The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Stan

Last month Mike from heylookawriterfellow shared a funny and touching story about how parenting has made him enthusiastic about life. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, awesome people from all over the world remind us about why life is just so damn good.

Today I’m happy to have Stan Mitchell over all the way from Tennessee. I believe I stumbled upon Stan’s blog a couple of years ago through my good blogger friend, Tim Dittmer. What drew me to Stan’s writing is how open he is about sharing his life experiences, with all of the ups and downs. 

Stan keeps things real while he continues to reach for his dreams, inspiring others every day because he’s a Life Enthusiast. Be sure to check out Stan’s magnificent blog and his popular action books.

Connect with Stan on Twitter and Facebook.


Stan profile pic

The thing that makes me enthusiastic about life is always looking for that next big challenge, while competing as hard as I can at whatever I’m currently doing.

That may not seem that earth-shattering or clear, but let me explain.

I was raised in a rough inner-city school where hope seemed to retreat from an onslaught of despair, scarcity, and dread.

I knew I needed to get away before it all sucked me in, and that if I had any chance of liberating my gnawing ambition, I’d need as much fire and grit as I could possibly achieve.

Stan on the right.

Stan on the right.

So at the age of 17, I rushed off to the Marine Corps. And I demanded that they guarantee me a slot in the infantry in my contract, or I wouldn’t sign it. (This was pretty daunting—or stupid— for a 5’ 7” guy that only weighed 118 pounds at the time.)

I killed myself in the Marine Corps. I avoided drinking, which sabotages so many young, ambitious Marines. Instead, I spent most of my time either lifting, running, or studying. I literally wanted to be the best Marine in the Corps.

My Marine friends thought I was nuts, but it wasn’t enough to just earn their respect. I wanted to be the best and eventually join the elite unit known as Force Recon.

Fate intervened, and I met a lovely woman that changed my life plans, but not before I won Marine of the Quarter for the entire 2nd Marine Division, as well as Sergeant stripes before I exited. (Not too shabby of a consolation prize, if I do say so myself.)

Riding on that success, I sought my next challenge in college.

I did everything I could to be the best in every class, and while that rarely happened, it improved my study habits and turned the classes into challenges—instead of tedious demands. Each class was not some prerequisite or required college credit. For me, it was a brutal competition or some kind of epic rivalry.

By approaching my education as a competition, not only were things more interesting, I also gained financial rewards in the in the form of a scholarship and a couple of great opportunities, thanks to stellar recommendations from my professors. Neither would have probably happened had I not set out to fight for first place.

Stan and Danah with newspaper stand

Also, while in college, I took a job at Office Depot to help pay the bills. And I suppose it would have been both acceptable and understandable to do a decent enough job and focus solely on school.

But I didn’t, partly because I’m a Marine and they teach you to uphold crazy standards, and partly because I had convinced the store manager into hiring me and I didn’t want to let him down. (He created an opening.)

Not blowing that job off ended up changing my life, as I’d eventually learn. Since I worked hard, was flexible, and took extra shifts, it wasn’t long until they promoted me from stocking shelves to selling furniture in what was often several-thousand dollar deals. Best of all, I learned from a twenty-year veteran about sales, something I knew nothing about.

It also gave me my first taste of entrepreneurship, when a friend and I launched a business after helping a company that was in a desperate situation. That small business taught me a lot and brought in some pretty good cash we would have otherwise never earned.

Finally, once I earned my journalism degree, I worked my tail off and learned everything I could at several newspaper jobs. I can’t truly say I planned to launch a weekly newspaper at the age of 27, but by the time it happened, I was prepared for it—both in confidence and toughness.

Our first big shipment of racks

And this, as I laid out above, resulted from me trying so hard to get constantly stronger and better throughout my career, at each and every stage.

I became an entrepreneur (and eventually an author) by dreaming and wanting to be the best, no matter where I was or what I was doing.

So, today, if you’re not sure what your long-term dream is, don’t sweat it. Until you know what that dream actually is, why not consider a competitive spirit? Compete with others, and keep pushing yourself to outwork and outhustle your peers.

I feel pretty confident that if you do, it will lead to unexpected opportunities and better pay. You may also gain stronger confidence and mental toughness, all of which should prepare you for when you finally step off on your true dream.

So, please, if you’re not doing so already, try doing your best and competing with those around you, no matter what job you’re currently doing. If nothing else, it’ll make life more interesting, and you never know when that next big challenge might arrive.

21 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Stan

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is wonderful. I admire people who strive to do the best they can at whatever they’re undertaking, whether it be a class, a volunteer shift at the food bank, or a career. That doesn’t mean having to be better than everyone else in the room. It just means pushing our own selves to be the best we can be. With that mindset, many doors often open. Stan is a great example of that. Very enjoyable to read about his journey.

  2. Letizia says:

    It was great to learn more about you, Stan. I love how you take charge of your life and push yourself to make the best of each situation. That’s a great quality to have and I admire that. Thanks for highlighting him, Britt. I love this series of yours!

  3. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I can not agree more with you Stan. People sometimes think that life happens to them, but we all have to think that we make life happen. Tough moment? Find the way through, learn and be stronger. Beautiful moment? Enjoy it to the fullest.
    One thing leading to the next, we’ll just be happy with what we’ve accomplished leaning only on our own will-power.
    I like your style! It was great meeting you through Britt (she has a thing for finding uplifting, inspiring personalities around her!)

    • Stan R. Mitchell says:

      “People sometimes think that life happens to them, but we all have to think that we make life happen. Tough moment? Find the way through, learn and be stronger. Beautiful moment? Enjoy it to the fullest.”

      That is so well said!!!

  4. danniehill says:

    First, Stan. Thank you for your service! You’ve got it right about goals. Looking too far ahead can make you miss opportunities and they can become overwhelming. I don’t know how Britt does it, but she picks some of the most passionate people for her award. Keep pushing!

  5. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Double wow! You’re a real go-getter. Did your parents play a role in developing your competitive attitude, or did this come from somewhere inside? Maybe a mixture of both? It doesn’t sound like it came from a teacher or anyone else in the educational system. Just wondering. I’m fascinated by how some kids rise above the fray while others sink and are lost forever.

    • Stan R. Mitchell says:

      Hey Jilanne!

      Sorry that I just got back by here! My parents played a role, for sure. Especially my Dad. He’s the hardest working, toughest man I’ve ever met on the face of the Earth.

      I also constantly read about great leaders and looked for others around me to emulate and aspire to. : )

      Sincerely yours,
      Stan

  6. Sheila says:

    It’s nice to learn more about you. I’m amazed that you were able to find the energy to do so much. I can’t imagine starting up a newspaper after working those insane reporter hours. That’s a great way to look at life – as a series of challenges and opportunities instead of as a series of tasks or things we have to do.

    • Stan R. Mitchell says:

      Hey Sheila!

      Great point about the long reporter hours!! Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it either!!! lol

      I guess deep down, I really wanted it. And I truly believe if you’re capable of plowing six acres, but only plow three, then you’re cheating yourself, your family, your community, etc. Each step in life taught me something and made me stronger, so by the time I launched the paper, it didn’t seem like a big deal. (That is until a few weeks into it!!! But by then, I’d already jumped into the deep end of the pool and borrowed a lot of money. At that point, it was sink or swim. And desperation makes a great motivator! lol)

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