There comes a point in a person’s life where they stop judging their life by the circumstances that surround it and begin surveying their character development as a by-product of the work they puts in.
I had lofty goals back in my early 20s — nothing more than surface-level desires but when I shared with others what I was after, I made sure it sounded promising.
Goals are important. Without them, the overexposure to certainty would slip us all into a deep depression.
But my goals back then were purely outcome-based, completely ignorant to the potential for me to become a better man through reaching my target.
Below are the lessons that would’ve interrupted the self-serving charade of chasing meaning and significance.
“Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth.“ — Warren G. Bennis
1. Chasing Perfection Is A Fool’s Errand
In my early days of adulthood, I was severely limited in my mental toughness. Like an OCD-plagued pedant, the only way I could function optimally was if every aspect of life fell into perfect alignment.
As such the case of imperfect human beings, there will always be something left undone or open-ended when attempting to live a powerful life. You must learn to live outside the possibility of perfection and step into the arena of growth, contribution, and gratitude.
Perfection breeds relief.
Progress breeds satisfaction.
2. Care Trumps Credentials
Every career move I made during my first five years of full-time work was enacted at the mercy of my resume. I tried to protect it like a newborn child, often at the expense of my own happiness.
I felt a laundry list of experience with powerful titles and accomplishments would be my gateway to finally building a team that would run through a wall for me.
While a solid background and an array of accolades can produce results, truly caring for the people that support you along the way will cause the onset of the true joy and fulfillment.
3. Responsibility Equals Freedom
While this statement seems completely backward, there’s plenty of truth to it.
When I was experiencing challenges, I was quick to point out everything outside of my control that was affecting me—of course, to let myself off the hook and make myself look better.
Regardless of whether or not that worked, the reality was that I felt a substantial loss of power.
When responsibility is assumed, ownership is immediately assigned. When you own something, you control what happens to it. By taking as much responsibility as you can in every situation, you not only give yourself room to create a better outcome — you give everyone around you hope for a better future.
4. You Will Forever Be A Work In Progress
Not possessing the formal education I felt I should have resulted in a very prominent feeling of insecurity and absence of confidence. I was tricked into believing I had to be the smartest guy in the room at all times to be accepted and a tumultuous path of “fake it till you make it” unfolded thereafter.
Despite noble acting efforts, the house of cards invariably falls down. The greatest showcase of fearlessness a person can deliver is one’s own authenticity — the good and the bad.
Knowing that you acknowledge being a work in progress provides a space for others to breathe — should they be posturing their own false reality, you make it okay to take their foot off the gas and be vulnerable as well.
5. Burnout Is A Construct Of The Mind
Stress relates to what’s already happened. Anxiety relates to what hasn’t happened yet. Burnout lives in between the two.
Burnout ensues when we stop taking action related to the outcomes we desire. It happens when we stay in our heads, watching the game from the stands.
The only antidote for burnout is to get on the field — and take deliberate action in the direction of what we wish to occur.
6. You Must Resist The Temptation To Think The World Revolves Around You
What makes people strive for positive results and outcomes in the first place?
In my case, it was self-promotion. I wanted the credit and to reap all the benefits — anything to inflate the ego.
When you decide to live life powerfully, you give up your trumpet call. You are no longer the center of the universe you once knew yourself to be. You’re a servant of others—for they are your primary gateway living both a successful and fulfilling life.
You get what you give in this life; not the other way around.
7. Your Word Is Your Bond
I threw my words around so loosely as a young man. I had to talk myself into submission to even have a chance at restoring others’ belief in me. Lessons overlooked and promises broken were my existence as a developing 20-something.
You may not realize it, but the people in your life hang on your every word. It is with your word that you either create the possibility for truth and triumph or a hollow reality of cynicism and distrust.
8. Today Is A Victory
I thought there was honor in never being satisfied with what is. I felt my unbreakable commitment to “Where can I improve?” would generate admiration from those closest to me.
What I forgot was so critical in navigating the journey of improvement, was the necessity to be grateful for what’s already taking place.
Each day produces numerous victories. You marginally distance yourself from who you were yesterday. You take a step closer toward your fears. You take on a difficult conversation that opens up a new view of a relationship.
To perpetually miss these moments is the ultimate failure. Appreciation is fuel for belief — for both you and the people you interact with.
Despite the temptation for attaching to displeasure during tough times, it is your duty to spread hope like wildfire. Life is hard enough for most people. Be the glimmering light of their darkness.
This isn’t done via a grandiose oration. This is accomplished through simplicity, by bringing attention to the little things — effectively communicating to people that they matter.
Oh, how they ever matter.