As a shy, low-key copy editor for a Cleveland newspaper, the last thing Robert Manry appeared to be was an eccentric risk-taker. But the guy harbored a phenomenal dream of retracing the immigration route of his European ancestors to America—so, he set his sights on sailing from Falmouth, Massachusetts, to Falmouth, England. For less than a few hundred dollars, Manry purchased a thirty-year-old sailboat that measured only thirteen and a half feet in length. He spent several months refurbishing his little boat and practicing his sailing skills on Lake Erie to prepare for his voyage. To avoid hearing discouraging words from any naysayers, he only shared his plans with his wife. On his day of embarkation on June 1st, 1965, Manry kissed his wife goodbye and set sail on the 3,200-mile voyage. He tied himself to his boat, in case he encountered rough seas that threatened to toss him overboard—which turned out to be a wise precaution, because he was thrown from the sailboat, several times, by storm-tossed waves.
To make matters even more difficult, he had to stay awake at night to avoid entering the shipping lanes. With his sleep limited to daytime naps, he became delirious and exhausted, yet still he sailed onward. Seventy-eight days later on August 17th, he sailed into the harbor at Falmouth, England to a reception of over twenty thousand people who had heard about his remarkable feat. Because of his outstanding achievement, one U.S. congressman submitted a bill to place Bob’s boat, "Tinker Bell," next to Charles Lindbergh's aircraft "Spirit of Saint Louis" in the Smithsonian Institute. When asked why he would attempt such an incredible challenge, Manry simply answered, "There comes a time when one must decide either to risk everything to fulfill one's dream, or sit for the rest of one's life in the backyard."
Within the heart of hearts resides a deeply held yearning to experience a quest so intensely profound that it makes one feel exquisitely alive. But experiences of that caliber, more often than not, come on the tails of great sacrifice, if not a breathtaking encounter with terrifying uncertainty. Bob Manry’s did! Would you be willing to take a risk of that magnitude to act upon your vision and dreams? Would you be willing to ignore the pessimistic “we’ve never done it that way before” crowd—and set sail in pursuit of this wonderfully daring and dangerous adventure called life? Or as Manry put it, will you simply be content— yaaaaawn—with “sitting for the rest of your life in your backyard?”
People throughout history, who have left their footprints in the sands of time, were driven by a passion greater than their desire for personal comfort. They were much more concerned with standing out than fitting in. You may possess great potential, yet fail to move past good intentions—unless you are willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone to experience the exotic fullness of successful living. Go for it!
Life can be challenging at best. Just about the time you get one area of your life going smoothly, another one jumps off the rails. It’s like a jungle out there, teeming with good, bad, and ugly surprises lurking around every bend. The sooner you stop fighting what life is throwing at you, the sooner you can ease into graceful living, where your life is filled with inner peace, joy, and gratitude.
Living with grace takes the pressure off living. You don't have to constantly prove that you’re a worthy person. Grace means you can allow yourself and others to fail, without experiencing a major crisis each time life doesn't go the way you expect. Grace is one of the most refreshing, yet mysterious characteristics of the Divine. It means that God simply accepts you exactly as you are. Receive this wonderful gift and pass it on. Grace is for giving and forgiving. Forgive yourself when you fall short and forgive others when they fall short as well. Healing begins with grace. Accept this precious gift!
Reflect on the relationships in your life. Do any fences need mending? Is there someone you need to forgive because they failed to live up to your expectations? Have you heard that expectations are future resentments? Exchange your expectations for aspirations. When you aspire for others, rather than expect them to do something, they neither lift you up nor let you down when they don’t come through.
Do you need to forgive yourself for a past failure? Have you been too judgmental of yourself? Begin today to give and receive grace in your own life. This is not a resignation that you are doomed to fail. Instead it is a resolve to allow your failures to be springboards for personal growth. Live by grace.
Connecting with others provides one of the greatest sources of joy. Yet, to experience this joy you must be willing to risk the pain of being hurt. The willingness to be vulnerable requires a great demonstration of courage and the thought of doing so sounds risky. Yet, the greater risk is choosing not to do it. When you allow your walls of protection to come down, you’ll begin to radiate a positive embracing energy, which encourages others to let down their own walls.
