Are you existing or living? Do you know the difference between the two? Existing means you are here on this earth “drifting”. Drifting means you have no strategy for your life, no plans, no goals, no vision and you are just coasting through life without a purpose or reason for your existence. Living means you approach life with a passion and desire to live life fully. You respect your life and you respect others. You realize each day is special and you choose to live with a call-to-action for your life. Living is what a small percentage of men do. Most men simply exists. We settle in life and for many of us we don’t know how we got to this place in our life.
So what does existing look like? Existing looks like the work you do everyday. Your life is a pattern. It’s the regurgitation of the daily routine you are so accustomed to. It’s the predictable play-by-play of your life without any change-up. You settle for base hits. You’re okay with walks. You’re in the batter’s box, but you strike out more often than not. You no longer can identify who you are on the field of life and hitting a home run (living life) is a concept far from you. You yearn for something different in your life. You yearn for the opportunity to play again – to be in the game and make a difference where difference really matters. You feel stuck, trapped, shackled, paralyzed and incapacitated to break out of the chains of your internal frustration and misery to become who you know you truly are. You’re lost. You’re okay sitting on the bench. You’ve bought into the lie that your job represents who you are. You’ve played the game of trade-offs. You’ve gotten ahead financially, but at what costs? You stay long hours at work and substitute money in exchange for being home on time and spending quality time with your family. You’ve substituted moving up the corporate ladder rather than climbing the ladder in your backyard with your kids. You would rather purchase the new car with the new car small rather than spend time with your kids on the field smelling the fresh cut grass at the park. You are like a pitcher who gets substituted each batter trying to win in life, but winning eludes you. Instead of making strikes, you strike out. Instead of stealing the base, life steals the best out of you. Existing gets you nowhere other than the opportunity to live life safely, but as you anticipate your life on your deathbed you end up having regrets. The should of’s and could of’s of your life were never realized because life was passing you by and you didn’t know how to transition from existing to living.
So what does living look like? Living is the totally opposite of existing. Living is the audacious commitment to yourself to live life in a passionate and purposeful way by exercising your gifts and abilities to the fullest and showcasing them to the world. Living is the commitment to create a body of work with focus and intention so that people know who you are and what you stand for. Living is the understanding and personal conviction that you were placed upon this earth by God to create something, to communicate something, to execute something, to make a difference in someone’s life and to express that commitment in everything you say and do. Living is you not settling for less, but expecting more from yourself. It’s about leading yourself to the potential that lives within you. When you live, you create a strategy for your life. You are intentional about your decisions and you are in the game. You are the quarterback. You are the leader, you call the plays, you direct the routes, you make audibles when necessary. You have coaches and mentors in your life guiding you through the game of life and they help you navigate the pitfalls that so easily entangle men of all ages. When you live, you win and you share that winning experience with others on your team. When you win, you teach other men, your wife and your kids on what it takes to win and you help them through their own problems, challenges and fears. You are the spokesperson for your life because you understand and realize that you are a brand – a unique, special, one-of-the-kind, gifted, talented, blessed man who has great potential to change the world. Living looks like taking the bull by the horns. Living looks like taking the driver’s seat of your own life. Living looks like spending time with your family and investing the best of you in them. Living is a choice. It takes action, a commitment and a response to owning your performance and your results.
Some people believe that your destiny is 100% predetermined and that the Hand of God has 100% control over your life to place you into your destiny regardless of your actions or inactions. I don’t believe that. I think your actions and inactions play a direct role in rather or not your will achieve your destination. If you have identified your life plan, worked that plan, recognize your gifts and talents and work smart and hard, the high probability of you succeeding outweighs than not succeeding. I do believe your destiny (your ultimately place of fulfillment and purpose for living) was divinely selected and entrusted to you by God, but it is still up to you to go after it and achieve it.
So what does success look like to you? Have you defined it for yourself? No one can tell you what success should look to you and no one should paint that picture for you. Only you know what you want and only you can determine the paths and routes you need to take in order to accomplish the success you want. The reality of a man is that we say we want success, but we haven’t defined what success is. We haven’t qualified it and when you don’t know what success looks like for you, you will attract what you may not want simply because you haven’t identified what you want. You can’t hit a target you can’t see and if you aim at nothing you can be sure to hit nothing every time. Aim at target and you will eventually hit it.
