“The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
Today, some see time weathered characteristics as repugnant. They chose not to see that these virtues and principles have held societies together for centuries. When we look back and study Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Sumerian society; we learn that each one had similar principles and characteristics that were highly valued in their citizens.
In the last 4 decades, these same principles have come under attack from many different groups. What their motives and desires are, I cannot speak to. We can see the effects of their work in various societies across our wonder world.
It is of these virtues, principles, and characteristics that I chose to speak about and share with my fellow humans; because it is my belief that if we want a better world, we can create it, one interaction between two humans at a time. In some cases, it can be done on a larger scale depending on the openness of the speaker and audience.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In the time before I was aware of the world at large, humankind had generous and wonderful actors on the stage seeking to shape and change the world. As I grew up, I was invited to look the world over and learn from those humans whom had developed these virtues, principles, and characteristics that I wanted to develop within myself.
When I was around the age of 14, my mother took it upon herself to have a chat with me. She noticed that I was struggling with the events happening in our home and being different than the other kids in school and church. One morning as I was running out the door to school she asked me what was wrong. I didn’t want to answer her because I liked to keep things bottled up inside; including hurt emotions, embarrassment, depression, and the host of emotions with which the average teen lives. She was determined to make sure that I opened up.
She got to the front door before me and blocked it. She also locked it. I then tried to circle around the main floor of the home we lived in on Ft. Meade, MD. She was then able to lock the door between the front hallway and the laundry room. As I moved from the living room to dining room to kitchen, mom was on my heals. I got to the door thinking I was going to have time to unlock it. I was wrong.
Mom caught me and half tackled and half hugged me. We struggled and she won. I was on the floor and my mom partially sat on me and held me in her arms. I didn’t want to talk and I just wanted to go to school, mostly to find comfort in my routine and bury my feelings. She gave me one option, talk or miss the whole day and maybe the next.
I did very well academically in 8th grade and I didn’t want my grades impacted because my mom was being weird. So, I made the decision to talk to her and so that I could get back to my routines. What I didn’t know is that my mom was rather perceptive and had a good idea of what was going on in my head. She also had a good idea of how my parents’ rocky relationship was affecting me … more so than some of my other siblings.
I cannot recall the bulk of the conversation or even if I attended school that day, what I do remember is how much mom loved me. I also remember the advice that she gave me that day … advice that I still live by.
“Wil”, she said, “your dad and I aren’t perfect”.
“Each person is like a rose, they have their blooms and thorns. You have to look for the roses whose blooms you want to watch and learn from. To emulate those around you from church, school, books, or the wide world.”
“It will be work and it will be worth it. Don’t let our failures by yours.”
Now, that is love. Strong and powerful and liberating love. The kind of love I wish all parents would have for their kids. The kind of love that admits its own flaws and asks for forgiveness because of their imperfections. It was that day, those moments that caused me to start looking for others to emulate and learn from.
Those we love are also those with whom we should be the most open about our failures and our success’! I have chosen to make sure that my own children know when I have made a mistake and I apologize to them for it.
There are several reasons that we have made the kind of technological advances that have occurred over the last 200 years. One of them is that we looked to and learned from others. We as humans know that we can build off the work of others and a whole lot more and should be more personal than just technology. If we look to the community of entrepreneurs, they are open and talk about the influences that each other has had and past entrepreneurs have had on them. In Ryan Holiday’s book ‘The Obstacle is the Way’, he talks specifically about the influence specific individuals have had on him. Lewis Howes, on his podcast, ‘The School of Greatness’ shares that one of the reasons he started his podcast is because he wanted to talk to those people he looked up to and had influenced him. Now, both men have become influencers; they are now inspiring humans they still look up to!
You too may already be an influencer in someone else’s life. You may not even know it. When I started doing Facebook Live videos, I didn’t know what would come of it. I just started riffing and rolling with what was on my mind. At one point, I decided to talk about some of my favorite superhero’s. I just wanted to share the stories that inspired me. I did the Captain America video without any thought of its effect on others. I was also struggling because I wasn’t sure that my work was having a positive effect on those with whom I am connected.
I went through my day and I didn’t think again about the video. I got home after work and while waiting for my wife to finish dinner, I pulled out my mobile and started reading comments and messages. There was a message from a mother of a kid with Autism and they had seen my video. My video! A friend of hers sent the link and she watched it, her son is a HUGE Captain America fan! She liked the video and shared it with her son. He loved it! I don’t remember how many times they watched the video.
What made me cry was her appreciation because her son had a bad day and my video about why Captain America is one of my heroes made his day! Even now, I am getting emotional.
After another video I did, a friend called me and thanked me for the video that I had just finished. I was surprised, I didn’t even know that he was watching.
My youngest brother looks up to me, more than I think he should. He credits me as a good example for when he turned his life around. He watched me start making changes in my life because of an experience I had while visiting a friend.
In fact, he looks up to me so much, he gave me a nickname and yes, it comes with a story…
“It all started when we moved to Texas, Wil was preparing to go on a two-year mission for our church, we watched a Disney movie call Iron Will and then we realized that that is what made our brother Wil different from so many others, he would push through adversity no matter what the cost or the reward as long as it was right or the principle true. Determination would growl out of him as he pushed on to be more than he was or to move past an issue in front of him.
Then after his mission we played a friendly game of tackle football on a Thanksgiving morning with some friends, something that was a favorite pastime of ours. During one play Wil had the ball and was pumping down the line with three younger men clinging to him, he was a freight train rolling by me. He did finally get taken down when the fourth man came in for the final tackle and the entire group came down as a train would blow off a track.
I remember stopping in the middle of my action to stop and watch him push forward despite the others clinging to him. I at first was awed, then I remember thinking the others were just hanging on with a hope that they could do something, but my brother defied their desires by chugging forward.
A train with its movement slowed or not must press forward and can only change course by a small change initially, Wil is also like this, but when he changes course know he will keep the same speed and determination he had before. Don’t get in his way because you won’t slow him down.”
My little brother calls me “Iron Wil The Mighty Freight Train” and usually just Iron Wil.