I had a lot of time to just lay in bed today because the flu attacked me relentlessly. So I decided to pick up Randy Pausch’s book “The Last Lecture.” His book is 206 pages of pure emotion. I love it. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from him, but after page one I was completely addicted. I know I will be reading it over and over again. He really made me think about the things that matter in this life. And I wan’t to spend a short time writing about the things that I learned from him.

Dream Big: ”Give yourself permission to dream.” There have been times in my life where I have told myself that I can’t do something. Those times don’t happen anymore, but they did. Once in a while I get into a mood where I feel like I can’t do anything anymore. That happened to me a couple of days ago. But tonight I am doing fantastic. Just watch…my dreams are growing in size 🙂

Don’t Complain, Just work Harder: It really is funny how similar some of the things Randy Pausch and I have in common. I don’t know if anyone knows this actually, but my hero is Jackie Robinson. “He endured racism that many young people today couldn’t even fathom. he knew he had to play better than the white guys, and he knew he had to work harder. So that’s what he did. He vowed not to complain, even if fans spit on him.” I have never been spit on, but I have if you know what I’m saying. I know that I hate when people complain about things. I am a problem solver, and while I do like listening to people, I love helping them figure out the situations they are in. Sometimes that has put me in really interesting positions with relationships. But I know something now. We all have a certain amount of time on this earth, and that if we spend it complaining or whining about what is or what was, then we are only hindering our ability to achieve our dreams. It also won’t make us any happier. I vow to not complain anymore.

Don’t Obsess Over What People Think: This is a big one for me. You know, there has been a lot of time to play the guessing game lately. What are they thinking, do they still care, what will happen down the line, what the hell should I do….why? Alright, well that was nice for a while. But it really didn’t get me anywhere. So what can I do now? I have to sit here, and let take fate take over. Theres another part to this piece. “Luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet.” Yeah, I agree with that one a lot. In this time, what can I do? I am wasting no time, and I will be working on myself, making myself better every day, and moving my life in a positive direction. It is really easy for all of us to want to know what other people are thinking. But, the fantastic thing about life is that we probably will never know. So smack yourself in the face, and focus on you, because you only know the thoughts that you are having. And you are the only one that can make the choice to change those thoughts into something constructive. Right now, I have a construction hat on. I’m building.

Look for the Best in EverybodyWhere do I start. “If you wait long enough, people will surprise you and impress you. When you’re frustrated with people, when they’ve made you angry, it just may be because you haven’t given them enough time. But in the end, people will show you their good side. Almost everybody has a good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out.” This year there have been a few examples where I have had to deal with less than ideal situations. I have lost faith, and trust, but I have recovered it. I realized that if we don’t look for the best in everybody, then you will eventually just end up a bitter old person. I don’t want to be a bitter old man living alone. So I look for the best in people, even if I don’t know them, I give them the benefit of the doubt. A lot of the times we meet people in our lives and they are going through something that is difficult and don’t exactly give us a great first impression. So we judge the hell out of them for it. And everyone does it, I am guilty of it and its also been done to me. Look for the best in people. Give people a chance to prove themselves. You never know what greatness people are capable of.

Watch what they Do, Not what they SayPound for pound, this is the best advice I have ever heard. “It took a long time, but I’ve finally figured it out. When it comes to people who are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.” This comes down to backing up what you say and what you ask for. In this day and age, we are caught up in all of the text messages, the Facebook messages and comments, phone calls…the list goes on. Our lives have been so interconnected that we always end up in everyone’s business. I humbly sit before you and say I am guilty of this. So, I am making an effort to cut that out. I love writing letters anyways, and I have been. There is something about listening to the pen scribble words on the paper, and see what the emotions inside of you create on the paper.

Be the First Penguin: “Failure is not just acceptable, it’s often essential.” I used to be a baseball player. And even though I don’t suit up every day anymore, I still am. In baseball, you fail over and over and over again. It is not a game for the weak of heart. Even if you give it your best shot, you still might get lit up on the mound. You could also have the crappiest stuff you have ever had, and go out there and throw a no-hitter. It’s just insane how amazing baseball is, and just for that reason. When I go to watch the Giants play, I am probably one of the happiest people alive. I love watching the pitchers, because I know what they are feeling and thinking. Being the First Penguin is all about jumping in the water first and seeing if predators are around. Everyone else wants to stand behind you and follow. Being that first penguin is about being a leader. And being the first person into the dark water is always scary, but you show the greatest amount of heart. Yeah, you might get chewed up, but I think I am strong enough these days. The glorious failure, is the failure that happens when you give it everything you had and it still doesn’t work out. That is okay. Try and try again. I’ll be willing to jump in that water first off of the ice.

Tell the truth: It’s funny how this has come back up two days in a row. But I feel it’s really important. “My parents taught me that you’re only as good as your word.” I am a man of my word. If I ever give it to you, you can take it to the bank every time. There really isn’t much else I can say about this, except that it is one of the quickest ways to get close to me…tell me the truth.

Never give up: ”If you want something bad enough, never give up (and take a boost when offered). Brick walls are there for a reason. And once you get over them—even if someone has practically had to throw you over—it can be helpful to others to tell them how you did it.” This is part of the reason I am writing this blog, to let people know how I am doing it so if there is anything that anyone can pull from this, they will. I love talking to people who randomly message me about things that are going on or if they are interested in knowing something that has happened in my life. It is actually very interesting when people reveal themselves to me as those are reading this blog, people who I thought would never read these posts. I am not writing this blog for attention. I am writing this blog to show that this is my effort to become a better man every day. I don’t know if you are reading them right, but these posts are my way of saying that no matter how hard life is sometimes, I am not giving up. I will never give up on myself again. I did once, and it tore me apart, all of the walls fell down and the foundation disintegrated. That was one bad day. Never again. The scars remind me of that day every day.

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.” I am going to be completely honest. I have had a great life so far. I am so grateful for how fortunate I am, how many opportunities I have been given. I thank God every night for these things. But I don’t act like a spoiled white kid. More importantly, I don’t think I am entitled to anything in this world. I have had to fight for every single inch the past few years, and it has been one rough and bumpy ride. There have been times where I didn’t know what was going to happen with myself, times that I wanted to give up, one time where I quit and did give up , I have given up on others, have had people give up on me. But something has always won out. At my core love and passion have always won. Maybe this is my greatest lesson learned in life. Love and passion always will win for you Evan… no matter what. I know if I am going through a rough time, I think about all of the things I have been through and remember what got me out of it. I know something else I am about. I know that I was meant to enable the dreams of others. I want to be there for people, to help them realize their dreams, and do anything possible for them to get there. I do it because I love people.  I know that in my life, there have people who have held my hand along the way and helped me achieve my dreams. Now, my hands are always open for you. This is why I have tried to become a stable mentor in the lives of my little cousins. I want to help them and tell them that anything is possible in this life. I know I haven’t fully reached my dreams yet, but I have achieved one so far. That one will stay close to my chest. I think what I am trying to say here is…never tell someone they can’t accomplish something, help them dream big. Be there with them while they dream. Sometimes, if your lucky, you may be someones dream 🙂

Hey. Dont ever let somebody tell you…you cant do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project