I grew up in a urban environment and attended a high school where the majority of the students didn’t graduate and go to college. In fact enrolling in higher education, becoming a CEO of a business, or getting into politics all seemed like fairy tale dreams for most of us. The phrase “Product of your environment” basically means that the person you are is a direct result of how you grew up and that the environment you were raised in influences the decisions you make now.  Although I do agree with this statement, I don’t believe it to be the end all be all. I’ve recently done a lot of research on the human brain and how it works as far as determining belief systems and taking action so I do acknowledge that the environment we were raised in has a major affect on our value systems, how we think, and how we set goals. However, at the end of the day we ultimately control our brain, which gives us the ability to change any mindset we may have. Getting into the details on how to do so is an entire lesson in itself but a simple way to make this change is to simply open your eyes.

Many of us are familiar with hip hop artist Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z. Like many hip-hop artists he grew up in a very urban environment where he thought the only means of making money was either selling drugs or becoming a professional athlete. He also thought that the entire world was exactly like his neighborhood, filled with poverty, violence and what have you. That is, until one day his elementary teacher took him on a class trip to her house in the New York City suburbs.  Now a trip to a teachers house many not seem like much, but to Jay-Z, this was the first time he ever saw an environment other than his own. The nice houses with yards full of green grass and beautiful trees were all new to him. Yet what stood out to him the most was seeing a refrigerator that had its own ice maker. What did this did for Jay-z was allow him to open his eyes and see that there was more to life than what was around him on a daily basis. That there were other possibilities available to him other than what his peers were doing. Since that day he made it his goal to have one of those refrigerators that made ice and I think we can all agree that he has that and much more.

While growing up I always tried to do the same thing. Instead of creating goals based on ones that all of my friends were making, I always wanted to look further and shoot for much more. Growing up I was very involved in athletics on a high level which allowed me to socialize with an entirely different demographic from what I was used to.  Although I often felt like an outcast, the experiences I had with my teammates and friends opened my eyes to an entirely different world of opportunities. With each new experience I made sure to create a mental image so that in the future I could have a clear view of what I wanted my goals to look and feel like.

Fast forward to present day and I still take the same actions of opening my eyes to the world.  If I go for a run or a bike ride, I purposely like to chose a route that travels through a wealthy area so I can see the big houses, big yards and fancy cars. I also have been fortunate enough to have met some wealthy individuals and I make sure to never miss or turn down an opportunity to either pick their minds or simply follow them around and see how they live their lives. It’s stuff like this that motivates me, because I WANT THAT LIFE! Therefore, if I put myself in the position where I can see it, feel it and smell it, I know that when I return home I’ll be that much more motivated to achieve it myself.

In order to hit a target you have to have a clear view of it first. As long as your eyes are closed to the world, you will never be able to see the endless opportunities that are available to each and every one of us. My advice is to go where you want to be because the first step in achieving a goal is creating one, and you can’t create a goal without a clear mental image of what that goal is.

Although you and I may have certain conditions that we may have to contend with we are not the condition! For example you might be fighting an illness such as cancer, which is a deadly disease. One may feel weak physically, mentally, spiritually etc. however that individual has the choice to not be their condition (cancer), one can still be positive and have an optimistic outlook and live a purposeful life.

You are not defined by your condition or confined to your condition. Too many times people think because things are the way they are they cannot change and they become confined to living that condition. When we are in conditions too long they begin to define us and it becomes the place of identification for us.  

How many times have we, perhaps, known someone and identified them based on a particular condition rather than who they were? I am sure you have done this before I know I have. For example I have gone out after work with a friend of mine and when I introduced him to others I referred to him as “meet my Boss” however we are friends and we were not in a work setting. On the same note you know someone who has a handicap so you start to identify the person for their handicap and disregard the individual for who they really are.

“Your condition will not determine your destiny but can be an instrument to shape you for your purpose in life.” Anthony Triplett

Thanks for reading

Are you Dying or are you Living?

The meaning of death is to no longer experience life or for something to come to an end (ie. The road leads to a dead end or you are working in a dead end job). 

At heart I am a natural competitor. I have always wanted to win at everything I have done whether it be in sports, education, career advancement etc. To this day I am the same way however I have channeled it differently, I now compete against myself. I am my biggest opponent, I face myself everyday in the mirror and I compete everyday to beat the man in the mirror. 

