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You CAN Make it Through These Dark Times! PART 2- A Winning Strategy to Conquer Adversity

I wasn’t originally planning on releasing a part two, but after receiving feedback from you beautiful people, I decided to continue the conversation and introduce “a winning strategy to conquer adversity!”

As you already know, life is a journey. In Part 1 (Click here for Part 1), we discussed a quote by award-winning poet, Theodore Roethke: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” As I continued to read and think about this topic, it reminded me of a challenging hike I completed when I was doing the Mission Trails Regional Park 5-peak challenge. It was not the most physically demanding thing I have done (U.S. Marine Corps training will push you to your limits), but there were definitely a few extremely challenging portions.

The Journey

There was one particular portion of the North Fortuna Mountain that gets fairly steep; especially after inclement weather. The natural competitor in me forced me to complete this trail numerous times…but the first time was not a pretty sight! When I first approached this portion of the trail, I heard a loud, Drill Instructor-esque voice in my head yell, “attack the hill!” So I looked down and began charging up the steep incline that led to the summit–pumping my arms and power breathing as I went. I kept my head down in hopes that this would somehow help me magically arrive at the plateau quicker. Unfortunately, this was not reality. The further I hiked, the steeper the incline became. After about two minutes, my legs were burning, I was panting, and I was raining sweat.

I finally glanced up… I was definitely not as close as I thought I’d be. In fact, I hadn’t made much progress at all! So I had a choice to make. You see, I had already determined I was going to finish the hike. (Once I put my mind to it, it is going to happen!) So turning back wasn’t an option, but I had another decision to make: how should I motivate myself to complete this hike? Should I focus solely on the plateau? How long will I dwell on my progress (or lack thereof)? Should I closely monitor my progress as I continue to go forward?

I chose the latter and restarted my journey. After a couple more minutes, I checked my progress. When I looked back I initially thought, “I haven’t gone anywhere!” Then I noticed some people who were close to where I started. “Those people look small,” I thought. “I am farther than I thought!” That’s all I needed to continue pushing! So I started to hike again; looking back every 5-10 steps or so to see if the people behind me were getting even smaller. After another couple minutes passed, I decided to look up to see how far I made it. “You haven’t gone anywhere!” I exclaimed to myself. The tree I marked during my last break was still relatively close. I made less progress this time than I did before my first stop.

This is where I started to feel sorry for myself. “I am doing my best to get in better shape, and I cannot even motivate myself to get past this hill!” That’s when it hit me. I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me. While I was glancing back, I found myself slipping on loose sand, stumbling over rocks, and falling off the path. In hindsight, this made my journey even more rigorous!

I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me.

The Winning Strategy!

With that in mind, I developed a new winning strategy that would eventually help me overcome this challenge and subsequently make it to the summit. Before I restarted, I established what I called “checkpoints” or “mini-goals” along the path where I would rest and reflect (i.e. celebrate my progress). While hiking, I paid close attention to where I stepped; ensuring I constantly progressed as each step was on solid or compacted soil. Lastly, I kept my overall goal in mind: reach the North Fortuna summit, take a picture, and enjoy sunrise and the peaceful nature around me. It is important to note, this portion of the trail did not get any less steep or challenging; however, I knew I had the winning strategy to conquer this adverse situation and achieve my goal.

There are a few things I learned from that hike that I believe are helpful…

  1. Rest and reflect. One of the biggest contributors to successfully completing this hike was implementing my mini-goals. I set my sights on several large rocks, trees, or recognizable features along the trail and said, “do not stop until you reach that mini-goal.” Once I reached my mini-goal, I did a small celebration to commemorate my progress. In essence, I broke my journey into manageable chunks that I could physically achieve and implemented preplanned opportunities to refresh my mental resiliency. The stops were not long; just quick enough to catch my breath and celebrate my progress. As goes life. Schedule quick moments to rest and reflect on progress, then keep pushing towards your ultimate goal!
  2. Live in the moment. While grappling with today’s challenges, we cannot allow ourselves to be burdened by yesterdays news or overwhelmed with tomorrow’s issues. Focus on traversing the path ahead of you and achieving your mini-goals instead of gazing at the things behind you or worrying about tomorrow’s uncertainties.
  3. Be aware and selective of what (or whom) you allow to validate your efforts. I was gauging my success on the trail off of someone else. In retrospect, those people were taking pictures, enjoying nature, strolling, and most importantly, they didn’t even take the same trail. We currently live in a society where it is easy to allow likes, shares, comments, money, and praise to validate us. The issue is those things are temporary. We should only find validation in things that are permanent (e.g. your purpose in life). For me, it is inspiring others. My efforts are validated when my children’s books, blog posts, speaking engagements, and my platform in general inspires someone else to pursue their own goals and dreams!
  4. Don’t lose sight of your goal. My overall goal was to reach the summit, and I did! No matter how challenging the journey, never forget where you are going. Your “why” is what drives you day to day. Your “where” is what makes the journey worth it! You can and will achieve all of your goals! Believe in yourself!

