Troy’s Times – February 2009

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Welcome to Troy’s free monthly electronic newsletter, developed for people interested in overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing oneself to realize their full potential.

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“It is not important How we come to the events in our lives, but how we Deal with those events”- Troy
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This Month’s Featured Article:

Do Time, Don’t Let it Do You

“We all have the same amount of time. You have the same amount of time as the average billionaire. It’s not how much time you have, it’s how you use the time you have.”

Larry Winget

  • To realize the value of one year, ask the student who has failed his final exam
  • To realize the value of one month, ask the mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
  • To realize the value of one week, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
  • To realize the value of one day, ask the daily wage laborer with ten kids to feed.
  • To realize the value of one hour, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
  • To realize the value of one minute, ask the person who has missed the plane.
  • To realize the value of one second, ask the person who has survived an accident.
  • To realize the value of a millisecond, ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

To realize the value of time, in any increment, ask the person who spent 12.5 years as a slave to drugs, followed by 7.5 years as an incarcerated felon.
Time is our most valuable commodity bar none. It is, hands down, the most precious thing we have, yet it is the one thing with which we are most often wasteful. You can’t recycle it, regain it, rejuvenate it, rediscover it, or reuse it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have relaxation time, hobby time, lay on the couch and read a book time, or sit in the sun and do absolutely nothing time. It’s all about balance in our lives. What I’m saying is that you need to respect and cherish it as you would any precious gift and realize that every moment that you spend serving dead time is wasted.
Earlier I told you about my history with my ex-wife. Trust me, we had our fair share of differences over the years as many couples no longer together do. I can’t say that I even gave her the benefit of a typical divorce. Obviously there were a few added complications. Throughout it all, however, we always had one thing in common and that was a great love for our son Eric.
I look back with astonishment at how lucky I was to be able to renew my relationship with my son. I’ve gone from being the type of dad who frankly, hardly remembered where I had last left him at times, to being the type of father that I think my dad and my granddad could be proud of. I think about that kid all of the time—mostly with pride, sometimes with worry, and always with love.
It may sound strange, but I think that there was a great advantage in having to live in the prison environment for a portion of my life. I mostly kept my head down and tried to avoid any situation that seemed overly dangerous, however, the fact is, as I found out with Chuck in the last article, it is not always possible to foresee a life-threatening situation. The gist was that I learned to never take one second of my life for granted.
Upon my release, I wondered if I would retain that perception. The reality is, perhaps because I had the lesson so vividly demonstrated for me in prison life, life in the outside world seems just as poignant on that matter.
A few years ago, my ex-wife, Lisa, and her husband, Dave, were driving down a dirt road in the countryside of Iowa. Anyone who has been to Iowa knows that I have just described any one of about a thousand roads in the state. They were on this particular road because they were heading out to check out an area that they planned to visit later in the year for turkey hunting.
On their way out there, they saw a couple that they were friends with, but whom they had not spoken with in a long time. They pulled over, as you do, to chat with them and catch up a bit.
The couple raised horses and had several of them out in that area to both give the animals exercise and provide the couple with a change of scenery. They were far enough off the beaten path that there was almost never any traffic, and the closest thing resembling civilization was several miles off. In all, it made for a nice peaceful afternoon.
Lisa’s friend asked her if she had ever ridden and she replied that she had but not for many years. So her friend asked her if she would like to come with them for a ride and enjoy the scenery with them.
While this would have been an uncommon treat, Lisa turned it down, saying that she had come out with Dave that afternoon and that she should stay with him, but thank you for the offer. With that, Dave entered the conversation and told Lisa that she should take the opportunity and not to worry about him, he would go scout the area and come back in a couple of hours to pick her up. It was settled, she would have a leisurely ride with her friend and he would see her when he got back.
As Lisa wasn’t an experienced rider, her friend decided to give her the horse that she had been riding for the past few hours. It was the most docile and was a bit tired already so it would be less inclined to get feisty with her.
They mounted their horses and began the peaceful ride down the road. Within minutes of beginning the ride, the horse that Lisa was on suddenly had an aneurysm burst, reared up, and fell on Lisa, crushing her.
The nearest help was miles upon miles away. Even a cell phone signal was several miles away. The man with Lisa had to get in his car and drive just to get help on the way. The paramedics assessed the situation and decided that Lisa was absolutely critical so they called for a helicopter. In the meantime, Dave returned to the scene to find chaos. His wife lay there with blood coming from her eyes, nose and ears.
