Recently, I’ve been watching the old serials that Republic Film Studios put out in the late 1930’s through the late 1940s—programs such as The Black Whip, The Masked Marvel, Captain America (1940s version), The Green Archer, and The Phantom.
I’ve enjoyed watching these programs, not only because they’re from a time when story lines were more innocent, but also because it’s been fun to imagine my parents as children watching these at the Saturday Matinees that were so popular back then. I’ve gotten a kick out of imagining Mom and Dad as wide-eyed kids sitting on the edge of their seats each week as the episodes ended in cliffhangers.
In case you’ve never watched serials, they usually involved the hero (or heroine) fighting against a bad guy and his gang who were intent upon taking control of the country and world by selling national security secrets to foreign nations hostile to the USA. Each episode would wind down with the hero fighting the bad guys. The episode would end with it looking like curtains for the hero, leaving the viewers thinking there was no way the hero would get out of that one alive!
Of course, the hero would figure out a way…until the end of the next episode!
After 15 or so episodes, the serial would end with the total defeat of the bad guy, along with what was left of his gang after the hero captured or killed them along the way. And the world was made safe again for decent folks to live good lives!
Simple premise but so entertaining and satisfying!
As I was watching, I noticed that the bad guy seemed to be holding all the cards. He was always one or two steps ahead of the hero and his or her assistants. The bad guy was always scheming and had several contingency plans that would advance his dastardly cause but would also trap and foil the hero.
The hero, on the other hand, was more straight-forward in his/her thinking and, as a result, wouldn’t anticipate the traps and setbacks that the bad guy threw his/her way. It seemed like the hero would make a little bit of progress but thanks to the seemingly superiority of the bad guy, there were always obstacles, things to sidetrack the hero, and even traps that would seem to derail and totally shut down the hero.
But, the hero was always resourceful and always persevered, even through the most dire and seemingly hopeless of situations.
And, the hero never doubted for a moment that he/she would finally succeed, even in the face of the seemingly overwhelming dominance of the bad guy.
And, the hero’s attitude and resolve paid off. He/she would live to try again another day and, after many attempts and much effort, would finally succeed.
This got me to thinking….
The hero’s fight in the serials is a lot like our “fight” to achieve our dreams.
Oftentimes we feel that the Universe has events, situations, resources, and the like, stacked against us. It seems like we make one step forward and then several steps back and to the side. It can be very frustrating and down-right disheartening.
Even though our lives aren’t a Republic serial, we can still learn a lesson from them:
~ follow the lead of the hero and tap into our natural resourcefulness—as Teddy Roosevelt would say: doing all we could with what we had with where we found ourselves;
~ to be persistent. To persevere when the going gets tough, especially when it seems hopeless and like it’s curtains for our dream. Stick it out because tomorrow’s a new day with new possibilities;
~Above all, be just like the hero and keep believing in yourself and your dream, no matter what!
Your homework today is to take a page or two out of George Washington’s book—the way he lived his life.
As you review your week, run it through the filter of George’s habit of purposely tuning out the negative voices—his and others’. He steadfastly focused on thoughts that supported and empowered him, made a plan for dealing with setbacks, then steadfastly carried it out. He developed rock-solid resolve by moving forward one step at time, no matter how small or humble they were.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect in these attributes, just show improvement—even just a little bit. It all adds up!
Note the improvements and the progress you’re making and then celebrate these. Small bits of advancement are just fine.
Follow through on celebrating! It’s crucial to acknowledge your victories because every single one of them is essential to your success.
If you feel awkward having a “big” celebration, a small, quiet one is just fine, too.
I was thinking again about the program on the History Channel that I saw regarding George Washington and his transformation into a warrior and our country’s Commander-in-Chief. One thing is really sticking with me and that is how he did not let himself become humiliated when he suffered the terrible setback when he was a young officer in the British Army.
He did not give in to the negative thoughts that were probably running through his mind. He didn’t listen to others who were probably telling him that his chances of achieving his dreamed-of military career were over forever.
It took rock-solid resolve to tune out all the negative voices—his own as well as other peoples’, especially when they made good, solid, logical, hard-to-refute sense.
How did he do this, how did he develop this tenacious resolve?
He did it by tuning out one negative voice at a time. He probably didn’t try to tackle all of them all at once. He took them one at a time and tuned them out one by one.
Your homework is to work on your rock-solid resolve. Think back to the times when you were resolute and tenacious. What helped you be that way? Do you find that with a good night’s sleep you’re more likely to roll up your sleeves and dive in? Do you notice that when you’re properly nourished you’re more apt to give it one more shot, and then another one, and one more after that? Perhaps you find that you’re more likely to hang in there in the morning whereas the afternoon is tough for you.
Make a note of the ways you can support and help yourself in being a person of rock-solid resolve.
The next part of your homework is to think of something you’re putting off or dragging your feet about tackling. Decide now, today, to do something—a small something—about it. If you try to do too much too soon, chances are you’ll find yourself stumbling. But if you break it into little bits and pieces then resolve to do them one little bit and one little piece at a time, you’ll find you’ll be much more successful.
