Deb Sofield


Leaving Greatness in the Graveyard

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A while back I saw a motivational video about pushing through the pain to achieve the goal of greatness.

It was a video of famous and not-so-famous athletes who worked hard day after day, night after night, to be the best, understanding that success is a mixture of blood, sweat and tears. Today they are recognized sports figures who are greatly rewarded by their abilities. As the video is playing you can hear voices—sort of sounds like preachers in the background giving the message of determination, power, fight and success—and there is one section of the video where the words caught my attention, and I came to find out it is a re-write of the famous quote by Dr. Myles Monroe, and it is paraphrased by the motivational speaker Les Brown. It goes like this.

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

With that in mind, I titled my talk today Leaving Greatness in the Graveyard. Wow, what a waste, all because someone didn’t have the courage, the strength or fortitude to push through to change their life and perhaps the lives of others, and the reason simply is an issue of fear and determination: fear of the unknown, fear of failure or fear of success (if you can imagine such backward thinking), or the determination to go forward through the pain, the anger, the hurt or frustration. But I see it every day—people who come to my seminars or for training who simply don’t believe in their ability or have decided that being afraid is easier than pushing through, living in what Theodore Roosevelt called a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

I’ve got to tell you, nothing chips me off more than to deal with slacker people who choose the easy way out because they can, because they are weak (and proud of it in a weird sort of way) or because they claim to have such an issue with their self-esteem (which is really an issue of overwhelming self-pride) that they choose not to succeed because that would take work, and goodness knows why should they work when someone else will step up and do the job.

Someone else who is hungry for success, someone else who sees the flicker of light in the darkness, someone else who dreams of hearing their name called and the roar of the crowd in approval, those are my kind of people—the ones who know how to put shoulder-to-plow and move forward against all odds.

I don’t know many people who admire those who choose to hide in fear instead of believing and working within your God-given ability. Even if you have to work at it to be good enough (because good enough is better than nothing), and, if you’re willing to work, there are plenty of people who will gently push you to be your best and cheer you on.

Some of you say to yourselves, One day I’ll write a book or make a CD or paint a picture or figure out how to create a better way for some project or job at hand… I’m telling you to stop waiting and get going, because time is passing and you’re still talking about it and not getting anything done. You need to do your work while there is still time and you have the energy and desire to make something good happen.

Some say the American dream is built upon the ideal that if you work hard you will succeed, and I am sure for many that is true and that is wonderful, but I have always believed that the real American dream is for those who (because of the freedoms we enjoy in this amazing country) had no one telling them what they could or could not do—not a government, not a dictator, not anyone—so that you and I could create, develop, produce as Napoleon Hill was famous for saying, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” That is the beauty of a country that believes in its people to have the integrity, the willpower, the stick-to-itivness (one of my favorite words, which is a noun that means dogged perseverance, resolute tenacity) to work for success and refuse to contribute to the wealth of the graveyard.

Some of you listening today are contributing to the wealth of the graveyard, because you choose to be lazy, simple, and afraid of your own shadow and stepping up to the plate and swinging for the back lights, because you know it takes work to figure out the game and to be great at it—that takes something many of you don’t want to develop or work at or instinctively have, and it is the guts to step out in fear and believe the road, the light, or the help will be there on your journey to success.

You are choosing to be lazy and you know what the worst part is? It’s that you have no idea how just an ounce of your work could produce gallons to help others, but you’ll just keep it inside of you, because you choose not to participate, you choose to keep quiet, you choose to step aside, all because you’re lazy or afraid or selfish…I hope you don’t sleep well at night.

Let me give the rest of that famous Theodore Roosevelt quote…. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Dr. Myles Monroe said it best when he said, “In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”

Friend, are you hiding your lamp under a bushel of untapped potential because of fear? (False Expectations Appearing To Be Real.) Come on, you know better than that! Or have you grown tired of sticking with the problem until you can find or create a solution? Really? How many times in history have those who created life-changing inventions tried and failed until they got it right? You know the stories of the Wright brothers or Thomas Edison or Henry Ford or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or name anyone in history, and you’re going to give up because it is hard? No one is cheering you on. You’re distracted and want to go play, instead of working. Come on! For some listening, you are just a step or two away from creating the dream you’ve been working for. Please don’t get discouraged, or tired or worn out. Come on and finish the job, or at least take it to the final point and let’s see if it will hold. Some listening today have lost your dream or just let it slide because you can’t seem to make the time to make it come true.

If that is the case, you need to start digging and bring back your untapped potential and make something of yourself; even if in the end it doesn’t work out, you will have the satisfaction that you tried and not the excuses that you will take to your grave.

If you’ve listened to my show for any amount of time you know that I have varied interests—nowadays they call it ADD—but, really, what I have, and had and succeeded at was making my dreams come true, whether it was with travel (like I mentioned last week); or that I wrote a book and am published; or because I created, produced and manufactured a product and sold at market; or that I speak and train at some of the top schools in the nation; or sit on the stages of world events and participate in creating civil society or that I have worked to create a weekly radio show with every intention to go to television next…you know why I do these things? Not because I’m bored with nothing else to do. And I’m not bragging, but because these are my dreams by me and for me, and the reason I give it my all is because I refuse to contribute to the wealth of the graveyard. I refuse to go to my grave with anything left in me. One day I will go—empty, and joyfully so—and I hope the same is true for you, friend.

So tell me what still needs to be done in your amazing life that will allow you the freedom to go empty and joyfully so. If you ever see me, never tell me that you were too afraid to take that first step, that you were too afraid to keep with the problem, that you were too afraid to carry out your dreams—that would break my heart, and I hope the thought of it scares you into doing something about it…today!

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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