From start to finish, Lisa clung to life for nearly three hours as they went for help, waited for the helicopter and she was flown to the hospital where she died upon arrival. The couple informed Dave that she had only been on the horse for five minutes.
Lori died in the prime of her life and left a son behind all because she was…
…on that particular road
…on that particular day
….meeting friends that they hadn’t seen or talked to in years
…who happened to talk her into riding the one horse that,
…despite having been ridden for hours already that day
…had an aneurysm that burst in that one moment
…causing it to rear up and fall in just the right fashion
…to end her life.
It gives you something to think about. How many of us, if hit by a bus tomorrow, could say that we had done everything in our power to live the lives we wanted? Would we go to our graves knowing that we had found that career, climbed that mountain, made time for the kids, or died trying? Or would we, instead, make a lot of excuses for why it had never been the perfect time to start?
Living a full life takes diligence. It takes a flat out rejection of dead time. Remember those convicts I mentioned spending each and every day just like the one before it? Does that sound familiar? Waking up, walking like the living dead through yet another day at the office, grocery shopping, taking the kids to their games, making sure that you’re home in time to cook dinner and watch the latest reality television show. If it does, you might not have committed a crime, but as sure as you’re sitting there, reading this book today, you’re doing the dead time. It’s easy to get in a rut, but it’s also easy to get out of it. You just need a plan.
When I got out of prison, I had to come up with my own time management tool. What I needed was not a planner or PDA. I simply needed to give absolute priority to my goals. It was that easy. I gave myself short and long-term goals that revolved around every facet of my life, not just my career. Once I reached one, I set another. Goals for my relationships, my health, vacations, experiences, purchases, everything. Even now, throughout the day, just by habit, I ask myself, “Is what you’re doing right now, getting you any closer to those goals?” If the answer is no, I change what I’m doing. It’s that simple. I never have to refill planner pages. I never lose my goals to a dead battery. They are with me twenty-four-seven, emblazoned on the chalkboard of my mind with great big priority exclamation marks next to them. I don’t have to write them down. They’re too important. How could I forget them? Writing something down means that you need a reminder, and needing a reminder means that you are not actively living your life.
I look back now at all of the wasted time when drugs were the central focal point of my existence, and I look at the days I spent in prison becoming the person that I am today. If I had always known the value of time, what could I have accomplished? If I don’t respect that time now, what will I miss?
Of course everyone’s goals and priorities are different, and yet, I’ve found that too many people make their goals about the external things that they want, and tend to spend very little time on themselves when, in fact, the external goals mean nothing if you are not healthy in your mind, body and soul
I spent 14 years destroying my mind, body and soul. I assigned no general importance to any of them, so that when I decided to turn my life around, I discovered that those three most basic parts of my existence had atrophied. My mind wasn’t as sharp as it once was, I don’t think I could have run from the cops even if I’d had the option, and my spirit was absolutely demolished. I couldn’t even validate my existence.
In order to turn my life around, I had to start setting goals just to get myself healthy enough to be able to concentrate on the greater goals of becoming whole again.
The first thing I had to do was clear my mind of the drugs and then give myself the homework of researching scholarship programs and writing letters. It was rough at first because it had been years since I had used my brain for anything other than figuring out how much I would need to steal to pay for drugs. After a while, all of the synapses were firing again, and I was eventually able to study for my degrees.
What I have since found, however, is that it can be just as easy to let your mind stagnate while living a normal life. Habits can be hard to break and if your habit is to trudge through a day’s work and then park your butt on the couch to watch television, your mind is serving dead time. The mind needs stimulation to stay sharp and I’ve learned to do my best to give it what it needs.
While academics were my mind’s main source of exercise while I was in prison, I’ve found that anything that stimulates you intellectually, expands your knowledge base, or offers a challenge between the ears is good mental exercise. Read a book. Write a book. Paint a picture. Take a cooking class. Research a topic you know nothing about. Build a model airplane using step-by-step instructions. Learn a new trade.
The activity may correlate to an overall goal that you are working towards at the time, or it may just be an exercise to keep the brain agile for when you really need it. What’s important here is that we chart new waters, challenge the mind, and explore new possibilities. If not stimulated the mind becomes stale, shuts down to the change around it, and in actuality, serves as a hindrance to our advancement and success. It is important to keep your mind sharp to prevent that from happening. They say idle hands are the devil’s playground. I say an idle mind is an invitation for dead time.
Of course it wasn’t enough just to get the engine running, I had to ensure that the body and frame were equally up for the task. Once again, I had the challenge of removing the drugs from my system. I was malnourished, out of shape and fighting to get the toxins out of my blood.