Have a fantastic day, and know that you CAN and WILL make it through these dark times!

Want a little help making it through these dark times?

I partnered with my friend Deb Kartz to bring you a FREE 21-day virtual summit! Therein, you will enjoy pre-recorded interviews with industry experts who will give you proven strategies to conquer anxiety & toxicity! Click here to register for free!

Register for FREE to learn more winning strategies!
Register for FREE to learn more winning strategies!

I am one of the featured speakers, and I am excited for you to join! I’ll be sharing my own methods on how you can conquer anxiety and toxicity! Anxiety and toxicity are just another way that sneaky “shadow” tries to creep into our life and our children’s lives. As my Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow says, “The Shadow is a person… or maybe a thing… or a place. The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay.” Not anymore! We are going to expose that sneaky shadow and kick ’em to the curb! Join us for FREE as we #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!

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Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity

Proven techniques to help you reclaim your life. Get unstuck and thrive!

Hello my friends! Imagine being able to stay in the comfort of your home listening to top experts giving you tools and strategies that are proven to conquer anxiety.

Imagine your child’s future of success and resilience. Imagine you being able to feel confident within yourself. Now that’s invaluable! You can join “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity” for FREE and gain access to live interviews from experts in the industry. Use this link to sign up!

Not convinced you should attend yet? Here’s a little more background:

My friend, Deb Kartz, asked me to help her lead a life-changing pre-recorded summit for parents and professionals to take a deeper look into Anxiety and how it can impact the lives of children, teens, and adults! Yes, anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress and helps us notice dangerous situations and focus our attention, so we stay safe. However, when anxiety starts to interfere with daily activities and routines, and you or your child feels nervous, panicky, or fearful on a regular basis, it is when you need to face those internal feelings.

When you’re feeling anxious or having a panic attack, do you notice your palms get sweaty, and your heart feels like it’s going through your chest?

Is your child glued to your hip and won’t sleep in their bed?

What about your teen who makes all the excuses in the world not to go to school?

Is this what you’re experiencing?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to reduce your anxiety so you can keep moving forward with confidence? Have you felt stuck and frustrated because your child is stuck in their emotions, feeling anxious, shy, or angry?

If so, I have something mind-blowing to share with you, but you’ve got to act fast before it disappears!

You’re invited to be a part of this amazing summit with expert speakers to help you get unstuck and receive the tools to make a difference in your life and your children. We are putting this pre-recorded summit on so you can get the tools and thrive with confidence.

This event, “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity,” will give new light and hope to moms, parents, caregivers, and professionals.

Did you know Anxiety disorders are among the most common and most treatable mental health conditions that impact adults, children, and teens?

Parents are uniquely positioned to help their children because children look up to their parents for reassurance and safety.

The biggest misconception about anxiety is people think it should be avoided, which can cause adults and children to fall into a bigger trap and feel anxious, fearful, and angry.

Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity” will open a new doorway so you will learn new ways to approach your anxiety and your children’s anxiety. With proven techniques, tools, and strategies, you will feel confident in yourself, and you will see your child grow with self-esteem and be resilient.

This 21-Day summit aims to build awareness that anxiety is treatable. You will have new insight into dealing with your child’s stress and see when they are stuck in their emotions; you will be able to work through it together. You will gain confidence in yourself as a parent with anxiety. This 21-day pre-recorded summit is FULL of scientific studies backed with research that gives you the tools to get unstuck and flourish and help your child and loved ones who are suffering in silence with anxiety.

My friend Deb Kartz is a Parent and Wellness Coach and creator of “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity.” She wants to share this exclusive invitation for you to be fully immersed in your heart’s dream to go from feeling trapped inside your body to feeling confident within yourself and have your child flourish with self-esteem. Deb wants you to receive guidance from experts she hand-picked for their expertise in anxiety.

