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Building Your Legacy

Hafa adai (welcome)!

On this page, you'll find articles printed in the Guam Daily Post with tips and advice on how to create and live a happy and fulfilled life. We invite you to browse the articles and hopefully you can find a little bit of information that can help you a lot.

Building your legacy starts with self improvement

YOU GOTTA BELIEVE!

 

Today, our lives are filled with unbelievable opportunities to make our mark, become successful, and attain what was once thought as unattainable. We can find out what’s going on worldwide in an instant. We can communicate with almost anyone anywhere anytime. We can do more with less effort and in less time. However, despite these conveniences and advances, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction.


What are we doing?


In conversations we had not too long ago, we bolstered about living in the greatest country in the world. We lived in communities that were built on trust, honor, and integrity. We led and took care of others with passion, responsibility, and respect. And we were proud of our abilities, our accomplishments, and our potential.


Somehow over the years we seemed to have dispensed with these attributes and of the character and values that made us the envy of the world. We became entitled as opposed to encouraged. We demand instead of working toward accomplishment. We tossed out responsibility and replaced it with blame. We’ve become self-centered, greedy, prejudiced, lazy, vulgar, and unappreciative. 


It’s amazing that while we struggle with our identity as a nation, there are people that dream and try to enter our country with the aspirations of living better lives. They scale fences, voyage in unseaworthy ships, and cram into hot and decrepit containers, all for the chance to live a life better than what they have. And while they try to enter, death from suicide occurs about three times more often than fatal traffic accidents amongst the people that already live here. While others go to the extreme to have a chance at the opportunities we have, we bitch and complain about the work we have to do to live the life we want to have.


WHAT HAPPENED? I believe that while we were trying to make our lives easier and more convenient, we made it more complex and less humanistic. 


We now rely on technology to do tasks that, in times before, helped to build our drive, our character, and our relationships. Now, we use technology to do our thinking, to find us a mate, to monitor our health, to express our emotions, and even to make us who we really aren’t. We’ve substituted talking with texting. We play sports on a four-inch screen instead of on a field. We gauge the value of our relationships not in how we care for each other, but in how many likes we get in our posts.


We’ve de-valued and in some cases criminalized certain consequential life experiences because we failed to acknowledge and understand the lesson they provide and the significance they were in developing responsibility and initiative. 


We’re at a crossroad in our lives where we need to take a serious look at where we’re going and hopefully rethink what we’re doing. 


Two such life-developing experiences are education and competition.


Sometime over the last twenty years our nation was convinced that it was detrimental to the development of a child to delay promotion to the next grade level due to lack of comprehension. We seem to think that allowing little eight-year old Johnny to continue to interact with other eight-year olds is more important than ensuring he is academically proficient for his age. Johnny can’t read but he plays well with others, therefore, we can promote him to the next grade level.


But a strange thing happens when little Johnny leaves elementary and enters the secondary education system. We become surprised that he cannot academically perform at his age level and label the kid as slow, needy, special or incorrigible. When he becomes frustrated or confused with his academics, we see it as reluctance or refusal to do what he is now required to do. We assume that he doesn’t turn in his homework because he doesn’t care about his grades. What we don’t realize is that it’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that he never learned to care about it. 


If there were never any consequences to Johnny not submitting his homework before, what lesson can he rely on to develop the understanding that homework was essential?


In this same time period we reasoned that providing trophies for merely being on a team or participating in an event would build self-esteem and encourage improvement. NO IT DOESN’T!

We have to recognize that there are consequences for every action that we take, and that in competition, there are winners and there are losers. What happened to the will to win and the drive to succeed? What happened to hard work, teamwork, commitment, and persistence? Just because you show up to work doesn’t mean you’re working. And despite what is becoming a prevailing belief, you shouldn’t expect to be paid for the time you spend at the worksite. You get paid for the physical and/or mental contribution you provide to the progression of a business.

 

So, how do we begin to fix this? 


We begin with the mind and heart of every individual – no exception. We build their confidence, we help shape their character, we encourage them, we coach them, we guide them, we instill responsibility, and we believe in them.


We just gotta believe!

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DEALING WITH CHALLENGES

  

“If you take this pain away from me, I promise that from this day forward I will be a better person.” In your darkest hours, how many times have you made this statement? 


I guess you know by now that life is full of challenges. Some of them minuscule, and some of them seemingly insurmountable. They are a result of what we are doing, what we’re not doing, or what we have no control of. Interestingly though is despite the size of the challenge, if you work on it and believe that you can overcome it, you’ll get through it. 


