Be kind.

Often times we think that we have to put up our own resistance against a front that someone else fortifies against us. Being a bit confrontational can be thought of a slightly sexy. But in reality, there is only one thing that breaks down walls: being gentle.

We live in a harsh world. No doubt are there significant acts of courage, passion, greatness and heroism that runs throughout the rivers of hate – but the reality is those acts of hate themselves really being to take a toll on our minds. Our past prevents us from living in the present, turns us into pessimistic beings at times, and our built view continues our story until we or someone else comes in and helps us break out of that cycle. This skepticism about life and humanity can be incredibly hard and damn near impossible to combat. But that’s the point.

You aren’t supposed to combat it.

You’re supposed to be gentle.

We need more people in this world who are strong enough to be gentle.

To love without condition. To give themselves despite being ungiven to. To give the world your best day in and day out without any expectation of return. We need a whole lot more of those people in this world. As I have found through this journey, life isn’t about expecting a return. The times I have felt myself unhappiest were the times when I had expectations for those around me. Shakespeare himself said that “Expectations are the root of all heartache.” He seemed to have it right. When we expect people to do certain things or act certain ways we are often disappointed. Don’t expect. You can only control yourself.

Trying to get other people to do things exactly the way you expect them to is like trying to move a cloud in the sky with your hands. Good luck.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

– Mother Teresa

The gentle ones in the face of hatred, marginalization, racism etc are the ones who are the strongest. Just writing this now reminds me of the story of Jackie Robinson and his time in the Major Leagues. He was brought in as the first black MLB player because he was strong enough to “not fight back.” That should tell you something. It’s easy to pop off at someone – demean them – rip them apart. Trust me, I have had that feeling stuck in my gut many times. Why don’t I just do it this one time? But you can’t. You have to see the bigger picture and move on.

Never let someone else’s attitude about life determine your own.

Maybe this is one of my favorite lessons I learned from playing sports. You can’t let anything outside of your control…control you. Mental toughness is a must. You can’t let the other team get under your skin. You can’t let the referees bad calls take your mind out of where it needs to be. No, you have to be keenly focused on what you’re trying to do. Play your game – not someone else’s.

The rest of the world doesn’t play by your rules. In fact, your rules only really apply to you. While you may be playing basketball another person could be in left field striking at football with a golf club. Don’t try to convince them that they aren’t playing basketball. Their perception is their reality. Move on and keep shooting. Play your game.

Keep in mind that everyone is going through something or other. It’s really hard to be on people. But I know that’s not why I am here. I have been hard on people in the past. But now I know that my only job is to keep to my values and go throughout life spreading kindness and light. What other people do is none of my business. Sure some of it “happens” to me, but that makes it even more important to stay true to what I am doing.

You can’t go throughout life by avoiding having experiences and relationships with people. You have to put your heart on the line and learn. The only way I ever got to this realization is by trying again and again. Believe it or not – there was a month where I was stood up for dates 5 different times. They didn’t show up – they didn’t confirm – some never actually talked to me again. You think that stopped me? No. In fact, it made me more bold. It made me go after exactly what I knew I wanted and if it turned south, well, time to move to the next thing.

Don’t waste any time worrying about things that are not for you. Not everyone is going to like your brand. If you set a high quality standard for yourself – call yourself Hermes – not everyone is going to want to buy that. Don’t fret about the people who hate on your brand. Continue your journey towards becoming the best person you can possibly be and aim higher and higher. By the day my goals get bigger. I am always competing with my potential. That makes me want to take myself to the next level day in and day out.

Remember – be gentle with those around you. Love your heart out. Strength is shown in many ways.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project