Sign up here!

Deb is a mother of three grown children who once lived a life of complete turmoil and trauma for over two decades. After years of research and education, she has been able to help her children through their trauma and transform her own life. Her passion is to educate and help others understand the importance of nature, nurture, and growth.

Together with my friends and colleagues, I want to give you the encouragement and knowledge to get unstuck with your anxiety and be resilient to promote a nurturing, safe, engaging environment for your children. You will have the tools to encourage your children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and behavioral competencies! Don’t let anxiety take over. You have it in you to thrive; you just need the tools to break the cycle.

I’ll be sharing my own methods on how you can conquer anxiety and toxicity! Anxiety and toxicity are just another way that sneaky “shadow” tries to creep into our life and our children’s lives. As my Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow says, “The Shadow is a person… or maybe a thing… or a place. The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay.” Not anymore! We are going to expose that sneaky shadow and kick ’em to the curb! Join us for FREE as we #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine, mentor, Best-selling Author, and your expert on how to #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!
Olaolu Ogunyemi U.S. Marine | Mentor | Best-selling Author

Invite a friend… or two… or one thousand (it’s up to you)! Just forward the link to whomever you’d like to invite!

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The Road to FINANCIAL SUCCESS!

19 “Mile Markers” to develop your financial management skills and set you on a journey towards financial success.

The road to financial success is always a hot topic, but around this time of year, we tend to throw out any trace of actually managing our finances. I mean really, it is such a thrill to find a good sale, right?!

Yep, it is all fun until we blow a proverbial tire (i.e. we run out of money before we run out of bills). That’s usually when reality sets in.

Some of us have no problem avoiding sales because we hate large crowds, standing in line, keeping up with the latest trends, or spending money in general… But then here comes this old crazy lady named “Sallie Mae” who just wants to rob us blind for trying to better ourselves. Trust me–been there, done that, paid enough for thousands of t-shirts but ol’ Sallie never sent me one.

I’ve got news for you: there is hope! My brother–Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor”– and I are going to give you some tips that will put you well on your way towards achieving financial success. Just think of us as your friendly roadside assistance technicians. We are going to help you change that blown tire and navigate towards a bright financial future! And get this, none of this is a secret. Many people (myself included) have embarked on this challenging but exciting journey and have come out better. Share this article with everyone you know, and let’s journey towards financial success together!

Roads are a record of those who have gone before.

Rebecca Solnit

The 19 Mile Markers

1. Set your goals!

Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!

Storks

We must begin by writing down clear individual and family (as required) financial goals. Use this 4-point inspection to set your goals. Each of your goals should be: 

  • Focused on specific events (e.g. retirement), activities (e.g. travel), and opportunities (e.g. lump sum debt repayment).
  • Aligned to your values, beliefs, and overall strategy.
  • Quantifiable–associated with a realistic timeline and your financial situation.
  • Simple, clear, and concise. Don’t overthink it.

For example: A lot of people say, “I want to be a millionaire!” Sounds great! Us too! But does this pass the 4-point inspection? Not quite. Let’s see if we can fix it.

  • I will achieve a net worth of at least $1 million by the time I retire in twenty years (focused). I will cut expenses by reducing my restaurant allotment by $100/month, cable subscription (save $125/month), and carpool to work (save ~$60/month on gas) (quantifiable). I will work with my financial planner to add this to my other monthly investments (real estate, brokerage account, etc.) (aligned) to take advantage of compound interest. (Simple, clear, and concise)

Last tip on this point, post your goals in common places. That way everyone in your house can see and believe in the goals. The refrigerator is a great place to post!

2. Develop and maintain a “can do” mentality!

Are you a doer or a don’ter?

Johnny Wu, Pain & Gain

Ok, ok. Enough quotes for today. But seriously, let’s develop “doer” mindsets. Repetition is everything. You are what you tell yourself. So we challenge you to adjust your vocabulary. Stop telling yourself what you cannot do! Instead, tell yourself what you will do. Look in the mirror and affirm you can, you will, and success looks GREAT on you! Eventually, your body language, habits, and work ethic will exude confidence and excellence.