You’re probably getting so tired of seeing these posts about George Washington. Bear with me, though, because what he did is typical of what successful people around the world and throughout the ages have done, and are still doing today. George Washington did not discover these success principles but it was the History Channel’s storytelling, the experts’ facts, and the vivid re-enactments that made these principles pop out at me. I want to share my insights with you–I hope they help!
Concerning Washington’s failure in the British army and his subsequent resignation, I’m sure he felt disappointment, anger, and perhaps embarrassment—and he probably even felt humiliated—but he didn’t allow himself to ‘go there’. Instead, he used his unflinching honesty with himself to find a way forward—a way to still achieve his dreams.
Scrupulously honest self-evaluation is fair with the information it uncovers. It doesn’t use the information as a weapon with which to beat yourself up. It doesn’t use the information as an indictment or proof that you aren’t good enough or that you don’t have what it takes to succeed. And it doesn’t conclude that you should give up on yourself.
Ruthlessly honest self-assessment means not giving in to negative thinking about yourself, not thinking that you’re all washed up because of weaknesses, failures, and mistakes. It isn’t punishment because you can’t seem to get your act together or to figure things out.
Being bluntly frank with yourself means feeling the disappointment, dissatisfaction, and even distress, but not sinking into these feelings and allowing them to develop into discouragement, despair, or self-denigration.
Ruthlessly honest self-assessment means admitting where you fell short and then brainstorming what you can do to improve. It means then taking those ideas and coming up with a plan to become better—to become the person who is successful in the way that you want to be successful.
Ruthless, honest, unflinching reflection means finding a way to go forward in spite of the supposed odds and in spite of what others think or say or do.
Your homework today is to be very frank and candid with yourself about your journey to your dreams. What are you doing—or not doing—that needs to stop or start—change in some way? What weaknesses do you have? How are they getting in the way of you achieving your dreams? What can you do about it?
Brainstorm things that you can do, then do them! Break them into teeny tiny bits and bobs that are easy to fit into your schedule. Then do them!
Yesterday I wrote about George Washington’s habit of taking time to reflect (click here to be taken to that post). I learned of his habit during a program entitled Washington the Warrior that aired on the History Channel this past weekend. In today’s post, I want to point out another remarkable trait of George Washington.
When he was a young man, George Washington’s fondest dream was to be a high-ranking officer in the British army (remember this was before the Revolutionary War and being an officer in the British army was a common dream for many young men). Washington was on his way to achieving this goal when he was met with a disaster that was brought about because of his lack of experience and knowledge. It resulted in him resigning his commission.
As the experts pointed out, this catastrophic failure would have destroyed other men, but Washington was ruthlessly honest with himself and, instead of being humiliated, devised a plan of self-improvement so that he could still achieve his dream.
His brutal honesty helped him see where the shortcoming was–his inexperience and ignorance of military strategy and tactics. His brutal honesty showed him very clearly what he needed to do to correct the situation. His brutal honesty helped him stay focused on his dreams and goals.
Your homework today is to make the time in your busy schedule for honest self-evaluation. Which projects have you been giving a ‘lick and a promise’ to that deserve your full attention? What tasks have you running around like a crazy person when you could delegate them to someone who’s better able to handle them? What should never have been on your plate in the first place?
Answer these questions then make the changes. Remember that changes are the same as steps: break them into small pieces and little parts. Break those into tiny bits and jots, small enough that they’ll fit into your schedule and fly under the radar of your resistance. Then do them!
Yesterday I tuned into part of a program called Washington the Warrior on the History Channel. The experts were talking about how early in Washington’s career, when he was in the Virginia militia protecting the frontier from the French and the Native Americans, he made some serious mistakes, which were due to his lack of experience and knowledge. The experts commented that Washington’s habit of reflecting and being ruthlessly honest with himself enabled him to uncover his weaknesses. He realized that he didn’t know enough about military tactics and strategy and that he needed to continue learning about how to be a good leader so that he could better inspire, motivate, and instill discipline in his troops.
The experts remarked that most men would have been devastated and ruined by the failures and setbacks that Washington suffered early in his career but Washington would not let himself become humiliated. He refused to beat himself up! According to his journal, he was very disappointed in himself but he kept in firm control and made sure to learn from the experience.
He came up with a plan of improvement and then put it into action. Because he took time to reflect on what was and was not working—and keep notes in a journal—he was able to make tweaks and corrections that helped him become the person who would flourish when he was thrust into the right place at the right time: when he served as General Howe’s aid in the French and Indian War and took command of the whole regiment when Howe was killed during an ambush while the other officers and men were confused, frightened, and panicking.
Washington probably would not have become the man he was if, early on, he had not developed the habit of reflection, ruthlessly honest self-assessment, and keeping notes.
Your homework today is to take time to reflect and be ruthlessly honest with yourself regarding your dreams. What little change can you make in this upcoming week that will help you make a small increase in the progress you’re making toward your dreams?
Remember it just has to be a tiny change that will result in a tiny increase in your progress.