Episode 80: Turn Weariness Into Awareness

Are you truly aware of areas of life that need your talents, your voice? Do you ever wonder how our world became so disrupted? In this episode Jimmy shares three strategies to turn your weariness of the world into awareness of hope.

Episode Keys

  • Seeing and hearing the differences of people with whom you come in contact to be interpreted as their experiences of life and not a condemnation of your own actions.
  • The importance of focusing on others and not simply communicating your own agenda.
  • How the value of life can be increased by acknowledging the contributions of charity and hope by others. To accept a philosophy of “Others Before Self” is truly a better way of life.
  • Why the human brain is pre-programmed for us to seek meaningful relationships with our fellow man.
  • The adoption of a sociological approach portrayed in the TV series “Star Trek” can be a valid basis for peaceful relationships in our world.

Podcast Transcription

Have you been aware of what’s taking place in our world today? In 2020 we have seen many destructive acts come to life. We’ve seen beautiful cities, many of which I have been before and really loved the history of these cities and the cultures that they portray turned to ruins. But there’s a better story. There’s a story behind the destruction that could be most powerful and positive if we just know how to look and interpret the story.

Hey, good morning, I’m Jimmy Williams, your Live a Life by Design host. Here to help give you the Monday morning moments of motivation that give you a bigger, better, and bolder outlook on the days ahead. You know if we simply look at and keep the past in our mind of 2020 we’ll never reach our potential. It is my belief, and I may be wrong, but I don’t think I am. It is my belief that everyone focused on the pandemics’ negative results will take years before they actually see their potential. But if you would take this moment, open your mind to what I’m going to help share to you today about how we could take weariness of the world, turn it into awareness of the people around us and then realize bigger dreams. We can then realize a more peaceful existence.

I want to share today with you a few stories that have come to mind during this time of pandemic. During this time of the most destruction that I recall in my lifetime, and I’m 55 years of age. But I have not seen the types of dismissal of individuales, destruction of property, and an almost attempt to change the way of life that we hold so dear in this country of ours. People across the globe now have suffered tremendously from the negative impact of this horrible virus. To couple that with the trade wars and anarchy being stricken on cities across the country here in the United States, we see this being one of the most horrific years for the people in our country.

But I’ve got good news. The good news is, is that this is a time in which means it’s temporal, which means that it will soon pass and how you learn and interpret these acts of today to help build a better tomorrow will be the challenge. You know my dad, 81 years of age, celebrated his 81st birthday while in the intensive care unit of a major hospital in our cities. I’d call him nearly everyday and try to cheer him up. All he was doing was sitting in a room with white walls, white ceilings, white floors, talking with people that couldn’t touch him. The doctors, nurses, therapists. Our own family could not even be in the room with him due to the devastation of this virus. As my father’s mood began to turn from his normal jovial self, even though he didn’t feel well to one of nearly a depressive state, I began to worry even more.

It wasn’t just his physical man that was giving me concern. No, it was also his spiritual and psychological being that gave me even greater concern. You see, man has a powerful brain that can help heal of times that of illness if we maintain the right attitude. I’m a firm believer that you can think yourself into being healed if you have the right attitude. But I do want to say he is out of the hospital today, and been out now for about a month. But he was in the intensive care unit of this hospital for over 27 days. Now I don’t care who you are, that is a long time when you’re not feeling well, when the doctors don’t really know how to solve the problem and your family members are not there to keep you cheered up and motivated to get well. It is a difficult time. But now, if you could see him, he’s still not 100%, he suffered from double pneumonia and what they thought might have been Covid, but they never positively identified it as such. But the pneumonia had hurt his lungs significantly. Now at home, he’s walking around his yard, he can’t walk very far or he gets winded. But he is enjoying the cool breeze of the air as we go into fall. He’s enjoying that sunny sky above him, and I assure you, there are no bright white walls in their home of which he stays.

