Anthony Graves demonstrates the value of setting an impossible goal
“I realized that I had to create a thick skin because the whole world has convicted me, sentenced me to death, and called me a murderer, for something that I never even would have dreamed of [doing]. I can’t even begin to explain to you how it lit a fire in me to make me want to prove that you got it wrong about me. I’m going to take all the negative and use it as fuel to prove you wrong because I’m innocent.” — Anthony Graves
We like to think we have some control over our lives.
Life has a way of showing us that we don’t.
It is true, however, that we have always have choices.
But we don’t control life. This became apparent to Anthony Graves when he was arrested on August 22, 1992 for the murder of 45-year-old Bobbie Davis, her 16-year-old daughter, and her 4 grandchildren, ages 4–9.
An innocent man,
with friends who could provide an alibi for his location during the time the murder was committed,
Graves was sure this misunderstanding would be cleared up
and soon he would be released.
Instead, he spent 18 years imprisoned on death row,
and was informed twice that his execution date
had been set by the State of Texas.
After he achieved his impossible goal of total exoneration,
Mr. Graves received $1,457,000 from the State of Texas
as compensation for spending 18 years in prison
for a crime he had nothing to do with.
He used this money to set up the Anthony Graves Foundation to support the Humane Investigation Project (HIP).
HIP investigates inmate claims of innocence.
He uses his resources to make impossible goals happen for other innocent people.
What an inspiration!
When these claims can be substantiated, HIP connects inmates with attorneys who are willing to work for them to obtain justice.
Anthony Graves was committed to obtaining justice for himself, but when he was sentenced to death row his freedom seemed to be an impossible goal.
He was falsely accused.
His alibi was wrongfully suppressed.
Witnesses on his behalf were either ignored or discredited.
His most crucial alibi witness was threatened by prosecutors that if she testified on his behalf she would be indicted on murder charges as well.
There was no money to mount his own investigation.
Where did this man find the strength and the courage to set this impossible goal?
Instead of allowing these horrendous and unthinkable circumstances to weaken him,
he used them to “light a fire” inside himself to prove his innocence.
The willingness to choose an impossible goal comes from the passions that burn deeply within.
It is this passion which allows you
to access the motivation to break through barriers
which arise as you pursue your impossible goal.
Challenges and obstacles, while perhaps temporarily daunting,
are used as gateways into new opportunities for growth.
“By going inside myself, I escaped the smell, the awful toneless grays encircling me, the chill of the steel, the lack of humanity. I learned to be a community of one.” — Anthony Graves
This learning to be a “community of one”
may have saved Mr. Graves’ life
on a level beyond all the efforts that took place
in the external world
which eventually led to his exoneration.
He began writing letters as a way of communicating with the world.
And he chose to read.
At the end of his book Infinite Hope, Mr. Graves provides a list of books which inspired him during his ordeal.
He allowed his thoughts about himself,
and other people
to be transformed through books by Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, all the books of Paulo Coelho, Malcolm X, Harriet Jacobs, Carter G. Woodson, Sidney Poitier, Eldridge Cleaver, Barrack Obama, Richard Wright, and many more.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for any death row inmate
is the isolation of living in solitary confinement.
There is little more confronting
than being forced to attend to one’s own thoughts.
To understand our power to choose our thoughts is perhaps the greatest empowerment available to a human being.
Conversely, there is nothing more disempowering
than to be subject to the awareness of one’s own thoughts
without the awareness
that we can choose
what meaning to make about our circumstances.
“I needed help and to feel the power of being connected to something larger than myself. That was the danger I had sensed from the beginning. Not the physical kind; this was mental. I was balanced on the razor’s edge and it would not take much to push me into not caring about myself anymore. I knew that if that happened I would simply be killed by the state, my life eliminated before I had the chance to grow into a person with something to contribute to the world. I hadn’t had the chance to discover that self yet. I didn’t want to die before I had that chance.” — Anthony Graves
As you embark on the courageous journey toward your impossible goal you too will encounter obstacles.
Are you up for an adventure?
Few of us are forced to take on the kind of obstacles an innocent death row inmate faces . . .
but if you embark on an impossible goal,
at times YOU may feel YOUR obstacles are just insurmountable.
The question is will you commit to finding your way over, around, under or through these barriers?
Or will you let the external world tell you who you are,
and what you can accomplish with your life?
Are you willing to become unstoppable?
Those who accomplish their impossible goal know for sure
that they have become unstoppable because no matter what happens
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Let your life become the miracle it was always intended to be
and the belief that you are adding value to the lives of your customers
are all crucial to your success.
Temper your optimism
with a realistic assessment of the business environment
you are working in
to achieve a fruitful balance between optimism and realism.
Entrepreneurial fear is often expressed as procrastination and/or doubt.
Both are real handicaps to actualizing your full potential,
as well as the potential of your business.
Procrastination delays failure, and that is a bad thing.
It is much better to fail fast and learn something
than delay and learn nothing.
Doubt can be tricky.
Dealing effectively with doubt means learning to discern
the heart’s wisdom
in the face of resistance from your current identity.
Look for the fear of moving into some unknown territory
which requires you to shed the “you” of today
and embrace the “you” new choices will create tomorrow.
“Amplifying what is great within you will accelerate your life faster than fixing what you think ‘limits’ you.” Brendon Burchard
It is certain that your identity will have to change as you move into uncharted territory.
But sometimes, the territory has hazards that you need to be aware of.
That is when doubt can be your friend.
So gather a reasonable amount of information
then make a decision.
Either your decision will move your forward,
or if it doesn’t, be sure to learn something.
Use that knowledge to make a new choice.
