MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
By Deion Sanders with Tejado W. Hanchell, Ph. D
Life has a way of throwing things at you when you least expect it. Just when you’re standing in the batter’s box of life expecting a fastball down the middle of the plate, life throws you a curveball that you can’t handle – you lose your job, your home, your spouse, your kids are acting crazy, your boyfriend or girlfriend is inconsistent, or that big break you were going to get fell through. It’s almost like you’re in an episode of ‘Good Times’ and you’re James Evans. Life can sometimes seem like one big set up – like a joke that everyone else is in on – except you. Life has a way of making you feel like an outsider – even inside your own home or apartment. Is there anyone feeling me right now?
When it comes to the race of life, success is not found in the straightaways. It’s how we deal with the twists and turns of life that determines our success. Anyone can go from zero to sixty in a straight line, but I want to know can you handle the curves? One of my dear friends, Marco Andretti, is a professional race car driver. The first time I saw him race I was amazed at how fast they go. After the race, on the ride back to my house, he told me that the key to winning the race is how you handle the curves…while going full speed – and everyone else is doing the same. What do you do when the road of life brings you to an unexpected left turn just when you were planning to go right? What happens when you hit an unexpected roadblock or detour? What happens when someone else in the race who’s real close to you suddenly crashes right in front of you? The road to success is not a drag race…IT’S AN OBSTACLE COURSE. The one defining characteristic of an obstacle course is that it has OBSTACLES! In last month’s blog, I told you how to overcome your obstacles, but what happens when you don’t even see your obstacles coming? What happens when life hits you with the unexpected and you get blindsided? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? (I’m about to help somebody right now. Just hold tight.) There are three things I think we all can do to help us survive the unexpected issues that arise as we travel this obstacle course called life. Please keep in mind, in the middle of the word “life” there’s an “if”.
Expect the Unexpected
The only thing certain in life…is UNCERTAINTY. You WILL have unexpected difficulties in your life. I can’t think of one year, personally, in my 45 years of life that I haven’t had something uncertain or unexpected going on. The best thing that we all can do is to have some level of expectation that difficulties will arise. The problem is that too many of us base our life plans on “best-case scenarios.” We think success is easy. Just because we can pick up a book and read it from cover to cover, that doesn’t mean that we’ve got it. Just because we can recite the definition of success that doesn’t mean that we know what it takes to get it. We buy the car because we know we can afford the payment, but we don’t factor in what happens if the car breaks down. We must remind ourselves of Murphy’s Law which says, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.”
This doesn’t mean that you should run around being an eternal pessimist expecting everything to go wrong in your life, but it means that you should at least plan for the possibility of things not working out EXACTLY like you’ve planned them. Most of us call that Plan B. Put in a contingency plan for your life. If you know that life has a tendency to throw you a curveball…learn how to hit it! As I learned in baseball, put your weight on that back leg, wait on it and be patient, use your hands and hit that thing! Because you better believe it’s coming – especially when you have two strikes! When we expect the unexpected, life’s major emergencies become minor inconveniences. It’s not the end of the world if your car breaks down when you’ve been putting a few dollars away each month “just in case.” It hurts to pay for the repair, but at least the money’s there. (And you should have insurance.) Expect the unexpected.
Manage Your Expectations
Disappointment in life doesn’t only happen when life throws us things that we don’t expect. It also happens when life withholds things that we did expect. Many of us are disappointed far too often in life is because we have unrealistic expectations of people, places and things. I’ve always said, don’t love nothing that don’t have the ability to love you back. (I just preached right there!) The easiest way to set yourself up for failure is to have unrealistic expectations. One of the reasons many relationships fail is because of unrealistic expectations. You can’t expect that man or that woman to give you everything that you need when YOU don’t even know what you need. Perhaps the problem is not with them. Maybe the problem is with our expectations of them. When we manage our expectations we have some level of control over our disappointment.
I don’t expect my three younger children to act like my 2 older children, and vice versa. If I expected my daughter, Shelomi, who’s 9 years old to act like Deiondra, who’s 23, she wouldn’t be the problem. The problem would be my unrealistic expectations. I have seven kids that live under my roof, and there’s no way I can expect the same thing – mentally, academically, athletically and spiritually from each of them. I have to make an adjustment to my expectations in order for us to have a successful parental relationship. We have a show on Tracey Edmonds’ new network Alright TV called “Sports Dads”. The show is basically about parents who have unrealistic expectations of their kids. When we have unrealistic expectations, we will always have friction in our lives. We must learn to manage our expectations – not only of others – but of ourselves.
In my Hall of Fame speech, I made a statement that may have come off cocky, but it’s the truth. I said, “I expect to be great!” Managing our expectations may mean that we have to expect less, but it does NOT mean that we should not expect success! No matter what life throws your way, you still have to believe in yourself. My life’s motto and the motto of our TRUTH Youth Organization is “U GOTTA BELIEVE!” I don’t care how many unexpected problems have popped up in your life or how many disappointments you’ve had because of unrealistic expectations in the past. Never allow past disappointments to stop you from expecting your future success. You were born to be a winner! You were created for success! You were made in the image and likeness of God, and God don’t make no junk! Everything about you I pointed forward – your nose, your feet, your eyes. You were created to advance, to prosper, and to succeed. Keep moving forward!
Stop looking back over your shoulder in regret. Start looking forward in hope, and expect the best. Expect success! The Bible says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). I’ve got good news for you. It’s MORNING baby! Wake up and smell the coffee. Open your eyes and expect success. You may have been hit with the unexpected, and even found yourself a bit unprotected, but don’t let that change your expectation. You will never succeed if you don’t expect to succeed. Tell yourself that things WILL work out for your good. It may be bad right now, but it’s about to get good because I expect success! The cup you’re holding isn’t half-empty – it’s half-full. It’s all how you look at it.
Success is like a dog. Expectation is your whistle. Blow that whistle of expectation…and watch that dog come running!