So, my point to all this is to say that he’s now found a new awareness to the environment around him. He and I talked after he got home, and I said, ‘Dad, what was it like being in that room by yourself?’ He informed me, through a series of stories that he felt helpless and hopeless even with some of the greatest physicians and nurses and therapists gathered around him. What caused him to feel this way was that there was no change in his environment for such a long time. There was no change to the helpless and hopeless feeling that he maintained in his mind for that 27 days. Now I understand many people have been in hospitals before, but if you had your family with you, or you had someone that you loved by your side during these difficult times, it would probably be a little easier to weather the conditions. But what happened is his mind became so aware and then became weary that he couldn’t find hope at the end of that tunnel. As he struggled to find a means to gather his mind around what was taking place, to adjust himself to a temporal feeling, in other words these times will truly pass, he’s told me that phrase as a young boy I don’t know how many times in my life. This too shall pass. But at that instant, 27 days was more than he could comprehend. A combination of the treatments he was receiving, the loneliness he was gaining, and then the ability of depression striking his mind, it was more than a human could bear.

He actually turned 81 on his birthday on the hospital ICU Unit. So just being the man that I am, I said, ‘Dad it is a wonderful day, this is your happy birthday’, and I sang happy birthday to him on the phone. Now, it’s not the same as being there in person. But here’s what I’m trying to reveal to you. I said to him, Dad, I can’t believe that it’s, you know, it’s your birthday, I’m sure they have it in your chart that it is your birthday cause they ask you all these personal questions in the hospital. And I said, I’m guessing that they brought you your favorite cake for your birthday. You could have heard his voice as a pin would have dropped in the silence first. And he kind of cleared his throat a little, and he said, Son, they brought me green jello.

Now, he said, in a little bit of humor, he said they might as well call the funeral home, they have brought me on my birthday green jello. Who in the world eats green jello on their birthday? So I started laughing a little bit, and he finally began to laugh with me, but at the point he was making is, you know his expectations for just a small change in his series of never ending days, of poking, prodding, testing, and then the dreariness of being alone was enough to say that green jello was the icing on the cake, if you’ll allow me the pun, so I want you to think today about the types of awareness we have in our lives.

You know, to many people being aware may mean simply that they are keen to the activities occurring around them. You know, this type of awareness that I’m speaking of today is directly related to the people in our communities that may need a helping hand. Not a hand out. These may be families that are struggling due to the recent economic events of our world. Perhaps there are people that are coping with a sickness, or even worse, the loss of a loved one. The big thing here is, is that the late philosopher Stephen Covey taught me an approach to relating with my fellow man that has served me well for more than 30 years of my career. He simply said this, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

You see, too many of us are so aware of what we wish to communicate, we’re not listening or being aware of what’s around us. To be fully aware requires active listening by all parties. In the events of today, too many people are shouting their principles and demands with such disregard of others beliefs, thoughts, and cultural traditions that it is almost oppressive at that time. So soon after the people remarked that the differences caused them to literally despise, or dare I say it hate one another. How did we get to this point in our great country, or even this world, that a difference of opinion must demand that we have disdain for our fellow man.

When did we become so obsessed with our points of view that everyone else’s points of view are simply ignored or considered disrespectful because of the diversity of opinion? Well, I want to share with you today these three strategies of becoming less weary about life and more aware about life.

The first strategy to regain your awareness of others is to quit focusing on your own agenda and truly listen to others. In these modern times, most of us are too focused on the life we wish to lead that our concern for the well being of others is limited or non-existent. It reminds me of the time I met a gentleman for the first time that was so worried about his own introduction and story of life that he failed to allow any other person at the table to even speak. It was almost as if he was making a speech that was not requested by those in attendance.

After a few minutes of his puffery, I began to be embarrassed for the gentleman and looked about the table. The other guests began to look down at their laps, glance at their watches, or simply move their utensils around at their table setting. After what seemed to be 15 minutes of continuous speaking, the gentleman finally resigned the fact that no one was listening. At least I wasn’t. I immediately noted the break in his diatribe and asked questions of the other guests. The responses were a foundation for deeper discussions about others and their histories of life. Immediately the entire table with the exception of one person, you can guess who that is, began a robust conversation that involved the entire table of eight people.

Placing the interests of others before ourselves brings to mind another venture of a friend of mine, whose name is Mike. Mike is a creative and selfless individual who gives of his time to charity and others in a way that many of us could never accomplish. He just simply has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen in my life. The name of the charitable and benevolent recognition program is called “Others Before Self”. Individuals submit the names and actions that warrant a small bracelet that states, “Others Before Self”, a certificate and a letter personally signed by Mike that someone cared and noticed the selfless act that was reported for the nomination of the award. What I noticed about myself was interesting after that. I immediately began paying more attention to the people around me to find individuals worthy that I could nominate for this award. It was a remarkable feeling to hear from people in our community that received these awards and then they would call me to offer thanks.

