5 Things Financial Struggle Taught Me (Thus Far)

I’m not poor. Low income, I guess. Ever since I met Laura, the single, Mexican mom who was raising her four children on $400 bucks a month, I’ve known I wasn’t poor. I’ve even climbed my way above the Canadian poverty line, now that i’m a pill-maker by trade (the legal kind).

But I’ve struggled lately–partially because I still don’t make a lot of money, and partially because I dream big and publish novels, and partially because I’ve tried to look like I’m not struggling. Well, time to be honest. For the last six to nine months I’ve barely gotten by. Its one of at least four spells of financial hardship I’ve lived through–others included college and unemployment–and now that they’re passed I look back on them with a measure of pride.

Financial struggle is a hard taskmaster, but it does impart valuable lessons. Here are 5:

Never Give Up. I’ve often reminded myself that though things may not be comfortable, I will not starve. I may lose my job, my apartment, or my car, but I will live through it, and I will come through it stronger. One day, this will be a good story, so don’t give up.

Be grateful. Ingratitude will only dig the hole deeper. HECK YES! I dug my financial hole in part because I was materialistic, unsatisfied with the many good things i had. I’ve learned much about gratitude in the last six months, but I have a long way to go.

Being resourceful is like being a hunter, artist, and a mathematician at the same time. Fellow Mennonites may have the same pastime of cruising the grocery store, hunting for those pink ‘30% off’ stickers. This is how I bring home meat for my family. I hunt it!

I love the show Masterchef. In that show, the contestants are often given a ‘mystery box’ full of food items, and told to cook a gourmet meal with it. That’s a bit like shopping on a shoestring. Here are my odd items of meat and (eureka!) 30% off mixed greens. What healthful, tasty dish can I make from it? My meals are sometimes simple, but I’m proud of the healthy lifestyle my sister and I maintain on a tight budget.

It’s like being an urban survivalist, in a way, and it’s something to be proud of.

Ask yourself, “What can I do right now to help myself?” I lost my job in spring 2012 under bad circumstances. My confidence suffered to the point that when I tried to revamp my resume, I cried to my Mom “There’s nothing I’m good at.” And because she’s my Mom, she was able to list things off. Looking for work slammed my wavering self esteem over and over again. But, as my bank account dwindled, I forced myself to do something every day to find a job. Meanwhile, to pay the bills, I posted on Facebook that I was looking for odd jobs. I painted a lot that spring. I mowed grass. I took on casual work as a gardener. Every week I scraped together the money to pay my bills.

In my most recent financial hardship, I drew on this experience when I was low and desperate. I’d ask myself: “What can I do right now to help myself?” This translated to selling things on Varage Sale (any clothes I didn’t need, books I wanted to keep but I knew would sell, and even Christmas presents I didn’t like…sorry!), working overtime, and, once again, doing odd jobs.

Once again, by God’s grace and hard work, the bills are paid.

You can still do great things. Dreaming big can be expensive, but it needn’t be. I published Sons of Earth for about $600 bucks, for instance. I ran my first three 5K races in $80 dollar shoes, and cheap athletic gear.

In my city, Library memberships are free. Thrift stores are packed with cheap books. You can get free podcasts on whatever topic you want. This means you can get an informal, self-directed education for almost nothing. Sure, you don’t get a certificate on your wall, but you can study whatever your passions are and become a better read, better spoken, productive citizen without the approval of so-called experts.

You can give up a couple hours a week to volunteer with a church or organization, babysit your little cousins or neighbour kids, or visit the elderly. In doing so, you can leave a lasting impact on your town.

In the last financial struggle, it was impressed on me that this was a lesson, and I needed to learn. If I didn’t learn, this would keep happening, and happening, and happening. I needed to acknowledge my greed and materialism and swap it for gratitude. I needed to stop taking the easy way out, to work hard, and to be resourceful.

Above all, try not to worry. It’s not helpful.

The Bible says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27, New International Version)

Hitting the “This Sucks” Barrier of Half Marathon Training

Just in case I’ve scammed anyone into thinking I’m superhuman, I’d like to confess that I’ve had a series of lousy runs. Two bad runs this week (and one bad session of cross training and weight training). My seven-miler the weekend before I left for Mexico was good, but before that my runs were marked by general lack of pep. Today my legs were like lead for the entirety of my four-miler. Four miles isn’t supposed to be intimidating, but I was really hoping to set a challenging pace. No dice. I was just happy to finish.