3. You get the first piece of the cake!

Imagine this: you get a freshly baked cake every pay period. As soon as this delicious, savory, warm, sweet-smelling cake comes out of the oven, the entire community shows up at your doorstep to take a piece of the cake that you earned. Being the kind person you are, you let everyone have a piece–often leaving yourself with the crumbs (like the little crumbs that get stuck under your fingernails). Not anymore!

We are applying our favorite birthday rule: you always get the first piece of your cake! So we advise that you pay yourself 10% first. Make this automatic. It’s your money! Let it build your emergency fund. Build that fund to at least $1,000 (goal is 3-6 months of expenses). Then, continue to work this muscle to build your long-term savings/investing.

4. Write down every last one of your expenses!

Divide your expenses into two baskets: essential and non-essential. Within the essential basket, break them down even further into variable and fixed expenses. You are conducting a Sherlock Holmes investigation into [Insert your name here]’s personal finances. We want you to be the best forensic detective ever! Identify where you spend literally every penny (even the ones that fell out of your pocket into the couch). Here are a few more things to think about:

  • Find out where your money is going. 
  • Learn to what/whom you are dedicating your time and resources (priorities) and what you can potentially cut.
  • Study your spending habits to understand how all your expenses tie together. You may reveal an ugly truth. (e.g. a $5 value meal may not seem like a lot, but it adds up when you spend that amount three times/day.)

5. Prioritize your expenses and pay them on time. (This is where writing down your expenses comes in handy.)

We are going to state the obvious, essential expenses take priority over non-essential. Every. Single. Time. (e.g. XBox Game Pass does not come before food for the kids.) So make your bill payments automatic. Here are a couple of things to think about:

  • Check out these four essential “expense tires” that your financial vehicle cannot run without: Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. Prioritize these above all other expenses. 
  • Live below your means. You cannot live a Boardwalk lifestyle on a Baltic Avenue income. (Yes, that is a monopoly reference.)

6. Develop a budget aka a “monthly spending plan.”

Ok, new assignment. You are now the Chief Financial Officer of [Insert your name here] Inc. Congratulations on the new assignment! 🎉 Your new job is to create a spending plan. Here’s what you must include:

  • How much money did you bring home? (post tax aka “net income”)
  • You have already written down expenses. So now, let’s create a “zero-based” budget.
  • Pay yourself first–How much are you able to set aside each month for your personal savings, emergency savings, kid’s college fund, etc.?
  • Don’t forget to prioritize those four expense tires (food, shelter, clothing, transportation)
  • Obliterate debt! (We will talk more about this on Number 14)
  • It’s ok to put your fun activities into your budget! A budget is not stressful, it is fun. 
    • We will continue to “drive” this point home: You are telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
  • Give! Give! Give! Be charitable. The more you give, the more you receive!

7. Start learning more about your paycheck, benefits, tax status, etc.

This is where a good financial consultant and/or tax accountant comes in handy. A good finance professional will teach you how these things work so you won’t unintentionally give free loans to Uncle Sam (i.e. wait all year for a gigantic tax refund) or owe Uncle Sam a ridiculous amount of money when tax season arrives.

8. Plan ahead for large known expenses!

We’ll give you an example: Christmas is the same time every year. Why does it still come as a surprise to us?? Plan ahead. Save. (maybe catch some items on sale throughout the year). Whatever you do, be ready for known large expenses.

Emergencies happen, but failing to plan for known large expenses is often one of the biggest disruptions on our journey towards financial success.

9. Reconcile your checking account monthly.

You don’t want expenses sneaking out of your account. Reconcile what you spent and when you spent it. For example, I (Olaolu) noticed a $0.99/month payment going to Apple from my account. I did not know what it was for and neither did Apple. This is a small amount, but again, every penny matters when you are doing “zero based” budgeting. 

  • If you are single, have a monthly board meeting with yourself. If not, have a monthly board meeting with your family. 
  • It is ok to talk through what went well and what can be improved. 
    • Here are some [nonconfrontation] questions you can ask: What went well this month? What are areas of opportunity?

10. Learn more about investing.

Again, having a good financial professional is key. Let them teach you the ropes. DIY investing doesn’t often end well.

  • Do not jump in the deep end of the pool! If you do not understand it, do not invest in it.
  • Stay away from get-rich-quick investments. It seems like there is a new one every week. Do not fall for it!
  • Educate yourself so you won’t end up in a situation you cannot easily escape (*cough* Bernie Madoff *cough*).

