2022 February 8: Inspiration and Determination

Feb 08, 2022

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, a podcast and website by, for and about Baby Boomers. So, I apologize if you were listening live. It’s ten after. Oh my gracious. I am my own worst enemy, because I keep finding more things that would actually go with the story. I should put this in too, so I do appreciate that you waited around and I appreciate you everyone. So I’ll try to be less tardy and more on time, but it rarely works out it seems. 


So, last week, we talked about finding meaning in life and enjoying the world around us. This week, we’re going to extend upon that a little bit. We’re going to talk about living our life to the fullest, to our own life’s goals, and having faith in ourselves. I’m going to use an example from last night’s Olympics, something that was called to my attention. It’s actually a pretty inspiring story. 


So, let’s get started on that. So, like I said, and also last week, I did kind of wander a bit long so I apologize for that. I speak extemporaneously, much like in preparing the script for this, I keep coming up with more things that I want to talk about, and so things tend to wander because that’s just me, but they also tend to run a little long. So, we’ll see if we can be a little more concise tonight, and just maybe keep it under 15 minutes. We’ll see if that can actually work. 


So, yesterday, if you were looking at all on the Olympics, you saw the Russian skaters and the US skaters. But buried down in there amongst all the others and was brought to my attention by my extended family in Mexico, because they are all watching Donovan Carrillo from Guadalajara and Leon, Guanajuato. For those of you who follow me at all, you remember that my extended family is from Guanajuato. Guanajuato, Guanajuato, much like New York, New York, but they’re from Guanajuato and Leon is just a few miles away from that. 


So this young gentleman was actually pretty inspirational. It’s great that he made the Olympics, but it turns out he’d become the first Mexican figure skater to make it to the Olympics at all in 30 years. He’s also the first Mexican figure skater ever to make it to the final round of the competition in the Olympics. Donovan Carrillo, he’s a pretty inspiring story because, if you think about it for two seconds, you realize that there’s not a lot of ice just hanging around in Mexico in most places. So, it really took a lot of support from his family and his friends, and a lot of dedication on his part to that goal. 


He had to practice on hobby and recreational level rinks. He quite literally was skating in shopping centers, because that’s about the only place he could find ice to skate on, and with all sorts of restrictions like he’d be practicing his routine to the music and then other people start to skate and so they’d have to turn the music off. So now he’s skating just with the music in his head. Then there’s other people coming up and asking him what he’s doing and stuff like that. Tons of distractions and everything else. Bad ice to skate on. It wasn’t like the Zamboni was going around fixing up the ice in between every performance or whatever. Maybe they did it yesterday. Maybe they haven’t done it in a week.


So he had a lot of very fundamental obstacles. And you know his whole family supported him. His coach, his friends, even everyday people in Mexico all sacrificed to support him in his quest to bolster his country’s national pride and display the spirit of the Mexican people to the rest of the world. But you know, it goes even beyond that, because it took a lot of personal determination. If you read the back story at all, I’ll put it in the show notes. It’s 17 minutes long, but there’s a really nice documentary about him and his family, and it turns out one of my sister-in-laws, her son, knows his sister and knows the family, and said all the stuff you see in the documentary absolutely is true. They’re a wonderful family. They truly do support the kids, but on a personal level, he was shunned and bullied by all his peers. 


In Mexico, figure skating is kind of considered a girl’s sport, but of course, anyone who’s ever tried doing it would know that’s not the case. Tremendous amount of strength required but nonetheless, so, he had no peer support. No ice, limited money, and it just seemed like nearly insurmountable odds, but he persevered and became the first Mexican ever to make it to the Olympic men’s finals. So, if you go to that YouTube link, it’s a really nice video, and it just shows how a combination of personal strength and a support group can lead you through a lot. 


You might be saying, okay, well, that that’s nice but what does any of this have to do with Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and things like?  So I’m glad you asked that because it has everything to do with us. The reason is, how often have you felt overwhelmed at the odds you’re facing or at some approaching significant goal, and the goal could be almost anything. It could be something very specific like retiring from my job, or I finally have to get on Medicare, and those of you who have followed me for a long time, you may remember that the basis for this whole podcast initially was going to be talking about how you sign up for Medicare. I talked to people to be on the show about that and I’ll probably get around to doing that again. But Medicare is just needlessly daunting and difficult and obscure and obtuse. It’s for no good reason. It’s very difficult because all of a sudden you find out that the insurance plan you’re on isn’t qualified so you have to get off that insurance plan. You have to get on this other new insurance plan. You’re getting all the stuff in the mail. You have all these things coming down to you. Like what am I going to do? Well, even when the odds seem really big, if you focus on things, and keep track of your goal, then, you can get through them. If you have some support from your peers, it makes it that much more practical for you to get through them. 


