Today is April 29 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you have courage to start over? In a small but impactful publication entitled The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, Marian Wright Edelman, American activist and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, summarized “Twenty-Five Lessons for Life.” In an interview she noted that “Growing up in Bennettsville, South Carolina there was one thing that my father continually stressed—education, education, education. My parents taught us that education and knowledge were an individual’s source of strength.” In The Measure of Our Success, Edelman noted: “Don’t ever stop learning and improving your mind or you’re going to get left behind. The world is changing like a kaleidoscope right before our eyes.”
Many people who figured out how to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well did so on their second, third, or even fourth strategy. They continued to learn and improve their mind. These people demonstrated by example that there is no limit to the number of times you can try something to figure out how to translate your dream into reality. Begin again and have the courage to start over and join the chorus of others who serve as examples. Three such examples are:
· John Glenn started over. Glenn is best known for becoming the first American astronaut to orbit Earth in 1962. But 12 years later, at 53 years old, he became a US senator in Ohio, a role he held for 24 years.
· Julia Child started over. Child worked in advertising, media, and secret intelligence before writing her first cookbook when she was 50, launching her career as a celebrity chef in 1961.
· Vera Wang started over. Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry at age 40. Today she is one of the world's premier women's designers.
As Eric Roth wrote for the screenplay of the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: “For what it is worth: it is never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There is no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
· How often have you placed a time limit on yourself?
· Why do you think you have given yourself a limited amount of time to translate a dream into reality?
· How often do you make the best of a life situation?
· Do you allow yourself to see things that startle you?
· Do you live a life you are proud of? If not, how often do you exhibit the courage required to start over?
Actor Terry Crews knows all too well the value of starting over to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well. He did, however, need to learn such a lesson the hard way. Crews struggled after retiring from the National Football League (NFL) in 1997. His initial dream was to have a long successful career playing professional football. That did not happen. He had to realize that playing in the NFL was not what he expected. The transition from athlete to civilian caused him to fall into a depression.
To cope, Crews turned to food. He would rent a movie from Blockbuster and stay up until early in the morning eating burgers, fries, and entire bags of cookies. He gained 30 pounds and had to accept the harsh reality he was broke, overweight, and needed a new career. As Crews said “I was hungry. Your stomach is growling, and you realize these kids got to eat. And you are like, man, I’m going to act. I’m going to cry on screen.” Eventually he gained control of his weight and started working out on a regular basis. Crews also moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and it would take several years of little or no work for him to break through into the industry.
As Crews recalled in an interview “I feel like I am a guy who is floating downstream, and I am going to go where I need to go. It is one of those things where I just say yes. You must be open to everything. I never thought I was going to be an actor. I did not have it figured out. But you must go. You have to be willing, and suddenly, you’re in somewhere you’ve never been.”
As 13th century Persian poet Rumi noted “Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the new one to come?” How often do you have the courage to start a new? Do you worry so much that your life is turning upside down that it is preventing you from exploring the new side of life to come?