11. Develop a retirement plan as early as you can.

  • Time is on your side. The earlier the better. Take advantage of compound interest (aka interest on interest).
  • Make sure the risks align with your goals. For example, if you plan to retire in five years, you probably should avoid extremely risky investments. Conversely, if you have thirty years until retirement, you may feel more comfortable assuming more risks.

12. Develop a college plan for your children as early as you can.

Despite what we think, not all of our children will get an athletic scholarship. Some [most] of us will have to pay for our children’s education. It would suck if your kids are unable to pursue higher education because you did not prepare. It’s all about planning ahead. 

  • Begin saving as early as possible (preferably 16-18 years but a late start is better than no start)
  • Plan as if your child will not receive a single scholarship. If they do, you created a substantial nest egg for your child to begin investing. Win-win!

13. Start saving for a down payment towards a home.

Owning your own home is a huge step towards financial success.

  • Despite what people may tell you, your home can be an asset if done correctly.
    • Make sure the asset side of the home outweighs the liability side (i.e. it’s worth more than what you owe on it).
  • A home can be passed down (generational wealth)
    • You are setting your kids up for success while starting a generational wealth cycle.

14. Become debt free.

Again, we cannot allow the lenders to eat all of our cake! The “Debt snowball” method worked for us, so that is what we recommend! Here is how https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ explains it, “The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next-smallest debt payment.”

15. Learn all about insurance.

Insurance is a must have. Life, health, home/renters, disability, long-term care, identity theft, and auto insurance are seven of the top must haves! Do your research to find the best price for the best product. Review and update your coverages regularly.

  • Insurance exists to transfer risk of financial loss from you to the insurance company.
  • Insurance is like an umbrella–if you don’t have it, you risk getting rained on when the storm comes!

16. Monitor your credit report!

You can get one free report per year from each of the credit report bureaus. Here’s how to get your free credit report: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/free-credit-reports

17. Keep great records!

Remember, you are the CFO. You’re in charge of ensuring your company’s financial success.

  • Imagine you were also the CEO of your company. Would you give your CFO a bonus or would your CFO be collecting unemployment?

18. Develop an estate plan and will!

Another must have. We will all die someday. It is a fact of life. Do not make your family guess your wishes. We must normalize developing and discussing our wishes before we die. Do your best to avoid leaving behind a grieving family that is fighting over assets, money, or your wishes. 

19. Have fun on your journey towards financial success!

We know this seems like a lot, but it is not a terrible journey. Is it challenging? Of course! But we were always told that all things in life worth having are challenging. Accept the challenge! Turn on your best perseverance jams! Let’s enjoy this journey to financial success!

Want to learn more about personal finance and/or need a little help on your journey towards financial success? Purchase Dr. Clement Ogunyemi’s book Nine Tenth! Regardless of your religious beliefs, the sound financial principles taught in this book are proven to work! Click here to find out more! Also, you can reach Dr. Clement Ogunyemi on his website: https://www.4qfinancial.com/about/

Meet the Authors (Yep, we are brothers!)

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Author | Mentor

A loving husband, Father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with the bond that is forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments.

Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps families hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.

Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family.

Connect with him at:

www.parent-child-connect.com

Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor”

Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor” is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 4Q Financial Management LLC. The company assists clients in maximizing their wealth and reducing taxes. Some of its most popular services include Financial Management, Financial Education, and Tax Planning. Clients of all kinds are accepted. 4Q Financial’s offices are located in Northwest Arkansas where they have developed a remarkably positive reputation working with the local community.

Dr. Ogunyemi has been a finance professional for nearly a decade, with the scope of his work ranging from investment banking with Morgan Stanley to managing funds of the world’s largest and most profitable retailer, Walmart.

Dr. Ogunyemi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management, Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Corporate Finance, and a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.

Through his experience, he has learned the importance of sound budgeting and spending. He is currently a Chief Financial Officer Consultant for several organizations and serves as a finance chair for several non-profit organizations.

His doctoral study centers around the importance and impact of financial literacy programs on an individual’s financial decision making.

A frequent traveler and entrepreneur, he enjoys working out and spending time with his beautiful fiancé, two sons, and his dog.

For more information be sure to visit https://www.4qfinancial.com.

