So I have been racking my brain for the last few days trying to figure out a list of the top something or other for the decade, and alas... I have created my list.
At my school, I do my very best to teach my kids how to be great at decision making. I truly believe that the good Lord allows pain in our lives so that we may be a blessing to someone else who may experience a situation similar to the one that brought us the pain to begin with. This list of is compromised of individuals that have experienced some personal pain; the outcome of these experiences provides us with teachable moments. Here is my top-10 list of individuals who provided us with valuable lessons this decade.
10. Dave Chappelle: Money isn't everything (2005). Dave Chappelle turned down $50 million from Comedy Central because during the taping of the third season of the Chappelle Show, he did not like the direction that the show was taking. Rather than take the money and compromise principle, Chappelle chose principle instead. He figured that he had enough money that $50 million wasn't worth compromising his integrity as a comedian and a man; proof that there is no price one can put on a man's principles.
9. Richard Heene: Not everyone becomes famous for doing nothing (2009). In our world of reality TV, many of our children look at people like Kim Kardashian, Kate Gosselin, and anyone from MTV's Teen Mom and thinks that they can do something dumb or even nothing at all and be celebrated for it, so did Heene. He created a huge balloon and allowed it to fly in the sky, claiming that his 10-year-old son was in it, but it was all a lie in an attempt to get a reality television show. All he got was a 90 days in jail, 100 hours of community service and $36,000 restitution bill.
8. Tiger Woods: Never do something that you're not ready for (2009). I truly believe that Tiger Woods was not ready for marriage. I honestly think that he got married because if he didn't, all of his corporate sponsors assumed the public would have thought he was either homosexual or a womanizer. It turns out he was the latter, yet it wouldn't have been as bad had he not been married with children. Now, he has hurt his ex-wife, his kids and lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the process... all because I believe, he was rushed into a lifestyle that he was never ready for.
7. Brett Favre: You have to know when to walk away (2010). We often times get so caught up in whatever it is that we're doing and we don't recognize when to fall back and walk away. Arguments, jobs, studying or relationships... sometimes we have got to be realistic with ourselves and walk away before we do something either stupid or something we'll regret. Brett Favre loves football so much, that he risked his health to play football. He's 40 years old playing against younger, faster and stronger players. For his efforts, he received a concussion and a shoulder injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year and possibly have long term effects after football. Sometimes when we stick around, we do more harm to ourselves then the good that we intend by staying.
6. Kobe Bryant: Be careful what you wish for (2005). Kobe Bryant wanted was what Shaquille O'Neal had... the glory of being "the man." The first of Kobe's five rings can be attributed to Shaq. Kobe was Robin to Shaq's Batman. Kobe was mad and facilitated Shaq's departure from LA. Sure, Kobe is the man now and won two rings, but he had to learn his lesson. From 2005 to 2007, Kobe struggled while being "the man." He realized that all wasn't what it was cracked up to be. Sometimes, we've got to learn the hard way like Kobe did.
5. George W. Bush: Trouble is easy to get into, and hard to get out of (2002). George Bush had to go into Iraq because of WMDs, which he was wrong about. We went into war and that was the easy part. What is the hard part -- we finally left Iraq last year and we're still fighting in Afghanistan. That war cost our nation money and young lives. Sometimes we put ourselves in tough situations thinking one thing and once in the situation, we want out and cannot get out. We mislead ourselves; others and we are sometimes misled. Yet we cannot be rash and make a quick decision or judgment; we may regret it.
4. Sarah Palin: Get your hustle on (2008). By no way shape or form am I a Sarah Palin fan. But I have to admit, she's a hustler and a damn good one. She went from governor of Alaska making good money to becoming a political pundit, author, television star and a requested speaker at political events making way more money than she ever would as a public servant. She even put her daughter on... Bristol makes speeches and is a reality television star. Sarah is a hustler and I respect her hustle. In life, the regular 9 to 5 won't get you rich or even get you ahead. You will need a side hustle to increase income, experience and options that will get you ahead. All it takes is one opportunity. Sarah Palin got hers and she made the most of it.
3. Eddie Long: The pot should never call the kettle black (2010). By no means am I a perfect man, but as a Christian, I do believe that the man of God must be a good and up right man. That means that if you are called to preach against sin, then you must practice what you preach. If you preach against homosexuality, don't be a homosexual. If you are what you preach against, then you shouldn't preach against it; to do so is to compromise your authority to preach against that thing. You cannot say one thing and do another... you cannot call out others for their wrong if you are doing the same thing. You must hold yourself to the same standard that you hold others to.
2. Barack Obama: Great accomplishment requires great sacrifice (2008). Lost in the mystique and awe of Barack Obama's ascendancy to the office of the President is the sacrifice to get there. He sacrificed sleep, peace, rest, time, privacy and a sense of his own freedom. He also sacrificed his family - his wife and children's lives have dramatically changed and they also have to deal with hearing Obama's name dragged in the mud by all his detractors in the media. All of this is the price paid for Obama choosing to work as president to provide positive leadership for our country. When we seek greatness in our lives or when we seek to achieve greatness, we sacrifice a few things not limited to our relationships, our contentment and our happiness. We must weigh the costs when choosing to do great things, yet we must not be afraid if the cost seems too high a price.
1. Michael Vick: We fall down, but we get up (2010). The Michael Vick story is the ultimate sports story of redemption. Vick started his career at the top and then his activities cost him his spot at the top of the NFL food chain, millions of dollars and his freedom. Despite all of that, he returned to the NFL and this year, he is having an MVP type season, was elected to the Pro-Bowl and has the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs and making a run at the Super Bowl. Vick is proof positive that we do get knocked down in life, but we can get back up. In life, we sometimes make mistakes, but it is how we handle things when challenged that prove who we are and prove to ourselves the strength that we each posses to make the best out of a bad situation and control our behaviors and actions in the midst of the storm.
A final toast goes to the next decade; that there is less pain for the learners of these lessons.