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Speaking of Motivation . . .

Why I'm NOT Proud to Be An American

by Jeff Joiner - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

 

 

There isn’t much you hear about more frequently these days than what people claim to be proud to be . “Proud to be Irish!” “Proud to be an Aries!” “Proud to be black!” “Proud to be white!” “Proud to be Jewish!” “Proud to be gay!” “Proud to be from Texas!” “Proud to be a woman!” and the ever-so-popular “Proud to be an American!” (I’m sure you can hear the song playing in your head right now . . . “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free . . .”). If you want a glimpse into all of the different things people take pride in, do a Google Image search on “proud to be.” You will be amazed at all of the different kinds of pride you’ll find.

Personally, I am not proud to be any of those things.

I am proud of my accomplishments, and I am proud of my family and friends when they accomplish things.

I am not proud (or ashamed) of anything I can’t control, and certainly not proud of where I was born or the makeup of my DNA.

I am not proud of the color of my skin. (Which, by the way, isn’t white. If your skin is white, you have a serious medical problem. Based on the Sherwin Williams color palate, my skin, depending on the season, fluctuates between Glazed Pears, Almond Brittle, and Golden Ecru).

 

My skin is the color it is. Just like my eye color, and my height. I didn’t choose those things and can’t control them. Being proud of any of those things would be foolish. Thinking that any of those genetic variables made me superior to someone else would make me at least arrogant and delusional, if not outright evil.

I’m not proud to be an American either. I was born in the United States, just like my parents and their parents were. This doesn’t make me better than someone born in another country. It does mean, according to the law, that I am an American citizen. In my case, that is nothing to be proud of. It just is. I had nothing to do with that. Now, my friend Lorena, was born in Mexico. For her to become an American, she had to apply for citizenship, wait for months, pay a large fee, and take a test! She should be (and is) proud that she became an American!


In my case, I’m not proud to be an American. I am thankful that I’m an American. The United States isn’t perfect, but it is a great nation. It’s the freest, most prosperous, and most giving nation in the world. Even the poorest Americans have a far better lifestyle than millions of people in many other countries. I am sooooo thankful that I was born here, but I’m not proud of it.

It may not sound like much of a difference, but it is. If you are proud of your nationality, it is a simple thing to slip into feeling superior to people born elsewhere. If you are proud of your skin color, you are an inch away from feeling superior to people whose skin color is different. Racism, xenophobia, and sexism all start with people feeling the way they were born makes them better than the way others were born. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t.

Being proud of things you had nothing to do with and can’t change makes you more sensitive to criticism; more likely to take offense. It keeps you focused on the past, the one thing no one can change. Pride in your achievements and how far you’ve come on your personal journey lends itself to a future focus. Success breeds more success, and over time you build strength and resilience.

So, I recommend you steer your pride toward good decisions you’ve made, character traits you’ve developed, and things you’ve accomplished. Be proud of that stuff.

I’m proud, for example, of the skills I have developed over time with hard work and determination. I’m proud to have started and grown several businesses. I am proud of my relationships, many of which have taken a lot of work from both parties! I am proud of my parents for keeping their marriage intact for over 50 years. I’m proud of my wife when she repeatedly puts others before herself. I’m proud that she and I have found ways to make a difference in the lives of others and have pursued that path through many setbacks and obstacles. I am proud of my kids when they show courage, or kindness, or grit, or work hard in the pursuit of a goal.

These are the kind of things I recommend you take pride in, because that kind of pride is rooted in character and good behavior, and leads to the further development of both.

So, it’s ok if you love America. I do, too. A lot. But, mostly I recommend being grateful that you live in such a great country. I know a lot of “proud” people who are deeply unhappy. It’s been my experience, however, that gratitude and happiness always go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin.

In these times when kneeling has become so popular, maybe it would be worth a few minutes to take a knee and thank God for your blessings. Then get up and start working hard for a life you can be proud of.

