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A young man set his heart on a journey to a diviner. He was actually on a quest to determine what his destiny was all about. He had gotten several conflicting comments and visions about what the future held for him. So he made up his mind one day to see the most renowned of all diviners in the land. And whatever he says will undoubtedly become what he is to believe. It was high time he realized the direction his life was headed. Like anyone on a spiritual quest, he set out at dawn even before the first rooster crowed. With a morsel of bread and the clothing on him, he marched on, not looking to the right or left. He was not going to let any extra baggage slow him down from getting to where his destiny will be map out for him. His vision was straight, and his mind focused as he headed into discovery. He arrived after two days looking famish and apprehensive and found the diviner sitting on his mud bed in deep meditation. “Greetings, wise one!” And without waiting for a response, he called out, amidst gasping for air, “I come from a distant land and have been on the road for two days. I want you to divine what my future has in store for me,” he added as he lay sprawled on the floor in total exhaustion. “Welcome my son,” said the diviner as he cleared his throat. “I will help you in divining what your future has in store for you, just be patient.” With that, the diviner stood up, went into his inner chamber and out again, holding two chalks, black and white in one hand, and a tortoise that had withdrawn into its shell on the other hand. He bent down and drew two large circles on the floor with the black and white chalks with some distance in between them. He took some steps backward, bent down, and then placed the tortoise gently on the floor. “My son! look and pray.” The diviner called out. “The tortoise will move soon. If it moves into the black circle, then your future spells doom, destruction, and failure. But if it moves into the white circle, your future holds lots of promise.” With that, he withdrew to his bed and assumed his former position to continue in his meditation. There was a long stretch of silence before the tortoise began to move. They both watched eagerly, and with anticipation, as the reptile crawled slowly towards the circles, then the unexpected happened. The tortoise took a turn and headed towards the black circle. The young man sat up abruptly with renewed energy and looked on still wishing the reptile will change direction, but alas! It was headed straight into that dreaded black circle. “Nooo! This is not possible” he thought. Just in a split moment of decision making, just about the moment when the tortoise was to set foot into the black circle, he picked it up gently with both his hands and dropped it in the white circle, as carefully as he could. “Why should you do that?” The diviner called out angrily. “Why should you interfere with my divination?” He added ferociously. “Why should I not interfere? How do you expect me to sit down here, fold my hands, and watch as my future, my destiny, my life, crawl steadily into destruction, failure, and doom? And you expect me to do nothing about it?” He answered menacingly and with that, he walked out from before the diviner and everything with an enlightened mind. His destiny is in his own hands, and there was no stopping him anymore from achieving all he ever wished for in life!
Lessons for self-improvement:Some people believe there is an unseen power that is determining the course of events in their lives. They believe being born poor always equals a life of poverty. They look at their current circumstances and condemn themselves to a life of struggle, lack, and misery. They willingly accept the reality they find themselves. These convictions aren’t truthful. You are where you are and what you are because of yourself. Your choices, decisions, actions, and inactions over the years have inevitably determined the conditions of your life at this moment. If you are always quick to surrender your will to push through when faced with challenges and difficulties, understand others have passed through worse circumstances and have become engineers, neurosurgeons, and business moguls. Helen Keller was deaf and blind. She did not only learn sign language but earned a bachelor of arts degree, wrote 12 books and numerous articles. She became a lecturer, a political activist, and went on to do several great campaigns for the deaf and blind. She dedicated her life to helping others despite her unparalleled adversity and was awarded the highest civil honor and inducted into the national women’s hall of fame. No one would have faulted her if she had chosen to live a life of solitude and misery. John Bunyan, the revered author of “Pilgrims’ progress”, a literary masterpiece was in prison when he wrote that book. John Bunyan did not wait to get out of prison to write his book. He sat on the bare floor and wrote on twisted scraps of papers that had been used to cork bottles of milk at the prison. These figures did not resign their lives to fate. They did not wait for someone to help them. They helped themselves. They did not wait for the right opportunity to come knocking. They created the opportunity for themselves by using the time and resources available to do what they wanted. Had they been like some of us, they could easily have come up with excuses for not acting. Many of us in their stead would have said, ‘we are poor,’ or there is no one to assist and guide us. We would have given in to the circumstances. But these resilient people did not. Just because circumstances seem terrible and bleak for you does not mean the situation will forever remain the same. Nothing is limiting you from fulfilling your destiny. What threatens your dreams and aspirations is not out there but within you. And that is your mind. The human mind is the place where the greatest of all conflict resides. It is where most of the things you feared were going to happen never did happen. The only person who stands in the way of your success is you. No one can keep you down in life but yourself. A man's greatest enemy is his negative thoughts. Realize that the thinking that brought you to this point in life has created some problems that cannot be solved with the same thinking that created them. That is why the sages would say you can not change a man’s life unless you change his thinking. Opportunities are all around us. A lot of people, however, miss them because opportunities often come into our lives disguised as challenges, setbacks, and temporary defeats. When things are not working the way you want, still remain focused on your dreams. Perish the idea of quitting too soon every time you run into challenges you didn’t anticipate. Remember, your opportunity lies in your ability to make the best of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Stop folding your hands and thinking that things will fall into place at a set time. Quit believing that your destiny can be mapped out at some shrine or chapel. Your destiny is in your own hands. The only person stopping you from realizing it is yourself. The only way to achieve success is to pursue it. To reach your goal, you don’t need to know all of the answers in advance. Get clear on what you want and develop tendencies toward taking action. Breakdown your big plan into small steps and take that first step right away. Don’t procrastinate when faced with difficult problems. Break your problem into parts and handle one piece at a time.
