By Guest Blogger DaNika Neblett Robinson
I slid the balcony door open, walked to the end of the railing in front of me, and stood there. Soaking up all of the beauty. To my left was the sun rising as it peaked through the palm tree leaves that swayed from left to right. In front of me was a picturesque view of someone parasailing over the aqua blue water beneath them. To my right was a middle-aged man wearing earbuds and walking a trail in the 70-degree weather that would peak at 90 degrees by midday.
I sat down and reflected. I was on vacation. I could finally stop for a few days and do nothing. No emails to check. No meetings to hurry to and no numbers to crunch. No football practice to scurry a child to. No choir performance to slip in the back of the auditorium to hear my baby’s alto voice melodically come through. Nothing but me, God’s creation, and the fears I had decided to toss into the body of water in front of me.
Back home in the U.S., where I was a leader in my community and at work, I often had to be mindful of eyes watching me – which made me as cautious as the seasoned woman I observed wading in the beach water in front of me, holding the arm of the person who walked beside her. My trip to paradise allowed me to throw caution to the wind, however, as I boarded a catamaran and sailed with the native who guided the vessel to the furthest part of the blue horizon that I could see with my naked eyes. As I sat there on the open vessel, I realized that I had conquered a fear.
You see, I had pondered that boat ride for a few hours, afraid I would drown like I almost did at 10 years old. Only this time, it was not a pool. I was surrounded by water so deep I was sure that if I took a plunge, the life jacket would not save me. At this moment, on the catamaran, I felt superior. Fear no longer controlled me.
Traveling exposes you to many sites and experiences and provide opportunities to reset, regroup and refresh. One could choose to go thousands of miles away from home or simply a car ride down the street. The idea is to get away and do things outside your norm. I’m glad I did, and I encourage you to do the same. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.
DaNika Neblett Robinson is the author of a novella, The Metamorphic Journey, about three teenage mothers’ quest to succeed. The Metamorphic Journey is also the name of a movement she founded to provide individuals with opportunities to foster personal growth. DaNika has served as a higher education administrator for more than 20 years and is currently the CFO of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. A recent graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, she holds several other degrees and uses that knowledge, coupled with her expertise in transformational leadership, to empower young adults to embrace their purpose. Learn more about DaNika and her body of work at www.themetamorphicjourney.org.
On this first day of November, may we all remember to define and strive for success in ways that fill us and fuel us to bring our best selves to each day and every encounter. The outer trappings of winning at life should simply be the “gravy” we’re grateful for; not the end game.
So here’s my challenge to you (and to myself): For the next 30 days, let’s bathe ourselves in an attitude of gratitude, so that we can more fully appreciate the present for all the gifts it holds. They are there; let’s take some time to see them, big and small – from the breath you’re breathing in this moment to the smile a stranger may have shared.
See yourself as a winner because you are, in your own worthwhile way. And in the places where you’ve stumbled or tumbled, look for the lessons that can help you grow. Embrace them. Doing this will help accelerate success, because life rarely offers a straight and seamless path to victory.
It is the bumps and bruises and twists and turns along the way that make our journeys – and especially our successes – all the more meaningful and memorable.
Only you know the purpose that fuels your passion;
Only you can conquer the mountain over which your destiny awaits.
How you get there matters just as much as when.
- Focus with fearlessness. It’s natural for fear and doubt to sneak up on you every now and then – we’re all human. When it surfaces, pause in the moment and recognize it for what it is. Briefly analyze what’s causing the anxiety, then decide to push forward.
- Persist with integrity. Be the same person in private as you are in public, and be sure that’s a person you honor and respect, so others will learn to do the same. Make decisions filled with honor and fairness so that you can expect the same when others deal with you. Not everyone will treat you right; but in your doing the right thing consistently, you’ll sow enough good seed to make a positive difference.
- Dream big, then do. If you don’t dream beyond your borders you’ll have no new territory to conquer. Allow yourself to imagine the grandest vision possible for your life, then sit down with pen and paper (yes – old fashioned journaling) and map out your path and plans to get from idea stage to reality. Stay the course and eventually you’ll get there.
- Travel with likeminded warriors of hope who’re willing to stand with you. Everyone needs friends, family or colleagues who believe in you as much as you do – those supporters who will remind you why you started and insist that you finish on the days you want to quit. Some of us may have a tribe of people and others of us may have just one. One is all you need, and as Beyonce’ once sang, in some instances we have “to be our own best friend” and be that one! Whatever it takes, stick with hope.
- Bless and release those meant to travel another way. Not everyone will get you and not everyone has the stamina to stay the course with you until you win. Be grateful for the part they’ve played in helping you grow, embrace those lessons and wish them well. Just because their part in your story has shifted doesn’t mean they didn’t add some value. Yet, value yourself enough to know when your inner circle must morph in order for you to get unstuck, avoid becoming stuck or humbly soar to your next level.
- Be an example of the light and generosity of spirit that make the most difference, and remember to treasure the journey as much as achieving your goal. Everything begins and ends with love. Keep this circular reality in mind and operate accordingly, so that when you arrive at your destination, you’ll have few regrets.