During the years I attended Norfolk State University, I remembered one tough day at the Financial Aid office. The out of state tuition was raised significantly, so despite having a partial scholarship to play trumpet in the music ensembles, it was becoming next to impossible that I would be able to afford to attend the great university. You won’t be surprised to guess that this was a moment where I was extremely frustrated, and you might imagine all the insecurities and emotions that arose and were beginning to flood my heart and soul. Later that evening, I was at one of the counselor’s offices who assisted in financial matters like mine. I remembered seeing a note on the wall at her cubicle, with the words written, “Hope is being able to hear the music of the future, and faith is being able to dance it today.” I remember the moment like it was yesterday, sitting slouched back in the chair, feeling defeated, singing an internal sad ballad of, woe is me, and no matter how hard I try.... yet, those simple but beautiful words, spoke immediately to me in that moment.
Hope and faith are words that are uttered often. Just google them and every quote, image, saying and song that you would want to see will appear articulating the beauty and power of those words in all sorts of ways. Yet, they are spoken so casually, so effortlessly, that to most people they no longer hold real value. Make no mistake, hope and faith are two of the most powerful forces on earth, and they have been at the foundation of every moral and human rights achievements on earth. The ability to hear the music of tomorrow, the song of your destiny, the beckoning to fight on against all odds, and to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel, when all you see and all you feel is darkness - that is a powerful strength that has kept people alive when everything was telling them to give up. And then faith, the ability to take that step past the fire ignited by hope, and act right now, even when you’re gripped by fear and standing in the face of storms, ridicule and uncertainty. Acting on faith in that fashion, is only reserved for the truly courageous.
Right now, you are undoubtedly dealing with some great trial. It may be personal, it may be at work, and quite honestly one area of pain, usually metastasizes and quickly spreads across most aspects of our existence. I will not begin to tell you that I know how you feel, because I don’t and there are no words that I could ever say that would fully assuage that pain, that fear, that wound or that storm you are dealing with.
What I can tell you is what I told a gentleman who worked at the Draka Elevator Products plant here in Rocky Mount after giving a speech at their Headquarters on the topic of leadership. As I was preparing to leave, a gentleman came up to me. He had a warm spirit about him and a demeanor and quality, that reminded me of the great portrayals of the kind grandfather in any good family movie. He looked at me and smiled, shook my hand and told me how much he appreciated my words, and how proud he was of me. And then he looked at me and inquired if he could ask me a question. I told him of course he could, and then he said this to me:
“What do you do when you feel like you have done all you can do, spent your life fighting hard and yet nothing seems to really change for you, what do you do then?” I remember I was so caught off guard by the gravity of the question, and felt also not worthy at my age to respond to it, but then I remembered why I was there and what leadership was. I looked at him and smiled and said, you do the only thing you can do and must always do, you keep fighting forward, you keep pushing and you keep trying. I then reminded him, that the reality was that we all will surely meet our end one day, and so how foolish it would be to just give up, stand still or ever give in. No, I told him, you must meet your inevitable death one day, still fighting and still pushing forward. I remember he smiled and shook his head in agreement, and thanked me, and let me know that he looked forward to voting for me one day for something. I laughed and said, you might not want to have hope in that.
Understand – Yes, this journey called life is extremely hard at times, it just is. We often are not prepared for all the storms that we will face, and not always given honest realities of what we will encounter in relationships, in our careers and as a result, the brutal wars that will be waged in our own minds.
The one certainty that we can count on and yet you may never be really told to, is the very fact that nothing is for certain. And that very reality, when you fully embrace and are brave enough to step into that level of awareness, will give us a freedom to live and always find reason to hope and to act on and feed your faith. If nothing is for certain, then why not make the choice to choose to meet whatever comes your way with optimism, and joy. Why not choose to stay hopeful, and surround yourself with positive people, and enjoy the beautiful experiences that feed and nourish your soul?
Understand - hope will mold your mindset and act as a catalyst to jumpstarting a heart full of bold faith to act on what you believe. This mindset will cause you to take the risks and attempt the feats that most die wishing they had at least tried. Hope and faith are still very powerful forces. Embrace them, feed them and always stay committed to hearing that music of your bright future and dancing to it today. Choose to die on your feet.
As always, no matter what, you just keep hustling hard and keep fighting forward.
- David L. Joyner and the Joyner Strategies Team