It is natural to experience fear and uncertainty when first confronted with a challenge or a sudden unexpected event. Past that initial reaction, your mind kicks into gear and processes the information based on past observations, experiences, and beliefs, with the third being the most significant and influential.


If you believe that you can’t overcome a challenge despite the knowledge and skills you possess to do so, you won’t have any success. Conversely, if faced with a challenge and you believe that you can prevail even if you’re not too sure how you’re going to do it, you will triumph. The ancient Chinese Philosopher Confucius once said, “Those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are both usually right.”


Our beliefs are created with what we’ve heard about, what we’ve seen, what we’ve learned, and what has been instilled in us as “gospel truth.” We then combine these beliefs with what we know or perceive to be a problem to calculate what our chances would be in overcoming the problem. But many times we fail to include in this calculation our X-factor, the will to succeed or the fear of failing, to determine what we’re going to do next. It is this X-factor, how we truly believe in ourselves, that will be the ultimate determination.


There will be times when you’re going to need help to deal with a problem. You may see or feel that the issue you’re confronted with will be best resolved by more than just you. There’s nothing wrong with this, however, if your belief is that nothing you or nothing others you ask to help can do as well to better the situation, do your friends a favor and don’t waste their time. 


Again, life will have its share of problems, and the issues surrounding them will differ from one to the next. How they will affect you will be largely dependent on how you chose to respond to them. And no matter how much you know or don’t know, and no matter how much help is available to you, success starts with believing in yourself.


So before you ask God to help remove your pain, be that person who’ll appreciate His assistance and believe in yourself. Don’t wait until you’re faced with challenges to promise that you’ll change and be that better person. 

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MY FATHER'S PAPERS

  

I was going through some of my father’s papers recently and found a piece that he was working on. It looked like he was answering a question for an interview that asked, “What were the greatest lessons you learned that you would like to impart?” 


He had written two different answers that I could immediately relate to the way he lived his life. The first was, “People will remember you for what you’ve done, not for what you planned to do.” The second, and most profound, was, “That tending to family welfare foremost, by caring, loving, helping, and enjoying every single member, in every which way possible, is the most satisfying endeavor one can achieve, bar none.” 


In almost every conversation with individuals about my father, it tended to start with “I remember your father for doing this or taking the lead on that.” Whether it was founding the Guam chapter of Make-A-Wish or being a stern Lieutenant Governor, people had a fond or lasting memory of what my father had done. Interestingly, I’ve never had a discussion with anyone of what my father was planning to do.

While it is common and natural for us to plan on doing things or to wish that something would happen in our lives, nothing is going to be achieved unless you begin working on your plan or start to do what you wish would happen. I remember my father once telling me that “a plan of action is useless until you take action on the plan.”


About tending to the family welfare, I witnessed my father take this to heart and live it everyday of his life. I am undoubtedly certain that my father embraced the opportunity and responsibility to create and nurture a family with the morals, values, respect, care, and love for each other that he believed in. And while his passing left some big shoes to fill, my siblings and I are eternally grateful that he left us with a foundation from which we can build our families on.


As parents, we have that same opportunity and responsibility to raise our children with the morals, values, responsibility, and respect that were (hopefully) passed on to us by our parents. Our children look to us to teach them how to be respectful, mindful, responsible, caring, and confident. It is through their observation of how we live our lives that they understand and know morals, values, and the difference between right and wrong. When we fail to provide the guidance and nurturing necessary, understand that no one is going to automatically carry on your parenting responsibility. We cannot neglect or give up on our obligation to the welfare and well-being of the family we created because we fell upon hard times or because we no longer want to.  And while there are a few government and community programs that are available to assist struggling families, they’re there to help, not to take over what you’re responsible for.


So how do we associate the two lessons my father wanted to impart with building your legacy? One of the greatest feats you can ever accomplish is raising a family that appreciates and cherishes the love, guidance, wisdom, and care that you share and shower them with every day of your life. In this, you’ll help your children become mindful of their actions and ultimately responsible for their lives. Because of this, your children will be eternally grateful for all you’ve taught and guided them with.


All the best.

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GOING IN CIRCLES

  

Ever feel like your life is going around in circles and that no matter what you do, it just seems that you can’t get anywhere? Are you feeling that what you’re doing in life is fulfilling other people’s dreams and not yours? If you can relate to any of these questions, then maybe what you need to ask yourself is, “what do I want out of life?” 


