Just over one month into the New Year….with all the energy and hype well past us, I want to ask you, with some help from Steve Carter of Willow Creek, a big question–
“Are you moving or have you settled in to the familiar rut that has plagued you for months, maybe even years”?
“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave – with both ends kicked out.” Vance Havner
We’ve all had moments where we have ‘settled’……and not because we feel we are in God’s sweet spot for us…. but more because we have become comfortable. We know we are not living inspired lives, or living up to our God given potential.
If you are feeling that way, you are not alone.
The Old Testament recounts the story of the Israelites going on an 11 day journey that lasted 40 years after having left the enslavement of Egypt. By year 40 they arrive at a mountain called Horeb. They are camped out there for a year. It became a place that was safe and comfortable for them. They knew where to find water. They knew where to trade and get food. They knew how to deal with their issues. They created a “comfortable” lifestyle while camped out at the mountain. Life was good at Horeb.
Or was it?
In Deuteronomy 1:6 the Israelites got a ‘word from God’ via their ‘Coach’ Moses.
“ The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
In many ways we are so very similar. If not careful we will find ourselves “managing life” in such a way that keeps us comfortable. We “camp out” on our own “mountains”, and stay too long.
Consider these questions:
Can you name your mountain where you sense you have stayed too long?
Can you name where you have found yourself stuck? There is no growth. It’s just more of the same.
Your mountain feels familiar. It feels comfortable. Even though it may be spiralling you into bad habits or patterns, you try to manage it and control it. It’s not working and it is definitely not exciting.
I refer to this as the “Mountain To Get Over”. These are places and or attitudes where you have stayed too long.
I am indebted to Steve Carter of Willow Creek Church for this list of “mountains’ you and I may need to move on from in 2016–
9 Mountains To Consider:
Mountain of Overstaying. Have you have stayed in your role too long. Is it time to move?
Mountain of Overtime. Are you are working too much? Are you always accessible to your phone?
Mountain of Over-spending.
Are you consistently living outside of your means? Are you over stressed because you have little to no margin? How do you spell relief for your time and money – B U D G E T!
Mountain of Over-commitment. Are you unable to say “NO”? Do you have so many plates spinning that you are unable to offer your very best?
Mountain of Over-eating. Perhaps you have an unhealthy relationship to food and eating. And perhaps in moments of stress and feeling alone and sadness, you turn to food.
Mountain of being Over-revved. Perhaps your RPM’s are out of control and you are amped up and on high alert all the time. Are you driving yourself and the people around you a bit “crazy”? What it’s like being ‘on the other side of your ‘reved-upness’?
Mountain of Over-reacting. Do you have irrational responses to things that don’t meet your expectations? Are people tip toeing around the chaos you create, walking on egg shells, afraid that you might lash out at them?
Mountain of Overwhelm. Are you a person who constantly feels overwhelmed? To be overwhelmed can look like this: Stressed + Lack of Resources (perceived or otherwise) + Feeling pressure+ Not enough time.
Mountain of Left Overs. Are you living off of what God has done in years past but there’s nothing new. You haven’t been connected to Jesus in years. Has your connection to Him gone stale, almost non-existent? Does it feel like you are just going through the motions? Is your most boring hour of the week at church.
If you want to make 2016 something remarkable, it begins with naming your mountain where you have stayed too long.
Here are some helpful words that God tells the people through Coach Moses.
“Break camp and advance into the hill country…. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land….” Deuteronomy 1:7-8
Football coach Jim Harbaugh offers this advice for ‘breaking camp and advancing’,
‘Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!”
One of my mountains for 2016 is my compulsion to Over Commit. I am discovering that this mountain, is in part, driven by my need to be ‘liked’, to receive the approval of others. I am currently working on this.
So let’s get off the mountain and move out!! Are you with me?
A Maverick Application:
Take a few minutes to go through the list of ‘overs’. Which ones can you name for yourself? Are there any ‘overs’ missing here that you still feel you are stuck at?
What mountain needs your attention right now? What ideas are coming to mind about how you can step into this ‘over’ in your life?
