Keep Going!

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to speak for many Chambers in Texas. Several years ago I spoke for a Chamber of Commerce event in Killeen, Texas. It was their annual rewards gala, with more than 600 in attendance. In the front row was a distinguished gentleman wearing dress blues with three stars on his shoulders.  

After my presentation, the gentleman came up to my wife and me and introduced himself as Gen. Don Campbell, commanding general of Fort Hood. He wanted me to know about a challenge faced by the Army, and all the services for that matter. Suicide! 

He said that every 65 minutes a solider commits suicide, and he asked that I come and share my message with the troops at Fort Hood. One month later, I stood in front of thousands of troops, with the presentation also being broadcast over the base television. What an honor, while at the same time an awesome responsibility.

As I looked out over the wave of army fatigues, I began to focus on the faces of men and women, some of whom who have served multiple terms overseas. According to Gen. Campbell’s assessment, there were many in that audience who were considering ending their lives – hopeless and with no confident direction.

Perhaps some of you reading this article today feel the same way. You may not be ready to take your life, but you have lost hope in the direction you are headed. Your company is locked in a downward spiral; your marriage is crashing against the rocks; you, or a family member, are battling the beast of drugs and alcohol, and your financial position is deteriorating daily.

Here is my message:

Your life has a plan and a purpose. No matter how challenged you are at this moment, you will get through the challenge. I used to think that life was a roller coaster, but now I believe it’s more like a railroad track where we encounter tunnels. Each time we enter a tunnel, if we look for wisdom we come out much stronger. Just keep moving, like the words of the Rodney Atkins song (lyrics borrowed from Winston Churchill): “When you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Define your support group, and stay close to them. I’ve often said “isolation equals desolation.” When you’re down, stay away from those who keep you down. Control your environment, control your friends, and choose the company of those who build you up. Do not sit alone, focused on your problem.

Monitor your self-talk. I have found that many people set themselves up for failure by programming their brains with negative talk. I’ve heard people say, “I will never amount to anything,” “I can’t believe I am so stupid,” “I will never get out of this situation.”

Your words control your brain, and your brain controls your action.

I hear people constantly use the word “hope.” “I hope this business works,” “I hope my marriage works,” “I hope this challenge will go away.” Change the word “hope” to “expect” and immediately feel the endorphins kick in. I’ve read enough in the area of positive psychology to understand that the brain will perform in the way you program it.

My friends, life has an endless supply of tunnels, some short and some long, but tunnels nonetheless. I work hard in between the tunnels preparing my mind for the next one. If I feed my mind with great words from books, if I keep my inner circle filled with men and women who have vision, if I work to stay strong in my faith, the tunnels become shorter. 

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