Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’

This post may be a bit late as the less familiar Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games had their closing ceremony almost two weeks ago, but I believe it’s not too late to be inspired by these amazing athletes who did not let anything keep them from doing their best.

It is only the 11th Paralympic Winter Games held for athletes with disabilities under the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The Games featured 72 medal events in five known sports from the Olympics, and is the first Paralympic that held a snowboarding event. Amidst the stark international tension regarding the country’s intervention in Crimea, Ukraine the Paralympic Games went on. Canada stayed in top 3 with a total of 16 medals having 7 of them Gold. The host country had 30 Gold medals from 80 medals in total which kept them in first place. Forty-five National Paralympic Committees joined in Sochi 2014 Paralympic winter games with Brazil, Turkey, and Uzbekistan joining for the first time.

Here are some notable quotes from the athletes who overcame obstacles to reach their goals:

Brian McKeever wins his 10th career gold medal.

“It’s all about my own shape and knowing [that] if I’m going to be half decent or a bag of wet towels: You don’t know that until you start racing and pushing.”
Brian McKeever, Canada’s cross-country skier and biathlete who began skiing at the age of thirteen. He lost his vision at the age of 19 due to Stargardt’s disease. He won gold in men’s 20km visually impaired cross-country skiing race in Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.


If we all looked the same, it would be a boring world.

Oksana Masters is a Ukranian-born Paralympic rower and cross-country skier from the U.S. Nordic Skiing Team. She was born with several radiation-induced birth defects including different leg length, missing shin bones, webbed fingers with no thumb, and six toes on each foot. She was sadly abandoned by her birth parents at a Ukrainian orphanage until 7 years old. Then she was adopted by Gay Masters, a professor who had no children of her own.


Obviously at the end of the day, it’s not what we came here for, but for the rest of my life, I’m never going to remember [Vancouver Olympics]. I’m going to remember that big hunking medal that we’re going to get on our necks in a couple of hours and what it means to bring a medal home for Canada.
Billy Bridges is a Canadian ice sledge hockey player who has spina bifida, a congenital disorder that causes the spinal cord to remain unfused and open, sometimes protruding through the bones. He and the Canadian team won the ice sledge hockey bronze medal in the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.


You can read other quotes from the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games here.


10 Minute Trainer - Workout for the Busiest People


Being motivated to continue doing something difficult is usually a struggle. When we’re doing something and then in the middle of it we’re suddenly faced with a big challenge, sometimes it seems hard to press on. There are times that our negative experiences and failures keep us from continuing. We become fearful of making mistakes again. Other times, we just lose our focus and direction. Our environment may suddenly change and we find ourselves getting ‘lost‘ in transition. We forget what our goals are and why we started in the first place. In any case, when you start losing hope and feel under-motivated to continue, keep these things in mind:


1. Be Thankful. We often lose confidence from past failures and personal weaknesses which then kills our motivation. We have to focus and think of what we want and why we started in the first place, but sometimes it is the same reason why we start to lose confidence in ourselves. As time goes by, our brains start to question why we still aren’t getting what we want. We become jealous of others’ achievements and compare ourselves with them. The solution for this is to focus on gratitude. Be thankful for your small achievements. Remember your accomplishments and what it took for you to get there. If you are a runner struggling to make it past sub-30 or your sub-1 or whatever your target is, be thankful for those few minutes or even seconds that you scrape off from your time. If you have been going to the gym to lose weight, be thankful for the capability to work out and sweat every day, and remember that you are on the road to fitness. We lose hope when we tend to forget about our strengths and dwell on our failures. Make an effort to feel grateful and you’ll realize how competent and successful you are.

2. Focus on Positive Goals, not just on results. We sometimes set unreasonable goals for ourselves and when we don’t reach them, we lose confidence in ourselves. Some people set goals like “I want to lose 30 lbs in 1 month” which is totally unhealthy. I once had a client who wanted to improve her figure by having a thigh gap. I had to patiently explain that this is an anatomical difference and can’t be easily modified with exercise or any weight loss program. Also, being skinny does not mean being healthy. When you run, you don’t reach the finish line by thinking about the finish line, but you focus on each grueling step that you take to reach it.

3. Set Your Direction. If focus means having positive and specific goals, then having direction means to make a clear strategy of your day-to-day actions to achieve your goals. Without an obvious next step, we tend to procrastinate. If possible, make a sequential list of things to do until you reach your goal. Identify the activities that lead to success. Some actions that you take can be good, but may not lead to your goal. Remind yourself everyday of what you need to do next. I think a good analogy of this in sports training would be Periodization. You have an ultimate direction towards your goal with the Macrocycle -your year long or season-long training plan. But you should still have your Mesocycle and ultimately your Microcycle which is specific to what you do for each training day.

It is inevitable to encounter failures and problems along the way as you take steps toward your goal. What’s important is that you strive and persevere and keep negative thoughts from killing your confidence and motivation. Martin Luther Jr said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  And after that first step, keep focusing on the next steps ahead of you.


Be thankful for each step. Focus on positive and reasonable goals. And set a clear direction for every action that you take.


