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As many of you know, I have been lucky enough over the past decade to study in-depth my grandfather's World War II unit, the 11th Airborne Division. Grandpa was a paratrooper in the famous 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment which formed at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, in the spring of 1942, then went on to train at Fort Benning, Camp Mackall, Camp Polk, Camp Stoneman then sailed to the Pacific Theater for additional training on New Guinea before being committed to combat on Leyte in late 1944 and Luzon for most of 1945.
I have had the great honor to interview and befriend many of the last living troopers from the 11th Airborne and I can tell you that they are (rightly) proud of having served their country in such a distinguished unit. To listen to these incredible men, now advanced in years, tell the stories of war from their youth, is humbling. That is why I have been working so hard to share their history on the regimental website www.511pir.com and it is the main motivation behind my latest book, WHEN ANGELS FALL: FROM TOCCOA TO TOKYO, THE 511TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT IN WORLD WAR II, available on Amazon (in print and Kindle) or wherever military history books are sold.
A recent encounter with a bump in the road (aka "adversity") in the pursuit of one of my goals, for some reason my mind turned to Peter the apostle in the Bible's New Testament. Now, even if you aren't Christian, keep reading because I realized that one of Peter's experiences in his life can teach us quite a bit about setting, keeping and working for goals.
The story in question is found in St. Mathew chapter 14 (or St. Mark 6 and St. John 6). The story tells us that Jesus Christ's disciples, of which Peter was one, were out on a small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee on their way to Capernaum. We read that it was late at night, during the "fourth watch" which according to the Roman's method of keeping time was "quarta vigilia noctis", or just before dawn, which tells us that the disciples had been rowing and fighting the storm throughout the night.
Now storms on the Sea of Galilee can be quite violent due to the cold air coming down from the hills around the sea where it meets the warmer air around the Galilee due to the lower elevation. So there the disciples were; it was late, it was violently stormy, the wind was roaring, the waves were crashing over the tiny boat's sides and the rain was coming down in sheets. It was at this point that Jesus appeared, walking across the thrashing water. While the disciples feard it was spirit at first, Jesus said "Be of good acheer; it is I; be not afraid." Peter, upon seeing his master, cries out, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." to which Jesus simply responds, "Come." This is where it gets interesting.
After spending half a lifetime surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world, I've learned quite a bit about setting effective resolutions for life. From Olympic gold medalists to world champions, these competitors continually set the bar high in pursuit of athletic, personal, work and educational goals.
Over the years as an athlete, then a coach, now an athlete again I have taken the lessons I have learned from these champions and applied them in my own life, in addition to my own insights and methods, and have discovered that there is truth to the saying that "you can do anything you set your mind to." The caveat is that it takes careful planning and hard work, so here are five gold-medal tips to help you set and keep those New Year's Resolutions!
1. Discover the Why
So often I encounter people who set great New Year's Resolutions, but fail to achieve them because they set them to impress or appease others.Any goal or objective that we set because of some outside social pressure is bound to fail. Why do you want to go to the gym more in 2014? Is it to improve your health and feel more fit? Or is it because you feel that you need to because society demands it? Why do you want to get a better job in 2014? Is it to feel satisfaction through a better use of your time and abilities? Or is it to tell others you have a fancy title and therefore feel (falsely) important? New Year's Resolutions that last are ones that are set because WE want to set and achieve them. So ask yourself: WHY do you want to set and achieve X, Y, and Z resolutions? Is it for yourself, or for others?
Several years ago I went backpacking with a group down to Paria Canyon in Southern Utah. Located within the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, this beautiful 50-mile hike was a breathtaking adventure in some of God's greatest creations. With stunning sandstone "sculptures" molded by wind and water and overwhelming 300-400 foot tall cliff walls, this trip was where I fell in love with Southern Utah.
During this trip we would sleep out under the stars and I remember one night gazing up into the cosmos and trying to count the infinite number of bright lights that hung in the night sky. The air was so clear down there that I felt as though I could raise up my hand and touch the stars.
Touching the stars. Not many of us try to do that anymore. As kids we all had these marvelous dreams and hopes for the future, but somewhere along the way we start to lose that magic, that special spark of "anything is possible". Reality sets in and imagination goes out the window. No wonder so many people in this world are bored, sad, lonely and discouraged! You can see it in their eyes; they've stopped dreaming.
They've stopped reaching for the stars.