Some thoughts on success in life.
The answer to my post title question is; legacy. So, what’s entrepreneurism got to do with legacy?
I’ve found that God is using this thing called entrepreneurism as a tool to help shape my legacy. And legacy is important. For me, for my wife, for my kids, for my followers, for those I haven’t met yet, and the movie that is called “my life.” I don’t always like the journey, but the shaping is undeniable.
In our world today we dig tangible return. For example, if I invest $10,000 in the stock market, I want a return of 8%. That’s great, but who remembers the return and how long does the euphoria last once you get it? Never lasted long for me…more like sand in my hands. But with legacy, you’re dealing in the currency of faith. Faith that what you’ve poured in will produce something brilliant further down the road. I’ve guided many down this road, and yes it’s hard. Funny how they tend to not look back when they embrace the first steps.
Here are some areas of my legacy entrepreneurism has, and is helping:
- Fear – I very rarely utter or think the words “what if.”
- Failure – Entrepreneurism has taught me that multiple failures that create breakthroughs are like finding diamonds
- The Why Question – This is no longer a mystery. My answer to the why question is; I do what I do to inspire people to find and live out their epic life
- Communication – I now have an urgency to get the point across. Not to win the argument or sell something, but to be clear and firm
- Physical Health – Took it for granted in the corporate experience and became soft. Entrepreneurism is teaching me to always discover my limits physically
- The Beauty of Wine – Finally had the courage to slow down and embrace my 5 senses
- My Feelings – Finally came to the understanding that I feel everything-deeply. I’ve come to hate this and be joyous about it as well, but feeling deeply always reminds me that I am Fully Alive.
So what’s helping you with your legacy? And by the way, you’re building one whether you know it or not.
What’s in your head may be totally wrong.
The above statement may make you shrug your shoulders, as you think I’ve grasped something so obvious.
I had a conversation with a client today who relayed multiple stories of leaders who continued to rely on the faulty data roaming around in their heads. It was clear to him that much was missing and much could go wrong on multiple projects. As I’m sure you can imagine, big plans and tight deadlines were the drivers.
I asked him whether these leaders lived inside their own heads. I proceeded to explain why our own thought processes can deceive us. I pointed out that our thought processes have a tendency to be reliant on self and past accomplishments. You’ve experienced this before. A smart person who has been told how smart they are, with success to show for it, typically is not accepting of contrary opinion or advice. Who needs it when you’ve pretty much figured out the riddle of life and work.
People from all walks of life are interesting in how they apply thoughtful analysis, or critical thinking. My coaching client saw an example at work of how very smart people can fall into the trap of leaning on their own mental capabilities. Much of it is a pick and choose proposition. What if you were told by their doctor to come back annually for a test, you’d say of course they will make the appointment without missing a beat. Isn’t it ironic how you can rationalize not doing it. Recognize these sentences:
- “I have to complete this project, and then I will…”
- “I feel great and I’m not in any pain.”
- “I don’t think it’s as serious as he told me it was.”
It really is arrogance-covert or overt. Arrogant people often have the biggest blind sides. Once again, relying only on information that fits what’s in their head. It took me years to turn around on this front.
“Depth of soul can never be measured by the eyes.”
– Author Unknown
Is the depth of soul important as you seek to grow a life and career? Does fame poison the journey? Yes, on both fronts.
Depth of soul is non-negotiable, unless you prefer to hang with the shallow crowd. Besides, who wakes up in the morning looking forward to a day of engaging with the shallow. Fame can be poisonous if not handled well, and keep in-mind that fame is relative. If you work in a 3 story building, fame is attainable amongst the group.
In the media (new and old) age we live in we’ve been seduced into believing that fame is something to grasp. Even those who won’t admit it long for the attention. Maybe it’s the feeling of false validation that comes when people know “who you are.” Which, by the way, is such a contradictory idea.
We forget that fame is a cost of doing business and not a barometer of how good we are in the game we play. Not to mention the trade that occurs in the pursuit. You can’t have it all.
Here some ways fame has ruined the game of growth:
- In the old media days you needed to know what you were good at. Fame in the new media world says; “everyone’s invited”
- We bought the lie that the famous are as wonderful as an airbrush can create. We connect without knowing anything about personhood
- Fame made us long for comfort, which is a mortal blow to a life of growth
- We didn’t learn from the teacher named rejection
- Fame convinced us to seek validation from the applause
- Fame, like money, caused us to become slaves, not masters
Seemed right to re-post this today, for the obvious and the not-so obvious truth that we need courage even more today.
It seems annually, I watch this You Tube clip from 1965 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was taken from a segment of Meet the Press. Dr. King was being interviewed by journalists about events that had occurred in Selma, Alabama. The questions were tough and circumstances of the time even tougher.
So what did Martin teach me?
I don’t know what was going through Dr. King’s mind as he spoke on that Sunday morning news program, but it seemed like he was being carried by something greater than himself. Remember, there were more than a few people who wanted him dead.
Courage is manifested by something greater than ourselves.
Sadly, we live in a time where real courage is often refused. We now manufacture events and circumstances to show our faux-courage. We’ve found a way to manage authentic courage out of our daily lives. Our careers, our parenting, our relationships are often managed to avoid the difficult and daunting.
I find myself thankful for what Martin taught me. The reality that every human being will one day face a crossroads of courageous. It may be small or it may be large. But regardless, no one gets a pass.
The question remains, are we listening to that voice?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I am a fractured man. I have multiple scars and limps from battles lost, and won. All of these are forming every day. The forming of:
The fractured men and women I’ve known are full of clarity. They see no point in pretense and posing. They understand that life is a limited time offer. This is only known when a human comes in touch with the brink (death, business failure, relationship loss, and more). Each time I’ve been in the position of looking at the brink, I’m reminded of the futility of thinking I have control. The story will never cede its authority.