Moses had Aaron and Joshua and a few others to support him. Who are the ‘Aarons and Joshuas’ that you can enlist to support you, as you look to tackle those mountains in 2016?
I find these few days just before and after New Year’s Eve slightly stressful. So much internal self imposed pressure to get my goals nailed down. I actually dread the process.
Don’t get me wrong. Setting goals you want to pursue and attain is a great exercise, but, ‘should’ing’ on yourself to do goals because you SHOULD is killing to one’s psyche. I do enjoy getting a cup of tea, sitting on my couch with my friend called Moleskin and writing away as I did today.
The feeling of ‘should’ing’ was alleviated by enlisting Brian Tracy’s “identify your #1 thing exercise’ exercise. This is something I enjoy. For me it’s always about the journey not just the result. I need to ‘enjoy’ goal setting, or ‘start and stop’ process. I can’t dread it or my creativity shuts down.
So here goes…..
- What’s the #1 thing I could start doing today, that if I did it consistently, would have the most positive impact in my life? (Then do it.)
- What’s the #1 thing I could stop doing right now, that, if I stopped doing would have the greatest positive impact on my life? (Then quit doing it.)
My # 1’s to start doing:
- Minimum 15 minute ‘chair time’ alone with God, reflecting, meditating, journaling, praying.
- Daily check in time with my best friend Rosetta, my wife.
- Be a positive influence on my adult kids and their kids on their terms.
- Keep sharpening my coaching capacity and competence with my mentor coach and joining CAM.
- Coach men to be life givers in their relational and work world’s.
- Keep focused on being an above average encourager and people builder.
- Keep growing margin financially, emotionally, and physically.
- Be ruthless with managing my weight and getting to 192Ibs
My # 1’s to stop doing include:
- Stop complaining and stop speaking critically of others when they aren’t around.
- Stop eating ‘fatty, crappy’ food and avoid starch like the plaque.
- Stop focusing on what I can’t do and focus on what I CAN do in regards to advancing my coaching practice.
And that’s it for now.
I plan to take football coach Jim Harbaugh to heart–to attack each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
God helping me, I will!!
Over the years I have wondered why some people’s growth accelerates while others either plateau or drift into mediocrity. Although there are a good number of things that could be listed, I think one stands out above all–a lack of teachability. In fact, author/pastor Matt Keller wrote a whole book on the subject called The Key to Everything: Unlocking the Secret to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t. I am not sure if this is absolutely true but it does resonate with me.
I am on my way to improving my coaching ability and I attribute that to a couple of things–one is my own hunger and drive to want to be an effective and useful coach, but the other is my growing teachability, especially towards my own mentor coach.
My own coach doesn’t hold back in his feedback. I think I’ve demonstrated over the last couple of years that I want to learn so he gets right in there and isn’t afraid to use phrases like,
“Luch, slow down. One thought at a time.”
“Stop stacking questions.”
“Don’t run away from me.”
“Luch, you need to wallow but eventually you need to swallow because frankly, nobody cares”
“Let me finish before you interrupt me.” (Ouch)
I think over the years teachability has served me well, whether as a competitive runner, a school teacher in training, a pastor/ mentor in the making. In all these roles and more, whenever I have chosen to set aside my ego and not give into my ‘china doll feelings’ I have benefited from the one giving me the correction or instruction.
I am the first to admit that being teachable as a way of life is not easy. The older you get it seems the harder it is to receive any kind of feedback from anyone, especially your spouse or kids, or even friends who care about you.
A piece of Jewish wisdom says, “If you accept correction, you will be honoured.” Proverbs 13:18
When someone makes a suggestion to your or a critique of something you’ve done, what’s your response?
Do you resist and ‘ya but’ yourself out of getting the correction? Or do you receive it humbly and say, “Thanks for that. Anything else?”
One way to begin to move into the arena of being teachable is to actually ask people you trust and who you perceive have your best interest at heart to point out anything in your life that may concern them. I know that sounds heavy but if you are serious about character growth, that’s a good place to start.
