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When I was 8, I vividly remember playing basketball in my Converse high tops and tripping over my knotted shoelaces. I struggled to get the knot out, yanked on the strings, creating tension and getting nowhere. I finished playing the best I could, and when I got home I asked my mother to remove the knot so I could get my shoe off. With her sewing kit in hand, she untangled the knot, patiently relying on her technique with a needle and her experience of having done this before for my brother. 

Many of us are dealing with our own knots—or perhaps the “nots”—in our lives. Maybe you are not able to keep a job or close a deal. You can’t exercise, socialize or travel like you normally could. Those “nots” create a feeling of frustration, annoyance and aggravation which only creates more tension, akin to yanking on shoelaces.

So, how do you untangle these knots with patience? You must be grateful for what you do have and focus on the things in your life that you can control. Be accountable for what is within your realm of responsibility and understand disappointments and delays are just part of the journey. Thousands of thoughts flow through our minds every day, but oftentimes you need to deflect and acknowledge that some thoughts don’t need to define you. Finally, be mindful of what you are reading, listening to and watching. Ultimately you are what you consume, so be your best gatekeeper.

I coached a well-known movie star for several years during a time in his life when he was having an image problem. He was unnerved by the fact that he wasn’t the third or fourth biggest star in one of his most recent films. “I basically made these movies for money,” he told me. He was also debating taking a role on a network television show to replace a headliner and didn’t think he could do it. I told him not to believe what he was thinking. He took the role and less than a year later it led to our next conversation when another network offered him a new show. “I like the script,” he shared with me. “It’s almost like they wrote it for me.” He quickly returned to A-list status.

Amid his frustration of being downgraded from the movie screen, which to him felt like a disappointment and delay, he regulated his internal and external criticisms and stayed patient. He worked through his “not” and avoided tension by being responsible for only what he could control—his acting.

Every bow on a shoe, every bow on a gift, is created by going through a knot. When you have a “not” in your life, instead of tugging at it, remember to apply the right techniques so it can loop into a bow.

Learn more about Tim Storey’s motivational messages at timstorey.com

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