My friend, Malefi, posted the following quote by Albert Schweitzer on Facebook this morning;
”In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
This quote immediately made me think of my brothers Dan, Kurt, and Joe. I live several hundred miles away from all of them, but the four of us connect on the phone every Friday for what amounts to a manlier version of the Oprah Book Club. These weekly meetings have had a profound impact on my life. Knowing that I will talk with them every Friday about my spiritual struggles and aspirations keeps me accountable to what matters most in a way that goes far beyond what personal determination and will-power could ever help me achieve.
These phone calls are not always easy. Sometimes we have to juggle schedules around, make personal sacrifices in order to be available, talk frankly about our personal lives in a way that sometimes feels awkward and embarrassing, or simply fight past the laziness of not wanting to read 2 chapters every week on top of our jobs, family lives, and other commitments in which we’re all involved. But the committment has been worth more than gold.
In a speech given at the Philadelphia’s Youth Study Center, “Will Smith asked the crowd to think of the five people who are closest to them – and asserted that those “five people” define “who you are”. He said that you may not choose them to define who you are – but they do. If those “five people” are positive people, you will be a more positive person. But if the five people closest to you are negative people, you may need to consider their impact on your life. He agreed that people need to learn how to stand on their own but contended that they will eventually be part of a group. And everyone should bring their best to the group because everyone helps to define the group – and the group eventually defines everyone within it.”
I speak of tough-minded optimism and self-empowerment a lot. Sometimes that may convey the impression that being happy, positive, and successful is all about pulling yourself up my your own bootstraps. It’s not. Yes, sometimes we have to encourage ourselves when nobody else is around, but we also need a “band of brothers” (or Sorority of Sisters) who help us get outside of our own heads; a team effort that lifts us up beyond the narrow confines of our limited perspectives and comfortable habits.
If you’re serious about maximizing your potential, I encourage you to create, join, or participate in some group activity that surrounds you with people whose spirits are looking in the same direction as yours.
I’ve put up some pretty impressive efforts fighting my battles alone. But my greatest moments have been those times when a brother helped me to realize that the battle was all in my head and that there was never a need to do any fighting in the first place.
That’s my two cents for the day,