Post-run, not looking good!
Post-run, not looking good!

Though, for what it’s worth, I ran Abe’s Hill (our local sledding hill) three times.

This may be perfectly normal, but I have no way of knowing because I’m a first-time half-marathoner. I’m guessing I’ve just plain pushed too hard. Why else would I, usually healthy as the proverbial horse, come down with cramps or headaches or colds every second week? Right now I’m kind of scared that I’m going to get to the half marathon and choke about half way through. How many bad weeks of training can I afford to have?

I’m going to have to research this one.

Meanwhile, full of fear and discouragement, it’s a challenge to pack the gym bag or look ahead to the next day’s run. You know, I have as my blog tagline “Life is a great adventure, or nothing.” In most of the great adventure stories I’ve read or watched on the movie screen, there is a low point, or a progressive downturn before the climax and the triumph.

For instance, today I was listening to leadership author and speaker Chris Brady tell the story of Sir Sidney Smith. Smith was a sea captain and a British spy during the Napoleonic wars. Imprisoned in the Temple Prison in Paris, in danger of being executed as a spy, Smith carved into the wooden ceiling of the cell these words (quoted here as best as i can remember):

“Fortune’s wheel makes strange revolutions, it must be confessed. But for the turn ‘revolution’ to be applicable, the turn of the wheel must be complete. You [speaking to Napoleon here] are as high as you can be. Very well, I envy not your good fortune for mine is greater still. I am now as low in the career of ambition as a man can very well descend. But let this capricious dame Fortune turn her wheel ever so little, and I must necessarily mount for the same reason as you must descend.”

Not much later, Smith escaped from prison. He was given a couple of ships and commissioned to sail to Constantinople. While en route, he stopped over in Acre, Turkey, and found the citizens about to be besieged by Napoleon himself. Smith had about 5000 men, once he’d recruited local Turks and fortified the tiny town of Acre. But with a load of daring an initiative (and apparently the ability to be almost everywhere simultaneously) Smith and his men repelled Napoleons army of 10,000 eleven times and eventually forced them to retreat. Smith got his revenge on Napoleon in grand style, and effectively ended Napoleons plans to capture the east for his own new empire.

It seems a little ridiculous to equate this with my own little journey toward running my first half-marathon. But it illustrates that for one, when you are at your lowest you can’t see what your high point will look like, and second, that an ordinary person (Smith was not technically an officer when he took command of his ships, and then the battle of Acre) can with courage and daring, do great things.

It’s been my prayer that if I’m going to pour all this time and energy into training, that my first half marathon wouldn’t be just about me. It would be a way to empower others and bring glory to God. And some way or another, that is going to happen. Right now, with my feet up and aching muscles, I can’t see it. I can’t see the finish line.

But I think… I think it will be worth it.

Hope for Those of Us Without a Degree

If you’re like me and never finished–or never started–your degree, and now feel like you missed the bus, I’d like to encourage you with this quote by business leader and author, Chris Brady:

“Those who deliberate, dilly-dally, hesitate, ponder, get bogged down in analysis, or have to be sure everything is perfect before taking action might do a very good job at what they do; they just don’t get much of it accomplished… It is almost always the go-getters who become the biggest leaders. To lead implies action, and leaders are people of action. There are usually people who have more talent, more time, more connections, more means, and more information than the leader, but the leader emerges to influence events because he or she takes action while others hesitate,” –Chris Brady, Leadership Lessons from the Age of Fighting Sail. 

I spent four months working with a gentleman with a masters degree in physics. His wife has her masters in mathematics. They are immigrants, and in the courageous way of immigrants, they took the jobs they could find so that they could begin a new life. So he is now a pharmaceutical coating operator like me.

But I do feel woefully undereducated, with my two-year diploma in Biblical Studies, when I compare myself to him. I’d love to have a degree–heck, in almost anything. In fact, I’d be a student for life it just paid better. But circumstances don’t allow that right now. Sometimes I get an inferiority complex because I don’t have the education, it seems, to do anything other than manual labour.

But there is something I do have: initiative. According to Mr. Brady, that’s a big part of being a leader. Initiative: something that doesn’t require a student loan, four years of school, or a certificate from the government. It just takes courage and action.

