Barriers: Challenges? Prisons? Gifts?

Jack Brown 
MDI Contributor

Barriers: how shall we define them? We’ve heard everything from challenges to gifts to prisons.

For me, barriers are those things in life that we can see beyond.

If I cannot yearn for something beyond this, it is not a barrier, at least not one that challenges me.

The barrier that most challenged me throughout my youth was the poor status of my family. We were poor, but we didn’t live in poverty. There is a difference. Poverty is a label of hopelessness; poor is just a place where you reside for the moment. Poor challenged me at an early age. But when you are a boy and poor, you have no mentors. I knew the problem but had no tools and no opportunities.

I planned and waited for a chance to escape.

I never became Andrew Carnegie or Bill Gates. But I have had a great life filled with big successes and abject failures, up times and dismal down times. 

As I look back, it was all a gift, and I am grateful.

As I approach “barriers” these days I have confidence that I will take them in stride. We all need measurements to confirm where we are and how we are doing. But it is not all about winning or losing. It’s about the quality I bring to the race … to the game. It’s about who I meet and who I can help along the way. The joy can be in the race and not just the finish line.

Poor was a place for me to start my race. It was a challenge, and a gift and not a prison.

It was a barrier to a boy but not the man.

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