encouragement honesty inspiration Inspirational Thoughts motivation openness

Where Authenticity Meets Vulnerability

The word ‘Authenticity’ and the phrase ‘Be Your Authentic Self’ have become extremely popularized in recent times in a world which is supercharged by intolerance. Intolerance is a significant impediment to Authenticity.

In our day to day existence, we are faced with the dilemma of either being honest about who we are and possibly risk ostracism and isolation, or being forced to pretend to be ‘someone else’ or ‘something else’ to gain acceptance, or to avoid discrimination. This dilemma arises in response to perceived, and often times real, societal norms and expectations that dictate how we should look, behave, or even dream!

The dissonance that results from this disconnect has had untold negative impacts on the affected individuals for generations. The different coping mechanisms adopted by individuals in response sometimes compound the situation, often leading to tragic outcomes.

When we shape our expectations of others solely on the basis of their background, we sometimes inadvertently treat them based on the expectations that our stereotypes dictate. This discourages authenticity.

O. N. Rowe

When we are intolerant of others based on how they are different than we consider ourselves to be, this discourages authenticity. When we deny others the freedom and opportunity they deserve to express their individuality and all that this entails, this inhibits authenticity.

In fact, I believe when we take the stance that our personal characteristics, circumstances, backgrounds or experiences make us in any way superior to others, we are being arrogant, self-righteous, narrow-minded and disrespectful.

Everyone, regardless of differences, have a right to be their authentic self without fear of repercussions. However, as a starting point, we all need to be honest about who we really are, vis a vis who we portray ourselves to be. We need to be willing to be vulnerable!

O. N. Rowe

Authenticity in its real sense removes the clutter from our psyche and provides the clarity of purpose that unleashes the power within us to accomplish our dreams, regardless of how ‘different’ they happen to be.

encouragement inspiration Inspirational Thoughts motivation

Past Experiences Vs. Future Expectations

Don’t let past experiences derail your future. A change of fortunes might be just around the corner.

There’s a saying that goes ‘Once bitten, twice shy.’ The essence of it is that if you have a particular bad experience once, you will be inclined to expect a similarly bad experience next time around.

To some extent that makes a lot of sense. After all, who would want to risk having a repeat of a bad experience, especially one that had a huge impact on them?

Unfortunately, bad experiences are part of life and come via many sources, some expected, and others devastatingly unexpected. Some result from our own actions or non-actions; other times through other persons’.

In response to what might appear to be frequent disappointments we rationalize and comfort ourselves by saying we ‘…expect the worse and hope for the best’ in our quest to avoid further disappointment. This can be a dangerous approach to take!

This is because our reality tends to be aligned with our expectations because our expectations influence our actions. Simply put, we put out greater positive effort where positive returns are expected. Bottom line: effort often determines success.

In spite of past disappointments, we can set ourselves up for success in the future by taking our disappointments in stride, learning from them, and continuing to pursue, and expect, the very best outcomes in the future.

O. N. Rowe

Bottom line: Don’t let your past experiences shape your expectations for the future.

Expect BETTER to rise with the dawn of each new day.
encouragement inspiration Inspirational Thoughts motivation

Giving Your Best

There’s always a struggle against complacency and arrogance; success demands our full focus and the right attitude

Not everything you set out to do in life will go your way; and that’s ok. The important thing is that some will! Sometimes you can never tell which will turn out to be a success – even the ones you are most certain about can fail, and the ones you least expect to, can succeed.

The reality is that there are some situations where you possess all the right skills and resources to succeed at, but you fail because one critical ingredient is missing: the right attitude.

Yes, sometimes we become overconfident and arrogant – believing we ‘cannot’ fail because of how ‘good’ or ‘talented’ we are. This can lead to a sense of entitlement that sees us under-prepared, or become overhyped, or even to underestimate the full scope of what is required to succeed thereby under-exerting our effort.

O. N. Rowe

Sometimes we even underestimate the desire of someone else to win in instances where there are competitors.

Where these acts of self-sabotage take place (and that is exactly what they are), failure is almost assured. The fault for such unexpected outcome then lies squarely at our feet even if we seek to transfer the blame on someone else, or on something else.

Therefore always be humble and be prepared to work hard; to run through the tape; to keep your shoulders to the wheel. If, after all that, failure is the outcome, then you can feel satisfied that you gave it your best shot.

