Before we can build something monumental we must lay a strong foundation. Before the foundation can be laid, the land must be cleared and any rubbish or debris removed. All truth is parallel and so what applies in the physical, for say a tract of land, a river or lake, also applies to the human experience, our education, our physical bodies, our spiritual life. To build something new we have to remove the toxic waste of the past. I am not saying all past experience is toxic, there will be much we can bring forward and use out of our past experience. I am saying that we must remove those objects and memories and even relationships which are toxic and are preventing us from moving forward.
Let me give an example from the great City where I have lived for most of my life.
On the East side of Manchester there were thousands of acres of land that had been used for generations in heavy industry, paint manufacturers, chemical plants and so on. There had been steady decline and decay over several decades and the area was one of the poorest in the region. Businesses were struggling, many of the houses were outdated and some were rat infested. Huge tracts of spare land were so contaminated with chemical waste that thousands of tons had to be taken away and replaced before any new building work could be undertaken.
Fortunately the City of Manchester was awarded the 2002 Commonwealth Games and a new stadium was to be constructed for the track and field events. This was combined with the councils ideas for a regeneration project in the Eastlands area. A deal was struck with one of the local football clubs who agreed to use the stadium on a permanent basis after the games were over. It would require a second phase of construction to make it suitable for football but the agreement was that Manchester City Football Club, a part of the fabric of Manchester since 1885 would move from their outdated, although much loved Maine Road Stadium on the other side of the city and become the new residents of Eastlands. Leaving the old ground was hard for many who had known it all their lives, some just did not want it to happen but the progress train was on the move anyway.
The ideas and the developing project attracted enormous interest and huge financial investment from the UK and abroad. The football club became more attractive and was the subject of a takeover which has changed the face of world football.
It has also changed the whole landscape on that side of Manchester with thousands of new modern houses, a state of the art training centre for the football club but with facilities also being used by the general public. The stadium itself was renamed The Etihad Stadium by the new owners in agreement with their main sponsor. Local businesses are thriving now and the whole atmosphere on the East side of Manchester has changed beyond compare. The football club even started winning trophies after a barren period stretching back over 35 years. In fact in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020 they have been the most successful club in England. Not bad for what a certain rival manager called the ‘noisy neighbours’.
The physical structure, the body of the area has been rebuilt. The soul of the area has been renewed with people’s attitudes soaring as they have found new jobs and clean living conditions and this has paved the way for a spiritual revival which we are beginning to see across the whole city.
So much for the example…but how is that going help us to build something special out of our lives. Well that will be the ongoing subject of the Personal Growth Program, the highlights of which will be recorded here. Lets start with 6 steps to clear the ground.
6 Steps to clear the ground.
1 Forgive… and that means shut up and move on.
The very first thing, without which there is no moving forward, must be forgiveness. We all need it sometimes and we all need to give it too.
More physical and emotional health problems are caused by the unwillingness to forgive than any other single reason. The bitterness that a refusal to forgive causes spills over into every area of life resulting in addictions, financial problems, fights and arguments, emotional stress and physical illness. At no time ever is there a positive outcome to the harbouring of an old grudge.
Now please hear me, I understand some people have gone through some terrible experiences often caused by other people, either maliciously or maybe through negligence or accident and life may be damaged as result. But will the refusal to let it go fix it…will it make it better? The answer is always no, it is never yes.
Sometimes the perpetrator of the evil is no longer around so how is hating them possibly affecting them? People hold grudges against people long dead. I always say there is a judge, but it’s not me.
I know two halves of a broken marriage and I love them both and try to be impartial when speaking to either one, which is not always easy. The lady was a lovely outgoing person who did not deserve to be treated the way she was, but then again who does? Sadly she has become reclusive and is carrying the rejection very badly, she is consumed by a hatred that she is actually convinced is love. She is suffering terribly with Rheumatoid Arthritis which came on as a reaction to her husbands infidelity. I sometimes ask her how her love/hatred/unforgiveness is affecting him. Actually I know the answer, it isn’t, three nights a week he is out dancing, he is not a bad man, he made a big mistake and he has also paid a price for it but he has asked for forgiveness and though it has not been freely given he has now moved on.
So who is the bitterness affecting most? You know the answer… and you also know if you need to remove the toxic waste of your own past experience, I hope not, I would not wish it on anybody but if you do let’s start right now.