A couple of years ago I asked each of my adult children to provide me constructive feedback. I started by saying, “Over the years I know I have been ‘large and in charge’ in your lives, and that at times I may have overstepped my self in my overzealousness to be a good dad. Is there anything you remember that I did or said that left any bad effect on you? Please let me know. I am all ears. Really. ”
And you know what, they have each had something to say to me that has been extremely useful and had a positive effect on our relationships into their 30s.
i have to admit that receiving feedback is not always easy. In fact, C. S. Lewis says it well,
“Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.”
A final question…..
When I wrote this, I was on the eve of leaving for our annual family vacation.
While getting ready my wife asked me, “So, are you going to be working while we’re in Southampton or are you going to be able to rest?” She went on to add, “You won’t have any coach appointments next week, will you? I hope not.”
Actually, I did have a couple of things I had planned to respond to while away. Yet, after reflecting on her question, I called those people and rescheduled.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to totally disconnect from work-mode. Mind you, when I do finally disconnect, I love it. However, it takes me awhile.
The ancient Greeks had a saying that I remember when I am resisting rest…
“You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”
We all need time away from work to relax and recover.
The late Tim Hansel wrote in his classic “When I Relax I Feel Guilty,”
“When work becomes a person’s all consuming interest, even if the work is good and necessary, it is idolatry.”
Strong words, but words worth taking to heart.
How can we keep our work from becoming a form of idolatry in our lives?
I suspect that as part of our Mavericks’ community, you are not a slouch! I also suspect that while you work hard, you also know that you are to “rest” – really rest. You know that honouring the Sabbath is to be part of who you are as a leader. You desire that to be the case, and yet, if you are like many I know, this may feel far from reality.
Here are a few thoughts to help inspire you to give yourself permission to do some deliberate leisure – to find some rest!.
The word ‘leisure’, from its Latin roots is ‘licere’ – which means ‘to be permitted’. If we are ever going to install leisure into the hard drives of our lives, we must give ourselves permission to do so.
For me, it includes taking care of myself in what I call my RPMS…
I have 3 practices that help me ensure my RPMS is in a solid place:
- Divert daily
- Withdraw weekly
- Abandon annually
Everyone achieves relaxation and leisure in different ways. What relaxes me might give you a tension headache and visa versa!
For me it involves regular downtimes—releasing the bent bow – putting limits on my work schedule and getting away for regular weekends.
Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not, it’s informative to look at the Hebrew idea of Sabbath. The way the Hebrews understood the concept of ‘Sabbath’ was that the Creator had built into our physical makeup a need—even a requirement—for a day each week for rest, play, reflection, worship, and change of pace.
Taking care of your body is as much a spiritual discipline as is prayer, singing and Bible study. God wants you to rest. Rest your body and, in the process, recharge your mind, spirit and relationships.
The Apostle Paul says:
“God helping you, take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering” Romans 12:1 (MSG).
When you take care of your body, you worship God. It’s never too late to begin this important journey in your life.
If you need permission, look to our Saviour Jesus. He knew about the rhythms of rest and work. He invites us, as He did His disciples, to come away with Him and rest. In essence He was saying,
“If you don’t come apart, you will come apart”.
“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:30-31 (MSG)
In his book, “Are You Fully Charged?”, author Tom Rath calls the constant use of our smartphone technology a ‘digital pacifier’. No doubt these ‘tools’ are useful when used appropriately but they have become a source of constant distraction.
To me they are usually an indication that someone isn’t living a purposeful life. It can sometimes appear that one’s purpose is to answer their phone or other device. I have fallen into this trap and this book and research has kicked me out of the stupor of being pacified by my device.
In fact, a 2015 study titled “The iPhone Effect”, shows how the mere presence of smartphone can ruin a conversation. (from the book)
I would add it not only ruins a conversation but can also be the source of ruining any relationship, even a marriage, or child parent relationship.
An experiment with 200 participants revealed that simply placing a mobile device on the table resulted in detrimental conversations. While the device was present, the quality of the conversation was rated as less than fulfilling when compared with conversations that took place in the absence of mobile devices.
