Nelson Mandela served close to 30 years in a South African prison for speaking out against human rights violations. Upon his release he became president of the nation. He was once asked how he survived such an unjust sentence.
Mandela replied, “I didn’t survive, I prepared.” He went on to explain that he saw his more than two decades of imprisonment as preparation for one of two things. First, he said, he knew he might die in prison which would motivate another person to take up his cause. Secondly he shared, he knew that if he walked out of prison alive he would become president. He was prepared to accept either outcome because in the end he believed his nation would change.
Beliefs are powerful things. They shape our thoughts and our decisions. I remember when I was in college, the president gave a speech to all the students and said, “Enjoy your time here, take in the experience, these are the best days of your life.” Even when I heard him I knew I disagreed, but how many grab hold of statements like that and then find themselves years later just settling for less than they could be and believing this is all there is and that their best years are past?
At a conference Tony Robbins, whose resources can be found at Cleveland’s Loganberry Bookstore, shared about a small nun who was known as Sister Madonna. She simply decided to walk 10% further every day. After that she began to run, training her body for a marathon. She was forty at the time, an age when many people believe a person’s health is beginning to deteriorate. Sister Madonna ran three hundred triathlons between the ages forty and seventy two. She also ran Iron Mans after the age of 65. Iron Mans include running a full length marathon followed by a 2.5 mile swim and ending with a 100 mile bike race.
Does Sister Madonna have a different belief about what is possible than most people do? You better believe it, which is why she lives a different quality of life than many people do. Remember, beliefs are in our thoughts, and our thoughts and beliefs determine our actions. That is why it is so critical to be sure what you believe.
So what are you holding out hope for today? What is your real outcome, spiritually, relationally, physically, emotionally and financially? What do you really believe is possible in each of these areas? How will your beliefs determine your course of action?
As George Dana Boardman shared, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action; reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character reap a destiny.”