Friday, June 20, 2014

You Aren't Special

In my pursuit of an examined, well lived life, I've set up ideas as guideposts and protective barriers for the choices I make every day. "Anything worth doing will be hard." "Your health is your best investment."  "Money is a tool, not a god." to name a few.

Good intentions aside, I often lack the self-discipline to follow my own advice. It's easier to watch an episode of Family Guy than work on the story I'm writing.  Sleeping in beats working out more often than it should.  Rather grinding to do something really well, I've dabbled in get-rick-quick ideas like real estate, the stock market, and even a run as a blackjack card counter that made everyone rich but me.

Ambition is good, it inspired us to do great things. Ambition without work ethic and discipline is fatal. Part of that is the society we live in. From the second we are born we are told how special we are. That we can do anything we can put our minds to, and on and on. So everyone grows up wanting to get famous, be rich, be known, and we expect it to happen quick and easy. That explains all the get-rich-quick schemes on TV. Or look at the pop culture starlets whose only claim to fame is a sex tape. But how many of us really have the talent, combined with the work ethic to produce something great? Very few.

I'm victim to that mentality as much as anyone else. I'm a victim to wanting greatness, wealth, and fame but not the work required to acquire those things. But a sobering fact has slowly dawned on me.  I am not special. At all. I am just a very ordinary guy. Most of us are in that boat.

Does that mean our lives are doomed to mediocrity and blah-ness forever? Not a chance  In fact, when we stop flitting around chasing superficial things like wealth, fame and recognition we can plow our efforts into pursuing passions, deepening relationships, and making a difference in the world.

A long time ago I heard a sermon that has applied to so much in life. The gist was, no matter how far away you've traveled the wrong path, you are always only one step from God. That's true for you and I living our best life. No matter what you've done wrong, or mistakes you've made, you can live your best life right now, starting today.

Start by pursuing your passion with all your heart. Sacrifice for it. Make time for it every day. Find those that are better than you at it and learn from them.

Stop idolizing, stop comparing, and stop misusing your money. Money is a tool to provide for your and your family, and help others. That's it. When you die, it does you no good. Get a budget, get out of debt, and start helping others. Incidentally, if you truly start chasing your passion, it's much more likely to turn into something that makes you money than anything else you do.

Instead of valuing money, value your relationships and the moments that happen each day. Every day I live there are moments that could not be any more enjoyable if I had a billion dollars. "Billionaire Moments" I call them.  Last night I went fishing with my girlfriend and dog. We didn't catch a thing. The whole time a bald eagle was soaring over head, and two ospreys were splashing down in the water again and again and pulling out trout. It was unbelievable.

And give. Giving is the greatest joy, and giving leaves a legacy greater than anything you'll ever do. Give until it hurts. Give your time, your talents, and your money until money breaks its hold on you.

When we stop assuming that we are special and focus on the things that really matter in life, maybe we'll become what we wanted to be all along.

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