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Have you ever felt beaten? Have you ever wanted to give up? Maybe you can remember a time in your life when you felt outnumbered, outclassed, outpaced or outcast. If you feel that way now, or at some point in the future, I want you to remember this video.

Derek Redmond’s performance here captures the anguish of defeat in stunning clarity. You see him fall. You see him fail. You see him contemplate the inescapable torment of loss. You watch as he endures the shock of sudden failure, the pain of personal injury and the regret of potential unrealized.

In so many cases, the failure described above would stand as the conclusion for our story, and few would have expected anything different for Derek. What makes his example so poignant, is that he refused to accept those negative sentiments as his conclusion.

Derek would not allow the stopwatch or standings to be the arbiter of his success. Somewhere, in the brief moments immediately following the shock of his misfortune, Derek decided that he was not done. He had not given up. He picked himself up, wiped the defeat off of his face and hobbled courageously towards that finish line. That’s the power of perseverance. Out of the darkness of failure, rose a conclusion that brought 65,000 people to their feet and inspired me to write this article some 20 years later.

web profile 1The trials of life can either build us up or tear us down. The outcome depends more upon you, than the challenge before you. -Author’s Note

Derek didn’t save a life. He didn’t sacrifice his own life. He wasn’t irreparably injured, and as sports tragedies go that race wouldn’t even brush the top fifty list. There is no front page story there. It’s the simplicity of his persistence that moves us. It inspires us. It demonstrates that no matter what the outcome of that race, Derek Redmond was unconquerable.

You are just as unconquerable as he is. There may not be 65,000 spectators watching you pick yourself up after your next defeat, but I remind you that the audience had nothing to do with Redmond’s valor. I hope the imagery of Derek’s determination motivates you to find similar resolve in your day to day efforts. Whether its a diet, a doctoral thesis or a decathlon, address it with the determination it deserves. No matter what challenges the world hands you, no matter how many losses you endure, finish with the resolve that you will rise again tomorrow, as undefeated as you did today.

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Retrain Your Brain

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Watch the following 60 second Brain Teaser. Then read on, and see a brighter future unfold.

Everyone who watches this video nails the first two tasks with no problem at all. Then comes that seemingly simple last task where we challenge our brain to look at an old problem in a new way; a way that we’re not accustomed to. Very few of us do well. Some people actually suffer complete mental paralysis. Show it to enough of your friends and you’ll soon be rewarded with at least one “total freekout!

This experiment demonstrates how cemented our brains can become. As we age and solidify our views, we actually cement certain paradigms of thought into our mind. These paradigms make for quick thoughtless decisions, but they can also cause us to stereotype, mislabel, underestimate and misjudge things.

web profile 1We must always be willing to surrender what we are, in favor of what we might rise to become. -Author’s Note

So many of our environments -whether it be work, home or school- impose regimented thought patterns upon us. These patterns usually stem from the dominant person or group in that particular environment.

If the dominant way of thinking is honorable, just, and empowering, our allegiance and reinforcement is a good thing. But if that dominant mindset is intolerant, insecure, close-minded or prejudiced, it may as well be mental quicksand. When we subscribe to these negative paradigms, we not only sacrifice our own potential, but forfeit that of those around us as well. We pass it on to those who see us as the dominant influence in their environment.

Almost all progress, both personal and organizational, begins with perspective. Challenge yourself to identify and expose the negative paradigms of your environment(s). Find the courage to chip away at them, even if only in your own head. Whether you know it or not, you are the dominant influence in someone else’s work, home or social life. A small change on your part can have huge implications for those who follow in your footsteps.

Most importantly, though, your perspective and commitment will undoubtedly reward you immediately. Find the chains that may be binding your future, or that of those in your environment, and begin unwinding them. The future you unveil may be brighter than you could ever imagine.

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Drafting Leadership

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Download Tim’s Free four minute MP3 audio book on this topic!

In car racing, they call it drafting. It’s a principle of aerodynamics whereby two cars moving together can actually run faster than either one alone. Wind resistance creates drag, and the faster a car goes the more drag it must overcome. If left to race alone, a single car’s engine will strain harder and harder as it attempts to punch its way through an increasingly dense barrier of air. Anyone who has ever attempted to pursue their goals alone, will empathize with this analogy. The more you do, the harder you work, the quicker you tire and the further away some of those goals seem to get.