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What I learned from my recent appendectomy

Happy Saturday my friends! I hope you had an amazing week thus far and your weekend is even greater! My weekend? Let’s just say it has had a unique start. I underwent an appendectomy!

I was chuckling during this pre-operation selfie. I told the surgical team, “thanks for protecting my beautiful head full of hair.” (I’m nearly bald for those who didn’t know.)

No matter how big or small, I always try to find a lesson in each of life’s circumstances. So what could I have possibly learned from an appendectomy? Well, the first thing I learned is that seeing a medical professional early on can make a huge difference. This was the first time in my life that I did not attempt to “tough it out.” The medical professionals were able to fix the issue in the early stages (before the infection in my appendix worsened and rupturing became a threat). But there was a larger life lesson.

The life lesson: We must quickly address life’s hurts and pains.

Let’s backtrack for a second: I woke up this past Thursday feeling normal. I went through my morning routine and showed up at the gym at 6 am for my one hour Yoga session. Such a relaxing start to the day ☺️. As the morning progressed, I began to feel a small pain/discomfort in my stomach. I initially thought it was nothing more than gas (sorry if that is TMI 😬), but I wasn’t so sure anymore by the time I arrived at work. It was getting worse throughout the day, but I was reluctant to express this feeling to my peers. After all, they probably already assumed it was COVID, so I did not want to cause alarm. There was no hiding it, because I am always jovial; striving to be the one to bring brightness to the room. Contrarily, I was quiet, withdrawn, and exhausted. One of my colleagues even said, “Are you ok?…You look like you are really hurting.”

Luckily, I was responsible for picking my son up from school that day, so I had an excuse to leave early. When I made it home, I laid on the couch and slept. I tossed. I turned. I tried lying upside down. I took Tums… Anything to relieve what I thought was simply “trapped gas.” That evening, I told my wife the words that let her know I was actually in pain, “I am going to the doctor in the morning to see what is wrong.” She knows I HATE hospitals, so she knew it must have been serious.

I arrived at the hospital Friday morning, still playing the tough guy role. I imagined they would hand me something to quickly relieve the pressure in my stomach and allow me to go home. At this point, I just wanted to “rule out appendicitis.” I mean seriously, my phone was on 40%, and I left my charger in my vehicle; I just knew this visit would be short! I was wrong.

After reviewing the Computed tomography (CT) scan, the surgical team came into the room to confirm I had appendicitis (a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus, causing pain. Source: Mayo Clinic). Thankfully, I sought help early enough to avoid a rupture. The surgical team presented me with two options:

1. Take antibiotics to “hopefully” reduce the inflammation.

2. Remove the appendix to eliminate the chance of reinfection.

I chose the latter, and the rest is history.

Why did I share that entire story?

I was able to identify several parallels between my life and my recent experience.

1. Pain is an indication of something more serious. Sometimes we become so accustomed to emotional hurt and pain that we ignore it. We consider ourselves “lone wolves.” We “tough it out” because we do not want to look weak. We mask our pain. We pretend we are ok. We attempt to become numb to the pain. We ignore it in hopes that it will go away. The downside is it does not go away; it just intensifies. Then, we find ourselves attempting to treat the symptoms with things that may cause the pain to temporarily subside only to find that the pain only increases–requiring more temporary treatment measures. We focus more on covering/treating the pain than identifying the root cause.

2. Though they can see straight through our ruse, we attempt to hide our pain from others. I knew I needed to bounce back after the first time my colleague asked, “are you ok?” So I ran to the store and grabbed tums and ginger ale. After about 30 minutes I said, “I feel much better after my Tums, ginger ale, and [lightly salted] veggie chips!” I said it in such a way that I even started to believe it. I told an occasional joke or two to throw him off. Meanwhile, the pain was worsening, and he wasn’t fooled. How often do we do this? Instead of admitting we are in pain and seeking help (or allowing others to help), we attempt to hide it. “I’ll be ok.” “I was built for this!” “Pain is weakness leaving the body, right?” Those are just a few of my go-to quotes. What are yours? Regardless, no one is falling for it anyway, so why not just get the help we need?

Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.