Look into the face of someone who has little or no walls of protection. What do you see? The words you use to describe this person are the same words you would use to describe the experience of peace. When you are willing to be vulnerable, people will feel safe around you. You will give them permission to let down their guard and completely express their love in return, perhaps for the first time. The word intimacy has been described as, “in-to-me-see.” Are you willing to allow others to really see you, blemishes and all? By doing so, you will inspire them to let down their guard with you and truly be seen as well.
Find at least one person with whom you can connect and let down your guard. Choose someone you trust who offers encouragement, acceptance, and honesty. Share your deepest feelings with them, as you invite them to share theirs with you, in total confidentiality.
Develop genuine friendships by regularly investing your time with others, intensely listening to them to deepen and nurture the relationship. Next expand your circle to include a community of others who share your desire to connect. This will provide a great opportunity for you to see and be seen.
The Spanish Cellist Pablo Casals is considered to be the pre-eminent cellist of the 20th century and one of the greatest of all time. Throughout his lengthy career, which spanned more than 81 years, he was known for his virtuosic skills, consummate interpretations, and flawless musicianship. He performed solo, chamber, and orchestral music, in addition to composing and conducting symphonies. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. In 1971, at the age of ninety-five, he performed his "Hymn of the United Nations" before the United Nations General Assembly. Casals inspired harmony across the globe with both his cello and his quiet, gentle demeanor.
During his career, he was known for his relentless commitment to practicing and improving his skills. After the Germans were driven out of his country in 1944, when he was 67 years old, he wrote a friend, “Now that the enemy has been forced to leave, I have resumed my practicing and you will be pleased to know that I feel that I am making daily progress.” When he performed at the U.N. at age 81, a writer asked him why he continued to practice four and five hours a day. Casals answered, “Because I think I am making progress.” When he reached the golden age of 95, another writer asked, “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Again, he answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” His continual striving to learn reflected his modest approach to his art and is the key to the secret of why Casals appeared to keep getting better regardless of age.
You are never too young or old to learn something new. Learning keeps your brain stimulated and growing throughout your life. It’s never too late to start doing what you want to do—creativity and innovation don’t come with an expiration date. You’re never too old to accomplish your dreams, so don’t wait—get started now. Here are some tips for helping you learn at any age:
On September 2, 2013, at the age of sixty-four, Diana Nyad completed a heroic feat of both endurance and human willpower, when she emerged upon the sands of Key West after swimming 111 miles in fifty-three hours, from Cuba to Florida. Nyad carried three messages with her on that dangerous journey through shark-infested waters, which she relayed to the awaiting crowd upon her arrival:
People around the world cheered her on, inspired by her irrefutable determination to be the first person to conquer the historic crossing without the aid of a shark cage. Her amazing triumph was especially meaningful because it culminated a thirty-five-year journey—inspired by four crushing failures on previous attempts through those same dangerous waters, only to be foiled by injuries and inclement weather conditions. At one point during the journey, she began vomiting because she had so much salt water in her system and was shivering incessantly from the cold. She even sang lullabies to help her relax as she kept repeating her mantra Find a Way, which became the title of the book she wrote to recount the experience. Within the depths of her darkest moments, she clung to the thought: "You don't like it. It's not going well. Find a way."
Endurance is essential for anyone who sets their mind to be successful—whether it is to win a race, start a business, build a great relationship, or achieve any big courageous dream or goal. It reflects both your mental and physical fortitude to withstand something highly challenging and to do something difficult for a long period of time. When you have endurance, you are confident that you can handle the consequences of life decisions and are willing to “find a way” to stick it out. One of the biggest reasons people fail in any great endeavor is because they don’t have the endurance to keep pushing through after they fail. And most of us fail…and fail…and fail again. Success is always to be found on the other side of failure.
You develop endurance every time you withstand the temptation to give up. It is not when you’re at the top of your game that you discover your best self—it is when you’re pressing your way through the darkest moments that your true strength emerges. How do you build endurance? Purposely push yourself each day beyond your comfort zone, both physically and mentally. Start developing qualities now that will train you to succeed when difficult times arise. With endurance, you’ll be able to find a way to survive anything that is asked of you.
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