In a caveat, Brady says, “This is not to imply that all leaders are reckless or reactive–though some may be–but rather that leaders err on the side of decisiveness. Over time, the tendency toward action builds ability, so deficiencies of talent or means are eventually overcome.”

Or deficiencies of age, as I continually remind myself.

So, if you’re undereducated like me, take heart because, “There are usually people who have more talent, more time, more connections, more means, and more information than the leader, but the leader emerges to influence events because he or she takes action while others hesitate.”

By the way, can I just say that if you can get your hands on a copy of Leadership Lessons from the Age of Fighting Sail, do it! Anything by Chris Brady is worth reading, and this latest release is a thrilling way to learn leadership principles. If you are a history buff, you’ll love it. Find it at his blog, here.

Someone is Watching You (So keep going)

“No runs in a vacuum. There is always someone watching you leave the house, dig it out, come back, and do it all over again. You are being watched by a roommate, a brother, a spouse. The driver of every passing car. You are being watched by future generations. My grandmother ran in college! someone might say of you one day. My great uncle took it up in his 30s and ran marathons into his 60s! We are inexorably entwined within each other’s influence. You may run by yourself, but no matter how early you start, no matter how remote your location, you never run alone”–Mark Parent.*

What he doesn’t say, but implies, is that you are a leader, simply by being a runner. Someone, be it your roommate or the dog-walker you blow by on the bike path, is watching you sweat and hurt, and grow strong. Not all, but some will say “I want to do that too” and will lead healthier, happier lives because of it.

But don’t stop at running, because not all can run. Do you work hard? Do you help others? Do you chase your dreams with courage and ambition? Someone is watching. My aunt opened her own business when she was my age, someone might say, so why can’t I? My friend published a book, so I can too. My Dad worked hard and provided for us, and I want to be like him. “We are inexorably entwined in each other’s influence”.

I hope this encourages you like it did for me. It’s only January 3, but some of you may have broken your New Years resolutions. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. You just might inspire someone to do the same.

Also, a big thanks to those who’ve encouraged me lately by telling me how much they enjoyed my book, or that my posts have been an inspiration to them. You add spring to my step!

* “A Mile in His Shoes,” Runners World, February 2010.

Running and Reading, The Keys to Success?

Will Smith gives his two keys to success in life, and they’re gooders.  It’s a short video. Make sure to watch it.

 

Of course I love this video because I both run and read, and Will Smith just validated a good percentage of my existence.  But still…

Running

Even as an entry level runner, I’ve learned that running is as much a mental game (more?) as a physical one. First you overcome the voice that says “Its hot. It’s raining. My knees hurt. I want to sleep” and you lace up. Then as your legs grow rubbery and your lungs burn up in your chest, you shut up the ‘make the pain stop’ voice by saying, ‘I’ll run to the next corner,’ and then, ‘to the next corner’ until you’re home. When you finish a run, you build confidence and credibility with yourself. You did what you said you would. You conquered yourself. That compounds on itself. The negative voice becomes weaker as you continually shut it up. Conversely, it becomes louder as you let it win.

And you can do this all while wearing very tight pants.

Reading

Smith’s second key to success is reading. I doubt he means novels, though a solid novel can teach many lessons. You can learn almost anything by reading. I have a natural advantage here–reading comes easy. If you say ‘I can’t read,’ consider this. Tim Marks is a two-time best selling author, business leader and multimillionaire. He has dyslexia. He says, “When I read to myself, I would read it, and a moment later, I couldn’t remember what I had read. I couldn’t understand why the words looked as if they moved around on the page. I would struggle with the same word over and over.” As he entered the business world, his mentor, Orrin Woodward, told him he would have to begin reading or he would never make it.

So Tim began to read. He would read the book out loud to himself, and then summarize what he read, until he made it through the whole book. Eventually it became easier, still he says, “Three decades later, when I preach or speak at a leadership conference, I have to read from notes, and I still need to practice several times in advance to make sure that I understand the words so that they don’t jump around on the page. My reading still isn’t where it should be, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was!”

Reading is a learned skill. As a bookworm, I had to train myself toward heavier reading.  But reading from a wide range of books stores up a bank of knowledge: financial wisdom, people skills, technical knowledge and inspiration can all be found on the page.

