Monday, April 22, 2024

FAMILY FUSION: Never say never (3)


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ONE OF MY “never say never” daring encounters took place in my teens.

As adolescent boys, we would challenge each other to do adventurous things. Dangerous as they were at times, we would seek to outdo each other in order to become the “last man standing”.  

I remember a bright sunny summer day, when a group of us swam out to a set of fishing boats that were anchored about half a mile away from shore. The challenge was for each of us to attempt to jump off one of the boats and try to reach the bottom of the ocean some 25 to 30 feet down. Whoever reached the bottom was challenged to bring back with him some sand as evidence of his having accomplished the task. 

I don’t remember if those who attempted before me made it, but I was desirous of hitting the bottom at any cost. I took a very deep breath and shot off the side of the boat with all my might with no diving apparatus. The journey seemed like miles and I felt as though I was not going to reach the sandy sea floor.

My ears began to cry out in protest as I got farther and farther away from the surface. My lungs painfully fought for oxygen but I ignored their strong signals for relief as I raced to grab a handful of sand. When I finally did, I vigorously thrust myself upward toward to surface. Exhausted, but elated, I threw the remaining grains of sand from my right hand. With passion and persistence, I was able to fight through what I initially thought was an impossible accomplishment to a place of victory.  

For the last two weeks I have taken a close-up view of the idea that with a solid decision and steadfast determination, you can beat the odds and be like many other successful individuals who never said never.

You may ask yourself the question: how can I improve myself and rise beyond my present condition? Here are three things to consider: 

1. Expose your past.

2. Examine your present.

3. Explore your prospects.  

Exposing your past does not mean that you go broadcasting your history to everybody, but rather you should personally seek to understand the environment, home and otherwise, to which you were exposed that may have contributed to your present way of thinking and behaviour.

Who your parents were, the school you attended, the village in which they grew up, the church they attended or even the colour of their skin can condition the way you see yourself.

Understanding and accepting your past can help you dismiss undesirable labels people place on you. Such undesirable perceptions, if embraced, can only throw a wet blanket of discouragement on you and prevent you from striving toward excellence.

Exposure also gives you the power to make deliberate decisions from an informed position and allows you to muster up courage to conquer what appears to be unconquerable. Never say never.  

Exposing your past is not enough. That action can only show from where you have come. You need to go further by examining your present.

When you come to examining your present position, there is no room for indecisiveness. Living in the past is not an option. You must take an honest look at what you now have that you may need to immediately get rid of from your life. It may be a friend, a habit, an activity, an organisation or something else that is acting as deadweight preventing you from improving yourself. 

You also need to ask the important questions: What do I own that I may need to utilise to improve my present circumstances? Do I need to restart a course that I have dropped along the way of my academic journey? What talent or skill do I have that I have not been utilising? How committed am I to my family?

Furthermore, you need to decide and agree to apply yourself to doing something new that you have never tried before. Stretch yourself. If these things are done, they can give you a sense of direction and destiny. Never say never.

Knowing your past and coming face to face with your present realities are still not enough to take you up the steep slope of success. When you come to this juncture, setting goals and pursuing them enthusiastically will propel you into the winners’ circle. You need to explore your prospects.

This is action time. Harry Emerson Fosdick said: “No horse gets anywhere till he’s harnessed. No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara ever turned anything into light or power until it’s tunnelled. No life ever grows great until focused, dedicated and disciplined.”

Paul J. Mayer added: “What you ardently desire, sincerely believe in, vividly imagine, enthusiastically act on must inevitably come to pass.”

Do not sit in the back seat of your past experiences or in the rocking chair of your comfort zone. Instead, rise up and look for opportunities or create some of your own. Never say never.

Born of Bahamian parents, Sir Sidney Poitier, actor, film director and author, is an outstanding example of a man whose life reflects the “never say never” mantra.

Growing up in deep poverty and having to leave school at age 12, he ended up in the United States struggling to stay alive. As a black man, he suffered much indignity but was bent on breaking through the negative barriers, even after a casting director told him: “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?”

Poitier was motivated by that comment and with a tunnelled vision, he purposed to demonstrate to him that he was going to vigorously reach the top. He did. Some of his outstanding achievements include winning two Oscars, being knighted in 1974 by Queen Elizabeth II, and being presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honour, by US President Barack Obama in 2009. 

Expose your past, examine your present and explore your prospects and never say never. You can do it.  

Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email


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