If you do, I’ll be proud of you too.

 

 

Where Do You Stand On the Kneeling Drama? (see what I did there?)

by Jeff Joiner - Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

The nonsense going on right now on NFL sidelines has caused me to engage in some deep thought (which I usually try to avoid). Personally, I would never kneel during our national anthem and I, frankly and simply, have little respect for any American who does. But, what I have been thinking about is, why should I even care? Why should I care what some people I’ve never met do or don’t do while that song is playing? It’s got nothing to do with me. The obvious answer is: I shouldn’t care. The fact that I’ve let this “controversy” affect my emotions, occupy my thoughts, and distract me from the things I’m trying to accomplish in my own life is foolish.

But, that’s not the part that’s got me thinking deeply. It’s the logical extension of that simple realization. If I shouldn’t care about what these athletes do before the game, it stands to reason that I shouldn’t care about what they do during the game either. Those activities have nothing to do with me or my life either! Why am I wasting my money, and something even more valuable, my time, watching, cheering, following, agonizing and analyzing how well other people play games? These sports and their players add no real value or richness to my life. In fact, they are clearly a distraction from accomplishing my financial, spiritual, and relational goals.

That’s my realization:  It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter who wins and loses. It doesn’t matter who’s in first place or last place. It doesn’t matter who stands or sits. It simply Does. Not. Matter.

It’s all just entertainment. It’s just another “reality show,” with manufactured drama designed to give viewers a little temporary thrill. It’s a simulated battle, eating up the minutes and hours of my life when I should be fighting the battles that DO matter for me and my family.

These self-important “protesters” have triggered a kind of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” epiphany in me, where I’ve realized that watching sports religiously, wearing other people’s jerseys, getting upset when “my” team doesn’t win . . . is stupid.

And, worse than being stupid, it’s dangerous, as the arbitrary, imaginary affiliation I feel for “my” teams (the Lions, the Wolverines, the Tigers, etc.) distracts from the fact that, in reality, I really do have MY teams (my family, my business partners, my clients, my neighbors, and my faith community).

So, I’ve decided to take a break from watching sports. All of it. I’m out. I’m not protesting or boycotting, maybe just growing up a little. I’m going to take those wasted hours and invest them in reading, writing, coaching, laughing, working, serving others, exploring, growing personally, building my businesses, and loving my family. I really think I’d rather be the star of my story than a cheerleader in the lives of strangers on a football field. I’d rather win my own battles than pretend I’m a winner when my favorite teams win.  

I’m sure this is not the reaction the NFL players and owners were looking for. And, if enough other people wake up the way I have, they are in big trouble.

I’m not writing this to be preachy or judge how you spend (or waste, or invest) your time. I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish with your life, or how it’s going. In my case, I have HUGE goals and a long way to go!

Feel free to share this and/or to join me in thinking through what really matters to you and evaluating how well your time and energy align with those goals. If you have a big goal you’re working on in your life, please let me know.  I will support you and cheer for you in any way I can.  Cheering for YOU makes more sense to me than cheering for athletes on TV.


 

Just Keep Moving

by Jeff Joiner - Thursday, May 01, 2014

After 45 fairly sedimentary years on planet earth, I have decided to start running.  My wife has been running for a few months, and is feeling (and looking) better than ever.  She ran in a 5K race last weekend and had a great time.  All of this has inspired me, and like a fool, I decided to enter a 5K race with her that is one month away.  So, for the last 5 days, I have left my house and ran.  Guess what I have discovered?

Forrest Gump I am not.  I hate it.  Really hate it.  It combines some very unpleasant things like physical pain and a discouraging lack of proficiency.  I have been running a path around a pond in my neighborhood and back home - probably a third of a mile.  The first day, I had to stop running and walk to catch my breath 8 times.  The next day I had to stop 7 times.  Today - 4 times.  So, I'm making progress, but it still sucks.  I burst through the door each time huffing, puffing, wheezing, and groaning so loud that it literally frightens my children.  