I used to see the process of fracturing as unwelcome visitors. I discovered some time ago that these visitors are friends designed to bring me to a form of completeness.
In the age we live in, my words are contrarian and not talked about. Everything is about winning, typically at all costs. You would think life is just a big contest with all the glory at the end. I wish we paid more attention to the input, the blood, the sweat. It could make a big difference.
Considering my post from yesterday, I thought it appropriate to put this one out again.
Identity is one of the best barometers of who a person really is. It defines us even if we deny or look the other way. When the world in which we live starts defining us, the tangles begin.
Key in my story is the untangling of my identity.
Much of the tangles in my identity came from performance and a craving for affirmation. I’ll spare you and this page of all of what and where it came from. I want to use this time to talk about untangling identity and its next door neighbor, the real you/me.
In many ways we, grow tangles. They’re very much like weeds. The seed germinates, the stalk appears and the leaves sprout. Instead of wrapping around a big tree, it goes to our heart. It seduces and flatters. Before you know it you have a problem.
What if the world you run in celebrates the tangles?
It’s such a subtle play. The most dangerous situations are often this way. The decisions seem right, no one questions (or you stay away from anyone who would question) and you find yourself a co-conspirator in your own demise. You’re successful by some measures. You don’t disrupt much of anything. You are a model for many.
I began getting untangled when I was crushed underneath many of my decisions from years ago. Decisions I made with no one holding a gun to my head. Just me and my stuff. When the untangling began, I felt horrible and ashamed. However, over time I could see glimpses of what an untangled life could be. In many ways, something needed to be pruned in and out of me. It was a process of throwing stuff into the fire, engaging in serious self-discipline, recognizing the difference between what I can control versus what I can’t, and allowing God to have full access to my heart. Thankfully, I never lost my soul in the process.
The following ideas are key:
- I have to be me in all areas of life, not versions of myself in different arenas
- Don’t be so hard on myself
- Recognize that it’s not ok for me to get my breakthroughs, and watch others struggle. Offer help
- Think about legacy every day
- Stay away from anyone or anything that desires to own me
Today my identity is pretty clean. Many years have gone into the process. Certainly, there will always be a need to be on guard and always recognize, and do something about, my areas of weakness. It is an ongoing battleIt’s a little difficult sometimes for me to see how beauty can come out of my past tangles. Fortunately, I don’t need to see in full right now. Think of the Polaroid snapshot here, it develops over time.
I can’t think of a more abused/overused word than “leadership.” So few practice well the ARS DUCENDI (latin for the art of leadership). Seems like we should shy away from using it. But, alas, this post isn’t about how to remove a word from our modern lexicon.
I’ve come to a point in my life where I believe that the “art” of leadership is found in integration and balance. Show me a man or woman who integrates and applies balance to their lives, and I’ll show you someone who understands what true leadership is. They may not have a title, may not have a corner office, may not rake in tons of dough, but they know and live the art of leadership.
The integration part is when the leader sees all areas of life (eight in my view) as important and therefore worth the time and work needed. It would be easy here to anoint then as a superhero/heroine. In a culture like ours (America in my case) we see these folks as superhuman and worthy of worship. This is a fatal mistake. We should never allow any human to live out our destiny for us. As rhetorical as that statement sounds, many people are on the sidelines, content to let someone else play their role. As you have heard before, only you can be you.
The balance part is a thing of beauty. I consider it the knowing when to and when not to. Miles Davis was brilliant at this from a musical standpoint. He seemed to know that the music was inside him and he needed to get out of the way so that it could flow out. Balance is found when you know the context and you live accordingly. For example, you know you’ve hit the point of diminishing return in the workday and your daughter is nudging you to communicate. You want to tackle one more email, but there she is. At this point, those who practice balance know it’s time to shut the work down and inject themselves into the life of their daughter. Like Miles, you get out of the way.
It’s time for you to start your version of ARS DUCENDI. You can’t ignore it and expect to have a life you want. Fools have tried and find themselves in the sad state of regret.
The shift from arrogance to humility should not be a take it or leave it process. Far too often, the two opposing mindsets have been relegated to personality test outcomes or to individual behaviors. We all know the two have far reaching impact on multiple areas of life. Like the following:
- Performance (business and personal
Most businesses (large and small) are afraid to tackle arrogance and humility. The pendulum either swings to enablement of the arrogant, or swings to not feeling comfortable with the “touchy, feely” of humility. When an organization refuses to deal, they run to distractions. Typically, meetings and over-thinking financial performance are du jour.
I am a man who has gone (still going) through the shift from arrogance to humility. I’ve grappled with regret, sadness, embarrassment, and more regarding this. It’s very hard work and the sooner you do it the better. I’ve even had the 3 AM visits, from above, reminding me of things I thought were buried and unknown to others. Maybe you have too.
I decided awhile ago to allow God to change me so that I can be like the sun, not gray and overcast. I couldn’t change myself. Arrogance, like humility, begins with a seed, moves to the roots, and then evidence in the form of a plant. Seeing a field of plants was too daunting and intimidating to change. Besides, even with the self-loathing, I also built a place of comfort, It was something I knew how to be. This quote from Jony Ive reveals how subtle this battle can be:
“I remember talking to Steve Jobs and asked why he was perceived as harsh. And I said couldn’t we be more moderate? And he said why? And I said, because I care about the team. And he said: “No Jony, you’re just really vain. You just want people to like you. I’m surprised at you, because I thought you really held the work up as the most important and not how you are perceived by people. People misunderstand Steve because he was so focused.”
Remember, there’s a lot on the line here. I’m choosing to shift. How about you?