As simple as the question may seem, what you may come to realize is that what you want and what you’re doing may not be in sync. And if this is the case, let me share with you a cold-hard fact; If you WANT something, but won’t WORK for it, you WON’T get it! 


Unfortunately for many people there is a belief that so long as they’re doing something they’ll eventually get what they want or get to where they want to go. And when you ask them what they’re doing, they’ll probably respond by saying they’re busy. But busy doing what? Doing something and doing what will get them closer to their goals are two totally different actions. This is accentuated by the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” The key is to focus efforts on moving towards your goal. And to do this, you’ll first have to identify what your goal is or what you want out of life.

What do you want to accomplish in life? What do you want to do that you haven’t been able or think you aren’t able to do? Well guess what, the way anything is going to be accomplished and the way you can discover that you can do things is if YOU start to do it. The odds that accomplishment is going to occur without effort or achievement will just fall on your lap are probably greater than you being one of the first inhabitants on Jupiter.


My daughter lives near a traffic circle, and when visiting her I sometimes just watch in amusement the cars that travel around the rotunda. I see people who obviously don’t know where they’re going because they go around the circle numerous times. I see others who seem to know where they want to go but just can’t make the right turn off. And there also those that enter, go around the circle, and then exit the same way they came in.


The flow around that traffic circle represents the life journey we sometimes take. We go down a path and while we think we’re getting somewhere, we find ourselves going around in circles. No matter what we do, it seems like we end up at the same place. Our insecurities, limiting beliefs, and uncertainties cause us to rethink our path and some of us go right back to where we came from.

In future articles, I’ll write about how you can overcome your fears and limiting beliefs so that you can discover and take advantage of the opportunities to create a better life for yourself. When you do this, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find about yourself and the opportunities that were always there. In the meantime, expend your energy doing things you know will help you in your life and avoid the events that do nothing but zap the strength right out of you. For example, if you need to pay the power bill but want to buy that X-Box, pay the bill because the game won’t work if the power is cut.

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HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR COFFEE?

  

I know a number of people who cannot start their day without first having a cup of coffee. Some go as far as insisting that they must drink their coffee in a particular cup. The coffee can be made the same way with the same grounds and the exact amount of cream and sugar, however, if the joe is not in their favorite cup, it won’t be satisfying. What’s interesting is that many people live their lives the exact same way. They are so used to a style, a routine, or a sequence that if something gets accomplished but not in a way that pleases them, or is pleasing to them, it’s a failure.


When my father was the Lieutenant Governor, he had this beat-up gray colored Toyota Corolla that he would drive around in. The car was so beaten that he used duct tape to cover the rust spots on the hood and doors. I recall one day when a friend of his asked if he had any embarrassment driving the car around being that he was the Lt. Governor. My father replied, “The people voted me for what I do, not for what I drive. Besides, if the car gets me to where I need to go, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.”


There is a belief that in order to get somewhere and be someone, you have to dress the part and live the lifestyle. Another one is that unless you look presentable, you won’t be able to present. I guess whoever professed these beliefs never met my father, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Warren Buffet, or Steve Jobs (Apple). While I don’t have anything against people who love to dress up and drive nice cars, the clothes and vehicles don’t make the heart and soul of a person. I’m sure you’ve met a person who dressed like a millionaire but their attitude was in the dumps. That’s exactly what I mean!


As you go through life, you’ll find that people don’t develop true and meaningful relationships because of where you live, what you wear, what car you drive, or how much you have. It develops because of what you know, how you care, your sincerity, and how comfortable you make them feel. For yourself, it’s not about having the best of everything, but making the best of everything you have.


Like the coffee that starts our mornings, our jobs, the amount of money we make, and where we stand in our community are just our cups. Its what we do with our lives, combined with our thoughts, our actions, and our sincerity that give us flavor. 


All the best.

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IT BEGINS TODAY!

  

“I’m tired of living this way!  I can do better than this.  One day I’m going to be better than I am today.”

How many times have you said one of these statements to yourself? Moreover, how many times have you done anything about it? If you answered “a lot” to the first question and “never” to the second, maybe it’s time to challenge yourself.


I know a lot of people who have become frustrated with themselves or the situation they find themselves in. With many individuals, they’ve surrendered to their frustrations and are convinced that there is nothing more they can do to better their lives. They’ve tried many times and they’ve failed just as many. They sought advice and were rejected. They were ridiculed or, worst yet, led to believe by family and friends that they didn’t have what it would take to become better. 


