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By: Jamie Collins

A few months ago, Chris, Gavin, and I found ourselves walking into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in busy downtown Indianapolis. It was playoff game 6; our beloved Pacers versus the team’s greatest arch rival, the New York Knicks. I was excited to be there. Not real sure if the experience would deliver on the promises professed by my dynamic duo; both told me how exhilarating game 3 had been in my absence. Sitting in the seats of that sold out stadium, little did I know I would soon become a spectator to not only one heck of a playoff game, but what would later turn out to be a ridiculously important life lesson.

With about 6 minutes left in the game, things became crucial. The Pacers needed to actively rebound the ball, and start making their attempted baskets to put some points on the scoreboard. Hope was fading fast. Silence fell upon the crowd. We were all on our feet; the stadium basked with the golden glow of concerned fans. We knew this was a live or die moment for the team; the final opportunity for defeat or greatness. The room quickly became immersed in a quiet tension that slowly enveloped each of us. Would we win or lose? Would they step up and be great? Would they fail? What would happen next?

I’ll never forget the moment Lance Stephenson first took that orange and black stitched leather ball into his hands in that pivotal moment. Striding across the court he came, dribbling across it in a moment of greatness, swishing that orange ball into the white netting above him, and reminding us all of something really important – possibility. He reminded us of what was possible.

In that moment, I saw something I’ll never forget. What I saw was an ambient fire radiating from his warm, brown eyes. The fierce determination behind his gaze began to soothe the quiet tension we felt. Not a person in the room could deny what Lance was destined for in that moment – it was greatness.  Whether the team won or lost on that day, in that game, in that moment, he was laying it all on the line. In a matter of a nanosecond, the momentum of an entire stadium packed full of people had shifted. And it had shifted because of one person. One person who quickly lit the spirit of another; spreading to a few more teammates, then half of the team, then the entire team, and quickly ascended throughout an entire stadium of fans. There we stood, wondering if he would make it happen. The energy filling the room was undeniable. It was transcendent. It was tangible. It was real.

In a matter of three seconds, the power of a single person standing in a room, with a fire blazing behind his determined eyes had uplifted an entire stadium of 20,000 people.

You may find yourself wondering how a playoff basketball game could lead a person to reawaken to a major life lesson. I would be asking the same thing if I wasn’t the one writing this post.

Following that experience, I found myself contemplating how one person can truly uplift an entire room of people. It’s true. We’ve felt that major moment of greatness. We’ve watched another person ascend into glory before us. We’ve had the fire, witnessed the fire, heard, read about or wished for the fire; the one radiating from behind a determined person’s gaze. We’ve tasted the glorious exhilaration of a moment like that. We’ve had a person take us from a quiet moment where we stood in a room, as he or she transformed the air around us into a sweltering, powerful, uplifting current, making us want to become a more fully-inspired version of the person we were in that same room, just moments prior. We’ve wished for a million more moments just like it.

Maybe you found that moment at home, in church, during a motivational seminar, as you watched someone in your life accept an award, during an athletic event, a moving tribute, at a meeting, or perhaps even during the most unassuming of places, during an informal meeting with one or two other people who made you want to seize your own greatness. I’m talking about a pivotal type of encounter where someone grabs you by the virtual shirt collar, and stirs your soul. It’s as though you have transcended what was just moments prior, an ordinary room.

Perhaps this moment occurred as you chatted with an inspiring colleague, were on the receiving end of an awe inspiring rally speech, swooped in Olivia Pope style to give your best portrayal for a leading actress role as “the closer” in a pivotal moment at work or as you watched your young son (or daughter) harness his own ambition, and for a moment, a fleeting second in time, you witnessed the power of watching another human being harnessing a moment of greatness with a flicker of ambition burning brightly behind his eyes; an ember of hope to serve as a reminder of what is possible. A deep, soul-searching moment of greatness that takes your soul to a place so high, nothing can touch it. Those are the kind of moments of which I speak; the kind that Lance reminded me of on that day.

After bearing witness to a moment like that, this is what I know: We must be far more mindful of the room in which we find ourselves standing, and the company we keep within it.

Life is hard. Setbacks are inevitable. Inspiration is waning. There are some days I feel so inspirationally uplifted that a tsunami couldn’t rain out my inner flame, and others when I swear to you, how I managed to even make it from my bed, to my vehicle, and into to my office fully-clothed and partially-sane is nothing short of a divine miracle.

My goal is to be inspired every day. I want to remain steadfast, and focused. I want to feel motivated, happy, fiercely talented, and ambitiously driven all the days of my life. I want to seize the greatness, harness it, and bring it forth into the world. Most importantly, I want to be certain of where I’m headed, and with whom. I believe you probably feel the same way.

You want to know what gets in the way of that?

Life…that’s what.

Some days, it doesn’t feel like we have much choice on the type of day we’ll have. Our carefully crafted plans for a life of inspired dwelling falls into the ditch of the damned, due to people, conditions or situations beyond our control. Perhaps a boss, a colleague, an illness, a setback, a detour, a mounting frustration, that tedious last minute project, the unexpected call from one’s spouse, parent or school…or a moment when some other “thing” arising from that list consisting of about a million other things somehow manages to snuff your torch.

And the flame goes out.
Or perhaps it is aglow, but barely.

What you need to know is this: We are the keepers of our own flame. We make choices each day that impact how brightly it burns, if it burns at all. Do you know what we can control?

The room we stand in.
The company we keep.

It’s a choice. One we make day after day, whether it’s consciously or by default. One we need to acknowledge, and own.

What I’m here today to ask you is this:

What room do you find yourself standing in?
What’s the energy like?
Is it uplifting?
Does it make you want to be a better person?
Can you feel the excitement, ambition, and that inner spark of greatness?

If not, find a new room.

Look at the people with whom you surround yourself.
What are they like?
Are they ambitious, industrious, motivated, happy, and inspired?
Do they make you feel that way, too?
Do they inspire you to become a better person?
Do they light your fire to be better, do better, and seek out what is possible?

If not, it’s time to find new people.

We must be fully-cognizant of the room in which we choose to stand, and the people we allow to stand alongside us in it. There is no better time than this moment to rediscover that small flicker that once emanated from your eyes. Perhaps the time has come to take that small ember still glowing deep within, but destined for so much more, and to put it into an environment where it can blaze into the true greatness it is intended to become. A time and place where you will transcend a moment. It will be tangible. And real. And amazing.

You make that choice. Again, I ask you:

What room do you currently find yourself standing in?
How do the people around you make you feel?
(Think about that for a moment).

More importantly, is that okay?

You have a choice.
Choose your room.
Choose your people.
Choose your future.
Feed that flame.

Set yourself up for greatness, align yourself with people who inspire you, and become that pivotal person others can spot across a crowded room, filled with 20,000 people, in a moment when others need to know what is possible. A moment you will be the one to show them. A moment you will rise to your own potential, and into greatness. They’ll spot you from that inner glow sparkling out into the world, just past that bright fire in your eyes.

Choose wisely. Burn brightly. Embrace your greatness.

Awaken the flame within.

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“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”  – Jim Rohn

One person can make a difference. In fact, it’s not only possible for one person to make a difference, it’s essential that one person makes a difference. And believe it or not, that person is you.  – Bob Riley

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Feeling inspired? Re-evaluating your room(s) and people? Share this post! Leave a comment.