Do This and you will Never Fail

chicagotj.org oralndo pulse shooting


Tragedy always has a way of showing the true substance of human beings. The stories of heroism and sacrifice are still pouring in from Orlando Florida, where slain shooter Omar Mateen killed and wounded over 100 people Sunday Morning in a gay nightclub called Pulse. 

Ordinary, untrained civilians threw their own safety to the wind to protect lovers and strangers alike. These sorts of events are always bittersweet; they show us the worst in some people, and they bring out the best in others. Without so many police officers and civilians working together, surely the casualties would have been much, much greater.

When John Donne penned his iconic phrase, “No man is an island”, he was referring to the acute synchronization of all people to each other.  All things that affect one person, affect us all: good, bad or ugly. And yet the irony…an island is in fact isolated from all other land-masses by its very definition. Surrounded by water, it is seemingly safe from outside intrusion and danger. It is also cut off from any external support. Be not on an island that is laid to siege during a war; the inhabitants will surely starve. 

We all need support sometimes. Try to be very cognizant of people who consistently show you support. You will recognize them because they will be the people that support your dreams and goals. You need people like this in your life. Whether you are highly successful or just starting out in your life’s calling, none of us will get to that next level without supportive people in our circle.

As we develop and become more skilled, more experienced, more exposed…people who consistently support our efforts are like the scaffolding workers erect to steady a new construction project. These people support and lend their strength to the very lives we are trying to build.

To be an island is a death sentence. Rather, build your inner circle

 Like a back brace, supportive individuals are the exoskeletons that bolster our hopes and aspirations to pursue our dreams. Like polish applied repeatedly to a pair of professional dress shoes, such people comprise the layers that shield us and protect us while we are exposed to the storms of gradual, incremental progress and personal improvement. None of us…not any of us…can live this life without the help of others around us.

When I was going through my first divorce, my mother took me in after a rather violent breakup on the part of my ex-wife. She moved me back home, a grown man with 4 children.  She made sure I was awake for work in the morning, she gave me money and she even helped with my bills. My mother gave incalculable support to me during a very challenging period of my life.

When my brother returned from the Army, I paid it forward. I made sure he had money in his pocket, bought him things he needed, drove him places he needed to go, and helped him decompress after returning home from a war zone.  Today He’s fully acclimated, working two jobs with a child of his own, and when we hang out, he tells me constantly that he remembers how I was his support.

To be an island is a death sentence. Rather, as you build your inner circle, fill it with individuals that will help you become a peninsula; surrounded by the waters of uncertainty that are inevitable in this life, but attached to a large, immovable structure that will never fail when you need it most.

Be certain that you do not take the supportive person for granted. Because they delight in shoring you up, it is easy to become lazy in our reciprocity of their support. As much as it depends upon you, be there for them in their times of need as they are there for you.

Remind them and yourself constantly how grateful you are for their support. Appreciation of sacrifice goes along way, and you both will feel good about it.

Always be cognizant of some way to pay it forward every day.