Fortunately, the racing world presents us with a solution. You see when joined by another car, the aerodynamics of both the lead vehicle, and any that follow, change for the better. The second car slides into the slipstream, or draft, created by the first. Not only does this second car have to work less to maintain the same speed, but it’s presence actually reshapes the airflow of both vehicles. This benefits the lead car as well. The group now thunders down the track faster, and with less strain then any single car could have done alone.

In life, it is not uncommon for us carry passions, ambitions, ideals or work ethics that motivate us to go above an beyond the typical aspirations of those around us. While our individual energy and enthusiasm is undoubtedly capable of remarkable progress, it is nonetheless bound by natural limits. There is only so much that we can do alone. By encouraging others to join us; by soliciting them to share in our hard work, and yes, by empowering them to enjoy the benefits of our vision and commitment, we can “draft” a much more consequential result.

Even a small constellation will shine brighter than the brightest star. -Author’s Note

Our success as individuals depends upon the support and adjoining success of other individuals. Every leader must find a way of proportioning his or her own success in such a way that it can be shared with others. While competition might help us cross a finish line, only collaboration can help us move mountains. The winner’s circle of life is reserved for those who have not only accomplished their own dreams, but have made true the dreams once held by those around them.

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Greatness Rivaled by Goodness

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In speaking of Abraham Lincoln, General W. T. Sherman said, “Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of Greatness, combined with Goodness, than any other.”

Sherman was not a philosopher, but he did have an innate understanding of people. What he expressed in this quote, encapsulates what I have come to call, “The Crucible of Greatness“.

Greatness is generally taken as an attribute of personal talent, while Goodness is intimately woven of a person’s character, integrity, empathy and compassion. These two qualities intersect much more rarely than we would like to believe. The fact is, success is hard. Few goals worth attaining come without great sacrifice, and because of that, a black market has been built around the industry of achievement. It can be hard to walk a path of Goodness, and still achieve Greatness.

There are some pivotal shortcuts available to those who would seek them. Who can you leverage, to elevate your status? Who can you degrade to enhance your position? What favors can you give and get in return? What might you get away with while no one is looking? Each one of these questions holds the prospect of an advantage, but each one can also chip away at your character.

Truth be told, almost all of us see these options, and most of us find them tempting. While some claim them to be offensive, others find them as natural and irresistible as a cold drink of water on a hot day. Some of us see life as a trial of shrewd sophistication; a machiavellian challenge of the fittest. These people seek professional or political success in the most clever and expedient way possible. Success becomes a term of quantity.

“There is no greater test, than that which encourages us to achieve an equal status of both Greatness, and Goodness.” – Author’s Note

Others amongst us see life as a test of quality. We measure ourselves in terms of integrity, ethics, principles and consequence. We have a clearly defined set of honorable values, and we achieve our success through a commitment to personal growth. Admirable yes, but I must admit, we pursue this path at a disadvantage.

The shrewd, who possess “ethical versatility”, often excel faster and far easier than others. Their rapid ascent usually insulates them from accountability and ascribes them a diverse roster of dutiful sycophants. Their prowess is rewarding, at least in the short-term. The example they set is rarely missed, generally tolerated, and often followed. But what does it leave behind?

For one thing, it leaves us with daily headlines that are consumed by successful but shameless politicians, sports figures, professional standouts and public officials who are suddenly revealed to be ethically corrupt. It leaves our kids with a bunch of celebrity figures, who aren’t fit, and have no desire to be role models. It leaves the average Joe or Jane with a feeling of resentment at work or in society, and it leaves the young and ambitious amongst us with a very difficult moral dilemma.

But it leaves something else…It leaves you with all the motivation you need to be the right guy or gal. To do the admirable thing, even when no one is looking. To achieve via hard work and diligence, even if you are offered a shortcut. To develop true friendships, and noble loyalties, even if they don’t advance your status. To embrace failure as a success, so long as your efforts were honorable. To be a real-life role model for the kids that are watching, and to take pride in the fact that you are a solid brick in the foundation of this amazing country.

Pursue your Goodness, and Greatness shall be yours.

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Bigger on the Inside

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Of the many gifts that my son has given me, one piece of innocent wisdom stands out above all others. He delivered it at the end of a warm summer afternoon, as we prepared to shuttle the family home from a day at the boardwalk.

