It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit, according to Theodore Roosevelt, belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.
If there was a great lesson instilled in my head and heart during the big 18-hour battle in 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia that became known as Black Hawk Down, it is the reality that one’s worst enemy doesn’t live on the battlefield; it is within us.
The voices and fear whispering inside my mind telling me to give up were far more difficult to face than an armed enemy trying to kill me. But my buddies were out in those city streets fighting for their lives, and I knew that if I were to give up and quit, it would cost some of my friends their lives.
What caused me to roll back out in those streets again and again was the love of my brothers who were out there fighting for their lives. At one moment in the battle, I decided that I was going to get to them and bring them back… or die trying (hence the title of my podcast: UNBEATABLE).
An interview with Keni Thomas
Recently, I had a chance to sit and talk with my friend with whom I served in the Army in Mogadishu, Keni Thomas. He and I go back many years together, and I wanted to know what has made him unbeatable throughout his life.
I can still remember Keni singing Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry as army cadence while most guys could hardly sing 1-2-3-4 in step while running Army formations around an airfield in Fort Benning, Georgia. I had no doubt that one day he would be singing with some of the biggest names in country music in Nashville, Tennessee after he left the US Army.
“Music is a disease that you’re born with.”Keni Thomas
Who would have expected that the nine-year-old kid who was kicked out of many hotels because of playing the piano in the lobby would be singing the national anthem for the New York Yankees, sold album, and sing with the legends of the music industry? Keni Thomas, indeed, has come a long way.
But behind the glitz and glamour of the stage, he also faced a fair share of trials. He persevered and encountered obstacles that could have hindered him from being where he is now, but his passion for music and the fans who looked up to him became his driving force.
Is there a shortcut to success?
Does it every feel like your life is like a ping pong game, and you’re the ball? Sometimes God opens obvious doors of opportunity in front of you. Other times, you have to kick in the door! People always want to know when Keni’s big break came.
Well, it didn’t!
Rather, it was a series of little breaks. It was a series of dots that God lined up. Keni bounced from dot to dot trying to follow God’s plan. “Those doors of opportunity won’t open if you don’t bring you’re A game,” Keni said. On the road to Nashville, he had to prove to himself that he had what it takes to play in that arena!
I think this is a little bit of what Jesus has in mind in Matthew 11:12 [From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force]. Sometimes the road to the Kingdom of God seems like an easy path with a clear destination in front of you. Other days, the path to the Kingdom of God feels like climbing up the side of a mountain with no idea when you’ll reach the peak.
Anyone can make progress on the easy days. But when the journey of faith gets hard, it takes an unbeatable attitude to get you up the mountain.
Don’t give up when the journey gets difficult. There are no shortcuts to success. A success story without hardships does not have any substance. Keni Thomas’ journey is nothing but relentless hard work, heartbreaks, faith, bouncing back, and choosing to be unbeatable.
Don’t become your own worst enemy.
Work on your dreams, and refuse to give up. You may have been inches away from crossing the threshold that you’ve been dreaming about right before you gave up.
In life, you will get knocked down, and you’re going to get scuffed up a little bit along the way. But when that happens, you’re going to get up, dust yourself off, get right back in there, and not let circumstances beat you.
After all, if a dream is worth pursuing, it is worth doing well. Remember, it’s not the critic that counts… it’s the man or woman in the arena!