Jude AzizPhysician Assistant, Author, Entrepreneur, Medical Blogger, Life and Business Coach, Founder / CEO peFHEW and Telemed Consult
The science of human reproduction tells us that after sexual intercourse, about 200 to 300 million sperms are ejaculated by the man into the female reproductive tract. The sperms begin to swim upwards within the tract to meet with the ovum. From the vagina, through the cervix and the womb to the fallopian tubes, the competing sperms had to overcome both chemical and physical barriers to make it to the site of fertilization in one of the tubes. But out of the over 200 million that are ejaculated only about 500 reach the site of fertilization in the fallopian tube. While some are lost through vaginal spermatoreflux (backflow of semen after a man ejaculates into the vagina), others get tired on the way because it is a tough race. While many too are overcome by the acidity in the vagina, others are blocked by the mucus in the cervix. While others are attacked and destroyed by the woman’s body defense cells called phagocytic leukocytes that see the sperm cells as aliens in the womb, some enter into the wrong tube. The 500 that managed to reach the ovum (egg), had to break through the two protective layers covering the egg (corona radiata and zona pellucida) to fertilize it. What is, however, astonishing about the whole process of fertilization is that the first sperm to reach the egg is never the one to fertilize it. Rather hundreds of sperm had to help degrade the two layers covering the egg until a path is created to allow one sperm to contact and fuse with the plasma membrane of the ovum. The winning sperm in your case was you. You won the race to life when in fact you were neither the first to begin it nor the fastest to run it nor the first to arrive at the site of fertilization.
Lessons for self-improvement:If you consider the loss of millions of sperms between ejaculation and fertilization, you will understand what the bible meant by “the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.” And why God told Jeremiah that "He (God) knew him before he formed him in the womb and ordained him as a prophet before he was born." The one thing I know about you is that your very existence is proof of God's divine plan for you. You were created with the best of intention and divine purpose by the creator and originator of all life. You did not only survive the greatest and gruesome races ever run in life but that thousands had to die so you could win the race. Understand that God chose you over the rest of the 200 million-plus competitor sperms. Just as he did it when you were but a cell, and too tiny for the human eye to see, He has promised to do it again in your earthly life. In Psalm 91, God promises to be your shield against all evil and will cause a thousand to fall at your side and ten thousand on your right. Whatever challenges you are going through now is nothing compared to what you overcame in the womb. Your claim to becoming what you could be is not a matter of luck or chance. It is actually in the fiber of your being. You don’t need a competitive advantage to win in life. You are a competitive advantage. You don’t need the way to greatness; you are the way. You don’t need a miracle. You are that miracle.
Jude AzizPhysician Assistant, Author, Entrepreneur, Medical Blogger, Life and Business Coach, Founder / CEO peFHEW and Telemed Consult
Dr. James kwegyir Aggrey, more popularly known as Aggrey of Africa was famous for many of his witty sayings. The most popular being the saying that “if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation.” Little, however, is known about “the parable of the eagle” he wrote and presented in many of his public discourses.