We had spared few indulgences. The day had begun with pancakes, whipped cream and strawberries. Then it was on to the amusements, where each ride seemed to be shamelessly preceded by a hot pretzel, glass of lemonade, stick of taffy or cup of dippen’ dots. At lunchtime we broke for pizza. Not more than two hours later, we cooled down by sharing milkshakes and soft-serve ice cream.

As the day wound down, I remember thinking to myself that I probably wouldn’t eat again for several days. We gathered the troops, took in one last ride and headed for the parking lot. Only one thing stood in our way…A cotton candy stand had been strategically placed right next to the exit. My son went for it like it was a life preserver on a sinking ship.

Miles from home and minutes from bedtime, I knew that this last dose of sugar would probably be the undoing of our great night. “Son,” I said, “you’ve eaten more today than you’ve ever eaten in your entire life. There’s no possible way you could fit anything else in that little body of yours.” After a brief pause for thought, he looked back up at me. With a sparkle in his eye and an exuberance in his voice he said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I’m much bigger on the inside.”

Truer words have never graced my ears, and I’m willing to bet that my son’s unwittingly beautiful adage strikes a chord with you as well. Indeed we are all much bigger on the inside. The world can be an indifferent and presumptuous place, but we are not bound to those standards. There is no power greater than that found within the human heart, no force stronger than that bolstered by belief and no propulsion greater than that fueled by desire.

There will always be some reason why you can’t achieve what you want. See beyond it. -Author’s Note

So often, logic forces us to place limits upon our dreams. If we aren’t careful, what we perceive as “reality” can ground us before we even take off. But the true reality is that there is nothing outside of your reach. Never accept someone elses’ limits as your own. Never give in to those who doubt you and never give up in the face of what seem to be overwhelming odds.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” My son finished that cotton candy.

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Surviving an Active Shooter

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active shooterIf an armed gunman attacked today, would you survive?

The school shooting in Newtown, CT was just one of several recent assaults by armed gunmen upon unsuspecting citizens. We’ve now seen them in public settings, work settings, movie theaters and malls. A difficult review of who lives and who dies in these incidents has given us some lifesaving insight.

Being innocent, unsuspecting and unarmed, doesn’t mean that you have to be unprepared. Spree shooters want to kill as many easy targets as possible in the shortest amount of time. They don’t want to chase you and they don’t want to encounter resistance. Their terrible act will be over within about six minutes. As unpleasant and unpredictable as these things are, these basic similarities do provide some advantages to would-be victims.

Your survival is based upon three basic objectives: escape, evade or improvise. If you can’t escape, try to evade. If you can’t evade, it’s time to improvise.

Escape: Most spree shooting victims have been those who froze, chose poor hiding places or never saw their assailant coming. So starting today, whenever you enter a building pretend you’re on an airplane. Mark your exits and plan at least two escapes. Raise your eyes every so often to scan the crowd and revise your exits as you move. At the first sign of danger, make towards the closest exit of any kind. If need be, create your own exit by breaking a window etc. The point is, get moving! Don’t just drop to the ground and lie there.

Evade: If the exit is blocked and you can’t escape, it’s time to evade. Most spree shooting deaths occur at close range. Both distance and movement dramatically affect the accuracy of the shooter, so even if all you do is run, you’re greatly increasing your chances of survival. Put angles between you and your attacker and seek out bullet-proof barriers such as cinder-block walls. Become a hard-target. Buy yourself a moment of time or a few feet of distance. That may be all you need. The good guys are coming.

Improvise: If danger is close and you cannot escape or evade, you must improvise. Exploit your environment. Many buildings have dry-chem fire extinguishers mounted in highly visible places. These create thick clouds of highly unpleasant yellow dust and are as good as tear gas in close quarters. They can be used to create particulate barriers, to mask your escape or to stun your assailant. They can also be used as impact weapons. Know how to use them (youtube it).

Fire hoses can be used to defend stairwells or deter an attacker, particularly if the lights are off. Extension cords can tie doors closed from the inside. Properly positioned chairs and furniture can fortify a room. Mops and other long-handle tools can be used to defend a barricaded doorway etc.. Remember, the shooter only has a few minutes and he knows it. Make the most of your time and delay him for a few critical seconds. He’ll likely move on.

Stun and Run! If you can do nothing else, plan for a fight. Pick your moment and surprise them with a sudden attack. Throw cleaning liquid in their face. Find anything to throw or swing. Target their head, then their hands, then their groin. Deliver a solid blow then run around a corner, towards a barrier or through an exit.