The only thing that is stopping you from feeling better about yourself, doing things better for yourself, and living a better life is YOURSELF! It doesn’t matter, nor should it bother you that no one believes you can be better, it’s not their lives that you’re building, it’s yours! Take responsibility for who you are and what you do, and make things happen for yourself. Don’t expect others to do the things you need to do for yourself and know that there will be people who are going to try to discourage you. And do you know why they’ll do this? It’s because they fear that you’ll succeed where they have failed.


You’ve got to believe in yourself and believe that you can do things better for yourself. You’ve got to believe that you can make it happen!


In the process of changing your life for the better, you’ll learn more about yourself and about the people around you. You’ll be able to identify who can help you and who’s been weighing you down. You’ll begin to see opportunities that you thought would never be open to you and start to do things that you thought you’d never do. 


Be forewarned, you’re going to come across challenges that are going to test your commitment and will to succeed. When this happens, don’t give up yourself and don’t blame others for the situation you’re in. Face the challenge and deal with it as a learning experience. 


My father once said to me that life is what you make it out to be. Don’t blame others for what you have or don’t have. Don’t let others discourage you from being the better person you know you can be. Don’t let your current circumstances dictate what your future can be. Challenge yourself to be better, and when you get there, challenge yourself again. 

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WHERE TO NEXT?

  

Years ago while still in the police department, I was travelling to California to attend a conference and was on the same flight with a friend who was extremely nervous and headed to Washington, DC. My friend Ben was in his 40’s and had over twenty years on the job. Despite his years of work experience, he had to travel to DC to attend a training for technology he was now required to use. For Ben, the challenge was not the training he needed to go to, it was the location. You see, Ben had never been on an airplane.


Anyone who has ever flown from Guam to Washington, DC can relate to the exhaustion and uncertainty that befalls you during the travel. Along with the number of hours, stops, terminal transfers, gates, plane changes, and seat assignments you would have to endure, once you land you need to be confident in figuring how to get from the airport to your hotel. And that was just the start of Ben’s dilemma.


I’m sure when Ben was told that it was imperative he attend the training being held over ten thousand miles away, he had fears, was anxious and uncertain. Do I really need the training? Is it safe to fly? Is where I’m going safe? Will I get lost? What should I do if I do get lost? Will my family be okay while I’m gone? Will I be okay without my family?


I provided this story because it interestingly relates to what you may be experiencing with your future – fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. It’s natural to be nervous about what hasn’t happened yet, and that’s what the future is. But unfortunately for many people, their nervousness elevates to a level that planning for it, much less anticipating it, is a task they’d rather not do. So let me let you in on a little secret, you’re not the only one that doesn’t know what the future may hold because nobody’s been there!


There’s a saying that “If you keep reading the same page of the book, you’ll never get to the next chapter.” The fate of your future follows the same thought in that unless you decide to actively participate in what you want your future to be, you’ll never know what it can possibly hold.

Don’t be bound by the fear of what your future might be. Embrace the fear and do things in your life that could positively influence the way you are going. If you want to take a trip but don’t have enough money right now, start saving. If you want to win an election for a seat in the Legislature, start campaigning. If you want to live in a safer and more caring community, then start caring. The journey for the future you want starts with the first step you take.


As for Ben, he came home safely and went on many more trips afterwards.

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OPPORTUNITIES FROM GOD

  

A couple of years ago when Til was in California helping our eldest daughter overcome a medical issue, I decided one night to head to KFC for dinner. I got my order and sat in the dining area to watch the Lakers take on the Clippers as I ate my meal. 


A short time later, a father and a young man I knew to be his son sat at a table across from me and also took to watching the game as they ate. I knew the two because many years ago as the President of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Guam, I took part in granting a wish to a little boy who was now that young man. 


Trying to be discreet, my attention turned from the basketball game to watching in awe the apparent love and bond between a father and his son. While watching the two as they ate and enjoyed the game together, I thought of the wonderful opportunity they had just to be together and the opportunity I had to take part in the granting of a wish many years ago.


You see, the criteria or eligibility for a child to be granted a wish by Make-A-Wish is the child must have a life-threatening medical condition. Unfortunately in many cases, wish children have succumbed to their illnesses days, months, or a few years after receiving their wish. By the grace of God, some of the children overcome their maladies or live longer despite their prognosis. For whatever reason and in the case of this young man with his father, I saw the power of love, belief, and opportunity before me that night.


After completing my meal and having a brief chat with the two (it was then I learned that he was now 22), I left the restaurant being thankful yet wondering.