And that ALWAYS means that you are better off than you would have been, had you not given your best.

Only you can say whether you have REALLY given your best.

How To Make TODAY Perfect (Hint: It Already IS!)

How will you spend your TODAY?

Today is Monday (where I am). That’s a fact! Today is a perfect day. That’s also a fact.

Is our situation necessarily perfect? Perhaps not, but let’s not allow our situation, nor our perception of it, to cause us to lose sight of the beautiful opportunity Today presents for us to take a step or two towards making our situation better!

Being alive TODAY gives us a perfect chance to start afresh and redouble our efforts in pursuit of the changes we seek. So let us take a moment to change our perspective and see the beautiful individual we are, with all the potential within us to accomplish whatever we set out to achieve today.

Let us embrace the changes that are possible within us as we develop patience, persistence, and strength through our circumstances no matter how uncomfortable they are.

O. N. Rowe

Because our situation, however imperfect, does not have to define the kind of day we have TODAY and EVERY DAY!


Profile in Courage: You Can Be An Inspiration To Others (Pt. 7 of 7)

Your own courage can serve to Encourage and Inspire others

We all can agree that if confronting and overcoming our respective fears was so easy, hardly anyone would fear anything whatsoever! But for those who take that bold step, you are demonstrating a recognition that overcoming is up to you.

While confronting our fears, we often prefer to do it away from prying eyes primarily for fear of intimidation and/or embarrassment. At times our closest friends, or even relatives, are not aware! After all, this might be a pursuit that is personal to us. Nevertheless, whatever setting or circumstances works best for you, go for it!

Despite our best efforts, however, it is hard to fully escape the eyes of others. It then becomes quite possible that among those eyes are some that belong to someone who join in cheering you on! Further, for some, upon seeing your courage, may just become so inspired by you that this provides them the impetus to take on their own personal fears!

As your courage builds, would you allow yourself to inspire others? You don’t even need to do anything different except being willing to share your story with others.

O. N. Rowe

I can assure you that regardless of what fear you are working to overcome, you are not alone. So as you diligently pursue your goal of facing your fear, you may never know who is watching.

Yes – You. Got. This!

Profile in Courage: Give Yourself GRACE (Pt. 6 of 7)

Celebrate the small wins

In the end, regardless of the outcome, a willingness to take the first step in the journey towards confronting our fear, is in itself a victory worth celebrating. It is these steps, baby steps though they may be, that account for the most impactful growth we will ever experience.

As we proceed into the unknown, we might either find that on the one hand, the thing we had feared all this time is not the great terror we previously thought, or that on the other hand, with the correct amount of effort, commitment and information, we can not only overcome, but indeed thrive!

Take the first step towards overcoming your fear and give yourself an opportunity to see your courage, and self-belief, grow in leaps and bounds.

O. N. Rowe

As you take that first step – Give yourself GRACE

As you rise up after having been knocked down – Give yourself GRACE

As you take action to part ways with that toxic or abusive or negative person – Give yourself GRACE

As you take on that project that you have been putting off all these years – Give yourself GRACE

As you step out of your comfort zone and move forward in your goal of improvement – Give yourself GRACE

No matter what the undertaking is, so long as it represents a deliberate act on your part to confront your fear – Give yourself the GRACE you deserve!

O. N. Rowe

That may very well be the best gift you can ever offer yourself as you prepare to confront your next challenge!


Profile in Courage: Redefining Success (Pt. 5 of 7)

Success looks different for everyone. What success of yours will you celebrate today?

What exactly is success, and who defines what success looks like? Who said ‘success’ has to be the achievement of some grand, lofty goal, as measured by societal norms? Who so pompously declared that for you, even getting up out of bed isn’t a resounding success of the highest order? And who said you even need to have already finished what you started in order for it to qualify as ‘success?’

When our focus is merely on ‘success’ we tend to see anything short of that as failure. We might feel our effort has been wasted. We might even feel that the nay-sayers who voiced their pessimistic views or words of discouragement, were right! Such a view not only ignores our effort, but also dampens our drive to undertake a future task where a successful outcome is not assured. And that would be a most unfortunate outcome.