In my career I have made some advances to put myself in a better position to be successful. Starting a new job or career can be stressful and scary for some people but for me I thrive in the face of adversity I love a challenge. Being challenged keeps me “alive” while most people are staying in their comfort zone “dying”. That’s right its called paralysis by analysis. The term refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or "perfect" solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

Some people are content where they are in life but there are some people who are not and want to make a change but are scared therefore they “die”. They died because their dream or vision has come to an end or deceased. People become paralyzed in their own ways and never taking a chance and therefore stay stuck in one place dying each passing day because they fear change.

“When your dreams die so do you, live your dream and then you will experience life.”


The Greatest Battle

“The Greatest battle is not physical but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet, the steady dignity that simply refuses to give in. Courage. We all suffer. Keep going. ” ~Graeme Fife

One thing that I been wanting to write about is about the Greatest Battle, and that is the ultimate battle that you are always going to fight even when you are at peace you will be fighting it. That is against yourself. Why? because when you set out to pursue you goal, sometimes it’s not the people that will hold you back. Sometimes it will be you that will hold yourself back. This is very important because this can happen to anyone and its ok, there is nothing to be ashamed of because it has happened to the best. The important thing you can do is keep in mind that you did not quit. Although you may not have been ready for such responsibility at that point, you can always move forward and continue on. You may be moving slowly but surely. So let’s say next time that you are competing against someone else keep in mind that it’s not just that person that you are competing against, because take a good look in the mirror and that person that you see is the one that you are really competing against.

Be Yourself

“To be yourself, in a world that tries, night and day, to make you just like everybody else…is to fight the greatest battle there ever is to fight, and never stop fighting.” ~E.E. Cummings.

This is another point I want to bring up because it is relevant to the greatest battle and one of the most important parts of knowing yourself. Be sure to be yourself, do not settle for less just because people don’t like who you are, believe me there a tons of people in this world with different mind sets and different mentalities, you don’t have to be someone else just so that people can like you. There are also times when people will want to change your belief system because it does not match theirs and its ok, if you know your own self and belief system, there is no need to go changing, you keep believing in what you want. So stand firm and continue on with your head held high.

To view more posts from Martin please check out his site www.thedailydetermined.com

"In our quest to experience the more seductive and exciting “highs,” we have lost sight of the fact that most of life, indeed a vast majority of it, is made up of small things and moments, one right after the other."

It was the quote above that made me sit down and realize I have so much to be grateful for and so do you.

There is a little bit of beauty in everything we see however you will only see it if you are in the right mindset. Instead of focusing on how much Mondays stink focus on how blessed you are to see another Monday or how great the weather is or your one more day closer to the weekend. Our minds are powerful and how we think is displayed through our actions and behaviors. 

In the perfect world I love to have a million dollars (I am sure we all would) however I don’t and at times I get frustrated about my finances but on the flip side all my bills are paid, I have a roof over my head, clean clothes on my back and food on the table. To me that is pretty darn good and there should not be much to complain about at all. 

I am not saying to walk around like everything is perfect and always have a big smile on your face but I am saying try to see the brighter side of your situation. Appreciate the little things because when you look back on your life you will remember the little things that made a difference.

The key to living a happy life is to live a series of happy days.

Devon Rembert

The term hunger in this post will not only relate to food but the term will also relate to the drive inside of you.

Hunger is the following: 
• A compelling need or desire
• The painful sensation or state of weakness caused by the need of
• A shortage of 

Overall I feel as though I am in a good place in my life however to get to where I am I had to be hungry. To compete on a college track and field team, to graduate with multiple degrees, to find a career and excel I must have been hungry to complete and achieve all my goals. 

If you are not hungry trust me someone else out there is and when you come face to face with this individual he/she is going to eat and you will starve. Whatever it is you currently do or want to do in the future you have to just do it, create the drive inside and go after whatever it is you want.

Your challenge this week is get an appetite, become hungry! I want you to find that drive inside and get after it!

