Where is that magic wand?

The major theme that drove the second book of The Shepherd Chronicles was discovering your path in life. Once found, understanding what it takes to walk it, to grow with it and to stay connected to it at all costs. David, as the shepherd was given the chore to bring the lost back to their path. In this book, The Rules, He encounters a major challenge of his own. The choice he faces may bring his journey to an end and in doing so, alter his life forever.

            With the help of his mysterious messenger and a family that stood by him, David fights through his crisis by falling back on the Rules of Life, taught to him by his father though out his childhood. These are the rules that David shares with his followers and the ones I will share with you here. Listen carefully.

            The first rule is “We don’t learn to sail on calm seas.” It’s only through the trials and tribulations of life that we discover our strength and learn to overcome our obstacles, how to get up off the ground when knocked down. As David said, “As long as your get ups exceed your knock downs by one, you are still in the game.

            The next rule is the major theme of the trilogy. It says, “The true measure of a person is not found in the size of his or her home or in their riches, it is counted by the number of people you lift up in a positive way.” It means taking your eyes off of yourself and placing them on those around you, reaching out to the person next to you, easing their pain. Yes, one person can make a difference and for each person you reach out to, your path becomes more defined, more enriched.

            The third rule says that “Belief without action guarantees defeat.” You may believe you are the best candidate for a job, but if you don’t apply for the job your belief is empty. You may believe you and your date would make a perfect marriage, but if you don’t propose, you will never know. Opportunity doesn’t knock on locked doors or closed hearts. Ignoring the crossroads in your life is a guarantee to convert them it into dead ends. Yes, you may fail but if you do, see Rule 1. You can’t win a race you don’t run.

            Finally, Rule 4, “Pursue Excellence, for nothing else is worth your time.” Once you decide to take action, do your best, try your hardest and give it all you have because any less will bring you disappointment. It’s all about habits. Taking short cuts sets you up for failure and lays out a pattern you are sure to follow. Let your habits bring you success. Let your habits be the building blocks to your future, the pavement to the path you seek.

            Each rule can have an impact on your life and bring you short term success. To find that “pot of gold” you seek, it takes a commitment to all four rules. As with all things in life, it’s up to you. Happiness, success as you define it, does not happen by accident. It does not just appear one morning next to your orange juice. It arrives through your perseverance, your generosity, your action and your excellence. It is your choice so choose wisely. Your magic wand is you!

What would I want to accomplish if I had the opportunity to choose?

When discussing the word instinct, it is usually with regard to animals and their behavior. Human beings are not in the conversation as often. Yet, we are known to be creatures of habit and as such follow the same patterns found in the animal kingdom.

            What sets us apart is that humans create a set of priorities that can overtake our basic instincts. When our priorities are skewed, we can lose sight of what is important and what really matters. If the drive for money overtakes reason, laws tend to be broken. Paying the consequences for those choices can destroy marriages, families and careers. Forgetting that consequences ultimately follow behavior, we let that behavior take us down ruinous paths. Just run down the list of seven deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth and you will find pathways to consequences that will undermine the possibility of success in your life.

            Ask yourself a question; what would I want to accomplish with my life if given the opportunity to choose? What good could I do? What disease could I cure? What family could I reunite?

            You see, it is my belief, formed through years of experience, years of watching people make messes of their lives, that we have choices in our lives over all things. There is no such thing as being a victim of circumstances. We create our own circumstances. Blaming fate is a dangerous habit to fall into.

            In my book, Crossroads, I show how we all face moments in time that can change our lives forever. I talk about how a crossroad becomes a dead end when we fail to act, fail to take advantage of the gift handed to us, fail to take the next step that leads to becoming all you are capable of being.

            We all know the incredibly long odds against winning the lottery. Do you know what makes the odds even longer? Don’t buy a ticket. Remember “You gotta be in it to win it!” The winners of lotteries have done one thing the non-participants didn’t, they acted, they made a choice and bought a ticket. Extend the lottery to life. Do you want to be a doctor and save lives? You have to buy a ticket in the form of hard work, academic effort, choosing your studies over that party you were invited to, putting down the video game controls, stopping from making TV a priority. You have to set your priorities dial toward success. It’s your choice.

            We can all accomplish great things. Nothing prevents that more than ourselves. Would you like to be remembered for generations for the way you lived your life. Would you like to be a Lincoln, a Washington, a Mother Teresa, an Einstein, a Churchill, an Amelia Earhardt, a Ghandi? They are all revered for the lives they led. Well, you have one thing they don’t. You have tomorrow. You have choices. You can change. You can make a difference. You can lift someone up, touch their lives. Maybe it’s too late for you to cure cancer, but maybe you could touch the life of someone that could. Would your impact be any less for being once removed.