If you think about Donovan, let’s go back to his name for a second here. You know if you go back and think about how he was being told oh that’s just a girl’s sport, and you should be playing football like all the other guys, think how many times people have said to you, well you know you’re really kind of old for doing that or isn’t that for kids? You know if you say well, I want to go on this trip and there’s a bungee jump and he says come on Jim, that’s for kids. You know, why don’t you go somewhere nice? Go to the shore and do something, hang out with some of your peers, or go for a cruise or something like that. But that’s not my dream, and people are really quick to criticize other people, or even to ridicule you, for wanting to follow your dreams. 


Donovan could have given up at any particular point in time. There we go. There’s Donovan, a nice, young gent. If you look at his legs, you realize he looks like a runner, and because skating is actually a very demanding sport, because you have to not look like you’re as strong as you are, and it’s all balance, it’s all speed. He has a lot of things to overcome. But what he did was, he just did it. He made that his goal, and the neat thing about that is it’s the same thing where we are. He could’ve easily given up at any time. No one would have blamed him. He could have lived on thinking about how it wasn’t his fault, how everything was against him. He had a lot of reasons, and they’re all valid reasons, quite frankly. But instead, he persevered, he thrilled his home country. He made millions of people proud of who they were. Actually, one of my sister-in-laws said, it made her heart almost burst with pride. I thought it was a really sweet little thing. She was just so excited.


The real timeless and ageless lesson from all this is at least twofold. First, the only thing keeping you and me and all of us from pursuing our dreams is ourselves. Obstacles exist for everybody, but if you keep your eyes on the goal, and keep looking beyond the obstacles at what you really want to do, your mind will guide you, over the obstacles, around them, or even through them, to get you to your goal. If you have faith in yourself, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be. 


Second, never underestimate the power that you, as an individual, have to inspire and motivate other people. I’m not a particularly “out there” person, but I've had people tell me how some little thing I did really inspired them - either to do something they thought was beyond themselves, or to act in a bigger way than they thought possible. A lot of times, it really surprises me because I'm not even sure what they’re talking about. Just by taking a little bit of a chance, it really inspires other people to try and live their lives to the fullest. You know, and this isn’t about getting a big head about yourself thinking, oh, I’m an inspiration to the country or whatever, but this is simply recognizing that when we share our passion with others, it encourages them to think differently about the world and about their place in it. 


So, it may give them courage to try something new, or to forgive someone who hurt them, or to become comfortable with all the imperfect imperfection that actually makes them uniquely wonderful. We are all made up of things that are good and some things that aren’t perfect. That’s what makes us ourselves. So if we become comfortable with that, we can still put ourselves out there and try to let other people see what can be done. We can be an inspiration to every person we meet. That’s something that’s pretty exciting to me. 


On a related topic, if you follow me for any length of time, you know that I’m somewhat religious, so when I heard about Donovan’s performance, I knew it was upcoming. It was coming up in just a few minutes. I sat really focused and prayed really hard for Donovan. It was very specific. What I prayed for was that, despite all the crowds, despite all the excitement, that he didn’t lose his focus - because I used to play sports, in high school and college, and when you get into a crowded area or you get into a different situation, it’s really easy to lose your focus. 


Think how much inspiration and pride would have been missed if Donovan had listened to all his peers and been a mediocre soccer player, or just gave up on sports completely. Instead, he’s already inspired an entire nation and is planning to appear again on the world stage in Milan at the next Olympics. 


He has a goal. He’s looking to the goal, and he’s not focusing on the obstacles. He’s focusing on the goal, and I would encourage you to do the same. Think about what you want to do. Work towards what you want to do. Don’t worry about the obstacles. Will they get in your way? Sure, but you will get around them if you keep your eye on what you really want to do. There’s nothing stopping you from inspiring a nation or just inspiring a random stranger to make the world a little bit better and to make their life a little bit better. 


I want to give a special thanks to my whole extended family and my ex-fiance. They helped me write this, and they welcome me to the wonderful Mexican culture. The world is large and full of really interesting and great things. I encourage everyone of you to explore and to learn about and embrace new cultures and peoples. I’ve met a very large number of people who are always surprised that I would even consider going or staying in Mexico for more than a hotel for a day or two. I know people now, just through my language learning and other things, from a number of countries, and every one of them has been fascinating. 


When I was very young, I went on the very first World Scouting Friendship Tour and spent some time in Europe and in Belgium. With Dirk Vander Beaugair. I remember Dirk well. We had a good time. He opened my eyes to how big the world is and how much can be different. I would encourage every one of you to open your eyes to the world. Get out. Travel. Meet other people. Maybe other people in your city. Just look for other cultures, and it will really open your mind and really open your thoughts to how the whole world operates. It also actually shines a real bright light to the politics and the news that you see. And it really gives you a different perspective on how the whole world is going on. So, I encourage you to embrace new cultures, new peoples. You’ll be pleased with what you find. 


So, that’s it for the week. Thanks for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you’d like to hear. Have a great week. Thanks for visiting. Remember to live the life that you dreamed of, because that’s the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone, and see you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com

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