penny of it is gone, wouldn’t you? I mean who wouldn’t, right?
Each of us have such a bank. It’s called TIME BANK. Every morning Time Bank credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night whatever amount of this you’ve failed to invest for a good purpose, it writes off as lost. There’s no carry-over balance and you can’t use the ATM. It allows no over draft. Each day there’s a new deposit for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. You’re responsible for the loss.
There is no drawing against tomorrow. You can’t take out a loan. You can’t put it in a CD. You must live in the present on today’s deposit of time. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, success and great relationships. You can’t just go to Time Bank and withdraw all of it out of the ATM; you have to use your debit card and put your time to good use. The clock is running!! Make the most of today. Don’t worry about tomorrow.
What are you doing today to get to the next level? Many people set goals and creates plans but they never put them into practical action steps. It’s not enough to plan; you must activate the plan by putting it into action. Otherwise, you’re just a good planner.
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask a wife who’s waiting to see her husband get off the plane coming home from Iraq.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And, treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with. And, remember time waits for no one! Every night Time Bank account deletes the deposit for today.
Don’t waste one second of your life. Ready? Set? GO!!!
One of the most popular butterflies there are is the Monarch butterfly. If you see a butterfly, most of the time it’s a Monarch. Its wings are black, orange, red and sometimes a little tan. The Monarch is a very fascinating creature. It goes through a metamorphosis that is very similar to the transformation we as humans undergo on our journey of success. There are 4 stages for the Monarch butterfly and I want to talk about them and draw a comparison to the stages and metamorphosis we go through in life.
STAGE 1: EGG
Adult butterflies lay eggs on the leaves of plants so that when the eggs hatch into caterpillars they can feed on the plants. Female butterflies lay a lot of eggs at once because not all of them survive. Butterfly eggs are very small, about the size of a pinhead. When you were born, God gave you a purpose and a gift and throughout out He gives us ideas. These ideas are eggs that will one day birth our dreams. You must appreciate the days of small beginnings and not get discouraged because they will grow into something great.
STAGE 2: CATERPILLAR (LARVA) – THE FEEDING STAGE
When butterfly eggs hatch they become caterpillars. The job of the caterpillar is to eat as much as possible because it is preparing for its next stage in life. As the caterpillar grows, it goes through another phase; it splits its skin and sheds it about 4 or 5 times. Food eaten at this time is stored and used later as an adult. Caterpillars can grow 100 times their size during this stage. Remember, the size of the egg is about the size of a pinhead. But, within several week, the caterpillar will grow up to 2 inches long. At the end of this stage, the caterpillar will shed its skin for the last time and go into the pupa stage/cocoon.
SATGE 3: PUPA/CHRYSALIS
When the caterpillar is fully grown and has stopped eating, it becomes a pupa, also called a chrysalis. It’s shaped like a little kidney bean and depending on the species, the pupa may hang under a branch, hidden in leaves or buried underground. The pupa of many moths is protected inside a cocoon of silk.
The pupa stage can last from a few weeks, a month or even longer. Some species have a pupal stage that lasts for up to two years. In this stage it may look like nothing is going on, but major changes are happening on the inside. Rapid growth takes place in this stage. They develop their legs, wings, eyes and other parts of the adult butterfly. All of the eating the caterpillar did will provide energy for the mass amount of growth in this stage.
STAGE 4: ADULT – THE REPORDUCTIVE STAGE
The adult stage is what most people think of when they think of butterflies. They look very different from the caterpillar. The caterpillar has a few tiny eyes, stubby legs and very short antennae. The butterfly has long legs, long antennae, and compound eyes. They can also fly with their wings. One interesting fact about the butterfly is that the only thing they can’t do is grow. It does all of its growing in the caterpillar stage.
My motivation to you is to seize the moment. Just as the caterpillar eats and grows in stage 2, we also must learn and grow in stage 2. Because there’s going to come a point in time when we have to execute. There’s a time to learn and there’s a time to DO. Seize the moment right now and learn everything you can and take advantage of every opportunity at your fingertips.
Don’t wait for the “right time” to DO when you’ve been stuck in neutral for so long. NOW is the right time to DO and EXECUTE. You don’t have to know all of the steps to get started, but you do have to get started in order to get the ball rolling and be successful. At this point in the game, the NEXT step is the right step.
Again, the caterpillar’s job was to eat; the adult’s job is to mate and lay eggs for the next generation of butterflies. Most adult butterflies live only one or two weeks, but some species hibernate during the winter and may live several months. Butterflies can fly two to three thousand miles. Every stage in your life has a specific purpose. There is something that you must learn at every turn in life. It may be an easy lesson; it may be a difficult lesson, but if you don’t learn it, it will always come back around. In school, you learn the lesson then take the test. But, in life sometimes you must fail the test in order to learn the lesson.