Thank you 

This past weekend my mind was racing with so many different thoughts, emotions and feelings and like in a basketball game when a team goes on a big run the opposing team calls a “time out”.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives whether it is work, children, school or life! In the past I did not know how to deal with these issues, I used to get frustrated or shut down emotionally. However I have learned other techniques to help me during stressful times in my life. The one technique I use is a “time out”. When a coach calls a time out in a game it is to gather the team, calm everyone down, create a plan to implement and collect ideas. The same goes for you when you start to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. During the time out I find a peaceful place where I can think logically about whatever the issue is. I think about ways I can solve my issue, look for resources I could use to help me, analyze my current situation and regroup. 

Your challenge this week will be to take a “time out” when you feel overwhelmed regroup, gather your thoughts and create a plan. I hope you find my technique useful.

Thank you for reading.

Fellow readers sorry for the wait I was on vacation celebrating with my best friends this past week, it is the only time of the year we all get together to treat ourselves. This piece I am writing was inspired by my experience this past week. 

To celebrate is to be festive the action of marking one's pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social activity. That is exactly what my friends and I did last week and you why? Because we have to treat ourselves sometimes to the finer things in life and take advantage of the time we have on this earth.

To many days of my life I have woken up early and gone to bed late due to working late shift or over night shifts, studying for exams, preparing for projects, dealing with personal issues, sickness/illness… every now and than you have “treat yourself”

Treating yourself could be going out to dinner, buy a new pair of shoes, a trip to the spa or just a day to yourself. 

We as human beings are happiest when we are balanced; when things in our lives seem unbalanced we become stressed. Part of creating balance and being happy is treating yourself.

Your challenge this week is to go out and treat yourself to something nice you deserve it.

Thank you for reading

This piece was inspired by a conversation I previously had with Akil about taking time to praise ourselves for all of our accomplishments.

I pride myself on being humble and making the best of my situation, I do what I can to live a positive life. Therefore you will not hear me speak much about all my accomplishments, but you will hear me speak about working to be better and wanting to do more with myself. As human beings we are our own worst enemy and nothing we do will ever be good enough. We will always want more and more and more… With that being said lets take time to reflect on our accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back! 

I have beat a lot of statistics and have done many things people told me I would not be able to do but yet I still want more! I know there is more to me than what I have done to this point however I need to pat myself on the back. It is important to look back to see how far you have come and recognize yourself for all your accomplishments whether it be passing an exam, buying a house, owning a business or learning a new language. You have to realize your worth if you don’t praise yourself you cannot expect others to praise you, be happy with the path you have created.

Your challenge this week is to take time out of your day and write down all your accomplishments up to this point in your life, it can be personal or career oriented. The purpose of this activity is to help you identify and visualize all the greats things you have done.

I hope you enjoyed my post and thank you for reading.

My story is about something I have been experiencing for last 9 years or so and did not realize it until a recent conversation I had with a role model of mine. 

Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms.   Most of the time when you think of peer pressure you make think of a negative experience however peer pressure can be very positive.  

All my life I have been a competitor no matter what the task sports, education, money, work etc. with that being said I have found my self challenging people in my profession on a respectful and professional level.  Recently I have been going head to head with collogue who is a good friend of mine however, he gets recognized on a national level for his work and it is an honor to work with him, however I do not receive the same recognition for my work, to me that sounds like a challenge! 

Since realizing this I find my self making attempts to be BETTER than him, which in turn creates a unique dynamic of a positive driving force relationship between the two of us because now he does not want to fall off his game to me and I am pushing him to be BETTER which makes me BETTER.  This competition is not known publicly it only exist between me and the person involved and at times the person may not be aware which I have experienced as well.  Seeing as I have been pushing the envelope and attempting to be BETTER I have been recognized on the University level with a recent award, divisional presentation, serving on committees, professional development and currently pursuing the opportunity to present on a Regional/National level.

Being competitive can be looked upon as a negative characteristic to some people.  In this case I am able to take a trait/characteristic, which is viewed, as negative and channel it to be positive I think this is possible with just about any negative trait: argumentative/layer, like to gossip/talk show host, humor/comedian you get the idea… 

My parents never picked out my friends for me and that taught me a great lesson, which I had to learn myself and that was not everyone who enters your life is meant to be in your life…I had to learn this the hard way. I cannot benefit from you being my friend there is no need for the relationship to exist.

In closing if you want to make a difference hang with those who make a difference, you want to make big money hang with people who make big money…its quite simple think about it this way when you want to have a good time, you hang with people who know how to have a good time.  The same goes for what you want in life…who is in your company?