Justin Constantine is a former Marine who suffered a traumatic gunshot wound to the head in Iraq and retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He also serves as an attorney and is now an inspirational speaker and leadership consultant who advises the corporate community on military issues and sustaining employee peak performance.
He now serves on the board of directors of several national nonprofit organizations who co-founded the Veteran Success Resource Group in 2015, a military nonprofit that provides full spectrum resources for veterans and their families. He is also a senior advisor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, where he leads a team focused on employment opportunities for wounded veterans and their caregivers.
“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before” ~Maya Angelou
1. We All Face Our Own Adversity
I want you to imagine for a second that your whole world is crumbling down.
You wake up bleary eyed from a fitful night of sleep and check your phone to only to be met with two voice messages informing you that you have one week to pay your mortgage before your home will be foreclosed and the bonus you were expecting has been cut in half due to a recent drop in your company’s stock.
Furthermore, as you rest your head in your hands wondering what you are going to do, your wife, whom you are on the verge of divorcing, enters the room and begins to argue with you about trivialities you don’t understand until you are so frustrated that you storm out of the house, slamming the door behind you.
You decide to skip work for the day and instead drive yourself to a local bar where you intend to drown your worries in whiskey because you just can’t deal with the stress anymore.
Walking through the doors of the dimly lit bar, you notice that there is another man sitting in the bar by himself, looking sullenly into his drink as he fights back tears.
With hopes of finding a companion to share in your misery, you sit down next to him and begin a conversation only to find out that the man had recently suffered a layoff at work after losing his wife of 15 years to cancer.
Startled by his situation and own perceived weakness, you silently curse yourself for your self-pity and decide to keep your own worries to yourself and order another round.
You see, no matter what adversity you are facing, someone else always has it worse and it’s easy to trivialize our own struggles whenever we compare them to the things that others are facing.
But the problem with this mentality is that we fail to realize that comparing away our strugles will not make them dissapear.
Just because you aren’t facing disease, death, or bankruptcy does not mean that your pain is not real and that it does not need to be addressed.
Whatever struggle you are facing, there is only one way to eliminate it.
And that is to admit that you are in pain and seek the help that you need to overcome it.
2. You Can Achieve Anything With Time
The media loves to propagate this myth of the “overnight success.”
They love reporting on stories about the 17 year old entrepreneur who achieved IPO and retired before graduating high school with $20 million dollars in the bank.
Or the actress who landed one movie role and suddenly became the face of Hollywood.
Or even the “Biggest Loser” who dropped 150 lbs. of fat and became a model of health and athleticism.
But the thing is, none of these people’s success happened overnight.
It happened after years and years of working behind the scenes, after countless sleepless nights toiling away at their craft, and after thousands upon thousands of disciplined mornings brought them the results that they wanted.
You need to remember that no goal you have is out of your reach, it will just take time and it will take sacrifice.
It will require that you give up on the “good” so that you can step into the “great.”
It will mean that you miss out on parties and dates and time with friends while you work to build your legacy and achieve your dreams.
Nothing is out of your reach, but you must be patient and you must be diligent if you want to achieve it.
3. It’s Ok to Ask for Help
Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bike?
Do you remember the feeling of the wind in your hair, the rub of the helmet strap against your chin, the exhilaration in your stomach as you accelerated down the street…
And the sudden halt whenever you suddenly hit an unexpected bump and flew over the handlebars crashing into the ground with a definitive thud.
As you sat on the street, blood oozing from the raspberries on your knees and elbows, you began to cry and if your father was present, he likely responded to your accident with four words “Man up! You’re ok!”
As an adult, your father knew that you would be fine, but as a young boy, you felt that your world was caving in around you and the only response that you receive was to suck it up and be a man.
While instances like this may seem relatively benign in the big scheme of things, this mantra of “Man up! You’re fine!” is repeated over and over to the men of our society like a record on repeat until we reach a point where, no matter our struggle, we simply bear it and grin, refusing to ask for help because we fear that we will appear weak or vulnerable.
The simple truth, however, is that we all need help.
We all have our inner demons, we all have our struggles, we all have those dark places we don’t let anyone see that eat us alive at night.
And the only way to overcome them is to be willing to reach out to others and ask for help
You need the support of others, you especially need a group of men in your life who can be with you through the hard times and help keep you on the right path.
You are not alone, and you don’t need to be. Whether you need to join a men’s mastermind, hire a coach to talk to, or simply call up an old friend, if you are in pain then get help.
Talk to someone and be real about the struggles in your life, I promise it will be one of the best decisions that you ever make.
4. Forget What You “Should” Be Doing
With the holiday season in full swing, most of you who are going to visit family are going to hear one word more than any other, “Should.”
You should get a job and quit trying to build your silly business.
You should find a girlfriend and stop partying.
You should quit spending so much time on silly pursuits like travel and art and just get married and get a job instead.
You should do this.
You should do that.
But the truth is, there is no guidebook for what you should be doing as a man.
No one in society can tell you what is right for you, whether it is entrepreneurship or the 9-5, marriage or the bachelor life, travel or settling down.
Life is a beautiful buffet with countless options and most men feel weighed down with the expectations that society sets that we are supposed to earn a certain amount of money, marry a certain type of person, or live a certain type of life.
5. Define Your Own Version of Success
With New Year’s right around the corner, everyone is going to be setting new goals and resolutions for 2017.
And I can tell you without ever meeting the person or knowing a darn thing about them who is most likely to succeed based purely upon what they write down.
You see, most people want to achieve success but they never truly define what success means.
They set vague and ambiguous goals that are uncompelling and uninspiring.
Everyone says that they want to lose weight, make more money, have a more abundant dating life, and achieve more, but what does that really mean?
How much weight do you want to lose?
How much money do you want to make?
Who do you want to be dating and how frequently?
You see, the only way to truly achieve “success” is to have a clear picture of what success means to you.
For some people, success is an easy going 9-5, $10,000 in the bank and a happy family.
Other people would become depressed if they are making less than $10,000,000 a year and travelling 11 months out of the year.
If you want to achieve success, you need to define what it means to you first, and then set out to achieve it second.