On the bright side, the one thing that prison does provide is an exercise yard and I had a great deal of incentive to look as healthy and strong as I could. In prison, there are big fish and little fish and you didn’t want to look like easy pickings.
As I got healthier, I started to remember how it felt to have a healthy body. I found that not only was I moving better, and feeling stronger, but I had the energy to get myself through each day, even the bad ones. I was assigning a value to feeling healthy and it made me want to work even harder at staying that way and improving.
While your current goals may have nothing to do with your physiology, your overall health affects every part of your life. What I found was that hours of justification or self-loathing were never going to inspire me as much as a taste of good health. I just had to start feeling better and that fueled the fire. Better health makes life easier. It keeps you going when you have to work harder, it gives you the ability to handle stress better, and it opens up new possibilities for enjoying life. As an added benefit, it gets you up those stairs faster.
While jogging and weight lifting were most accessible for me in prison and continue to be the staples of my workouts today, for you it could be Yoga, climbing stairs, walking the dog, swimming, basketball, tennis, anything that leads to improving your physical wellbeing. It is not important what it is, but that we do it as a regular part of our schedule.
When I was in prison, we had exercise factored into our everyday lives. It became a habit and that was the key! Today, I could no more miss my workout than I could miss breakfast or brushing my teeth before bed each evening. It is part of my daily routine and will become part of yours if given the chance to become a habit, a normal occurrence that requires no thought, just an assumed part of the day. Once it becomes second nature, you won’t even have to talk yourself into it. It will just be another valued part of your day. I do my best thinking and come up with my best ideas while jogging. Some may find jogging to be boring, and prefer competitive sports. I have friends who enjoy the peacefulness of yoga. My parents like the intimacy of holding hands and walking each evening. The venue does not matter, only that we make a choice.
You may feel like you are already in good physical condition, but dead time can find you here as well. Challenge yourself. Start somewhere, but as an activity becomes boring or easy, move onto something that pushes your limitations, teaches you new balance, or improves flexibility. Just as with the mind, the body is most easily improved when challenged. Try different activities, those you thought you may never be interested in or that you would be unable to do. Later, when it comes time to meet an important deadline, win a race, or play with the grandkids, you will be ready.
While getting the mind and the body on the same page, I also had to address my soul. I am not going to expound upon religious dogma here. That is an individual choice and I will leave you to it. My advice is simply that you continually strive to find your way to your own peace. This may happen through organized religion, meditation, counseling, volunteerism, or spending the day recognizing the little blessings that surround you. Your soul is your guide, your lodestone for leading you through life. You cannot enjoy a new job if your soul is ill at ease over the way you obtained it. You will not take pleasure in your new physique if you abused yourself to mold it. You will not cherish your success if you selfishly hoard it. In short, you cannot have triumphs of the mind and body without your soul, so nurture it.
My sober soul was troubled by so many of the things I had done and the people I had harmed and I had to find a way to make it whole again. I had to reach out to those I had hurt, while allowing them time to forgive. I had to create an idea of the man that I wanted to become – someone that I could not only live with, but be proud of. And, most importantly, I had to find a way to forgive myself so that I could move forward. When I had done those things, that’s when I found peace. When I found peace, I finally started to hear the birds singing, and notice the leaves on the trees, and feel the acceptance and love of a family I had lost. I had not only started to see successes in my life, but feel and enjoy them.
Think of these three areas of improvement as the necessities that you will want to have in your backpack as you travel your path. Once you have these three areas of your life finely tuned and in perpetual motion, you will find that your goals come more and more easily and the path seems clearer than ever. You will be alert, spry and at peace and those are three very good things when you are on a journey. If you invest in yourself in these three areas, the rest of your goals will seem suddenly attainable and you will know the satisfaction of never feeling remorse at the passage of time.

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If you live in or near one of the following cit1es where Troy will be speaking over the next few months, please contact The Ev^ns Groups for details on an opportunity that does not come around often- see Troy present for free!

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About the Author- Troy Evans is a professional speaker and author who resides in Phoenix, AZ with his dog Archibald. Troy travels the country delivering keynote presentations, and since his release from prison has taken the corporate and association pl^tforms by storm. Overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing yourself to realize your full potential- other speaker’s talk about these issues, Troy has walked them.
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