Warning – Although this is a remodeling blog – I sometimes choose to ‘go reflective’ on lessons life is teaching me. This post falls in this category.
I’m in the most dynamic place of my business career (at the ripe young – yes that is underlined for importance – age of 59). It’s amazing how a new product launch with a laminate shower wall panel system with unlimited potential can light a fire under this young (OK – I’m stretching young a bit here) dude.
I see many of my similar-aged business buddies winding down. They’re retiring, selling their businesses, or hanging on to work a few more years.
Me, on the other hand, I’m doubling down. I’m taking bigger risks. Ideas are exploding in my brain. I’m experiencing opportunities larger than at any other point in my career. I’m a man on a mission. I’m moving at a pace like I’m 29 or 39 years old.
All of this sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Well, while it is darn good (and I’m blessed indeed for these opportunities), but perfect it’s not. As my father Joe told me when I was a green-behind-the-ears 25-year-old, “Son, you will be tested.”
While Dad was right, what he didn’t tell me I was going to be tested again and again and again. Life would not, can not and will not be a straight line up (and that sucks). I’m still dealing with (whether I like it or not) my (un)fair share of battle scars.
It’s with this understanding of life that I felt like I was hit between the eyes with a 2” x 4” when I heard the song from Toby Mac, Scars Come with Livin’ (check it out below).
In this post I’m going to ‘borrow’ (hope you don’t mind Toby) lyrics from this song. I’m going to give you a 59-year-old, ‘ever-so-slightly-graying’ (at least until the next round of hair coloring) dude’s reflections on these words.
My hope (and prayer) is that this song (and these words) will help lift your head up high and recognize you’re not alone. There is hope. There is a perfect path for you (even if it’s not the one you envisioned). You’re capable of forgiving and finding the joy in today. I hope you enjoy (and find useful) these 5 reflections as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them for you.
Reflection #1 – We are not alone
When things get tough for me, my first reflex is to shut down. I get quiet and don’t say much (OK – some people will say in my case that’s a good thing!). Then my emotions can move me to anger (which I internalize). I’ll find someone (in my mind) to blame. I’ll think about how I’m going to fix it (hey- I’m a guy – isn’t that what we’re supposed to do is fix things?).
This idea to fix it myself is rooted in being stubborn, proud and delusional. As I’ve gotten older, the more I realize the tougher the problem (and relationship problems are the biggest and most important on the list), the more I now know I need to reach out to others for help. There is strength (and wisdom) in our vulnerability and asking for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
Fortunately, this world was designed to be lived and loved with others. Life is not a solo journey. There are others willing to lend a hand (but you and I need to reach out, be willing to accept the help, or challenge ourselves to ‘be the help’ for others).
This is an area I’m challenging myself to improve. For those of you who know me, you know I’m an eternally ‘glass half full guy.’ This is a blessing, but it’s of zero value if I’m not a source of light in others darkness. I’m challenging myself to act and be this light through my actions.
For example, I’m staying in contact with a business associate whose business is struggling (I want him to know someone cares about him and is there for him). If someone I know is open to help, I want them to know they’re not alone, and maybe I can help.
Are you alone with your problems? Is someone trying to help, but you’re shutting them out? Can you be the source of light in someone’s darkness?
Remember, you and I are not alone… (unless we’re stubborn and refuse to let others in).
Reflection #2 – The road to found is lost
Why is it that life’s wisest thoughts come packaged in paradoxical boxes? Why is it the deeper I reflect, admit I need help, admit I’m not ‘all that’ is where I find strength and progress?
I love the line in Toby’s song where he says, “The road to found is lost.”
Admitting our shortcomings, our vulnerabilities and reaching out for help is where we find our true selves. It’s the moment we find strength.
Have the courage to admit when you’re lost. Ask for help.
Why…. struggle…. any…. longer?
Reflection #3 – I want EVERYTHING to go my way, doggone it!
For people who know me, they know I have a crazy level of determination. When I’m into something, I’m a man on a mission. I’m fired up. However, I also want my way. I want things to go exactly the way I planned.
Determination (and boomin’ like a thunder and chasin’ life with wonder to borrow Toby’s lyrics) is all good, but too many times than I’d like the ‘bottom falls out’ of my perfectly laid plans. Then, another of life’s battle scars is permanently cemented in my non-Botoxed forehead.
And I ask in my quiet reflective moments…. why?
It’s at these moments I need to call on my faith. I need to learn to trust (and lift my head up as this song says) God’s path for me is better than my own plan.
This is hard for me. I need to keep telling myself, keep trusting, keep trusting, keep trusting. Have faith.
