Who's Your Ray Charles?
"I always think about Ray when I need a kick in the buttinski. He was a broke, blind, minority who was orphaned by the age of fifteen and raised in the 'colored part of town' in a time when slavery wasn't all that distant of a memory, and he went on to become one of the most influential and successful American musicians of all time. Basically, he wasted no time on excuses." - Jen Sincero
Jen hits the nail on the head again and is 100% right; Ray Charles wasted no time on excuses. He put his nose to the grindstone and followed his inner truth and purpose. He didn't let fear, procrastination, or other people's low vibes get in the way of him living out his dream.
While I was reading these last chapters of You are a Badass, I reflected on who my Ray Charles is; who is my beacon of encouragement in the storm of negativity that seems to surround us these days? I ran through a list of celebrities I used to idolize - Michael Jordan, Sally Ride, the Back Street Boys - but none of them seemed to fit the frame that Jen is describing in this book. Then I got to thinking that maybe this person didn't have to be famous, rich, or well known to be my Ray and that's when I heard my grandfather's voice sing in my head: "Here she comes...Miss America." This put a huge grin on my face as I got lost in the vivid memory of him singing that song and dancing through the kitchen with me standing on his toes.
My grandfather was neither rich nor famous but he was my biggest encourager. He never told me I couldn't do something and never made excuses for me. I was probably the only eight year old girl for miles around who could get you a 7/8th's wrench and tell you where to use it on the '88 Chrysler Convertible that was in the driveway. I'd then follow that up with the exact measurements for my grandmother's famous cupcakes. I could tell him any dream I had about being an architect, an engineer, a painter or a pilot and he would always be so excited that he'd turn it into a song and tell the next person he talked to all about it.
I remember the day I made a "no-nonsense decision" to be a Navy pilot. I told just about everyone but my grandfather's response is the only one I really remember. It is the one I clung to through college, private flight lessons, and all iterations of Navy flight school until I earned my wings. His response was "Wow-wee, my baby is gonna fly airplanes!! Which one are you gonna fly?? I'm so proud of you." He never doubted me for an instant and because of that rare were the days that I doubted myself. When those days did come, because let's be honest that stuff's hard and doubts did creep in, I could replay that response in my head to regain my focus. He never had the chance to physically ride in a plane I piloted but he is certainly always there in spirit.
Chapter 21: Millions of Mirrors ties a lot of the book together for me and it's all about who you surround your self by and who inspires you. I love the emphasized quote on page 177: "The people you surround yourself with are excellent mirrors for who you are and how much, or how little, you love yourself." I feel that this can extend to who you look to for inspiration as well. If you are choosing someone like Ray Charles or my grandfather as your source of positive no-excuses inspiration, you are connected to good source energy and targeting good mirrors and I would absolutely love to read about it so please comment below. If you do not have a beacon of awesomeness in your life, find one. Find one that inspires you to "live your life doing the things that turn you on, that you're good at, that bring you joy" and make you remember that "You are powerful...And you can have it all." Find one who will sing you their version of Miss America every time you enter a room, twirl you around on their toes, and make you feel so loved that you never doubt you can be anything you set your mind to.
Thank you for reading this hilariously encouraging book with me! I would definitely love to hear, and engage in, your thoughts so please comment. The next book I'll be diving into is by the awesome Simon Sinek entitled Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't. Check back on July 19th for the next post.