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My Dad, my brother and sister and I were attempting to get in the last few bales of hay before the rain. The damp bales weighed nearly as much as I did as a skinny 13-year old. I no longer had the strength to lift the bales and stack them on the hayrack. Attempting to solve the problem, my Dad asked me to drive the tractor while he took my place on the hayrack.

Within moments, I heard a scraping sound from the baler that left me confused and worried. There was a big rock that I failed to see which could have broken the spokes of the baler.

My Dad in his anger yelled, “You can never do anything right.” His sharp words left me wounded for years.

Years later I worked for a College President who believed in me. One day, he came up to me and said, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I have never forgotten those words.

Because of my vulnerability, I allowed the critical and harsh words of my Dad affect me for a long time.

Then one day, I realized, my Dad and the College President were two significant male figures in my life. Each of them had shared a statement that had the power to shape my life. I could choose the message I wanted to receive. One would tear me down and keep me a victim; the other would empower me to go forward with my dreams.

Stories can build you up or tear you down. Tony Robbins says, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” You may not be able to choose your circumstances but you can choose how you respond to your circumstances. What stories will you hang on to?

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