Refection #4 – We’re all broken. Can I forgive myself? Can I forgive others?
It’s so clear to me when someone else does wrong. And when I was younger, I always thought I was right.
As I’ve reached my ‘silvery-gray’ years and take time to reflect, I find more often than not the more I think the ‘wronger’ (OK – that’s not ‘right-good’ English, but I’m goin’ with it) I find I am.
Recently I challenged a dedicated beyond belief co-worker of mine (OK Georgia – that’s you) to mend a hurt from a past relationship. To open a new chapter in a relationship she had, to let bygones be bygones and leave the hurt in the past.
However, while thinking in my quiet reflective moments of ‘dishing out my infinite wisdom’ to her, it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS how bad a personal example I set (and she experienced for years) in the advice I was about to give.
You see in my stubbornness (note – I had a less-than-stellar relationship and I’m cutting myself slack here) with another unbelievably dedicated leader in my company. I chose to ignore my relationship problem. I conveniently swept our differences under the proverbial rug.
I took the easy way out. I blew off the hard conversation. My lack of attention to this important relationship made things harder on everyone around me. When I look back now, I know I WAS THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM. This harsh realization really sucks!
I did deliver my thoughts to Georgia. I’m working on mending my less-than-perfect relationship as well.
To move forward I’m forgiving myself for being the bone-headed jerk I was in the past.
Quite honestly, in my personal case, I find it simpler to forgive myself. The bigger challenge (at least for me personally) is to forgive others for their (perceived) wrongs to me.
I need to learn to ‘cut others the same slack’ I’m giving myself.
I need to stop and ask, “What might be going on in their world? What battle scars might this person be dealing with? How can I cut them the slack they need?”
This is never easy. But when I understand we’re all broken is where I can and will learn to forgive.
Refection #5 –Don’t let life’s scars ‘rain on your parade.’ Love today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
I never saw it coming. Mark was gone. My funny as a top-notched comedian, smart, caring fraternity brother was taken in an instant. One drive, one car accident and I won’t have a fraternity brother who will clear his day to pick me up from the airport when flying through L.A. again. I won’t enjoy another dinner with him. Laugh at his antics. Share mutual life struggles.
So much promise, love and wackiness (just loved that) rolled into one dude – gone in an instant.
I can choose to feel sorry for myself about my little scars, the crap, the ‘so-called’ injustices (in my mind at least) happening to me. Or I can think about Mark’s family. How they would love to be with him just one more day.
I need to challenge myself to love today. I need to love the Precious Present (BTW I just loved this little book).
Scars will come, but so can joy (if I challenge myself to live joyfully). Can I ask, what’s good about today? Can I ask what’s lovely? Can I ask what’s admirable about the person I’m with (and have the courage to tell them this)? Can I ask what’s excellent about this moment, right now?
How can you and I love today (and the people who cross our paths today) more?
A final thought
I know this is supposed to be a remodeling blog and I went completely off topic in this post. However sometimes life (or is it God?) pulls me in the direction to express my heart. To share what I’m learning in this journey you and I call life.
To wrap up, I’d like to challenge you. Share your heart. Don’t keep your battle scars bottled up. Ask for help along the way. Life is not meant to live alone. You are not meant to be alone.
Scars, and love, come with livin’. Keep lovin’, enjoy livin’, don’t give up hope.
Hi, if you don’t know me, I’m Mike Foti the author of this article, writer on 3 blogs and President of Innovate Building Solutions. Most times I talk about construction stuff – bathroom remodeling, glass products and remodeling business advice (trying to inject my articles with a bit of humor along the way).
Sometimes I like to get a little (or more than a little in this post) philosophical.
I’ll also ‘come clean’ and tell you I’m one of the wackier people I know. I’m a crazy-passionate entrepreneurial business owner (I work waaaaay more hours than my wife wants – and she’s right), I’m a one-hour a day jogger (despite having a heart attack in my past) and have 3 lovely (on most days) kids (‘er young adults) – Parker, Grant and Jade.
I write these articles for 2 purposes – to give insights about remodeling projects and secondly to connect with you. If you want to contact me to talk about this article (or need some remodeling advice – after all I should also be doing my day-job) you can reach me at Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888 or at our Cleveland office at 216-658-1280 or at our Columbus office at 614-565-5888.
If you’d like business and marketing advice also check out Innovate Builders Blog
I appreciate you would take the time to read this article and hope it was of value to you. Remember to keep lovin’, keep livin’ and don’t give up hope, no matter what battle scars life is dishing out for you.
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