Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grover Cleveland and Purpose

“Like the legend of the Phoenix

All ends with beginnings

What keeps the planet spinning

The force from the beginning

We've come too far to give up who we are

So let's raise the bar
And our cups to the stars”

Daft Punk – I’m Up All Night to Get Lucky

“Man’s greatness lies in his power of thought.”

Blaise Pascal

Can I do this?  Can I write one more blog entry to get me closer to my goal?  Can I stay absolutely focused until I get this done?  Yes, my goal is self-imposed and maybe even arbitrary, but I’ve set it nonetheless so I’m going to do my best to reach it.   There are so many other things I could be doing right now, like taking a nap or watching a movie, but if I can just put in a little more time, it will make things easier later.  The beauty of goals, especially if they’re quantifiable, is that I know if I’ve reached them.  And I know if I haven’t.
One of the most important aspects of setting and reaching a goal is to take control of the mind.  Long before I read The Power of Now, I somehow knew that being in control of my thoughts was crucial.  It wasn’t that I practiced it much, but I knew it was important.  More importantly, I knew it was possible.  And here’s the sentence I used to help me get into the present moment and in control of my thoughts:

“Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States.”

What is the significance of this little bit of Presidential trivia?  The first is the information itself.  As stated, Grover Cleveland was President for two non-consecutive terms.  He is the only President do this.  He lost to Benjamin Harrison.  Sometimes when looking at books about US Presidents (and I looked at a lot of them), I would think the order of Presidents was Cleveland, Harrison, and then William McKinley.  But it was actually, Cleveland, Harrison, Cleveland again, and then McKinley.
Cleveland was an effective and popular president, and the first Democrat to be elected in 24 years.   In his first term because of his willingness to stand up to governmental corruption, he was well loved.   However, because he vetoed bills that were popular with the people, he lost his next election to Benjamin Harrison.  Fortunately, Harrison proved even less popular and for the only time in American history, a president returned to office.
His second term was more difficult.  He contracted mouth cancer and had to have his jaw replaced.  This made him irritable and less flexible and it affected his work.  He forgot his duty was to the workingman and he became extremely unpopular.  He even refused to support his own party’s candidate, William Jennings Bryant.  This split the party and William McKinley handily won the next election.
Interestingly, it seemed that Cleveland forgot his own Purpose during his second term of office.  He forgot his desire to serve the people and in one instance even had troops fire on striking workers.  Perhaps age, health, the pressures of office or a new marriage distracted him.  Perhaps he had found a new Purpose and just wanted to be done with the Presidency.  Though I don’t know why Cleveland changed, I do know that I have to keep Purpose in front of me constantly because I can be easily distracted or deterred.

“Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States.”

The second reason that this thought is helpful is because it is a thought I have chosen.  And that reminds me that I can choose all my thoughts.  In fact, the truth is, I always choose all my thoughts, but if I choose the wrong ones, such as negativity, fear, hatred, or anger, then soon those thoughts take over my mind.  Choosing more positive thoughts is a discipline.  This means it takes practice and work because most of us are not used to managing our thought life.  In The Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale says it takes courage.
Choosing my thoughts is also what keeps me present and keeps me focused on my goals.  I freely admit that I fail at this often.  But it has been and is in the realm of possibility to change my thoughts, thus my actions, and thus my life.  The bar can be raised.  All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going.