I believe that true success is not always about money and as a man I know that can be hard to swallow sometimes. For years I put too much thought about money and became anxious about my salary and I realized in my own self that it was never enough. A little more money would always be helpful and although that may have been true, I’ve come to realize that money isn’t the end all to be all. I know men who are extremely wealthy, but they have no joy in their life. I know men who make lots of money, but they are not fulfilled in the work they do. They are always missing something. I believe that true success is doing what you love to do – doing what you were born to do and being paid well to do it. For me, that gets me excited. It’s like seeing the work I do not as a job, but rather an opportunity to play and be creative and test my own limits. When you love what you do and you do it well and you get paid for it, it’s like hitting the lottery.
So how do you know when you are living and not existing? Glad you asked. You will know you’re living when you notice you are flowing in your gifts and talents and you can’t determine rather you are working hard or playing hard. When your life’s work becomes integrated with who you are and what you do, only then will you know that you’re living an authentic life. That’s when you know you’re living.
Did you know that average employee spends more days at work than sleeping. Did you know that many employees not only work their 8-10 hours per day, but they also bring work home for an additional 2-3 hours. As men, we are constantly working unable to detach ourselves from our jobs. Some of it is our doing and some of it is the expectations from the employer. I know this to be true because I worked 12-13 hour days for years for my job on top of running a design and coaching business all for the sake of bringing in an extra income and thinking that the extra money is a means to financial security. I’m a go-getter and striver by nature and have always been blessed to have work find me, but I also know there were many nights where family activities and husband-to-wife and father-to-children communication opportunities were lost all because of work. My point is two-fold, if you’re not “living” the life you want or doing the work that excites you and brings fulfillment to you, then why are you doing it in the first place? The second point is that as men, we must come to grips with how much time we spend outside of the home. I believe being an example at home is priority #1, but if you’re never home because of work, how can you be an example to your family? How can you teach your kids about life and help them shape their identify from your perspective? Let’s go deeper. I’ve talked to many men and one area of contention in their family life is that their kids are undisciplined, unruly, lazy and don’t respect their authority. I believe respect should be given no matter what. You are their father. You are to set the example, be the leader, set the tone, speak into your kids life, tell them and show them that you care. Tell them you love them. Do what is necessary for them to see your love for them. The problem is that too many of us men are passive. Instead of having purposeful confrontation, we default to lettings things be and allowing the kids to figure things out on their own. This could be why they don’t respect you as a man and why you are struggling trying to get your house in order.
Men, we are living a life of quiet desperation. We assume that our life and the work we do to be a struggle. We have it in our mind, that if we’re not working hard and long, then we’re not working at all. That’s not true. We are suppose to do work that we love. Work that uses our natural gifts and abilities. For crying out loud, that’s why we have them. The very things we want to do in our life are right in front of us and we are missing it. We’ve made the job and work thing too complicated. Let’s simplify the work we do and began to make a difference by way of our personality, gifts and talents.
We live in a society that tells us that working for someone else is the best thing to do if you want to be successful. We live in a society that values money more than meaning and purpose. We live in a society that pushes us to pursue a paycheck rather than looking within ourselves to learn how to create wealth and opportunities for ourselves. We live in a society that promotes spending money on cars, houses and other material possessions rather than using that money towards our kids needs and their education. We live in a society that teaches us to be selfish and compete for what we want rather than working together for the common good.
Living, rather than existing is a decision to be made by you. No one can make that decision for you. You must decide what you value more because no matter who you are or what you do, you are paying the price for something. Listen, we get one shot at this thing called life. Life is meant to be lived – that’s why they call it “life”. If you are not living, I pray that God stirs your heart and begins a process within you to create a vision for your life. I then pray that you would be attentive enough to recognize what you love doing in the marketplace. I pray that your desire for more out of life and what burns within your heart. I pray that the seed of potential with you becomes a spark and that spark into a flame, and that flame into a torch and that torch into a burning call-to-action for your life.