A Year of Lessons

If I had to choose a word to describe my 2018, it would be Perspective. 

One event, one experience, one conversation, one moment—no matter how big or small— can alter your life forever. It happened to us exactly one year ago, on New Year’s Eve. 

All we wanted was quality time with the family, a change of scenery, and a few days off from the daily grind. But we got way more than we bargained for. From the very first day, our vacation took on a life of its own with experiences, coincidences, and fun stories to remember that we couldn’t have predicted or planned for. A voice in my head kept telling me, Pay attention, there are lessons for you here. 

It was a spiral of awesomeness, until it wasn’t.

We were driving up to Black Mountain to spend the night with our friends, Analin, Chris and their family, at their cabin. It had begun snowing unexpectedly and a thin layer of black ice covered the roads. In a split second, our tires skidded and we fishtailed toward the edge of a cliff with no barrier to protect us. I closed my eyes and braced myself having no control over what was going to happen to my family. 

But luckily for us, the story didn’t end there.  The car stopped short of falling over the edge and our lives were spared. One of our sons had a broken ankle, it was pitch black, snowing and we had no cell phone service or GPS. After many hours, we had to abandon our car and hike up two and half miles up the mountain with our nine, seven, and four-year-old boys. 

 The events leading up to the moment we were at the edge of the cliff, and the steps we had to take to get to safety, taught me that every experience trains you for the next one.  It felt like life had been offering clues along the way, preparing us for this very moment. 

And then it hit me.  We are always receiving clues and the Universe is always preparing to overcome any obstacle that life throws at us. 

 I’ve spent 2018 processing all that I’ve learned about leadership, resilience, relationships and spirituality. I hope to spend 2019 sharing those lessons learned. 

Now, what if you had to choose one word to describe your year. What would it be? 

Maybe this is the year you got married, had a baby, or started your own business. Or the year you lost a loved one. Maybe it’s the year you accomplished a bucket list item or remodeled your home. Maybe the year was uneventful and the days blended together so much that you barely remember what happened. 

Whether 2018 was good or bad—whether your “word” pops out at you or is so subtle you haven’t caught it— know that life is giving you the tools you need to do more. It’s preparing you so that you can be stronger, live fuller, and find your purpose. You are in training, friend. All you have to do is choose to look at it that way. 

As we wrap up 2018, I leave you with my last moment of clarity of the year. 

A Moment of Clarity

 You are always in training for what’s coming next.  Pay attention…there are lessons for you here. 

Why Do You Exist?

Have you ever heard the saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?”  Although on the surface that quote rings true and profound, I consider it to be problematic. First, it suggests that working is bad. It‘s easy to regard work with negativity, but to work is simply to exert physical or mental effort to produce a desired result. Anything worth having in life requires work… even relationships.

But the biggest reason this quote nags at me is because it gives us the illusion that our passions should be our careers when it isn’t always practical or possible. Maybe your passion doesn’t make for a prosperous business or your financial or life circumstances don’t allow you to pursue it. You can have passions that aren’t your job or your career and they don’t have to pay your bills.

Likewise, you can enjoy your work even when it‘s not “what you love.”

Even when you are lucky enough to do what you love for a living, there are plenty of things you will have to do (invoicing, accounting, scheduling, etc.) that you don’t like or enjoy. There is always boring and tedious work in every business, no matter how much you love your job.

The other day a friend of my dad’s posted a picture on Facebook of them together shortly before my dad died. In the comments he wrote that he wanted to live like my dad did because he lived and died knowing why he existed.

Knowing why he existed. That phrase struck me.

Indeed, my dad always had a clear purpose—to study and teach human behavior and personal development—and he devoted his life to that. That purpose fueled his speaking and writing career. But even when my dad had a regular job at Xerox and Cargill, he studied and taught human behavior on nights and weekends. He used his skills in the job he had. He lived and breathed those principles long before he got paid to talk about them.

Do you know why you exist? What moves you? What brings you joy? What inspires you? What do you think you were put on this Earth for?

Do it!

I have a friend who loves to act. He may have dreamed of performing on Broadway, but his life circumstances kept him in Miami. Instead, he works as an IT professional and stars in community-theater in his spare time. He has taken part in more plays than we can count and is now producing them too. Maybe he’ll own a theater one day or work in the field full-time — but even if he doesn’t, he still does what he loves.

A girlfriend of mine is a stay-at-home mom. One day in conversation she said, “I was born to be a mom. There is nothing else in the world I’d rather do.” Parenting is her purpose.

You might exist to bring joy, laughter or inspiration to the world; Or to be an entrepreneur; or to love animals; or to play an instrument; or to be an athlete; or to do a little bit of a lot of things. Share your gifts in any capacity you can.  Whether you do it after work, while you work, or make it your work doesn’t matter as much as it does that you seek to find your purpose. The real tragedy would be for you not to enjoy your passions or fulfill your purpose, just because they aren’t your profession.

A Moment of Clarity

Don’t worry about not having to work a day in your life.  Instead, know why you’re here and commit to living your truth no matter what. You can do what you love and work.