It was 1988 and I was struggling with the turmoil in my family and life. My mom, when she noticed that something was wrong, would pull us aside and make us talk to her. You may laugh, you don’t know my mom. That morning she chased me around the house locking doors to corner me in the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen in our home on Ft. Meade. I remember trying to wrestle with her so that I could get past her and go to school. I loved going to school because I love learning! I think that was the I could read whatever scientific magazine Ms. Ware had in the classroom. I was just starting the battle with depression that would be part of early teen years. It was mom cornering me and getting me to look in on myself that was the beginning of my long-term growth.
I couldn’t tell you everything that was said. What I remember is this: Your father and I aren’t perfect and we have our flaws; but that doesn’t mean that you have to learn those and be the same kind of person that we are. You should look for others with the character, talent, and skills that you want and then learn from them. Model their behavior and adopt those items you want and then move on to the next person and character you want to develop.
It still took me several years to actually understand and put into practice what she was trying to tell me. Once I figured that out, it changed my life. I started collecting quotes that embodied the characteristic, skill, or ability that I wanted.
Years later, I would receive the harshest criticism and highest praise from her and it was all in one sentence. She said, “Not even Superman can keep your standards!” Initially, I was proud and arrogant about it. Then I realized that, within a few moments, that it was meant as a criticism over my choices and standards. She said it in complete frustration over something I was not willing to budge on. I can’t say anymore, how I felt about that, today I keep it as a reminder that I am different from others and I have to be more understanding. I don’t have to lower my own standards or expectations; I need to remember that I am harder on myself and expect more of myself than anyone else in my circles. My wife has helped me to realize that I needed to work on some additional areas of my life. She also has to continually remind me that I am not like others and should not expect them to be or think like me.
The starting point for my personal development came in that little laundry room trapped between a locked door and a mother that loves me enough to fight with me to get what she wanted. Mom’s love gave me the guidance to launched my life with confidence and abilities that I would never have gained if not for her advice.
I started with a quote by John Dillinger, “Never let them make you crawl.” I would add up about 100 quotes that would shape and mold my heart, mind, and will! I posted these quotes on my wall through my teen years and then by the time I was in college they took up a significant portion of my bedroom wall. I wrote them all out by hand on 3×5 cards. I got to the point that I could just touch a card and know what was on it. On certain days, some of them would stand out and I would read them and think about those throughout the day. I didn’t become a new person overnight; I spent years memorizing quotes and thinking about them so I could internalize them. I know that this process is slower for some and faster for others. It depends on your own dedication and focus. Taking the time to reflect or meditate allow us to apply these quotes to ourselves and make the character improvements needed to grow and become the best version or ourselves. We are rewriting our own software when we internalize inspiring and uplifting material; yeah, I don’t just mean these quotes!