Positive Vibes Only, Please

“Some of us have great runways already built for us.  If you have one, take off.  But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”-Amelia Earhart

61CF4C57-2926-425D-8F74-EF10ED8AA8AAOver the past two weeks, I have had the privilege of hearing two excellent speakers at two excellent events.  The first was the legendary Lou Holtz: football coach, football analyst, and motivational speaker.  The second was Dr. Ilham Kadri, President and CEO of Diversey, and a quite extraordinary woman. Both terrific speakers, they blasted out so much good information I had to pull out my phone to take notes.  I’ve pared down the notes into my favorite tidbits, which will serve as the backbone to this week’s piece.


First, three key points from Lou Holtz with my commentary:

1.       “You can’t fool yourself.”  This quote really hit me on my current journey for self-mastery.  You can put on your game face for the outside world, for social media, etc., but only you really know if you are being true to yourself.  Are you doing what you want with your life?  Are you putting in the work?  Are you taking shortcuts?  Are you making the impact you want on this world?  This is where the titles and the headlines and the pay grades go away.  Are you being true to yourself?

2.       “Don’t criticize the performer.  Criticize the performance.”  We all make mistakes.  We all come up short sometimes.  Behave poorly.  Don’t give 100%.  I know I have.  Doesn’t make me a bad person.  Doesn’t make you a bad person.  Analyze what happened, why it happened, and learn from it.  Move on.

3.       “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why you are born.”-Mark Twain, I believe.  There’s doing what you want with your life (point # 1), and then there is finding your purpose.  How can you help others?  Find your purpose, or let your purpose find you.  It’s out there.  Be patient.  It will come.


Next, three key points from Dr. Kadri with my commentary:

1.       “Never stop learning.  Be curious.  Respect knowledge more than money.”  Do you travel?  Do you read voraciously?  Do you seek out people smarter than you?  Do you have a mentor?  Do you take initiative?  Do you realize that money is simply a tool and that knowledge can create real fulfillment?

2.       “Get to know yourself.”  This seems to be cropping up everywhere these days, from self-help gurus to motivational speakers to business executives to anything but khakis writers.  It always makes me giggle a little, because it sounds so easy, yet so few people are truly doing it.  People worried about this, that, and the other, but haven’t had a come to Jesus with themselves.  A strong argument can be made that I found myself at age 34, though I continue the diligent pursuit daily.

3.       The above Amelia Earhart quote.  I don’t worry too much (at all) about people who are handed things in life.  Life isn’t fair, and that’s that.  I fall into the second category, and I grind daily with that shovel trying to build something meaningful.  You want an empire?  A case of money?  Happiness?  Purpose?  Grab a shovel.  Runways don’t build themselves.


These two events were very, very different in scope, but had one primary similarity. The differences were fairly surface level. Lou Holtz and the Charlotte Touchdown Club drew a 90%  male audience. Dr. Kadri and the Charlotte Athena Awards drew a 90% female audience (shout out to Christy, young professional of the year nominee!). But the one similarity is what I want to focus on: positive energy, and lots of it. Not rah rah…like real stuff. The women at the second event were unbelievably impressive. Philanthropists, inventors, Iron Women, authors, and on and on.  I was freaking hyped!  Glued to their every word. 

So what? Positive energy, that’s what.  It can change your life. These events were full of it. Life isn’t fair. It’s not fair that some people are born into wealth. It’s not fair that I have arthritis. I’m sure you have something that is unfair. Let’s get past that. I am very lucky that my parents taught me that very young, and that understanding has been a massive asset in my life. 

So do me one final favor. Google Dr. Ilham Kadri, a female born in 1960s Morocco and raised by a single grandparent. Read her story. It’s unbelievably inspiring. I’m writing my story. What’s yours?

Have a great week.-Benj

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