People reported having higher levels of empathetic concern when phones were not visible.
If you want to know more about this, purchase Rath’s Are You Fully Charged?
As well, you can explore further this ‘hot topic’ by exploring the research called The iPhone Effect.
The one thing I have decided to do as a result of reading Rath’s book and this research is to leave my phone in my car when I go to a meeting, and to remove my phone from any group interactions I have with clients, family or one to one relationships.
I want to be sure that the person or persons in front of me know that I ‘see’ them and that they matter to me more than any device, even if it’s a ‘smart device’.
Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van
Gogh: “It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.” You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and downs in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life; by your love I am sustained; and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love.
My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.
O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know that there is ebb and flow but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.
-Caring, Change, Communication, Connection, Conflict, Creativity and Commitment.
Then I read another list of C’s from Pastor Rick Warren, that included a spiritual emphasis as well as psychological.
In June my wife and I celebrate 39 years of marriage. A wedding anniversary wakes us up to the past and also helps us to reflect on what we’re becoming as a couple.
In my marriage and marriage coaching I have discovered the importance of encouraging couples to daily take their daily dose of the 6 “Vitamin C’s” for a healthy and thriving marriage. I take these every day.
Wake up your marriage through communication.
Every day make time to talk with each other not to each other.
“It’s impossible to overemphasize the immense needs that humans have to be really listened to, taken seriously, and understood.” Paul Tournier
Wake up your marriage through consideration.
St Paul advises us to “Show your love by being helpful to each other.”
Consideration energizes a marriage. Consideration means paying attention to what your partner says, being thoughtful and showing common courtesies.
Wake up your marriage through compromise.
St Paul wrote, ‘Love does not demand its own way.”
Consider these facts of life:
1) You will have conflict in your marriage.
2) There are some issues you will never agree on.
3) Compromise is the evidence of real love.
Wake up your marriage through courtship.
Be each other’s best friends. It’s easy to leave your spouse, but it’s really hard to leave your best friend, so work hard at being best friends for the rest of your life. Date frequently.
Wake up your marriage through commitment.
Commitment says you are all in. Commitment says you will work through the problems and not seek solace from anyone else. God spoke concerning the vows of marriage through the prophet Malachi 2:16 “Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your mate.”
Wake up your marriage through an ongoing encounter with Jesus Christ.
I believe the most powerful C is a relationship with Christ as a couple.
As you make Christ the centre of your life together you will have the ability to accomplish the other five. It’s your individual relationship with Jesus that will give you the power and wisdom to practice the other Cs.
I have discovered after 39 years of marriage to the same woman that the grass is not greener on the other side, the grass is greenest where you water it.
So to wake up your marriage, start watering it.
Grateful to the insight of Amy Morin for this strong list of attitudes and actions to get rid of if we are tipo be mentally tough and effective at life and work.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
~by Amy Morin, LCSW
MEntally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life. Check out these things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become more mentally strong.
1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
They accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
They don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
They don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.
i am an avid reader of everything Father Ronald Rolheiser writes. These commandments are excerpted from his book Sacred Fire, a phenomenal read on the various stages we pass through on our way to maturity in spirit, soul, mind, body and relationships.
COMMANDMENTS FOR DAILY LIFE–Fr Ronald Rolheiser
Almost thirty years ago, Daniel Berrigan wrote a little book that he entitled, Ten Commandments for the Long Haul. It was, in effect, a handbook of sorts on how to be a prophet in today’s world. It was Berrigan at his best, explaining how a prophet must make a vow of love and not of alienation. Anyone who is trying to be prophetic, from the right or from the left, might profitably read this book.
He ends with a number of Commandments, not ten but forty-seven of them. Here’s a sample of them (paraphrased), just to give you a taste of his insight, language, and wit:
1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).
2) Don’t be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?
3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they’re growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.
4) About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.
5) On a long drive, there’s bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don’t go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don’t be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.
6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don’t love yourself. They just endure. So do you.
7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus’ specialty and he was heard to say: “Take up your couch and walk!”