            Set you priorities and step out in faith. Belief is not enough, you have to act. Yes, life is what you make it. Make it count!

Where Will Your Promises Lead?

The Promise

According to Webster’s, a promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something. None of us are strangers to the concept. I would suggest that we make promises several times a week, every week of our life. A promise doesn’t have to be stated as such. You make a plan to meet a friend for dinner. You have promised you will arrive when you plan to. It is no less a commitment because you don’t say the word.

The question my book raises is “How different would your life be if you were held to all your promises, big and small?” You get pulled over by a police officer and he takes your license back to his cruiser. While you wait, you make a promise to whoever you make promises to at a time like this. “Please, please, don’t give me a ticket. My insurance will go sky high. I promise I will never speed again. Just no ticket.” So the officer comes back and gives you a warning. You are so excited that you speed off down the road at the exact same speed you were traveling when you were pulled over.

You see, we make promises at the time of crisis in hopes of deflecting the dangers. Once the crisis passes, so does our commitment to our promise. The problem is that sooner or later our broken promises catch up to us. The important people in our life start to question our intentions, our word. Others outside of our close circle lose their respect for you. Finally, the guy in the mirror doesn’t take himself seriously. When a promise becomes a manipulation, all integrity is lost.

Words have meaning. They carry weight. They require respect. When you use words for effect rather than with accountability, they become empty noise. What disappears in time is trust. No relationship at any level can exist without a level of trust, whether it’s romantic or parental, serious or casual, social or business. Trust is built over time, brick by brick and each brick represents a word. Walls of trust can’t stand when the bricks turn to dust.

In The Promise, David makes a promise that saves his life, only to discover that he will be held to his promise. He could have complained, tried to wiggle his way out or make excuses. He didn’t. He stepped out in faith, he kept his word and lives were changed all over the world, including his own.

How about you? When will you know that the bond of your word will change a life? Yours, a parent’s, a spouse, a child’s or even a perfect stranger. How will you measure the value of a moment when you have to choose between action or inaction, between faith and doubt? When will your promise save a life?

I will make a difference. I will fight for what is right, defend those in need. I will care and I won’t give up. I promise. How about you?

Getting Started!

Many people have asked me, “When did you decide to write a book?”

The truth is it was never a decision I ever had to make. In fact, it wasn’t even a consideration. All I knew was that I had a message inside of me, a belief in a way I wanted to live my life. Not only did I want to adjust my own life to my beliefs but I wanted to share the message with as many people as I could to help them see the world through a different set of lenses.

But how? How do I find a platform from which I could speak to people in a way that would force them to, at the very least, peek into the reflection in their life’s mirror? How was I to tell others how to live their life? What were my credentials, my degrees? What proof did I have, what experiment did I conduct to validate my theories? Show me the numbers!

I am not a preacher but I am on this earth by the gifts of God. I have no pulpit, no congregation. I am no longer in education but the world is my classroom. I give no grades, nor do I hand out diplomas. I am more a student. I have learned life’s lessons the very hard way. No year has been easy, no month a piece of paradise. I never had to beg for a meal or steal clothes to stay warm, but I set my standards high and had to fight for every inch of the road. Someone asked me recently, “What is you greatest accomplishment so far?” My answer is that I am still standing, still above the daisies looking down. For every freight train that has roared through my life, I remain on the tracks. David Hynes once said, “As long as your get ups exceed your knock downs by one, you are still in the game.”

So, my message. After exploring every option, after knocking down every option I could come up with, the only choice left was to put my thoughts down on paper in a way that would entertain as well as inspire.

The message is truly simple. In a world overstuffed with anger, a world where its inhabitants are more concerned with their own feelings, their own needs, their own happiness, obsessed with their own passions, can’t we do better? In this world where empathy is dwindling, the message implores the listener to redeploy their priorities. Take your eyes off of yourself and fix them on those within your sphere of influence. Focus on their needs not yours, their desires instead of your own, their wants, their priorities. Wouldn’t your relationship be better if you focused on your partner first? Wouldn’t your children be emotionally healthier if their vision was yours? One of the truest statements in life is you get what you give. Put others first and they will pay you back in kind. Be an example to the ones you love, even the ones you just know and you will find it comes back to you time and again.

The true measure of a man is not the size of his house but the number of lives he touches in a positive way, the number of people he lifts up. It’s never too late to start.

© Copyright 2017 Gary Friedman Books

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