In the parable, Aggrey told the story of a certain farmer who went through the forest in search of any kind of bird he may find. He caught a young eagle, brought it home and put it among his fowls and ducks and turkeys, and fed it chickens' food even though it was an eagle, the king of birds.
Five years later a naturalist friend came to visit him and, after passing through his barnyard, said, “that bird is an eagle, not a chicken.”
Yes, said the farmer. “It used to be an eagle but I have trained and fed it with chicken feed for so long that it has lost its eaglehood. It is no longer an eagle, but a chicken, even though it measures fifteen feet from tip to tip of its wings.”
No! the naturalist rebutted, “it is an eagle still: it has the heart of an eagle, and I will make it soar high up to the heavens.”
No! the farmer replied, “it is a chicken, and it will never fly.”
They agreed to test it. The naturalist picked up the eagle, held it up, and said with great intensity, “Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to this earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly.”
The eagle turned this way and that, and then, looking down, saw the chickens eating their food, and down he jumped.
The farmer in a sarcastic way said: “I told you it was a chicken.”
No, insisted the naturalist, “it is an eagle. Give it another chance tomorrow.”
So the next day he took it to the top of the house and said: “Eagle, thou art an eagle; stretch forth thy wings and fly.” But again the eagle, seeing the chickens feeding, jumped down and fed with them.
The farmer in yet another humor reiterated: “I told you it was a chicken.” But the naturalist insisted that it was an eagle and still has the heart of an eagle. He pleaded with the farmer to give him one more chance to make it fly tomorrow.
The next morning he rose early and took the eagle outside the city, away from the houses, to the foot of a high mountain. The sun was just rising, gilding the top of the mountain with gold, and every crag was glistening in the joy of that beautiful morning.
He picked up the eagle and said to it: “Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to this earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly!”
The eagle looked around and trembled as if new life were coming to it, but it did not fly. The naturalist then made it look straight at the sun. Suddenly it stretched out its wings and, with the screech of an eagle, it mounted higher and higher and never returned. It was an eagle, though it had been kept and tamed as a chicken.
Lessons for self-improvement:
The eagle was programmed to the point it completely lost its identity. She assumed the life of a chicken and even declined the opportunity to regain her lost identity when she was first given the chance. It is the same with our human nature.
“Some people grow up in families programmed to believe they can never be successful. And honestly, they never find opportunities that could change their lives.
The worst programmings are the indoctrination that failure and mistakes are bad. In school, they considered you to be brilliant if you scored high marks but dumb if you scored low marks. You get punished for failing and making mistakes. These mental programming are catastrophic in real life. To live your life without making mistakes is a big mistake. It is even worse; if you are continually afraid, you will make one. If you've not failed or made a mistake in a long while, you probably haven't tried something new.
People who don't dare to change their lives are people who are afraid they will fail or make mistakes. They love to remain where they are, even if it costs them their happiness, peace, and progress. Do you know that most people who are afraid of failing have never failed in real life? It is the educational system and upbringing that program them that failure is bad and must be avoided if they want to succeed in life. These programmings had caused them to fail even before they got started. It has caused them to stop taking risks or subjecting themselves to situations that involve failure.
If you want to succeed in life, I want you to understand three things. The first is that "some failures in life are inevitable," as J.k Rowling noted in his quote, "It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all— in which case, you fail by default." It is OK to fail. It means you are trying and exploring. If you have failed before, don't be afraid to fail again. When a person learns well from his failures, his life changes forever. What that person gains instead of experience is wisdom. The bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:19 that, "wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city."
The second is that failure is inseparably linked to success. The biggest failures you can find in life are successful people. Successful people know it takes 99 failures to make one win. Losers, on the other hand, expect success in their first trial. A guaranteed way to succeed in life is to fail more. The third is to reprogram your mindset with the belief that mistakes increase your experience and experience decreases your mistakes. Smart employers know the gravity of errors in their businesses. They know employees that have made enough mistakes in their previous jobs and have learned from those mistakes are less likely to repeat them in their new employment. That is why, beyond the academic qualifications, smart employers would typically require job applicants to have a specific minimum number of years of work experience.”-extract ‘The success phenomenon’ PAGE 35, author, Jude Aziz.
There is greatness inside of you but until you cease being content with the chicken feed you will not rediscover yourself. So step out from your past and everything familiar and holding you back, and use the content of this article as an instrument of inspiration to stretch forth your wings and soar high. Become the best you could become.