So you can absorb the wisdom of Dale Carnegie or Plato while sitting on the toilet. Been there, done that.

Do you agree with Will? Would you add any other keys?

How to Make People Talk

I am told I would make a good interrogator.

The other evening, midway through a long shift at the factory, I joined a conversation between coworkers including one, rather eccentric, Russian gentleman.  “I didn’t realize this, but so and so can really talk,” one said, “He came to my house to borrow something, and he wouldn’t shut up.”

“It’s often like that. You wouldn’t suspect [my trainee] of being talkative,” I interposed, “But if you ask him about cricket, he’ll talk for an hour.”

“Cricket?  Like the game?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I like finding out what people like to talk about and then getting them going on the subject. You can learn so much.”

“Thats just what the KGB do,” the Russian gentleman said.

I stared at him.

“They get you talking about what you’re interested in, and before you know it you’re telling them everything.”

“That’s not why I do it!” I said in great alarm, “I do it because I’m genuinely interested in them.”

“But that’s what they do,” he insisted, “They interviewed me once.  They’d seen my school files.  They knew I like the sciences so they tried to get me talking about that.” He then launched into a diatribe on Einstein’s theories of relativity, and I was ready to listen attentively, but a coworker interrupted with a question for me.  That was the end of that.

Half an hour later, my coworker and I were sitting in our process room with the tablet coater running and nothing to do but monitor it. I had asked my coworker, a recent immigrant from India, about his native languages and how the looked written.  He proceeded to provide examples.

I had a view of the windows.  As I nodded and asked questions, the Russian fellow walked past.  He stopped and grinned at me.  Then he made wringing motions with his hands.

I giggled, and then had to explain the whole thing to my coworker.

It isn’t a psychological technique for me.  I don’t know any better way of gaining trust and building rapport, especially with someone whom I don’t naturally relate to.  As a trainer, I need the trust of my trainee–both to accept my teaching, and also to like me.  We spend a lot of time together. We might as well be friends.

Dale Carnegie said, “So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.”

‘If’ is Risk’s Purgatory

“Risk comes in all shapes and colors: bankruptcy, heartbreak, failure.  The alternative is a world without risk, without color, without knowing if you could have made that business work, if she would have truly loved you, if you would have finished that race or project or garden or painting or triathlon or… whatever.  If, in other words, is risk’s purgatory.  I know I don’t want to spend any time there.”  Georges St. Pierre

Don’t we all have these ‘ifs’ buried deep in our memories?

I have a business I tried to start.  I know I didn’t give it my best.  I was too afraid.  Every now and again I pull it from my memory vault, polish it up, and wonder could I have made it work?  Did I blow my only shot?

What IF?

In The Magician’s Nephew, the first of the Chronicles of Narnia, Polly and Digory come across a bell with this inscription:

“Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;

strike the bell and bide the danger,

Or wonder, till it drives you mad,

What would have followed if you had.”

“What if” is the purgatory of risk, as St. Pierre said.  If we, because of a lack of courage, take the easy road, we get to live with nothing but ‘ifs’ for the rest of our lives.  We live in a vaguely comfortable world without danger, but we become “cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” (Theodore Roosevelt).

It breaks my heart to see so many ‘cold and timid souls’ among my peers.  They’re too scared to commit to a relationship.  They’re scared to quit their job and go to school.  They’re scared to move out of their parent’s place.

Because what IF it doesn’t work out?

What if it does?

No joke: the world is a big scary place.  I’ve got to acknowledge that not all risks are worth taking.  The Georges St. Pierre quote comes after an explanation of his calculated risk.  In Narnia, Polly and Digory awake a wicked witch when they strike inscripted bell.  In other words, I’m not advocating ‘YOLO’ (though a little of that spontaneous spirit is a good thing for homebodies like me).

I’m reminding myself that fear is inevitable, but I need to look past the fear, or the complacency, or the discomfort, and make a calculated choice.  Then, when ‘if’ comes calling, I can at least say “it wasn’t worth it” not, “I should have tried.”

It may be as small as engaging your new coworker in conversation, even if his accent is difficult to understand.  That’s my adventure this week.

 

Doritos and the Disciplined Life: Guest Post by Malcolm Munroe

Socrates is credited as saying “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

True words, yet I’d like to expand on that and say “The undisciplined life is one barely lived.”

