Most of us, at one time or another, feel as if we’re in a rut.
Some turn to self-help books and/or motivational speakers. Trouble is, motivational speakers are a dime a dozen these days. Yes, some of them are excellent and truly inspiring, but most of them deliver the same old trite, feel-good-warm-fuzzy clichés gussied up in new costumes, bromides such as “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Shawn Anderson, a motivational speaker, seems to be one of the excellent ones, a real mover-and-shaker in effecting good changes in people’s lives and in society in general.
Anderson is the founder of the “Extra Mile America” movement of more than 500 American cities are members. Only one Minnesota city, Blaine, was on the roster in 2016; seven others – Duluth, Edina, Mankato, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Rochester and St. Paul – have joined since last year.
Back in 2009, Anderson decided to bicycle across the United States, from San Francisco to Boston, even though he had never been much of a biker before. During that trip, he stopped at many places to talk to people and discovered many people with stories of personal tragedies and failures had overcome them by bucking up, changing their attitudes and “going the extra mile.”
Anderson learned many insights on his bike trip and subsequent travels and founded the “Extra Mile America” movement. Its purpose is to recognize and create “the capacity we have for positive change in our families, our organization, our communities and ourselves when we go the extra mile.”
Nov. 1 is “Extra Mile Day” in the nearly 6,000 cities. On that day, leaders in those cities honor those who have gone the “extra mile” to improve their lives, other people’s lives and the quality of life in their cities.
Many thousands of people have been recognized in cities in previous years and even more will be honored this Nov. 1. All of the honorees have gone “the extra mile” in one way or another, refusing to sit still and complain or whine about life’s bad knocks or their personal disappointments and failures. Instead they decided to bounce back, to connect, to volunteer, to reach out, to do something. Their actions ricocheted positively all through the lives of those they touched.
Anderson, the author of six inspirational books, has a knack of recycling old wisdoms into new words.
Here are just three of his tips for rut-wallowers:
• “If you’re unhappy with your life, look in the mirror. You created your life dis-satisfaction, and you can un-create it too. Want out of the rut? Quit making excuses, pointing fingers and waiting for a hero to rescue you out of your funk. Be your own hero.”
• “Don’t expect overnight miracles. It’s impossible to reinvent yourself overnight. Massive change just doesn’t happen that way. But transformation does happen when we take small steps toward change daily. Single-change steps daily add up to big changes eventually.”
• “Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Waiting for the perfect scenario to unfold before we make changes only prolongs our existence in the rut. Don’t wait for the stars to fall into perfect alignment. Live and live now because tomorrow may never happen.”
Yes, we’ve heard variations of those tips before, but – somewhat clichéd or not – they are truisms we should all take to heart.
It would be nice if all cities in central Minnesota would join the “Extra Mile America” movement. Churches, schools and individuals can join, too. To find out how, visit the movement’s website at www.ExtraMileAmerica.org.
Let’s all help one another get out of our ruts – individual or collective ones.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.