Stay connected to your passion.
Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses.
Passion is the rocket fuel that motivates you to keep moving ahead.
You have been blessed with gifts and talents that are there
to allow you to make a big contribution to life.
Know your “WHY.”
The most successful entrepreneurs are working toward a vision
that is bigger than their own personal goals.
Your “why” should have a magnetic energy that pulls
people and resources to it.
This makes the work easier.
“Courage is the ability to have faith, persistence, and strength in the face of fear, pain, and stress. Have faith today. Keep persisting toward your dreams because we need you. The world needs more people with a courageous heart.” Brendon Burchard
Identify new opportunities.
Be sure to schedule time to make yourself
available to new possibilities.
This is a hallmark of an entrepreneur.
Seeing what is missing in the marketplace,
and finding a profitable way to offer that.
Cherish your customers and look for ways to serve them
that are above and beyond. Always over-deliver.
While this list is not exhaustive, it gives a good starting place
for being intentional about creating the set of beliefs and practices
that will allow you to succeed in business.
Master your thoughts.
Master your world.
Think only LOVE.
Let your life become the miracle it was always intended to be.
One way to fully engage with this notion of activating the miraculous
is to set an Impossible Goal.
I have some thoughts about how to do that
I want to share with you
as my gift to you. Absolutely free.
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I’ve created a video training for achieving your goals, immediately. You set an impossible goal, your life will change very quickly.
Are you feeling overwhelmed because circumstances seem bigger than you?
Does it make you angry when people make choices you disagree with you that affect your life?
Are you frustrated by a family member or colleague who just won’t stop doing something that is bad for them, and/or bad for you?
If so, consider these five ways you are giving your power away, and see if you might want to consider claiming your power back.
This view of life activates the reticular activating system in your brain to collect evidence for “why not.” You end up living your life in a way that produces reasons why not, instead of the outcomes you deeply desire.
The truth is, the world is always changing, always expanding, always generating new options and possibilities.
When you allow yourself to reinforce the idea that nothing ever works out for you and never will, you are telling your brain not to notice all the options that would work out or could work out in the future. This is a way of giving away your power that is really dangerous.
We all like to be right, and when you take a stand for things not turning out for you, being right means a life of frustration and defeat. Why would you choose that?
The great thing about life is that we can always change our minds. So try that now. Choose to be wrong about your pessimistic view. Choose to have faith that life is for you. Choose to believe that as you dedicate yourself to finding a way for things to work out for your good and the good of others around you in every situation, that good things will come to pass. Try it for ninety days and see what happens.
2. Pre-judging situations and people.
Another word for pre-judging is prejudice. When you allow yourself to move through life with unexamined pre-judgments about people, places, things, and circumstances you cut yourself off from what is actually happening in the now.
If you are busy having conversations in your mind that reinforce your own point of view you are closing yourself off from the very experiences that could inspire you to change your mind.
This is such a disempowering way of living. Wonderful people and exciting opportunities may be right in front of your face, but you are not able to identify them dues to pre-existing ideas about what is possible, or not possible for you.
How sad is this?
Have you ever known someone who was obviously their own worst enemy? This is what I am talking about. We all do it much of the time, but rarely do we allow ourselves to discover how wrong we were about these circumstances we pre-judge. This is a way of making sure that you live your life inside of a prison of your own making.
Take back the power to be in the present moment open and available to life, open and available to new experiences, open and available to opportunities. Watch miracles unfold in your life!
3. Perverting the opportunities.
Every obstacle and every challenge we face bear the seeds of opportunity within them.
Knowing this and trusting this will change your life.
If you insist on resisting challenges, allowing yourself to be defeated by challenges, and giving up, you are not likely to actualize your potential or realize your dreams.
If instead you embrace a “bring it on” attitude and confront the obstacles and challenges that show up in your life experience, you will find that you become an unstoppable force of nature.
This is possible when you own your power and allow the goodness of life to flow through you and out into the world. When you find the courage to say “yes” to life despite unwanted circumstances new experiences show up with unexpected benefits.
Procrastination is one of the main ways we pervert opportunities and allow ourselves to be defeated by obstacles.
We simply fail to get around to taking the obstacles on. “Later,” “maybe tomorrow,” and “I don’t feel like it right now” are all ways to avoid dealing with our challenges.
We all do it to some extent, but truly successful people who are making things happen don’t allow themselves to do it for long. Building accountability into your life is one way to make sure that procrastination doesn’t get the better of you for long.
When you take back your power and take action now you generate results. True, the result might be success, or it might be failure.
Either way, you are now closer to the result you are intending, whether that is by taking a successful step, or learning something from an unsuccessful step. Either way, you will feel a sense of empowerment for having taken action.
I’m using the word “pride” in this article to mean not asking for help when you need it.
The idea that anyone can go through life without getting assistance from anyone or anything is false.
No matter how far you go on your own, you will always go farther and most likely enjoy it more if you ask for help along the way.
Now it is true that there are ways of asking for help that don’t work. Whining, complaining, self-pity, and helplessness are not attractive energies.
Seeing oneself clearly, identifying strengths and offering to give in order to receive is a winning strategy most of the time. I’ve found that truly resourceful people are typically quite humble, and always acknowledge the support they have received from others along the way.
Have you noticed that our world works through relationships? It is true that many of the challenges we face involve other people but succeeding at something alone is far less satisfying than success shared in a team effort.
When you learn to communicate effectively and lead a group toward an intended result the sense of empowerment soars!
So turn away from pessimism, pre-judging, perverting, procrastinating and isolating yourself in pride. In so doing you will find your sense of yourself as a powerful creator expanding while you are realizing your dreams.