What Defines You?
For several years I was frustrated with my life. I possessed boundless energy, drive, and ambition, but lacked purpose. I lived in Colorado with my lovely wife and fledgling young family. I held a steady job, worked for a good boss, and was healthy, yet I was miserable.
My definition of success was skewed. I thought it was based on title, recognition, my salary, and how I compared to others in my circle of friends. I was wrong. I was going 100 mph with no clear destination and I created a mess as my frustrations grew and I hurt people around me with my fits of anger, stubbornness, and lack of perspective.
The one thing I did right was I continued to grow. I read books, I surrounded myself with good people, and I worked on strengthening my marriage and growing my family. It wasn’t until I questioned my definition of success, that I began to get my life on track and find peace witin my journey.
First, I had to clarify my passions and separate them from my dreams. I had dreams of achievement and what I wanted out of my life, but what I wanted wasn’t clear. It was a hazy list of things, accolades and status that didn’t matter. I needed to explore what drove me, what fueled my soul and excited me.
Second, I needed to discover my strengths and assess how I could use them to make an impact in my life and on others. I explored what I did best and how I could duplicate the best parts of myself in a way that would edify me and my family.
Finally, I had to stop comparing myself to others, and start comparing myself to my own inner expectations based on a healthy perspective of my purpose in life. I’m competitive, so I needed a scoreboard to assess my progress, it just needed to be the right scoreboard that would inspire me and was healthy for my psyche.
Most of it was trial and error. There were not many “ah ha!” moments as I began to carve away the fat that was my unhealthy expectations and standards. I had to give up things. I had to give up my obsession with job titles. I figured out my purpose and rediscovered what was important to me. I slowed down and meditated on my life. I didn’t like what I discovered.
As I took stock of my passions, I found I was misguided. I put myself first in most cases. My fitness, my career, my pleasures. It was my life and everyone else was just a passenger. That was a recipe for disaster and I flirted with disaster on several occasions. What were my true passions? It took time for me to truly figure out what my passions were, it’s not an easy exercise to identify them, especially when my head and heart was full of noise created by outside influences. When I cleared the noise, here’s what I discovered.
I have a passion for the Lord, I’m nothing without Him. I desire a strong and vibrant relationship with my wife, Alia. She’s my partner and without her, life is less fulfilling. I want my kids to succeed. They are my legacy and so I must ensure that I’m the father they need me to be in order for them to thrive. I yearn for connection with others and I enjoy impacting others in a positive way. I adore growth. I like to learn and better myself in knowledge, health, and physical fitness. I love to win.
Once I got a handle on my passions, then I needed to align them with my strengths, so I could find my path towards success. How did I achieve that? I used the book, Now Discover Your Strengths, to get me on the right path. This book helped me discover my five strengths and gave me the freedom to pursue them and align them with my passions.
I learned that I was a natural networker and that I’m an excitable guy and thrive in situations that allow me the opportunity to motivate others. I’m a communicator and can effectively curate information in a way that makes it easy for others to consume and grow. I look to the future and I thrive in competition. I took this information and redefined my purpose in a way that honored my passions, recognized my strengths, and then leveraged that awareness to pursue the right opportunities.
Ultimately, I learned that a healthy life is one that is seeded with my passions and outlined by my strengths. I discovered that when I allowed those two components to mingle, that success was not hard to find and maintain. Do I still get frustrated? Yes, all the time. I’m an achiever and I’m constantly moving towards my goals, but my frustrations are no longer destructive, and I have a purpose that always gets me back on track when I drift. I have a peace in my pursuits.
What defines you? Is it healthy? Are your passions and dreams misguided? What are your strengths, and do you allow yourself to work within your strengths? Are you drifting? I’ve been there, and it’s frustrating. The key is to continue to move forward and chip away at your inner most meaning, until you can truly find your true self that’s waiting to emerge. Look for your passions and discover your strengths and allow yourself the opportunity to put those passions to work in conjunction with your strengths, and then you’ll be on your way to having a meaningful impact on life.