Broken versus Broken Off-Part Three

Failure may not be your option–but it is a reality. It can happen to anyone, and anyone can happen to fail. Failure to complete an assignment on time. Failure to complete all objectives required in a lab. Failure to meet all expectations given for an research project. It can happen, but what happens with you after it happens is the most important thing.

When I found out that I was on academic probation, I realized that I  had lied to myself for so long and so well. In that moment at my parents table I read that I only had 24 hours to drive several hours out of state back to school, enroll in a full semester of classes, find housing, and find money to pay for it all. Did I mention that I only had $20 and an 13 inch black and white television to my name?

That night, I did something that many people do in this situation: I prayed. However, part of my prayer was answered because of one thing: I changed my perspective…on EVERYTHING. Nothing was more clear to me than the fact that all of this was my fault. Every last bit. I needed a gameplan, and I began putting together one immediately. Apparently, my gameplan worked, because I am here writing this blog. This blog is not long enough to explain everything in my personal gameplan, so let me just talk about the battles of the mind that you MUST WIN in order to avoid becoming Broken.

Battle #1: “I’ve Been Mistreated!”

You may have been mistreated by someone, but you control your own emotions: your emotions should not control you. You were born with those emotions, and they have your name and genetic imprint. If someone else has that much control over your emotions, then you are weaker than you thought. As long as your mind focuses on being a victim, you will never become the hero. People have thrown dirt on you, and probably some fresh…er, ah…”fertilizer”. But you are a seed destined to grow into greatness, so dirt and fertilizer are just what you need.

Battle#2: “I’m Not Good At This Subject Anyway”

Be VERY careful with this one. It has become a new favorite for people to use simply because a class wasn’t easy. This should not be used to excuse the fact that you have encountered a challenge. Many of us are not doing what we were born and gifted to do because of adversity. The NBA’s greatest players are no where near Madison Square Garden because “math just wasn’t their best subject” so they allowed that one class to detain them from their destiny. Students who only had 3 semesters left in college have floated around for 4 years simply because they were looking for a road around their obstacle instead of searching for the demolition technique to move that obstacle out of the way.

Battle#3: “I Failed Before And I Will Fail Again”

You’re right, you will. Your brain is the command center for the rest of your body. Whatever he believes is what the others will follow. Keep speaking like that, and you will fail. It’s a guarantee. In order to win this battle you MUST revisit the battlefield of that class where you lost and retrace your thoughts and process of thoughts. Find the thinking that led to the wrong perceptions–that is where you wil discover much of your winning strategy.

Battle#4: “I’m Too ______ (Fill In Blank)

I’ve heard alot of things that fill this blank. Alot. They have not mattered much. Well, they didn’t matter much to those who overcame them and passed. They only mattered to those who did not pass and blamed it on whatever they filled in the blank with. I once had a class that was completely pessimistic. It drove me nuts! They doubted their capability to do anything. They would quit before they got started. So I decided to trick them. Yes, you read correctly so keep reading.

The class was a general community college science course but I began giving them material from a Junior year level 4 year university course. The class average went up by nearly 15 points! After 2 months of this they all decided that they would approach me about the fact that although they were ALL passing, that this may not last for long and that they were afraid of failing the final exam. This is when I revealed to them what I had been doing for the last 2 months. They were in shock! They immediately began to try and rationalize how they would still fail even though they had been doing excellent work. After several minutes of whinning and debate, one of them finally caved in and said, “Guys, what are we doing?!? Mr. Nixon just helped us become successful and we’re attempting to throw it away just to be right and depressed! I don’t want to be a loser anymore!” The others agreed…well, all except for one.

Winning a war is all about winning the right battles. School is war. Everyday is a different battle. If you do not win them all, then don’t freak out–win the ones in your mind first. The rest will follow…

Broken versus Broken Off-Part Two

It doesn’t feel like yesterday, but it does feel like it was last week.

I had just returned from a date and I felt as though I was on top of the world. By definition of most young men  at that age, I really was–my personal life was at the top of its game. What I saw when I walked into my parents apartment would be burned into my mind forever. The lights were all off, except for one little lamp positioned at a round table beside the living room. My father sat in silence, slumped heavy in dissappointment while my mother had a look of shock.  The only other thing at the table was one envelope and one letter. The letter was a notice to them that I, their son, was on academic probation. For two and a half years, I had been stressing to them that my grades were well and that I had everything under control. I had been lying to them. But more importantly, I had been lying to them for so long that I began to believe my own lie.

My pride, my ego, and my errogance had worked well together in order to blind me to my demise. I failed to see that college had knocked the wind out of me, and had put me face first on the floor of life’s battle arena. At this moment I had a choice to make: I could either allow college to leave me broken, or broken off.

As you can probably tell, I chose broken off–but it does not happen in the way that some think. In order to be broken off and not broken, one must understand WHY you were allowed to receive such a blow. I had to come to grips with the fact that life had little to nothing to do with it, and that it was MYSELF who threw the blow. Life never skipped a class, life never refused to join study groups simply because I felt the other students didn’t like me. Life never used racism as an excuse as to why every instructor did not mindlessly hand me a free grade. Life did not think that I could study for Mammalian Physiology, Chemistry, English, Reproductive Physiology and Economics the exact same way, score C’s and D’s for 3 months and expect an A just by cramming for the final. Life never listened to headphones during most of Calculus class, flirt with his Biology classmate, and do ALL of his English homework at the last minute. It was a grave that was intimately dug by me, for me, because of me.

I made the choice to accept responsibility for my actions, and at that moment, I acknowledged that I had a weakness. I had a problem, and it needed to be solved. I was not perfect, and neither was my world. My acknowledgement of my problem and the new found will and determination to fix what I had broken was how I was Broken Off.

Being Broken Off is a process. When I meet a student who has a similar experience, and their humility lasts only until the next test, I know that they did not truly allow themselves to be Broken Off. Being Broken Off is when you are forced by external measures to observe an internal flaw–and deal with it.

Some never complete the process, because they never allow themselves the time that is required to (a) see the flaw (b) identify the flaw (c) acknowledge ownership of the flaw (d) decree a complete erradication of the flaw (e) experience a victory over the flaw, and then plan for the next victory.

Being Broken Off should result in the expansion of one’s mind. It should lead one to channel their energy and resources into new methods which renders new personal success. And, of course, it will cost you…but it is well worth it. So what about being Broken? That’s Part Three…