Last night I watched Forrest Gump with my family. ‘Twas post-Christmas dinner, and even though it was 4:30 in the PM, I had to fight to stay awake. My belly protruding past my toes – or at least that’s how it felt – showing that my Mom had once again outdone herself in the meal that, more than anything my life, signifies the end of the year and ushers in a turkey-induced coma.
So we sat down on the couches… I grabbed the flicker, and went to work trying to find something we could watch, that would also rid my burning desire to change channels during commercials. I landed on Mr. Gump’s life story.
As the movie came to an end I thought aloud, I like how a guy who others pity for his lack of brain power can create a multi-million dollar company (Bubba Gump Shrimp), win the medal of honor, meet multiple Presidents, inspire hundreds, become an All-American in football, teach Elvis how to dance, and, most importantly, marry the girl of his dreams and raise his son in the home he grew up in.
Yes, it’s fiction, but there’s a lot to learn from this wonderful story.
Think only about what we need to think about.
One of the greatest gifts we have is the fact that we can control our thoughts. We can choose which thoughts we pay attention to, even which thoughts we have. Most of us, however, don’t use this gift for good; rather, we use it – often unconsciously – to our detriment.
Forrest thrived in the military because he didn’t think. In the movie it’s partially a comment on the military, but it has relevance for us in our lives as well. The thoughts that went into his head were exclusively to his benefit. Other soldiers complained about their reality. Forrest accepted his, and did his best within it.
In every area of his life he made lemonade when given lemons. He didn’t actively try to rise above his situation, rather, do the best he could do with what he was given. We’re always trying to rise above – and that’s awesome, I’m in that boat as well – to move to a higher plain, to improve our surroundings. But what about accepting them, and becoming awesome with what we have?
There are two ways Forrest’s thinking can benefit us, and help us make 2013 a Legendary year.
Be in the moment. Mr. Gump did that better than anyone. He was in the moment when playing ping pong. His mind and heart were present anytime he was with Jenny. He wasn’t dreaming about great ambitions when he was working, he was working.
I’m a dreamer. I love daydreaming. I’ll sometimes even sleep in an extra 30 minutes if I’m in the midst of a really good dream. But it’s useless. Wherever we are, be there and nowhere else. Cut out all distractions. When you’re writing, write, and focus only on that. When you’re with your girlfriend or wife, be present. Don’t get distracted by the game. Don’t allow your mind to wander when you’re with her. Just be with her.
It serves us no purpose to try and be two places at once. In this attempt, we fail at being anywhere at all.
Clear your mind of the noise that takes you further away from where you should be: the present.
If we don’t accept where we are as our reality, we’ll feel like we’ve be shafted, like we don’t deserve to be here, like we deserve better. We’ll worry about things that are out of our control. We’ll fear the unknown.
Simplify everything. We are where we are because we deserve to be here. Don’t wish to have buddy’s car. It does you no good. All you and I can do is to work hard and do well where we are right now. The future and the past have no right to invade our minds and take us from our work. Don’t let them. Work hard, focus, and let your surroundings change on their own.
When Forrest was first introduced to ping pong, his pal gave him one very simple task: Never take your eye off the ball.
So, he didn’t. If more of us could simplify our lives into easy to follow rules, then follow those rules, we’d be a lot happier, and a lot more successful. So, do it.
Ask yourself the following question for your work, your family life, and any other area you want to succeed in this upcoming year:
Name 1-3 rules I need to follow to make this successful.
“This”, can be anything. Take training as an example.
Rule #1: train with intensity.
That’s as simple as a rule as you can have. Then, you have to figure out how to do so. For one, you need a program created by someone other than yourself (a rule I also follow). Two, you need a goal and a deadline. Three, you need a reward, something to work towards besides your transformation. Follow those three, simple rules, and you’ll be a lot closer to your definition of success in training than you’ve ever been before.
Be unflinchingly kind.
Forrest Gump doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s incapable of being mean unless that person deserves an ass-kicking – hence, anyone who treated Jenny badly. Even when people were mean to him, he was nice to them.
This is a big, often over-looked aspect of being a real man. Being kind is important, and not just for the betterment of the lives of others, but for your own as well. If you’re kind, people will want to see you succeed. If you make people feel better about themselves, they’ll want to make you feel better about yourself.
Being good is one of the most important characteristics you and I will need to be successful. Yet it’s rarely mentioned. Good people are happy people. They make others around them happy. They’re also, usually, successful as well.
It’s one of the simplest things we can do to make 2013 a success. So start now. Start going out of your way to help others. Leave no one behind. Be nice to those who aren’t nice to you. Help those who don’t want your help (Forrest always helping Lt. Dan, even though he wanted nothing of it). And do it without selfish intensions. While it will come back to you in a good way, do it because it’s the right thing to do.
We have two options: treat people well, with kindness, or treat them badly. It makes no sense to choose the latter, so, unless they’re taking advantage of, or treating another person badly, treat people well. Be a protector, but be a kind person always.
Bring back your innocence.
With each year, life erodes us. The harsh realities of a harsher world chip away at us, they break us down. The evil, the dreams tossed aside in brutal fashion make cynics out of the most optimistic. We were once wide-eyed and ambitious, but now know the “truth”. We’ve seen how life tosses us like rag-dolls, and we’re prepared for it at every turn.
Get away from this “knowledge” and bring back your innocence.
Forrest Gump wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Too stupid to realize the shitty hand life had given him, he only saw the good. Too ignorant to see the bad in people, he saw only the best. Too simple to see the limitations surrounding him, he only saw the opportunity.
In 2013, bring back your ignorance, stupidity, and innocence, and only see the good.
Ignore the bad. Ignore the first impression that leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Ignore that which can harm you, and focus on that which can help you. See the good when others see the bad. Be curiously wide-eyed and ignorant of the shite that this world drops on you. Be cognizant only of the brighter side.
Don’t complain about the rain, enjoy it. Don’t complain about where you’re at, embrace it, and work your ass off. While I sound like an idealist, it makes no sense to be any other way. If we have a choice to be in a good mood, to see a situation from a good, beneficial angle, or to see things in a darker light, why wouldn’t we see them in a way that makes us happy and successful?
Task for 2013
What 3 things have to happen to make 2013 a success?
Break these 3 things into quarterly goals.
Break these goals into daily and weekly tasks that you must do every single day to make them be so. Then do these tasks every single day. For 365 days, go to work.
Life doesn’t have to be complicated. Relationships don’t have to be complicated. Success doesn’t have to be a puzzle or an unattainable destination. The maps are everywhere. The proof that it can be accomplished is everywhere. Do like Forrest Gump, and simplify. Make 2013’s success inevitable, by making the road to it as straight as possible.