Just a thought: Put your trophy on the shelf and move on

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If you were sitting at home by your fireplace and your young child or grandchild came and sat on your knee and asked you “What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?” How would you answer this question? Is your greatest accomplishment easy to recite or is something you need to think through?

For some of you this question might be easy. You might quickly state number one and then rattle off five or ten significant accomplishments right behind it without much effort. Others may be frozen initially as you think through what single accomplishment would top the list.

Either way let me congratulate you on your accomplishments. Most every one of you have made a positive impact with actions you have taken in the past. Good job!

What if your young child or grandchild sat on your knee and asked you “What has been the greatest failure of your life?” Is it something you would really want to share? Is there a single event that jumps out to you or is this something that has several events that would compete for number one? Maybe you don’t want to even think about this question.

Let me swing this analysis from the past to the future. Let’s close the door on the past. I really mean it. Other than learning from the past or being sentimental from time to time there is not much reason to go backwards.

None of us can change one minute of the past, yet many of us live in the past.

There are people out there who have a single great accomplishment and who don’t let go of the trophy they received. I’ll call these people “trophy people.” They continually talk about something good that happened in their past always making sure that whoever they are talking with knows they are someone special because of the trophy event or events.

There are people out there who have had a terrible event or events that have happened to them. The event may be the result of actions beyond their control or it may be a direct result of the person’s making bad choices. Regardless, it is something that causes the person to focus backwards on negative activity in their past, sometimes daily. I call these people “damaged people.”

Trophy people fail to accomplish things that should be accomplished because they are living in their past. Damaged people fail to accomplish things that should be accomplished because they are living in their past. The truth be told, each of us from time to time fall into both of these categories. It is interesting how our past can rob us of our present and our future if we let it.

Let me explain to you the “24 hour rule.” It is a concept that recognizes positive and negatives occurring in our lives and the need to move forward. When something great happens in your world, receive the trophy and hold it up high and celebrate. In most instances you deserve the reward. But 24 hours later put the trophy on the shelf and get back to moving forward on what needs to be accomplished. You can still visit the trophy for sentimental reasons, but by all means don’t carry it around with you.

When something terrible happens to you, accept the depression or mourning that results. Live it fully. Experience it for 24 hours, then set it aside and get on with your life. I understand some major events may take longer than 24 hours, but the important part of this advice is setting it aside. Why would you want to carry the event around with you day to day? You may want to visit the negative event from time to time to learn from it or to be sentimental, but don’t let it hinder you from accomplishing what needs to be done in your life.

What I am saying is it is alright to fully experience the highs and lows of life. God made each of us with emotions. He put us into a world that is far from perfect next to others who are experiencing ups and downs in their lives also.

Each of us has a history. Each of us is on a different spot on our path of life than those around us. Each of us have things that need to be accomplished by us, things that only we can accomplish. We can’t change where we are on the our path today, but we will determine where we will be on the path tomorrow. Our yesterdays are gone, our tomorrows remain.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” I agree! Where you stand is your history, where you are moving is what you are planning on doing with your life. Your history may put you in a position to make a greater impact on the future, but it remains written chapters that are unchangeable.

A more important question for a young child or grandchild to ask would be, “What will be your greatest accomplishment in the years ahead?” There will be a greatest accomplishment ahead for each of us.

My challenge to you today is to not be a trophy person or a damaged person, but to take where you are on the path of life and, with the God given gifts and talents you have, to make a difference with your life going forward. Trophy people, like damaged people are hung up on themselves.

The best way to live in the present for the future is to reach out and do things for others. Get your focus off you and put your focus on others. What we receive dies with us, what we give lives on long after we are gone. Don’t rest on the good things you have done. Don’t beat yourself up for the bad things.

What should be most important in your life is not what you did yesterday, but what you will be doing today and tomorrow. Throw away the rear view mirror. If you are still breathing then you still have the gift of life and there is more for you to do. Each day is precious.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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