It is very important that we examine ourselves and come to understand who we are. It is crucial that we understand our lives and our character, our flaws and our virtues, our behaviors and motivations. If we are honest in our self-assessment, we will realize which of these things are good for us, and which of those things are bad for us. We will know what things we need to continue in, what things we need to improve upon, and what things we need to cut out completely. The need to examine oneself and arrive at this kind of self-understanding is urgent upon every person. It can be a daunting task, but it is one of the most worthwhile things that we can do for ourselves. A person is mature and wise who understands who they are and why they do the things that they do.

Self-realization is only the starting point.

However, self-realization is only the starting point.  It is one thing for me to realize that my habit of eating entire bags of Doritos is very bad for my health. It is one thing to realize that I have been justifying it by telling myself “I regularly jog. I probably just burn those extra calories off anyways.” (Both of these things are true, but I must admit that I have been slack in my jogging lately, but as steady as ever with the Doritos). What must happen now is that I must discipline myself and start getting into actually doing something about it. Self-examination will only take you so far. What’s needed afterwards is the steady step of discipline.

No builder supposes the work to be done when only the plans and blueprint have been laid out. I realize that my Doritos habit is incredibly unhealthy, and I realize they need to be either dramatically cut back or cut out entirely. I understand that I must start telling myself when enough is enough and stop taking that ever-so alluring second helping (Or better yet, to refrain from eating Doritos entirely). The same applies with jogging. I know that I have gotten a bit out of shape, and that my running times have been 1-2 minutes off their usual mark. If I want to get back to the pace where I was before I started getting lazy, I simply must get out and start running again. It may be a while before my times get back to where they were, and it may be even longer until I get strong and fast enough to surpass my personal bests, but in order to do so, I must get out and run step-by-sweaty-step.

Discipline doesn’t procrastinate

Thus self-examination is merely the place where we begin. The real value begins when we take that first step. Discipline does not put things off for “tomorrow”. Once we’ve understood what it is we must do, the time to begin doing it is now. Want to get more exercise? Start now. Want to read more regularly? Start now. We want to be less self-centered? Resolve to do more for others and by all means start now. For me to get back into running and stop eating junk, I must start now. The walk will be hard, and the way will be difficult, but if we are to truly make the most of our lives, there is not a moment to waste.

 

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Malcolm Roulette (Malcolm Munroe) is an aspiring Actor and Hip-Hop musician. He currently resides in Steinbach, Manitoba. Originally from Split Lake, Manitoba, he is a recent graduate of Steinbach Bible College, and is currently Co-Chair of the Board for Mid-way Christian Leadership based in Thompson, Manitoba. You can check out his music at “HipHopGeronimo” on Soundcloud, or search up “Geronimo (Rapper)” on Facebook.

Will You Tolerate What You’ve Created?

“Never be satisfied as a drone worker, just showing up and going through the conveyor-belt routines you’re taught. In any position, always be looking for things to improve. And never, ever compromise your moral standards in the name of ‘Everyone is doing it.’

Are you uncomfortable with anything you see at your workplace or in any other position in which you serve? What should you do about it? Why do you think so many people just go along with wrongs they see happening every day?” –From Wavemakers, by LIFE Leadership.

This passage troubles me. In fact, the sheer weight of it makes me want to curl into a ball in the corner. Don’t put this on me! Don’t saddle my integrity with this! Don’t you see I’m doing the best I can?

There’s a lot that goes on in my workplace that I don’t agree with—from teasing that goes beyond friendliness to signing for work that hasn’t been done.

It actually takes work to work an honest eight-hour day because the culture is to waste the first and last fifteen minutes in visiting.  You mean we actually work at a factory? It’s not a social club? It takes concerted effort to do a good job because people are so accustomed to accepting ‘good enough’. I should never have to ask the question “did you actually do this, or are you just saying that?” But I do.

I’m not saying I’m perfect—far from it. This week I’m nowhere near my usual cheerful self, and holding tight to my integrity is a daunting task. I’m struggling to stand. How hard can I push for excellence without breaking relationships? I don’t want to be a legalistic taskmaster. I just want to do a good job.