I know of many people who are discontented and having hard times in their lives but their experiences are no where near what the young man and his father have had to endure. Despite the fact that their troubles can be addressed without the fear of adverse medical consequences, they ignore or become reluctant to opportunities that come before them. Instead, they choose to lay lame blame for their woes on other people, the environment, the government, their dog, their in-laws, and even God.

On that night, I saw a miracle because of opportunities that came from God. I saw a young man who I had the opportunity to grant a wish to when he was a child. I saw a father taking advantage of the opportunity to have a night out with his son. I saw a young man with the opportunity to live his life longer than what he was expected to have.


So to those who have ignored or shunned the opportunities to make your lives better, I have just one question: Who do you think is putting the opportunities before you?

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WHERE'S THE GROUP GOING?

  

You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. That statement may have hit you as hard to believe, however if you think about, it probably holds a lot of truth. Now it may not be necessarily all bad if everyone in the group pulls their own weight. But if you got a couple of them who rarely, if ever, brings something to the table, how does that become beneficial to the group, or to you? God help you if all five of your friends always depend on you.


It is not my intent to say that friends who don’t have as much as you or as well off as you are bad. Money and status should never be the criteria for establishing and maintaining relationships. I present this in the context of surrounding yourself with friends who share the same enthusiasm you have in making yourself the best person you can be. Furthermore, I encourage that you don’t create friendships based on what they can do for you, but for what you can learn from them.


Take a simple assessment with the people you hang out with most. Are there things that you do that are similar to what most or all of them do as well? Do you do things for yourself or for your family based on what the group would deem acceptable or will not cause friction with the group? Are you afraid to seek advice or talk to the group about your ideas on being a better person? Do you have any faith and confidence in the sincerity or ability of the group to provide you encouragement, advice, and acceptance of your desire to be better? If the answer to the first question was “Yes” and to the remaining questions “No,” then you might want to consider who your friends are.


There’s a lot of conversation today on how to deal with drug addiction on our island, and it’s interesting how it relates to this discussion. One of the initial activities to address and overcome drug addiction is to remove one’s self from the environment and people that trigger and enable continued drug use. Similarly, if you want to improve your life and the group you most associate with doesn’t share the same aspiration, find new friends.


So, if you’re serious about wanting to change your life for the better, get rid of the excess weight and surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and who can provide you advice and support in your new life journey. Where do you want to go?


All the best.

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Don't Let Fear Control Your Life

  

Living on an island and having a large extended family, one of the unfortunate events I have to regularly attend is the funeral of a relative or close family friend. A frequently used phrase extended to a grieving family member is, “He’s no longer suffering and in a better place now.” There are times though that as sincere as it is said, what is really wanting to be relayed is, “We pray that where he has gone off to, he lives a life that he was capable of living.” It may sound insensitive, however sometimes the truth hurts.


We have all seen and probably know an individual that has the potential and capability of living a better life than they currently are. For some reason, these individuals refuse to see or believe that they can achieve their dreams or live a fulfilling life and are resigned to not wanting to even bother. We’ve all seen people waste years of education and experience, squander hundreds of thousands of dollars, or burn bridges with meaningful relationships while not having anything to be proud of in the end. The truth is, you probably fit that same mold. Why?


The single most drive-killing reason why people don’t pursue, much less plan out their dreams is fear. Fear of ridicule, rejection, competition, resentment, or failure. Then the fear is masked by excuses; no time, money, support, know-how, or relevance. Interesting thing about fear though is that it primarily exists because of what others might think or say. Why should it concern you? It’s not their dream or aspiration, its yours! What about the fear of not being to provide for your family? What about the fear of not taking advantage of the opportunity to live a better life? What about the fear of not making life better for everybody, including your critics who’ll eventually thank you? The only fear you should be concerned about is the fear of not pursuing or attaining your dream before you die.


Les Brown, a renowned personal development mentor, once said that “one of the richest places in the world is the graveyard. Because there, dreams, inventions, aspirations, and ideas that never came to fruition are buried there amongst the dead.” One can only imagine how much better our world could be had people who already have passed on been able to fulfill their dreams, or at least attempt to accomplish what they were capable of accomplishing. What can you provide that could make life better for you and those that surround you?


The world around you has an abundance of hidden treasures, and it only takes your willingness to search them out to discover the happiness and fulfillment they have for you. While the treasures I refer to don't necessarily have monetary value, they have wisdom, knowledge, patience, understanding, and compassion, all of which are priceless. 


So, how would you like to be eulogized at your funeral? Will it be “He was a nice guy and could have done more,” or “We’re going to miss him for teaching us how to be passionate with life.”


All the best!

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