Since I started writing this blog, I’ve really noticed a difference in my life. It’s seldom that there are points in my life that I can stick a pin on and say, “wow, something changed inside of me when…” and this is one of them. It’s fairly easy to look back at things that happened in my life and recognize them as points that changed my life – Things that I knew at the time were going to make my life different forever, e.g. (My mom deciding not to allow the school system to skip me from 2nd to 5th grade, My father leaving for jail when I was 10, West Point, 9/11, Combat, etc.).
There are many occurrences that happen throughout our lives that we can easily pinpoint as life-changing benchmarks. However, there are times when we make an internal decision or become enlightened in some sense, which have much more influence on the course of our lives going forward. Those intimate points are often overlooked or undervalued because of the speed at which life moves and the fact that many of us don’t recognize just how much WE AFFECT the course of our lives. We are responsible for everything in our lives – most notably our decisions. In every situation, we have a CHOICE. There will always be things that happen in life that we cannot control, and they affect us emotionally. Here’s the most important point – We CHOOSE how to REACT to our emotions. I have not always been great at this, but I am getting better every day – assessing how I feel because of something someone has done or something that has happened to me. I’ve been actively working on taking my time, trying to understand WHY someone has acted a certain way towards me, done something that has affected me, or WHY something has happened.
I realized this week that I hadn’t really examined this year (2012) and how much I have grown as a person – how my life, and the meaning of my life is gaining momentum – and things will never be the same… which is a good thing. I have grown as a person in the last couple of years – this year especially. I have continued to “let my guard down” share more of myself with people, reflect more, all while truly trying to understand other people more. I know that the people I want to associate with, the real souls, the thoughtful ones – will hear my words, read what I write, and trust that I am dealing from my heart, with love and respect as the driving force behind everything I do.
My cousin, who I spent my formative years with and regard as one the people closest to me on a very personal level, just visited me from England. She has spent much of her time there since her time in graduate school at Oxford. We caught up over a beautiful, sun-kissed California afternoon and evening, delving into the heart of where we’re both at in our lives. After recanting the last twelve months of my life with her; verbalizing the challenges I have faced, how I have reacted to those challenges, the things I have been doing, the reading, learning, writing, volunteering with young people, working all over the country, creating and investing in new ventures, and my unflagging love for my girlfriend, she looked at me and said with the clearest sincerity, “I felt this way before I got here, but now I really feel like 2012 has been a year of extreme personal growth for you”. She hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t have said it better. This has been the best year of my life, a year of life-changing growth.
Over the past week, in speaking with friends both in person and over the phone, I have been told the the same phrase by four different people very close to me: “I’m not sure what I’m really passionate about or supposed to be doing in my life.” It’s typically my nature to try and solve problems as expediently and efficiently as possible, (which I’m learning isn’t always what people want when they share their issues with you), but when I heard this I was stuck. Even if they did want me to help, I couldn’t have – because I didn’t have an answer for them – Not a single comment to help them navigate their way through this existential question that I myself have struggled with throughout my life. My attempt to answer or help them, and you – anyone reading this (because I suspect A LOT of people feel this way) is through this blog entry.
A week ago, I couldn’t explain WHY I was doing all of the things I am doing in my life and why I am doing them so passionately. After talking through the myriad of ventures, projects, businesses, charities, and programs I’m involved in with my cousin, everything became crystal clear. It was an amazing epiphany of sort. I was sort of self-enlightened. I understood that I care about people and becoming a better person – this made me reflect and look at all of these things I have been doing and understand that they are all “means”. We often get caught up looking at the “means” and not the “end,” and feeling like we’re not doing something that we’re passionate about. However, the fact is that we can take a look from a macro level and examine what it is WE TRULY VALUE (our “end”) in life – what we truly want in this existence, we can begin to do all types of different things (“means”) to move towards what WE TRULY VALUE (our “end”).
These things we can do to move toward what we truly value can be done at a day job, by looking at things we might view right now as mundane. Just changing our attitude and looking at what we CAN do every day at our job can most certainly contribute to what we ultimately value (whatever that may be). Then, there are things we can start doing outside of our “day-jobs” – for example, me – what do I do? Well one of the things I do at a company I work for is when I go to my corporate office, I make sure that I stop in and talk to every single employee in every cubicle and every office – from the clerk who nobody talks to and works tirelessly, crunching accounting data, to my president, who has ran multi-million and billion dollar companies. I speak to them NOT about business (there’s obviously a time for that), but I speak to them about THEM. I speak to them as people and I speak to them all exactly the same way… and you know what? They appreciate it, they really do – We’re all human and we’ve all got hearts and things that we care about. I know I sure appreciate it when someone asks me about the things that I care about outside of whatever business I might be doing that day. The things I do outside of that “day-job” are plentiful; from writing music, writing this blog, singing, playing guitar, drawing, volunteering with youth, sharing my time and experiences a young class of entrepreneurs, to starting companies that I believe foster the opportunity to reach people and affect them positively. These things are all “means” to my “end” and I find different, creative ways each day I live, no matter where I am or what I am doing, to do things that lend themselves to becoming a better person, sharing myself and helping others develop with me (my “end”).
I guess in closing, I would ask you to think about what you TRULY VALUE in life and start thinking of ways you can work towards getting there. I guess I’ve known for a while, but haven’t really been asked about it, consciously had to think about it, and then explain it to someone. Forget about money, fame, fortune, and all things material for a little while and think about this:
What do you truly value in life?
What can you do in your daily life as it is right now to move towards what you truly value?
What can you add to (or subtract from) your daily life to move towards what you truly value?
I’d be willing to bet there are things you can do… in fact, I KNOW there are things you CAN do…
Love & Peas,