Well, one of the key comments given to me from these thankful individuals was, ‘I never thought anyone paid any attention to the acts I perform for others’. People don’t perform these big hearted acts to be recognized with a small token of appreciation. But it seemed as if that bracelet, that certificate, that letter of recognition from Mike was like throwing gasoline on a fire. These individuals gained greater awareness of needs and contributed even larger amounts of time and energy to serving others.

Ray Dalio, the famous founder of Bridgewater Hedge Fund, created his principles for a successful life in his book titled, Principles. One of the most empowering of his principles is that we should understand that people are wired very differently. Man, what an understatement that is. What Dalio means is that meaningful work and meaningful relationships aren’t just nice things we choose for ourselves, they are genetically programmed into us. Neuroscientists, psychologists, and evolutionists agree the human brain comes pre-programed with the need for an enjoyment of social cooperation. The meaningful relationships we get from social cooperation is also integral to the effective work we perform in our daily lives. It is one of the defining characteristics of simply being human.

And if we truly wish to connect with people, through awareness, it starts with an attitude. John C. Maxwell in his book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect provides a foundational approach to relationships and understanding that applies here. Maxwell says the ability to connect with others begins with an understanding of the value of people. And so I’m reminded, let’s talk about how we connect now. Just for a few moments. But I’m reminded of the story from the same book. It’s a pretty funny story. But it talks about people connecting. And in that story, it’s about Jorge Rodriguez, an old west bank robber from Mexico who operated around the Texas border, on or around 1900. And Rodriguez was so successful that the Texas Rangers established a special force to try to stop him. Well, late one afternoon, one of these Rangers saw Rodriguez slipping across the border back into Mexico and trailed him at a discreet distance. He watched as the outlaw returned to his home village and mingled with the people in the square.

When Rodriguez went into his favorite cantina to relax, the Ranger slipped in and managed to get the drop on him. With a pistol to the bank robbers head, the lawman said, Jorge Rodriguez, I know who you are. I’ve come to get back all the money you have stolen from the banks in Texas. Unless you give it to me, I’m going to blow your brains out. Rodriguez could see the man’s badge and could discern his hostile intent, but there was a problem. He didn’t speak English. He began speaking rapidly in Spanish, but the Ranger couldn’t understand what he said because he didn’t speak Spanish. There was truly a disconnect. Just then, a young boy came up and said in English, I can help. I speak English and Spanish. Do you want me to be your translator? The Ranger nodded. The boy quickly explained everything the Ranger had said. Nervously, Rodriguez answered. Tell the big Texas Ranger that I have not spent a cent of the money. If he will go to the town well, face North and count down five stones, he will find a loose one there, pull it out and all the money is behind there. Please tell him, quickly.

The boy looked back at the Ranger and said, Senor Jorge Rodriguez is a brave man, he says, he is ready to die. So, the moral of this story is simply this. You need to connect with people in a way that everybody gets the word out correctly and everyone is heard appropriately.

The second strategy to look out for others in our community that may not possess a powerful voice. Much of the distention experienced in the world relates to the lack of understanding of the needs and desires of people. I’m convinced that some leaders are just too controlling and become dictators. Some leaders that are democratically elected, but take the country in which they lead in a direction not in the best interest for the majority of its citizens. A lack of listening creates a rebellion by the masses that causes significant damage to their cities when a better dialogue could be struck that allows all voices to be heard. Where is the awareness of their plight? Proactively seeing others around you is a talent that must be learned. The fight, flight or freeze response is a human survival skill in our brains that often becomes evident in times of disagreement.

Why must we assume physical disruption and damages are required to create the attention of being heard in this world? What would be accomplished if we pulled together as nations and created a harmonious world in which all people could enjoy life on their own terms? I am not referring to an imposition of their own lifestyle on others, but rather an economic and environmental space where all people could live in peace. And just a sidebar, one of my favorite songwriters of my lifetime was John Lennon. I would disagree with John on a lot of philosophy of life, especially on my religious beliefs, but I can’t help but be drawn to his song, Imagine, now think about the lyrics of this song. I’m going to read the first couple of lines of these lyrics, but I just really believe he hits on a note of finding common ground with our fellow man. Becoming keenly aware of those that may not have power but are powerful in heart.

