Changes don’t occur just because we say we are going to do something. Reaching goals and doing something worthwhile with our lives takes action and commitment.

The New Year is always a time for making resolutions and setting goals. However, changes don’t occur just because we say we are going to do something. Reaching goals and doing something worthwhile with our lives takes action and commitment.

The strength to make changes in our lives has to come from deep within the very core of our beings and if we really don’t believe in ourselves, if we really don’t have faith in the persons we are, we will never be able to reach our potentials.

A few years ago I read an interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor and director. In the interview he talked about how his biggest challenge in life has been to be his own person. Poitier was the youngest of seven children and he lived with his parents, who were tomato farmers, on Cat Island in the Bahamas. They lived in extreme poverty with no running water or electricity. At the age of 15, with no education, he decided to live with his older brother in Miami, Florida. Shortly after his arrival in Miami, he had an encounter with the Ku Klux Klan. Until that point in his life Poitier had never defined himself as a black man. On Cat Island there had only been 1000 people – two of them were white. One was a doctor and the other was the daughter of a shop keeper. It never dawned on him that they were white; to him white was just a word used to describe a person, just like the word short or tall.

When Poitier was growing up, no one ever told him that once he left the island he would encounter things out there in the real world that were not friendly to blacks. In Florida he heard for the first time in his life that there were different values for blacks than for whites and in that place he was not the person he thought he was.

However, even though he was only 15 years old, he knew who Poitier was and he believed in himself. When Poitier began acting in Hollywood he promised himself that he would never play any role that negated blacks. He decided this because he knew what his parents expected of him, and what he expected of himself.

Poitier always wanted to walk through life as his own man, the way he’d always seen his father live. Poitier’s father was a poor man but he did astonishing things. His father lived with dignity, although it was hard at times because people tended to value a person by what he had – if he had nothing, he had no respect.

Poitier gives credit to his mother for the way he turned out. She lived long enough to watch him be the first black person to receive an Oscar for best actor.

Sidney Poitier has never allowed his life to be defined in terms of race. 

He believes that if we don’t look at the big picture of life, then our view will narrow to what is constantly fed to us.

We become what we believe and we all need to understand who we are in order to reach our potential. We can’t reach our potential unless we believe in what we are doing, unless we truly want to make the commitment to reach that goal.

Socrates said that the shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be. The most important thing in life is to accept how we are and never to allow anyone to change us. Only then will we enjoy the simplicity of being ourselves.

 

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily or contact her at her Web site at www.redirectingchildrenrgv.org.