by J.C. Elliott High Eagle
This column is a place where members can help each other foster the resilience that has sustained Indigenous people for generations. In this issue, the message comes from J.C. Elliott High Eagle, Cherokee and Osage. An AISES co-founder and retired physicist, he spent his career at NASA, where he was a key member of the team responsible for the safe return of the imperiled Apollo 13 mission.
Let me ask you a basic question: who’s the most important person in your life? You are! You have the power of choice, the power of change, the power of control. You’re going to have problems in school, problems in life as I did. You can count on it. There were times I lacked confidence in myself, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what might have been. I made choices to do something about my life. Likewise, it’s up to you to improve your situation — you are in charge.
When problems or failures occur, stay in the driver’s seat. You’re in control.
When problems or failures occur, stay in the driver’s seat. You’re in control — it’s a waste of time to fret about what happens to you. It’s the getting up and getting back on your feet that matter. When you were a child first learning to walk you fell down again and again, but you knew the floor was not where you wanted to stay. So you got up on your feet and tried again, maybe even starting off in a new direction.
Ultimately, success in life takes two things: commitment and discipline. Don’t expect easy shortcuts. Paths are not straight. Refuse to indulge in self-pity and you can improve things. Finding a solution to the problems you will face requires that you take responsibility and take action. Our people have always thrived on challenges. That’s what successful people do. Each of you possesses the qualities of success. I have faith in you, not merely hope. Hope leaves room for doubt — faith never does. Remember, change your attitude, and you change your life. I did it and so can you!