The song says something like this:

Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try.
No hell below us, above us only sky.
Imagine all the people, living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.
Imagine all the people, living life in peace.

Man those are some powerful words from a gentleman who sought peace with everyone he met. Only to be gunned down by one of his biggest fans in front of his entire apartment in New York City. I have visited the brownstone where he was living at the time he was murdered. I have visited his Strawberry Fields Forever park inside Central Park, and often wondered what would the world be like today had the peaceful tones of John Lennon continued far into the years of his age when he was old. As admirable as his goals were for this song, I’m not certain if we looked back over these many years that we’ve achieved the goals of peace. I am reminded that one of the greatest TV series in my lifetime reflects the adaptation of existence in peace with all nationalities, ethnicities, and even species. And that series was Star Trek. I hear what you’re saying. I’m an old Trekkie from way back. I go back to the original series where you had the Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner and so forth.

But remembering the 1960s program, the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry, and boy was he ahead of his time. The starships crew consisted of many different types of personnel. The smooth function of the ship was not based on wealth or power, but rather each person contributing their talents to maintain travel to unknown destinations in far away galaxies. We could learn a lesson or two from the series when it comes to human relationships. First, allow yourself to hear others who may not be screaming but rather whispering their needs or opinions. There’s an old, old commercial, when I was a lot younger, maybe it was back when I was in undergrad school in the early 80s. And I’ll never forget it was a brokerage firm by the name of E.F. Hutton. Their entire commercial was based on the premise that when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. If only we had that power given to each one of us as individuals in this world, perhaps we’d have far less crime and we’d have far less destruction. But just because we hear something we do not understand or agree with does not mean that we are instantly transformed into enemies of the person speaking.

I am not certain where this kind of rationale comes from. But in this day and age, whether it be a belief on how we should treat the environment, or perhaps it would be an election. Or how we look at our politics as a whole. It seems that even though we disagree on just a few items, it is so vitral the language received back when you announce your belief and it counters someone else’s that immediately a relationship evolves that is one that is negative. Find the common ground that exists between you and the people you are talking with. This is the place where powerful thoughts and ideas are nurtured and grown. So, the first two ideas of strategy is simply this, be proactively listening. Take your agenda and put it on the back burner and listen to the agenda of others with you. And the second strategy is simply this as well, look out for those that are not able to speak with a powerful voice in our community, to be aware of all inputs from all people.

And the third thing to gain awareness in your community is this, to gain awareness in the world is to act in a manner that is inclusive to all people of different cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities. The current chant we hear in our world is that diversity inclusion is the plan for integrating all people in thought. And I agree with the premise, but wonder if the desired results will be obtained without true compassion with our fellow man of different beliefs, thoughts and backgrounds. I have been fortunate to be raised by parents that taught us all mankind should be respected based on their contributions to society and not their nationality, creed or ethnicity.

I have learned tremendous lessons of life from people who seek only to share this world in peace with their fellow man. To sum up the inclusion acceptance of all people, I recall a poem by Colleen Hoover titled, “Acceptance”, it reads like this. “Be accepting of everything. People’s difference. Their similarities. Their choices, their personalities. Sometimes it takes a variety to make a good collection. The same goes for people. Maintain your values, but open your mind and heart to be understanding and empathetic to people of different backgrounds than yours.”

Man that is powerful. The challenge for this week is to start each day with the mindset that you’ll be different than the world. That your actions will be worthy and spreading kindness, understanding and empathy to those in need. You may be weary for a moment, but don’t be weary in doing good. For at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up. Focus on the needs and words of others in our communities. Look out for areas to serve that will bring relationships about that need that deep understanding. And become the person whose actions attract people of all walks of life to interact with you, and create bonds of understanding. We should all strive to become more aware of the world and work toward peace, kindness and positivity to all people. And until next week, look around you. Be aware of all that’s going to take place. Be a contributor of kindness, and live your life, by design.

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