Tag Archives: no excuses

Digging out

 

I am sure many of you have experienced the art of digging yourself out of a hole. I have spent my most of my adult life coming back from many poor decisions I have made.

I was on a perpetual merry-go-round of highs and lows as a criminal until 2005 when I was finally finished with the streets.  I had the next two years to work on myself and figure out how I was going to live as a normal citizen for the rest of my life.  My main objective was to keep being myself and doing things I was good at, but this time without breaking any laws.  

In the past, I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.  I did whatever I wanted.  In my new life, I would have to consider how my decisions would affect those around me.  The stakes were much higher.  In my past life, I had many experienced criminals mentoring me.  Now I was unsure of what steps to take or even who to speak to for advice.

Life presents many opportunities to us, we must keep our eyes and our minds open.  I had to change my way of thinking and my outlook on life.  Writing this now, I can tell you it is much easier said than done.  

I had to learn to trust that God had a plan for my life.  I had to have faith, which is something I never put much thought into other than believing in myself.  I stopped looking at what I could do to bring in the most money and instead starting thinking about where I felt God could use me the most.

It was hard to walk away from the life I had built in Los Angeles because it was comfortable to me.  It was even harder when life did not go my way in Illinois right away and I had very few friends.  I felt like I kept hitting dead ends, and to be honest I felt like giving up and moving back to California at times.  Instead, I kept pushing forward, putting in the days, with the belief that with hard work and prayer the right doors would open.

One of the turning points in the past year was when I threw myself completely into my work and decided that no matter what I was doing, I would do it to the best of my ability.  It was hard when I could not see immediate results, when doors always seem to close as I was looking for a space to teach or open a gym.  Even when I found space and started out, there were so few people I wasn’t sure if we would make it.  But I kept at it.  Kept showing up, putting in the work and praying for direction and God’s blessing.  

Life is by no means perfect, but I know I am on the right track.  I wrote out my goals and started chipping away.  Slowly but surely I have made progress. We all can…. with hard work, determination, and prayer.

Philippians 3:13

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

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Life: The Continuous Journey

Our lives are constantly changing.  We are ever changing.  In fact, millions of cells are dying in your body right now and being replaced as you read this blog.

I find it ironic that when we are young learning is stressed, but as we grow older many people no longer see the importance continuing education.  Many motivational and life coaches stress the importance of reading so that you continue to learn.  To me, this is just common sense.   When I finish one book it will usually lead me to another.  I always take away something new from each of them.

My life has been a continuous journey of change, and I love the challenge.  I constantly find something that I feel I could do better.  It might be the way I treat people, or maybe one person in particular.

It takes courage to leave our comfort zone. Getting started on a new path can be uncomfortable, if not downright painful.  When we examine our lives we can see that each small endeavor we have undertaken has added to our journey.

My own life has had many periods of plateaus where I stopped for a bit, learned what I could at that destination, and then moved on. History is one of my favorite subjects to study, because life repeats itself over and over again. Most of what we read is about in the news is the lives of politicians or the super wealthy or successful, but the truth is every person will experience life’s ebbs and flows on some level.

William Barclay Masterson was born in Canada in 1853 into a family that would include five brothers and two sisters.  They moved and settled on a farm in Sedgwick County, Kansas.  After very little schooling William left the farm at seventeen years old with his brothers Ed and Jim in search of work. They found work on a ranch near Wichita, and they worked there until they learned they could make two dollars and fifty cents per bison hide.  That began William’s Buffalo hunting period.  He and his brothers would be a part of one of the great battles with the plains Indians. A number of tribes joined forces to wipe out the trading post of Adobe Wells. At least seven hundred Indians descended on the small trading post at dawn, but William and his brothers, along with a man named Billy Dixon held them off from the store.  Billy Dixon shot an Indian off his horse from almost a mile away with a single shot Sharps rifle.

William and his brothers then helped grade railway beds for a short time before moving on.  William was later hired by General Nelson A Miles as a scout against the Indians.

William went on to become a professional gambler, working in the boom towns of South Dakota.  He started working in law enforcement in Dodge City, where in 1877 he was elected county sheriff.  He worked as sheriff, in a number of small towns across the western United States in the coming years.  He had become friends with President Teddy Roosevelt who ended up appointing him Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of New York, a job he would hold until 1909.

It was at that point William, now known as “Bat Masterson” became a national sports writer for New York papers.

Bat Masterson lived an eventful life in the American West, but he did not stop there.  When the west began to lose its luster, he moved to New York and began to write. He remained a well-regarded sportswriter until his death in 1921.

Many people take long winding paths to their goals, but one thing they all have in common and that is they are willing to change.

Take Saul of Tarsus, who was an educated Pharisee.  He studied the law and was very respected in his community. He had begun to attain the fame and notoriety in his time by persecuting the followers of Jesus.  He even went on a journey to Syria to help get rid of followers of Christ there, and that is when he had a fateful meeting on a road.

At that point on his journey he changed and his life completely, and his way of life before no longer mattered.  He even gave up his Jewish name Saul and took a Greek name, Paul.  He spent the rest of his life spreading the Gospel of Jesus and learning to live the life God intended for him.

What will you do with your life?  Are you willing to change?  Each of us must follow our own path, but one thing is for certain. We can never be content with just existing, we must constantly keep learning and growing.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

2 Timothy 3:7

Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

No Excuses

DCIM100GOPRO

Fun

When I was growing up, I watched the people around me and learned from what I observed.  I wanted to be a part of a certain criminal lifestyle, and everyone in that circle was older than me.  The only way that I could be a part of that world was to do everything better than those around me.  

I took all the advice that came my way from the older, more successful criminals around me. The mafia life is one of oral history and apprenticeship, there is no “school” to graduate from, so being able to listen was a huge part of it.

An older guy once told me, “Listen, nobody cares about your personal problems. Just get done what you’re asked to do.” That stuck with me my whole life.  The rules were clear. Do what you are told, and never come back empty handed or with any excuse.You always show up when called for, and on time. If there might be traffic, leave early.  If there might be bad traffic, leave earlier.  Being late was a sign of disrespect.

Those lessons became part of my life and I was able to see the consequences when people did not follow them.

Take some time to sit and listen to people talking around you in different places.  Observe conversations on social media.  You will hear a lot of blame and a lot of excuses.  It takes more courage to step up and take responsibility for your own actions instead of making excuses.

“But Kenji… Life isn’t fair! ________ happened to me!”

Life is unfair.  No amount of wishing, or talking, or blaming will ever change that.  What we can do is be as fair as possible in our own lives and accept that worrying about things that are beyond our control will do more harm than good.

You will be surprised at how much inner peace a simple act of stepping up and taking responsibility for your life will bring you.  If you made a mistake, you can analyze your actions  and learn what to do different in the future.  Worrying about what someone else did will get you nowhere since you can’t control their future or past actions.

Approaching life in this way and makes it easier to love others, even when they may have wronged you.

What would you lose by taking responsibility for your life?  Try it out for awhile and see what happens.  Like any new endeavor, it may take a bit of time to change your reaction in circumstances.  Learn to fill your mind by thinking about positive things instead of focusing on the negative events of life.  The other choice is to keep living life like so many who spend their days blaming others for their situation.

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Galatians 6:5

For each will have to bear his own load.

Philippians 4:8

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.