This is a devotional that I shared to our Youth this Sunday:


Wood Chopping is a sport that has been around since 1970. There’s a story about one man who challenged a Champion Wood Chopper to a one-on-one competition on who could chop the most wood for one whole day. It’s an obvious test of endurance, strength, and perseverance. The challenger, prepared for the competition, worked very hard the whole day and stopped only for a quick lunch and just a couple of breaks in between. The champion though, enjoyed his lunch leisurely and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the competition, the challenger was surprised to see that the champion still had chopped more wood than he had.

“I don’t get it,” the challenger said. “I saw you rest several times during the day, yet you were still able to chop more than I did!”

“Yes, I rested a lot,” said the champion. “But what you didn’t see is that I’ve been sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.”

Wood chopping contest


Dealing with life is like chopping wood – we have to work hard, give lots of effort, and persevere. But sometimes in the end we seem to have never chopped enough wood than we thought we would. We all feel the pressure from our responsibilities and priorities. To add to that, we’re already at the 3rd quarter of the year and we’ve yet to fulfill our resolutions from last year! For Filipinos, we know how we’re already approaching the ber-months (or the months ending in “ber“), and this signifies that Christmas is fast approaching which means there’s more busyness to come. Our to-do-list, deadlines, responsibilities, relationships, and other activities seem endless and make us feel exhausted. We wake up in the morning rushing to start the day and just go with the flow, letting the crammed schedule for the day pass by until we head back to our beds for another restless sleep.

What we don’t notice is that even if we have been chopping long and hard at life, our axes are getting dull. We feel that there’s no time to sit down and relax. We may stop for a while, but only to procrastinate because our minds need refreshing and sharpening. We give the same effort but accomplish less and less, until we realize how inefficient we’re becoming.

What is the secret to working hard but still living well and not overloading our bodies to exhaustion?

We can be efficient and see results from all our efforts. We can handle things properly without being too stressed from all the stress in life.

Like the Champion in our story, we need to sharpen our ax.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.”

– Psalm 37:7 (The Message)

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

– Psalm 46:10

It is always helpful to get back to the basics. We just need to be still and rest, knowing that God is Sovereign in all the world, and that He is in control. Whatever happens in our family, school, friends, or other activities, we know that His will prevails and that we are in His hands. We just need to sharpen our ax so that we could chop through the challenges of life as God intended.

What does it mean to be still?

Being still doesn’t mean that we should stop doing anything. It doesn’t mean that we will ignore the challenges and be apathetic with life. I remember an article about plane crash survivors: according to the experts, people who survive the crash are those who knew how to keep calm and not panic so they have enough time and space to think about what their next steps should be. Based on the survivor’s accounts, most people panic inside the cabin and scramble around, missing the emergency procedures, the oxygen masks, and eventually the exit. They basically knew how to be still, even in the middle of the frightening situation.

Today, being still seems to be an elusive skill that we should learn. Advanced technology, communication, media and other distractions add to the pressures in life that keep us from being still and maintain our presence of mind. Without being still, we won’t be able to follow the instructions to the survival guide and find the exit. We’ll just be swinging our dull axes.

We need to rest – and not just to rest because our minds cannot take the pressure anymore – but to rest and know that He is God. We need to remind ourselves of who is in control, and what our life is for.

There are five simple steps that we can do to be still and know Him:

1. Solitude. Find time to be just by yourself and don’t let anything distract you. In our fast-paced world today, this first step may be the hardest. Slow down and breathe. Turn off your cellphone. Unplug your gadgets. Close your door and rest. The few minutes you will take to sharpen your ax will be worth it.

2. Read the Word. You can also use a book, devotional, or study material that could help you understand what you’re going through. But remember that His Word is quick and powerful (Heb.4:12), and is enough to sustain you as you refresh your thoughts. Remind yourself of His promises. Remember our future hope in Christ.

In addition to this step, it would really help to memorize scripture so that in times of emergency, you can just pick up a verse from your arsenal that applies to the challenge you may face. There may come a time that you won’t find a place for solitude, or you don’t have an access to a Bible.

3. Pray. Don’t just pray like “Lord, bless this food/help me through my exam/make me patient for my crush, etc., but pour out your heart before God. Pray to Him not just to request something, but communicate as if you’re talking to your best-est friend, because you are. Remember that Jesus himself needed to do it, as much as he can!

“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” -Luke 5:16

4. Listen. Communication is always two-way. There should be interaction among parties who are communicating. Prayer is not just about bursting out all your rants and requests to God, but take time to listen to His answer. He answers through His Word, through the life of Christ, through our past and present experiences, through circumstances, and even through people. When was the last time you prayed and took a moment of silence just to listen? \

5. Worship. Acknowledge God’s sovereignty over your life. Ascribe to Him the glory that He deserves. Appreciate Him for the things He has done in the Bible, in history, and in your life. You will surely sharpen your ax as you fill your heart with worship. And again from Psalm 46:10, remember that He is God and He will be exalted.

Rest is productive. Take the time to sharpen your ax.