J.K. Rowling

3. I got the help I needed. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough guy, but I challenged myself to do something different this time. I decided I would get help instead of self-medicating. I am so glad I did. The surgical team informed me that my case was worse than they originally assessed via CT scan. Meaning, had I not gotten it taken care of, I risked rupturing my appendix (potentially fatal). We should normalize seeking professional help. Attempting to self-medicate our problems tend to make things worse. I learned this from previous injuries, and I am encouraging you to do the same. Do not try to do this on your own. Stop trying to hide or mask the pain and get the help you need to remove the root cause. Which moves to my last point:

4. You must address the root cause. When the surgical team presented me with options, I felt the answer was obvious. To me, Option A was: The surgical team would immediately treat the symptoms in hopes that the problem would not resurface. Option B was: The surgical team would remove the root cause which will immediately hurt more but has a greater chance of preventing future pain (reinfection). I chose the latter because that option addressed the root cause–my infected appendix. Simply reducing inflammation would have led to temporary relief. Chances are I would have returned to the hospital with the same pain in the future. So yes, I exposed myself to risks and pain associated with surgical removal, but in the long term, I do not have to worry about my appendix becoming reinfected… Because it is gone. Addressing the root of the pain was the right answer for me, and I believe it is the right answer for all of us. Healing and recovery may hurt and take time, but I will confidently endure knowing I made the best long-term decision for my health.

I know facing hurt and pain is a challenge for all of us. It can be scary and make feel vulnerable and weak. However, we must address the root cause of our pains if we want to live a healthy physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life. Today is your day. This is your sign. Allow me to be your friend today who is pointing you towards seeking help. We can do this together. I believe in you!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling author

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How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!

I have said it a million times; The Lion King is one of the greatest movies ever! One of my favorite scenes is when Rafiki smacks Simba on the head with a stick. In my younger days, I loved that scene solely because I thought it was hilarious. Well… I still think it is hilarious, but now I have a more profound understanding of why Rafiki smacked Simba. Rafiki was challenging Simba to adjust his perspective.

Source: The Lion King

Let’s begin with this quote:

Life is like a weight room: full of things that can either crush you or make you stronger. It all depends on your perspective. -Olaolu Ogunyemi

So how do we transition from being crushed to building strength? Easy(ish)! We must adjust our PERSPECTIVE in the following areas:

Pressures of life. Let’s deal with the word “pressure” really quickly. Pressure is defined as a “continuous physical force exerted on or against an object.” When we describe the “pressures of life,” we often think of a continuous crushing feeling that breaks us down or holds us back. However, as a person who spends a fair amount of time working out, I think of the word “resistance” when I read that definition. For years, we have acknowledged and enjoyed the benefits of resistance training (i.e. we build muscle strength as our body adapts to the continuous force against it). I challenge you to view the pressures of life through this lens. The pressures of life are opportunities for you to grow, develop, and get stronger and wiser than you were before!

Energy. When it comes to positive energy, I have said in the past, “you are what you think.” This merely scratches the surface and gives the illusion that positive energy is derived from simply maintaining happy thoughts. Let’s develop a deeper perspective. In addition to “happy thoughts,” we must live a life of hope and anticipation to create sustained positive energy. The key is to always remember that everything will work out just fine no matter how heavy the resistance is.

Relationships. It is so easy to develop transactional relationships in this life we often refer to as a “rat race.” Quick exercise: look at your current network (contacts, business/social media connections, etc.). Make a ball park assessment of how many people you have added to your network for transactional purposes. If you are anything like me, that number is pretty alarming. Does this mean we are evil for wanting to build our network to grow our businesses or platforms? Absolutely not! The focus here is to transition current and future contacts from transactional relationships to genuine relationships. (Hint: there is a reason the vast majority of effective leaders are people oriented). I challenge you to be true to and transparent with your personality, characteristics, and values. That way you attract people who connect to you for those reasons. In turn, I implore you to connect to people for the same reasons.

Seasons. Just as the four seasons are associated with a change in climate, life’s seasons change based upon the world around us. We must be aware of and adapt to these many changes. Do not mistake this for changing who you are and/or abandoning your values. Instead, develop creative methods to serve others in ways that align with the season. For example, if you enjoy social media and your passion is teaching others to dance (for the record: Definitely not me. You don’t want to see my uncoordinated dance moves), why not combine the two during this season when social media continues to thrive? Gladly welcome change and thrive in every season!