8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don’t use the earphones. Then you’ll be able to see what’s going on, but not understand what’s happening, and so you’ll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.
9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.
10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.
Alongside these commandments, I’d like to share a Decalogue for Daily Living that Pope John XXIII wrote for himself, his own Commandments for daily life. They reflect his depth, his simplicity, and his humility:
1) “Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world buy also in this one.
4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world
10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours, I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.”
One of the best new year focused articles I ever read was by Umair Haque, the director of Hawes media. In this stirring, heart thumping challenge he asks and answers 8 huge and timely questions.
Why are you here?
What do you want?
How much does it matter?
What’s it going to take?
Who’s on your side?
Where’s your true north?
What breaks your heart?
What’s it worth?
Below is link to original article and article in totality. I trust this article will launch you into your best to date year ever.
How to Have a Year that Matters
Let’s cut the crap. Life is short, you have less time than you think, and there are no baby unicorns coming to save you. So rather than doling out craptastic advice to you about Making!! It!! To!! The!! Top!!™, let me humbly ask: do you want to have a year that matters — or do you want to spend another year starring-slash-wallowing in the lowest-common-denominator reality show-slash-whiny soap opera of your own inescapable mediocrity-slash-self-imposed tragedy?
If (congratulations) your unquenched desire to have better than a smoking trainwreck of a so-called life exceeds your frenzied mania for spending another 365 days wallowing in a sea of junk-food wrappers, then — don’t worry, I’ll be gentle — here are a few tiny questions.
Why are you here? I don’t mean to induce a full blown heart palpitation accompanied panic attack filled existential crisis in you (or maybe I do) — so let’s keep it simple. This coming year: why are you (really) here? There are plenty of answers to this biggest of questions — but, no: all answers aren’t created equal. There are poor ones, which will probably lead to a long, dull, dismal, rainy Sunday of a year. And there are better ones — which just might begin to explosively unfurl a life that feels fully worth living. Allow me to break it down for you.
What do you want? Here are some perfectly valid answers, if tedious mediocrity’s the limit of your horizon this year: money, sex, power, fame, keeping up with the Kardashians. Here are some better answers, if a year in a life meaningfully well lived is what you’re after. To make a difference. To transform something that sucks. To create that which transforms. To build that which counts. To experience what’s true. To do stuff that matters.
How much does it matter? Here are some pretty good answers, if a snoozer of a year in a cavernous landfill of a life is what you’re after. To your boss, her boss, his boss, or their boss. To shareholders, to the markets, to “consumers.” Here are some better answers, if you want this to be a year that one day that, in a surprisingly short time, you don’t just remember, but that you still savor: to society, to humanity, to tomorrow. To the timeless spirit of furious impossibility that characterizes the art of human excellence — not just to the zombie vampire robots that make up the bulk of our beige, big-box, yawn-inducingly banal infomercial-for-dystopia of a so-called economy.
What’s it going to take? You don’t get to a life well lived using the tired capabilities and skills built to Farmville the cubefarm. You need to “use” not just your whole mind, but to learn to employ your whole being: mind, heart, soul, and body. If nothing less than a life worth living’s your goal, you probably need to nurture not just the so-called pseudoscientific skills of a sartorially power-suited spreadsheet jockey — counting beans, pillaging the townsfolk, sweetly stabbing your peers in the back, all the while slickly glad-handing your higher-ups — but the arts of empathy, humility, passion, imagination, rebellion, to name just a few.
Who’s on your side? A life meaningfully well lived isn’t a Western, and you’re not John Wayne (although I bet you, like me, look darn good in a cowboy hat). Rugged individualism is nice in theory, but the truth is: if you’re going to make a difference, you’re probably not going to make it happen all by your lonesome. So who are your mentors and allies, friends and peers? Who’s at your back, manning your sails, crewing your boat? Here’s a hint: if you look around and your boat’s empty, learn to lead. Challenge, provoke, inspire, connect — and then, harder still, evoke the best in people. For it is the best in us that, in turn, elevates our capacity to love; the truest currency of a life well lived. And so respect is earned — and love given — not just to those who pander, but those who matter.