However, when we put our journey in its correct perspective we will see that it takes a special kind of courage to take on a challenge, especially one that takes every ounce of courage we have. Your struggles are often personal to you, and you alone are most intimately aware of the struggle you face daily.

You are best placed to be your biggest cheerleader. Sometimes, even the decision to START, translates to success and that is worth celebrating.

O. N. Rowe

I am convinced that by redefining success you will find that you have been displaying tremendous courage all along, and deserve far greater credit than you had thought.


Profile in Courage: Confronting Your Fear (Pt. 4 of 7)

The power over you which is inherent in that which you fear is limited to the extent of the power you relinquish to it

It takes a special kind of courage to confront our fears, recognizing that we might lose the battle – this time – but we will keep on trying again and again until we win!

What do you consider some of your biggest fears? Is it Public Speaking? Is it getting yourself out there? Is it being laughed at when you try and fail miserably? Is it ‘this?’ Or is it ‘that?’

Not that it matters what exactly you fear; everything that you fear can be confronted and overcome. The best way to overcome your fear is to do the thing that you fear! In doing so, you give yourself the opportunity to actually overcome it, because you cannot OVERCOME until you ATTEMPT!

That which you fear only has power over you to the extent of the power that you have relinquished to it. When you decide to take back that power, you will find that you are on your way towards overcoming that fear.

O. N. Rowe

Yes, it takes a special kind of courage to attempt to do something you feared doing in the first place – even where others consider it easy – because it means you recognize that by doing it you are taking steps to confront your fear.


Profile in Courage: Recognize The Courage In You (Pt. 3 of 7)

Just because something might be harder for you to do, or take you longer to do, is not a reason to avoid the challenge. In fact, a willingness to take on a challenge despite the obvious difficulties it will present, demonstrates a greater act of courage than any accomplishment by someone for whom it would be considered ‘easy.’

Courage is when you don’t see the full way ahead, but you start anyway. Courage is when you decide that instead of putting your life into someone else’s hand, you are going to take charge and set about building the best life you can. Courage is leaving an abusive relationship even though you don’t know how you will make ends meet. Courage is leaving your comfort zone in pursuit of your dream.

Ascribing to yourself – or to others – a level of courage, success, or even effort solely on the basis of meeting a specific goal is to miss the fact that courage at times is not tangible. In other words, you cannot judge something someone does as having been ‘courageous’ just because they do something. I believe that courage is to be assessed by factors that are often internal to the person experiencing a particular fear or trepidation.

It is therefore not fair to deny yourself the satisfaction of each small step you make; it is not fair to deny yourself the patience you need when you have tried and failed; it is not fair to deny yourself the forgiveness you need when you ‘fall off the wagon’ and are back at Day One in your tracking; it is not fair to deny yourself the opportunity you need to grow into someone you can be proud of, recognizing that you are not yet who you want to be but you are working on it – you are working on YOU!

It is not fair to deny yourself the freedom you need to recognize and celebrate your victories as you go about exercising the courage you have within you.


Profile in Courage: Recognize That Fear Is Normal and Universal (Pt. 2 of 7)

Take a look around you: everyone you see is likely struggling with their own fears. You are not alone!

I am no psychologist but there is enough evidence to show that fear is learned – and by the way, fear is not necessarily such a bad thing! Different experiences as we grow up, along with words seared into our psyche, can shape our responses, and help to determine the things we fear.

Our different personalities also interact with our experiences to influence the level of fear we hold towards different things. Regardless of what the object of our fear is, the fear is real and can be debilitating. Moreover, regardless of whether or not someone else feels our fear is justified, that will not take away our fear.

It helps for someone to be comfortable with, and open about, their fear. Vulnerability is a state that we all seek to avoid, but it is through our willingness to be vulnerable about our fear that we develop the confidence to confront it. Some people who might appear fearless in the public domain, are actually quite fearful. For some the remedy is unfortunately drugs, which serve to inhibit fear and create a false sense of bravery which, sometimes, lead to undesired outcomes.

Embracing our fear, and taking deliberate steps to challenge them, is ultimately what will lead to a redefinition of how that which we fear impacts us going forward. Overcoming our fear does not necessarily mean we are no longer afraid; it just means we won’t let it control us. The first step towards overcoming our fear, therefore, is to Confront Our Fear.