Patience. Fellas, if you want to spark WWIII, look your wife in the eyes and say, “I prayed for patience, and God gave me you!” Ok, I’m sorry. Back to business. Growing patience requires action. I believe we are naturally inclined to want immediate results. That is why inventions like the microwave have been successful for decades! I love how dictionary.com defines patience, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” We will discuss the emotional control aspect a little later, but let’s first discuss the “capacity” portion of this definition. We expand our capacity each time we learn to delay gratification. This is where hope and anticipation comes into play. Our belief that everything will work out just fine drives our hope and anticipation which expands our capacity to accept delay without negative emotions. Let’s normalize waiting with anticipation.

Endurance. Earlier, we discussed how the pressures of life aka “resistance” helps us build strength. Consistently building strength over time creates endurance. Fun fact: When you exercise consistently, your body continually adapts and strengthens which requires you to increase resistance to continue to get stronger. You see where I’m going with this yet?! As goes life. You are stronger today than you were yesterday! So keep building that strength! Keep working hard! Keep pushing! You are strong and resilient, and you have the endurance to continue growing from the pressures of life! In the words of my old basketball coach, Nick Brown, “if that does it motivate you, you don’t have a pulse.”

Chance. Life is full of risks. Even driving to work exposes you to danger. Today I want to encourage you to believe in yourself and take a chance! I found an excellent article on therapychanges.com that describes the psychological benefits of risk taking. Here are the 9 benefits the author (psychologist, Rochelle Perper, Ph.D) describes: 1.  Unforeseen opportunities may arise; 2. Build confidence and develop new skills; 3. Develop sense of pride and accomplishment; 4. Learn things you might not otherwise; 5. The chance to actively pursue success; 6. Spurs creativity; 7. Opportunity to create change in your life; 8. Develop emotional resilience; 9. Feel more engaged and happy.

Time. I view time as one of the most precious nonrenewable resources we have. In other words, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Firstly, that is great news because we should not dwell on our past failures. Like Rafiki said, “It doesn’t matter! It’s in the past!” My buddies in the Marine Corps would say, “that round is down range, and it ain’t comin’ back.” Those failures of past times are gone… so let them go! Secondly, we have to budget our time the same way we budget our money in that we should be intentional about how we spend it. I’m not encouraging you to obsess over time; rather, I want you to avoid wondering, “where did the time go” at the end of the day. Develop priorities and be intentional about who and what you spend time on.

Inspiration. Sometimes it gets tough to maintain that hope and anticipation we’ve mentioned a couple of times. So how do you continue to push? What drives you? What is your “why?” Your inspiration is the wind beneath your wings during thriving times and the force that drives you through valleys during low times. This is your purpose, conviction, and mission in life. Three quick questions to ask yourself: 1. What activities, thoughts, or passions energize me? 2. What are my greatest strengths? 3. What value do I bring to those around me (hint: we all bring value to those around us)? The intersection of these answers will reveal your inspiration.

Victories. Celebrate wins! I don’t care how “small” they may seem. For example, I typically workout 6 mornings a week. Although this may seem routine and mundane to others, I absolutely love working out first thing in the morning, so I celebrate every day. No matter how challenging the workout, I complete it! This victory sets the tone for my entire day, which sets the tone for my week, which sets the tone for my month, and so on until it sets the tone for my life. I won! I defeated the urge to roll over in my bed that somehow feels the most comfortable when my alarm sounds. The daily victories reinforce the fact that I am a victorious person (one who consistently wins), and so are you! What victories do you need to start celebrating?

Emotions. Around 4th grade, I learned that humans are also called “homo sapiens” and we are in the Mammalia class. It was so fascinating to learn about our connection with animals. These lessons encouraged me to explore my primitive behaviors and actions (especially in sports as I yelled, “I’m an animal!“). When I entered Junior High, we began to discuss how we differ from animals by introducing key terms like “cerebral cortex.” I then became fascinated with how our mind is capable of processing complex thoughts, languages, memories, and emotions! The older I get, the more I admire our minds’ complexity. This admiration caused me to shift how I view our emotional responses. We have complete control of how respond or react to a given circumstance. This emotional control is fed by all of the previously mentioned tenets and like the others, takes practice. Food for thought: How will you respond? Will you use your admirable complex mind, or will you revert to a primitive response to adversity? You have the power to choose!

Life throws so many things at us. The weight of the world often makes us feel as if we are unable to cope. This is your encouragement: you can make it! The resistance is making you stronger! You have what it takes! Let’s adjust our PERSPECTIVE and live a better life!