But you know what I am liking?  The metaphor.  My staggering, stumbling attempt to be a runner is just like some of the other challenges I am facing in my life.  Challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable.  Situations and relationships that cause substantial pain.  And, I'm not talking about temporary discomfort like burning lungs or a hamstring cramp.  I'm talking about real pain.  "I'm not sure I can get through this" pain.  Deep, emotional, heart-wrenching pain.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  I bet you do.  

Here's what the pain in your life has to do with running.  You really only have two choices:  Quit or Push Through.  It would be a lot easier to stop running and get back on the couch.  But the psychological and spiritual toll that quitting extracts is far worse than any physical pain I'm going to endure.  So here are a few things I've learned in my first week running:

  • Just keep moving.  Running is better than walking,  but walking is better than stopping.  Keep some level of momentum, because objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
  • Measure your progress.  I've been timing my "runs."  The first 5 trips around the neighborhood pond took me 10:56, 10:32, 10:08, 9:50, 9:26.  I'm getting faster every day.  Seems like only a little bit, but I'm 12% better than I was on Sunday.  (What are you 12% better at than you were last week?)  Progress creates hope.
  • A few of these mornings have been really cold.  I only notice the temperature, though, when I slow down and walk.  The faster you're moving and more you're focused on completing the task at hand, the less circumstances bother you.
  • My wife is cheering me on all the way.  Any difficult endeavor is infinitely easier when you have someone encouraging you.  Seek out those people.
  • I still don't feel like a "runner."  I feel like a clumsy, out-of-breath doofus.  But you know what?  You don't have to be a runner to run.  Just like you don't have to be a fighter to fight.  You don't have to be persistent to persist.  Act like that thing you want to be and see if you don't become something different over time.
In what areas of life are you working hard to push through?  Keep pushing.  Just keep moving.  I know it hurts, but quitting isn't the answer.  There are few things more painful than regret.  Like Andy Dufresne said, "Get busy living or get busy dying."

Hang in there and keep me posted on your progress with your relationships, your goals, and your life.  You can do it!  If I can help you in any way, send me an email.

Jeff Joiner

 

Welcome to the New and Improved JeffJoiner.com!

by Jeff Joiner - Sunday, April 13, 2014

I’m proud to introduce a new-and-improved website for jeffjoiner.com!  On this site you can learn more about me, my background, and what I do to help organizations big and small reach their goals.  You can watch video of me in action, look into details about the topics on which I speak, and see what some of my biggest “fans” have to say about the value I have delivered to them and their teams.  If you know any organizations who are having a conference and need a keynote speaker, or any companies looking to grow their sales and profits or improve employee engagement and productivity, I hope you will recommend me.

This new website not only promotes the speaking and training that I personally conduct for organizations around the country, but also introduces a team of speakers to the world.  As the demand for the kind of positive, effective, value-driven training I provide has increased, I have been overwhelmed with more requests to speak than I can handle.  Last year, I reached out to a few world-class speakers I knew to see if they were interested in partnering with me in providing speaking and training services for my clients.  The results have been remarkable, and the team is continuing to grow.

I have assembled a team of professional keynote speakers and corporate trainers with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise.   Our team can provide speaking on topics like Leadership, Motivation, Negotiation, Technology Proficiency, Problem Solving, Goal Setting, Employee Engagement, Fundraising, Wellness Living, and Embracing Change.  We have speakers with backgrounds in sports, business, sales, ministry, publishing, real estate, nutrition, and healthcare.  What they have in common is the ability to inspire, motivate, and train audiences and a passion for bringing out the best in others.

If you are interested in booking a great speaker for your next event or meeting, contact me and we can talk about matching your needs with the right person.  We will work together to accomplish amazing things!  To learn more about me, click www.jeffjoiner.com and to learn more about my team of outstanding speakers, click www.jeffjoinertraining.com.

Jeff Joiner



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