This really bothers me because I am weak right now and I wish my coworkers wouldn’t make things harder for me—unintentional though it is. I don’t have the energy to pick a side in their political games, or discern whether they really calibrated the scale or they just filled in the numbers.

Do I say ‘No, I will do right,’ or be washed away by the current?

This quote offers some insight.  It’s not exactly on topic, but read it through the lens of your workplace and I think it will make sense.  Edward Snowden said:

“If living unfreely [sic] but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept—and I think many of us are because it’s human nature—you can get up every day, go to work, you can collect your large paycheck [sic] for relatively little work against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows.

But if you realize that that’s the world you helped create and it’s gonna get worse with the next generation who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression, you realize that you might be willing to accept any risk and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is so long as the public gets to make their own decisions about how that’s applied”–as quoted in Wavemakers.

He was talking about national freedom. I’m talking about personal freedom, job quality and heck, the jobs we wish we could work at. The job we have—the culture, conditions and general attitude—is what we have helped to create.  Whether by commission or omission, our workplace is what we’ve made it.

We want a supportive, inspiring, positive environment. We want fulfillment and advancement. We want freedom. But who will create that if we don’t?

Who will shine bright if I won’t?

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can,”—Sir Sidney Smith.

Are You a Poser?

Today, on a whim, I walked into the sports store and tried on running tights.

All I wanted was to find shorts that would stay up on my non-existent hips. Running is hard enough without having to hike your pants up every two minutes. But the young lady who was helping me assured me that I wanted compression tights.

Let me digress to say that I’ve only been running for two weeks. I like it, but I have no inherent talent for it. This is the latest evolution in my fitness revolution (which seems to involve doing things I swore I’d never do).

running poser

I donned a pair of pants that could have been painted on, and peeked my head out of the fitting room. “Is this how they’re supposed to fit?” I asked the clerk.

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.” She looked me up and down. “Wow, your legs are so strong! Do you, like, do weight training besides your running?”

“Umm…” A moment of awkward silence passed.

See, I have legs like a speed-skater. As my Oma says, some people are just built to be Clydesdales. And though three months of lunges, squats and the like have certainly toned them up, well… I probably haven’t ‘earned’ them.

“No,” I said. There was no sense in lying. “I’m a rookie at this, really. I’ve been doing
calisthenics, or whatever, for three months and I just got into running.”

When she left I did a couple of jump-squats in front of the mirror and struck an athletic stance. Heck, clad in Under Armour, my legs did look pretty amazing.

You’re such a poser, I thought as I walked out of the store without the seventy-five dollar tights. You’ve been running for two weeks. Two weeks!  This isn’t the first time I’ve thought this.  Almost every time I go out for a so-called run, I feel like a fake.  I’m just not good enough to be called a runner.

But is that true? Am I a poser?  Or am I just a beginner?  There’s a difference, right?

Because I can’t help it that I can’t run 5 kilometers. Sure, I let myself get this out of shape, but now that I’ve begun I’m working as hard as I can. I’m following my program with military precision, and I can honestly say that today I pushed myself to my physical limit.

Doesn’t sound like a poser to me.

I often feel like a poser when I call myself a writer, as well. After all, I don’t even have a published novel—yet.

But am I committed? Yes.

Orrin Woodward said:

Most people can identify what they want, some will even check out what type of commitment it would take to achieve it, but only a select few will apply the first two steps consistently in order to pay the full price. It’s not lack of talent or a lack of time or a lack of opportunities that deny a person success in the West, rather, it’s the lack of a singular focus on what one truly wants. A person must be willing to surrender who he is to become who he needs to be in the quest for significant success. This is a price that few are willing to pay.

A fake runs only when it’s sunny, and only as far as it doesn’t hurt. A poser writes only when there’s inspiration, plays the piano when there’s time, is a loving friend when it’s convenient—insert whatever end you’re trying to achieve. But if you are paying the price, you’re no fake. You may have a long ways to go—like I do (don’t I know it!). But you’re a beginner, not a poser.

I suspect that I will look back on myself, six, nine months from now, and laugh at my feeble efforts at running–writing for that matter. But it can’t be helped. I must suffer through the first few weeks of Couch to 5K to make it to the real running. I must hack out a hundred blog articles, and a couple novels in hopes of hitting the really good stuff.

So let’s be patient with each other, okay? We’re just getting started.