As Newtown reminded us, no one is safe from the next spree shooting. And as history has proven, the next one is never far enough into the future. As you walk through your environment tomorrow ask yourself, “What would I do if it happened here, now?” It’s not silly to plan and even practice these things. Preparation is part of the winning mindset and that may be all you need to survive.

Timothy Shoemaker has received extensive training regarding active shooters, including incident debriefs and strategy sessions from several high profile national incidents. This brief post is formatted for general advice and should not be taken to conflict with any formalized school or work response plan.

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The Secret To Your Success

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Vincent Van Gogh once remarked, “Great things are done not by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” There is perhaps no one who could have made a more profound and appropriate statement. Each of Van Gogh’s heralded masterpieces was born not of a single act or impression, but from hundreds of seemingly insignificant brush strokes. Hours, days and sometimes weeks would run together as blank canvass gradually evolved into eye-popping splendor.

Whatever challenge lies before you right now, whatever dream you have yet to achieve, remind yourself that it will not be accomplished in a single climax of effort, exuberance or fortune. It will be achieved by a logical and deliberate application of forethought, technique, and commitment.

Take the time to identify the many small acts that will bring about your success. Blur your vision of that main goal, and focus intently on mastering those small independent constituents of success. Whether in art, sports, academics or business, the most successful amongst us are those who become adept as this practice.

Many of us focus far too closely on our goals, when instead we should be focused on the process. -Author’s Note

Are you starting a new diet? Are you heading back to school? Are you entering a new relationship? Whatever your endeavor, pursue it with the dogged and deliberate premeditation that it deserves. You are never too young, too old, or too successful to apply this principal. Make today the day that you start on your new masterpiece; one brilliant brush stroke at a time.

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Free Ebook: The Drug Free Home

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Free Ebook: The Drug Free Home

This indispensable guide will give you the mindset and techniques needed to keep drugs out of your home. Quick, entertaining and packed with Tim’s unique insight, this tool promises to be a valuable resource for both parents and professionals. Available for limited time only as a FREE bonus for subscribing to our email list.

About once per month, we will update you on the latest Alerts, Info and newsworthy Articles published by Tim and the MpoweredParent team. We never sell or loan our subscribers information and you may easily unsubscribe at any time. You’ve got nothing to lose. Click here to join our team and get your instant FREE gift!

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Return to the New You

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Would you believe me if I told you that the next 8 weeks could change your life forever? What if I suggested that these critical summer months could change your whole family forever? The fact is, they can. If you choose it to be -right here, right now – you could forever impact the future that awaits you.

When I was 14, I walked back into my school, after having enjoyed what I thought was a much too short summer vacation. I remember the kids. All of them were sporting new shoes. A few had new hairstyles. Some had grown what seemed like three inches. But one or two of them had clearly changed more than just their appearance.

It was obvious to me then, that a few of my fellow students had used the past sixty days to engage in a little personal development. They had built new friendships. They had explored new interests. They had pursued new talents, or further developed existing ones. They adjusted their attitude, reduced their distractions, shed harmful influences or embraced powerful motivations.

As the months went by, I watched as the new shoes become worn. The summer tans faded away. The new hairstyles became old and the physical growth became a matter of routine. But those kids who had sought out opportunities for personal growth, continued to develop and amplify the advantages that they had gained over those short summer months.

What we develop on the outside, is guaranteed to fade. But what we develop on the inside, will pay dividends for a lifetime. -Author’s Note

Regrettably, most of us devote more time to the planning of a week at the beach, than we do planning our own personal development. It’s not that we lack the ability, it’s just that we’ve allowed ourselves to sink into routine. So here’s my challenge. Take this chance to change that. Do it now. Give yourself 20 minutes to ‘pro’ and ‘con’ your profile. Create a simple action plan and go for it.

On July 4th, declare your independence from the vices, habits, bad thoughts or bad investments that have been holding you back. Use the following weeks to seize the future that you deserve. Spend each day working towards your goals. Devote more time to your family. Infuse more quality in your time. This summer, I want you to Live, love, laugh and learn.

Use this break in routine, to usher in the new you. Then on Labor Day, sit back and marvel at those same ole’ people trickling back into your school, office, salon or workshop. You’ll see a lot of new shoes, a bunch of new hairstyles, a few more inches here or there, and so on. But if you want it, there is more in store for you. A new future maybe, a new ‘you’ if you want it. You need only choose it to be.

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