A Pivotal Moment
Life is full of defining moments like when you finally pass your drivers license test, graduate from High School, get married, have your first child, buy your first house etc.. These are all moments that make you who you are. They are always scary at first but inevitably lead us on to greater levels of responsibility and ultimately fulfillment. The pivot points I’m mentioning here are all viewed as positive and uplifting, but as you and I both know, life isn’t perfect and not all pivot points are positive. In fact, much of our life is full of… well… shit.
For me, the shittiest moment of them all was the day I got a phone call from my father who proceeded to tell me that not only was he and my mother getting a divorce but that he would no longer be able to support me with tuition at the University of Oregon. Being a broke College student with only $2400 in the bank and no job experience, my father’s help was the floor base that kept me in school. For a brief moment after ending that phone call the world and time itself seemed to stop. The room started spinning, my head was throbbing, hands shaking, panic… setting in. I had only been in school for 3 semesters and already piled up $34,000 in debt. That knowledge, which seemed harmless only moments ago now appeared to hold me at gunpoint. Fight or flight dictated two options. 1.) Stay and find a way or 2.) Quit school and go back home a failure. Despite the fact I had no idea how to pull it off I chose option 1, but you already knew that didn’t you? Otherwise this would be a dumb story with nothing to give the audience.
What I give to you is 3 fold:
- If you don’t have an unshakeable “why” in your life, you will more often than not, choose option 2 and flee from your problems.
- Fleeing from your problems is the worst thing you can do because you reject the opportunity for growth and change and a life without change is slowly dying.
- To go throughout life without a purpose is to not live life at all.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the great German Philosopher puts it this way; “If you have a strong enough “why” you can endure any “how”. What he meant was: that a person with nothing to live for… subconsciously prefers death (they have an innate objection to change), but someone who has something to live for (the reason WHY he continues to live) can endure almost anything in pursuit of their “why”.
Discovering your “why” or definiteness of purpose in life is equal to answering that famous old question: “what is the meaning of life?” Everyone’s answer will be different and there is no universal maxim. Philosophy cannot answer this question for you, it is a deep and personal inquiry that you will have to answer for yourself. Not I or anyone else can do it for you. I can however tell you where to find your answer.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 – NLT
A wise man thinks a lot about death, while the fool thinks only about only having a good time.
Imagine your at your own funeral. The personer stands at the podium and 1 by 1 has your friends, family, and peers approach the casket to give their Eulogies. What will they say about you? What kind of legacy will you leave behind? What kind of an impact will you have on the world before you die? How many people will you help? All great questions to ask yourself in finding your definiteness of purpose. But the important thing to recognize here is that people won’t just “say things” about you when you’re gone. They will unveil the truth behind your own fortified walls of self denial. They will finally speak the truth about you openly instead of behind closed doors because those hard truths no longer have a living ear to fall on. So if you want the strength to overcome adversity and difficulties in life, if you want to proceed through a never ending upward spiral of change, if you want to explore the depths of your full potential then I implore you… dig deep and ask yourself “why”. Ask that question again and again and again until the answer is so grated down that only the essence of who you are is left and then from that essence bring back to life the things that you know are most true about yourself and why you’re here.
Now stop.. Take a deep breath… because that was all very deep and philosophical and I didn’t necessarily intend for this story to escalate so quickly but as I wrote it felt natural as a progression and I truly believe the things I’m sharing with you here can be very helpful to just about anybody. What I’d like to do next is provide you with my own definiteness of purpose and I hope that by doing so you can get a feel for what it can look like when finished.
- To have a significant part in positively influencing at least 700,000 people to pursue their purpose and success in life before I die. (That’s an average of 1 person for every hour of the average life expectancy)
- To leave an inheritance for my children’s children.
- For those who know me beyond the superficial to be able to genuinely say I was a loving and caring person.
You see, if these 3 aspects of my purpose were not in play when I hung up the phone with my father all those years ago it would have been very easy to choose the easy way out and go back home. After all, what would have been the point of staying? In my mind I had no other choice but to stay and fight. Otherwise, how was I going to help 700,000 people change their life if I didn’t know how to change my own? How was I going to leave an inheritance for my children’s children by living in a town with no upward mobility? How was I going to love and care for others when I couldn’t love and care for myself enough to make tough choices?
My hope is that you can walk away from this story just a little more fearless and a little wiser than before. Life knows how to throw some serious punches but until you learn how to take a hit you’re only ever going to be bullied by life and fall victim to the shitty moments that inevitably hit us all.