Where’s your true north? If you’re going to live a life that matters, you need an ethical compass: a belief system with a true north that points toward values that are in some sense enduringly, meaningfully good. Lance Armstrong’s true north seems to have been trophies — not championships; and the result, I’d bet, is a life that now feels arid, empty, wasted. So what’s your true north? In what direction do you find the stuff that makes life “good”? Does your true north point to consumption, status, transactions — instead of investment, accomplishments, relationships? If it’s the former, I’d bet: a life well lived is going to remain as elusive to you as it’s been to Lance.
What breaks your heart? Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.
What’s it worth? A life well lived isn’t partytime with the airheads at the McClubs in Ibiza. And here’s the inconvenient truth: it’s going to take more than the tired old refrains of hard work, dedication, commitment, and perseverance. It’s going to take very real heartbreak, sorrow, grief, and disappointment. Only you can decide how much is too much. Is it worth it? Aaron Swartz, who packed an astonishing amount into his short 26 years, was relentlessly persecuted by an overweening prosecutor — and tragically took his own life in part for it. Van Gogh, of course, famously died for his art. A life well lived always demands one asks of one’s self: is it worth it? Is the heartache worth the breakthrough; is the desolation worth the accomplishment; is the anguish balanced by the jubilation; perhaps, even, are the moments of bitter despair, sometimes, finally, the very instants we treasure most? There’s no easy answer, no simplistic rule of thumb. The scales of life always hang before us — and always ask us to weigh the burden of our choices carefully.
Sure, you might read all the above and mutter: “Duuude? Check me Broseph. All I really want is a mega-bonus, a lifetime membership to the VIP room, and the keys to a Maserati.” Welcome, then, to bootylicious mediocrity. For mediocrity isn’t the poor, hardscrabble immigrant cleaning the bathroom at the 7-11: it’s the lucky trust fund kid who could’ve, just maybe, lived a life worth living — and thinks a life worth living is a loft, a corner office, a sports car, and a designer coffee machine instead. All that stuff’s nice — but entirely besides the point. Of life. For the simple, timeless truth is: You’ll never find the rapture of accomplishment in mere conquest, the incandescence of happiness in mere possession, or the searing wholeness of meaning in mere desire. You can find them only — only — in the exploration of the fullness of human possibility.
Hence: every moment of every day of this year, and every year that follows, what I want you to map is the uncharted shore of potential: the capacity of life to dream, wonder, imagine, create, build, transform, better, and love; the infusion of the art of living into the heart of every instant of existence.
We’ve been taught to be obedient rationalists. And the rationalists say: there’s no magic in the world. But they miss the point. There’s a kind of quiet magic that each and every one of us is condemned to have in us, every moment of our lives: the facility to exalt life beyond the mundane, and into the meaningful; beyond the generic, and into the singular; through the abstract, and into the concrete; past the individual, and towards the universal. And it’s when we reject this, the truest and worthiest gift of life, that we have squandered the fundamental significance of being human; that the soil of our lives feels arid, featureless, fallow, a desert that never came to life; because, in truth, it has been. And so this almost magical facility you and I have, potential, is something like an existential obligation that we must live up to: for it’s only when we not just accept it, but employ it at its maximum, that we can reconcile ourselves not merely to regret, but with mortality; that we can escape not merely our own lesser selves, but the all-destroying scythe of futility; and come, finally, to find, at the end of the day, not merely time’s revenge on life, but life’s revenge on time: an abiding grace for both the fragility and the fullness of life.
I don’t pretend any of the above is revolutionary, or new, or anything less than obvious. Yet, the lessons of a life well lived rarely are: they’re simple, timeless truths.
So let me ask again. Why are you here? Do you want this to be another year that flies by, half-hearted, arid, rootless, barely remembered, dull with dim glimpses of what might have been? Or do you want this to be a year that you savor, for the rest of your surprisingly short time on Planet Earth, as the year you started, finally, irreversibly, uncompromisingly, to explosively unfurl a life that felt fully worth living?
The choice is yours. And it always has been.