I’m proud of, just got off the phone with, and am big-upping my brother, Chris Miskel. Though he’s younger, he lost the “little brother” moniker years ago, when we both became dads. I am mentioning this very talented individual because he is a maverick that decided to break the rules and live his dream.

Chris is a professional musician, a self-taught drummer who has been doing it since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was the oven door, pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and any anything else that could produce a sound that got beaten. He’s gone from using pencils and chopsticks to being promoted by Pearl (those are the folks who make drums, y’all).

He also hails from the same impoverished Chicago South Side neighborhood that I do, currently nicknamed Chi-raq due to all the violent crime that goes on there. A young man who was raised in a God-fearing house full of love, who knows what it is to struggle and live low. Through his dogged determination and audacity to dream, he reached the stars.

We largely set our own courses and determine our own paths. For everyone who lives in a free society that bitches, whines, gripes, moans, and complains about their inability to succeed, I just say you haven’t tried hard enough. Ever wonder why immigrants come to America and make a killin’ while citizens continue to accept poverty? It’s because we’re lulled into laziness and thinking we’re owed something.

NEWS FLASH: Nobody owes you SHYT.

You may not be a star drummer. You may not even be a bestselling author. But YOU can determine the mark you make and the legacy you leave. Just ask a man who has traveled more places than his older brother did during a 20-year naval career.

As the Bible says, your talents will make room for you. Invest in yourself. Believe in yourself. Discover what you love and have to give to the world. Make yourself a brand, market yourself, and live well because of it.

I retired from the military as a Chief Petty Officer. I’m used to telling people what to do. In that vein, I’m not giving you a choice on living your dreams. Get in there, do the work, and live a life less ordinary, dammit! THAT’S AN ORDER!!!

So saith the Chief.