I love the scene in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson’s character is being badgered by Tom Cruise’s character and he finally snaps:
“You can’t handle the truth!!”
The sad fact is, many of us – myself included – can’t seem to be able to handle the truth. Oh we may say that we’re strong and you can lay it on us, but really many of us are simply way too comfortable, don’t like to rock the boat, or would otherwise simply prefer to stay in the status quo. The good news is, we can change.
When I was 27 years old, I went to a friend of mine for some advice. He was about 20 years my senior but had been to all different places in the world, had a family, a log cabin, and taught science at the local private school. Someone I genuinely felt comfortable talking with about anything. I was 5 years out of college and had begun to recognize the Rat Race – you wake up, you go to work, you come home, you go to bed. Life was losing that idealism of youth and I was seriously concerned that I’d never get it back.
My simple question to my friend was, “Is this all there is?” He nodded, heard me out for a bit, then went inside. I heard him go upstairs and shortly he returned and handed me a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. My friend simply said, “read this and let me know what you think”. I won’t spoil it for those of you who may still be in the Matrix, but that book changed my life.
I didn’t even KNOW some truths out there until I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and starting peeling back layers. Now that’s a good book! Frankly the truths are out there if you just open your mind to them. Here’s one from 1957 – Earl Nightingale’s The Strangest Secret. It will blow your socks off.
If you want some simple examples of truth avoidance in your lives, look no further than goals you have made just in the past few months and then skipped out on.
- Exercise more
- Write more
- Get more sleep
- Work less
- Travel more
Chances are each of these goals was initially built on a truth of some sort. You wanted to exercise more because either you were gaining weight, missing some muscle mass from past days, or the doctor said “exercise, or else”.
Work less so that you have more time with your family because the truth is, family is more important and if you were serious about putting family first, you’d figure out how to work fewer hours but maybe more effectively without it being a financial problem.
Ok, that’s the slap-you-and-me-in-the-face stuff.
How about the good news?
You and I can change. We can decide right now that whatever happened yesterday was yesterday and is done and gone. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives and the truth is important enough to us, our families, our world that we’re going to face it head-on.
“But, Jeremiah, it’s hard.” you say. Yeah. I know. Been there done that got the t-shirt and I’m still learning and kicking myself in the rear. Face it – life is not just a walk in the park with everything getting handed to you. (As a non-PG rated anecdotal video clip, check out Dennis Leary’s blurb STFU) The real question is – is your truth worth it? If your truth and your why are not big enough to keep you awake at night or cause you to anxiety, then perhaps it’s time to find a mentor.
A mentor is someone you know and trust who will give it to you straight. Someone you can be accountable to. Not your wife or your husband or your mother or your stuffed teddy bear. Someone who you give permission to evaluate your hopes and dreams and what you’re doing to get there. Then make sure you give that person permission to hold you accountable every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 5pm. The days and times don’t matter. Setting up a schedule is the important part.
Don’t look for overnight success. This is a process. Earl Nightingale stated, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.”
If you’re serious about changing some things in your life, you’ll change some things in your life.