DON’T USE LESS IS MORE AS AN EXCUSE
You’ve heard the saying that “less is more”. Well that could be true but there are some requirements and prerequisites. First, let me say this, sometimes we take that saying and use it as an excuse why you’re not doing something or why you don’t want to do something. For me, it was exercise. I made up in my mind that instead of exercising 7 days a week, I would only get in 3 good days of workouts. Less is more right? Instead of stressing about trying to workout every day, I would only try to do 3 days. But, the problem with that logic was that I used that as an excuse why I didn’t want to workout every day; I wasn’t even doing LESS right. I didn’t even fully commit to doing the 3 days of workouts.
Less only is more only when it is done right – with efficiency and sufficiency. You can do something with the less is more in mind, but if you don’t do it right, it’s in vain. If it’s not done with sufficient effort and drive, you’re wasting your time. Everything that you do should be done to the best of your ability. Don’t slack off just because you’re doing less; you should actually give even more.
DO THE RIGHT THING
Entrepreneurs always want to do less work and be more productive. Well that only works if you’re doing the right thing. First of all, you can’t expect to get great results with little effort. People want to be successful but don’t want to put in the man-hours it takes to get there. People want success but don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices to get there. People want success but don’t want to make the required personal character adjustments to reach success. You can’t expect to have something that you didn’t earn.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS
I often see posts and hear people talk about becoming wealthy in a short amount of time, getting rich from working at home for 2 hours. I’ve seen people post screenshots saying they earned $12,352.12 in a matter of hours. I’m not saying they’re lying but what I am saying is that there’s no way that you can put in $50 work effort and get $12,000 results. It just doesn’t work that way. Now being gifted and talented at something is different. I’m gifted at graphic design. I can design a logo in 45 minutes and $250. But, you better believe I’m gonna put everything that I have into that logo design. It’s not strenuous work because I’m gifted at it; I’ve done it long enough that it doesn’t take long to do. My point in saying all of that is that you must put forth the work and effort to get the results you want. There are no get rich quick strategies– if there were I would know about them. There are no shortcuts to success– if there were I would’ve already taken them and told you about them. If you’re going to do less, make sure that you take more time and put in more effort to making it excellent.
LESS IS JUST AS IMPORTANT
Don’t be guilty of having the mindset that says: Just because I’m not doing as much I can give less effort. Just because I’m doing less, what I’m doing is less important. That’s wrong! Just because you’re doing less, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Sometimes the less is more important than the more. Just because you’re the janitor at the company doesn’t mean you have less value to the company than the CEO. Sure the CEO has greater responsibilities but if he doesn’t have someone to clean the bathrooms and empty his office garbage can, the bathrooms would be musty and his office would look like a pig pin. You are important!
In 2015 I will be releasing my 2nd published book. This book is nothing at all like my first.
Stuck In Neutral: How to Achieve Success by Living in Drive will be nothing like any other book you’ve ever read in your life. It’s wisdom, knowledge, insight and Biblically-based principles will change your life forever if you apply them to every area of your life. Its core message is that anyone, anywhere can achieve success and “live in drive” if they take personal responsibility for their life, put forth Level-10 effort and have undying determination and faith.
Everything that I have written in this book is what I have learned through my life’s struggles, trials, tribulations, successes and victories. If you take these principles of success and apply them to your life, I guarantee you that you will be successful and fulfill all your lifelong dreams. “Stuck In Neutral” is a self-help and personal development book. However, it’s not regurgitated, recycled self-help information you’ve heard from the majority of motivational speakers. These are principles of success that took me from college dropout to award winning graphic designer, national radio host, published author and serial entrepreneur.
This book differs in that this is self-help from a Biblical standpoint. In the book I’m not explicitly quoting scriptures in each paragraph, but I do make reference to several specific scriptures. This is my personal experience- these are the principles that have personally help me to become the man I am today. My prayer is that it will help other people find themselves and help them live the life God created them to live.
In this book you will learn how to:
- Identify your gift and discover your purpose
- Believe in yourself and build “God-confidence”
- Maximize your greatest asset – YOU
- Use failure as an opportunity to learn and grow
- Overcome fear, and more
Stuck In Neutral will be released January 2015. It will be available as a hard copy and as an e-book everywhere that books are sold. In the meantime, visit www.LivingInDrive.com.
At the end of the day when you lay your head down on your pillow, you are the only one who’s responsible for the outcome of your life. Strive to make adjustments, not excuses. LIVE LIFE IN DRIVE!!