However deep it goes you need to make the decision to forgive…and it is decision only you can make. Speak out the words that you have forgiven…decide to live to the best of your ability as if it had not happened…every single time the thoughts return say it again out loud… I forgive, I release him or her, or God or myself or whoever it may be that you are bitter against. Complete release may take time but the enemy inside that’s trying to destroy the rest of your life will get weaker and weaker every time you confess your forgiveness out, until one day soon you will be totally free.
2 Take personal responsibility for you own future.
Don’t blame the government or the place you work, or ‘the system’ or anybody else. Having forgiven and released the past it’s time to take personal responsibility for the future. It’s your future after all. Don’t give the power to determine what happens there to anybody else. Repeat after me…If it’s to be it’s up to me… If it’s to be it’s up to me. Write it on a 3×5 card and carry it with you. Repeat it 20 times every morning and every night until you absolutely know. It’s up to you. If you think that’s silly just trust me…it really isn’t.
3 Don’t hold on to things of the past.
Have you ever heard the story of the African tribe that eat monkeys. Them crafty monkeys are pretty hard to catch aren’t they? Well actually they are not…the even more crafty hunter cuts a hole in a tree that’s just big enough for the monkey to get his hand in and grab some shiny object that really fascinates that monkey. Once he wraps his little fist around it he can’t get his hand out. All he has to do to get free is let go…but guess what…he can’t, or rather he won’t and the hunter knocks him on the head and has roast monkey for dinner.
Think of that monkey that won’t let go! What is it you won’t let go of that’s preventing you from receiving what life wants to give you next. It’s time to make another decision, can you let it go? Of course you can…but the real question is…will you?
4 Work hard to keep the unity.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Don’t just think of this as a religious thing, no-one achieves anything alone…we function best with a life partner…we work best in teams…it’s just who we are. But unity isn’t automatic and there will be disagreements if we are to progress. The best advice I can give anyone and it is one I have always preached and tried to practice. Never show division to anyone outside the team or partnership, have your disagreements, even fights and arguments if it comes to that, behind closed doors. You will work it out, every time, but once someone else is involved they can lose confidence in you and in your ability to achieve the goal. Even worse pride can come in, nobody wants to be first to back down and that can make agreement harder. Chose to work and live with people you can rely on and make sure they are able to rely on you. One thing though and this is important, to rely and to depend are very different things. Don’t ever get in the place of dependency on anyone or anything else and if someone looks like they are becomings dependent on you don’t walk away…run.
5 Never say you can’t when its clear that it has to be done.
Maybe you think the task is too big, and right now it might be but don’t let failure come out of your mouth. If it’s ever been done before or if it is possible for someone to do it you can find a way. Why don’t you add this to your 3×5 card, or make another. I CAN, I WILL, I MUST.
Affirm it until you believe it. If the assignment requires a skill set you don’t have, then find someone who does have it. Nothing is impossible to those who believe. One of the things we will be covering over the coming weeks is how to acquire new skills and to take the skills we already have to a new level. But remember point number 4. No one achieves great things alone, if it’s going to be an ongoing need and you can’t learn the skills yourself then invite people with different skills to be a part of your team. If it’s a one off need then pay the best expert you can afford. But never confess it can’t be done…Rather ask the question “How can I?” Find a way to win.
6 Ask yourself, “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?”
There is nothing more tragic than working your way to the top of a ladder to find it was leaning on the wrong wall all along. Do you enjoy what you’re doing? Is it taking you towards your life purpose? Are you good at it which is quite important or at least are you confident you can be? If the answer to any of those questions is no then may I kindly suggest you get off the ladder. Remember the monkey, is it something you need to let go of? If it is you don’t need to just jump and hope. You can sit down and think, discuss with your partners your ideas about the way forward and make a proper exit plan. Don’t move out of something without knowing what you are going to move into. But if you are in the wrong place, the wrong job, harmful relationships or whatever it may be get out sooner rather than later.
If you are in the right place and you have been taking it for granted. Maybe you have been giving it less than 100% effort. If so it’s time to change…not sooner or later but RIGHT NOW.
Full speed ahead, take personal responsibility for it…even if no-one else cares very much…you be the one to take it to the next level.
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