Progress and Purpose

A little bit of progress every day.

There’s a dissatisfaction in me about where I am in life. I’m not content to stay in the exact same place I am right now doing the same things I am doing for the rest of my life. I would not be happy with that, I would look back at my life with dissapointment and regret.

But…. in the midst of this dissatisfaction, I see progress. Because of what I am doing to move myself forward, I see a little bit of the needle being moved towards where I want to go. It’s an extremely small movement on a daily basis, but I still see the movement. The progress encourages me. It gives me a sense of meaning and confidence that I will not stay where I am.

I don’t understand how so many people that just go to work, count down the hours of their torturous job, go home and waste their time at home. So many people are knocking out full seasons of shows, watching movies, playing videogames, going to bars and partying, and yet they still want to talk about how they’re unhappy. They don’t like their life.

Well of course you don’t like your life, you’re not doing anything. You’re not moving anywhere, you’re just stuck. You’re stagnant. Your existence is the exact same drudgery day in and day out.

It would be different if the in the midst of the drudgery you were doing something to try and move yousrself forward. Doing something, some kind of discipline or creative endeavor, that would get you a small peek into what life could be like outside of the hole you’re currently in.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re happy going to the same job and living the life you’re currently living for the rest of your life-great. Be happy and enjoy the contentment.

However, if you’re unhappy, and all you’re doing is complaining about where you are in life…. Stop complaining, and make yourself change. Make yourself go do something that would get you out of your current status. It won’t be easy, it will most likely take a long time, but that just means that it matters.

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Different starting points

The kid who is born in the suburbs, whose parents stick together, who lives comfortably, and has his college paid for before he gets out of high school has a distinct advantage going into adulthood.

The kid who is born in the projects, who has no father figure in his life, who does not have adequate clothing, and has to drop out of high school to help his mom with the bills, has a distinct disadvantage going into adulthood.

They will start out their adult lives with two extremely different starting points.

So how do we remedy this? Do we redistribute wealth and Robin Hood the world? Take from the rich and give to the poor?

I don’t think so. Theft is still theft regardless of the motivation behind it.

If someone starts life at mile 3, and ends up at mile 15, they have significantly improved the starting point for their children.
The person who starts at 15, oftentimes will end their race at mile…15. They might have had a better starting point, but if they didn’t do anything with it then what does it matter? There is value in striving to not only improve your life, but the lives of those around you, and the lives of the generation after you. You cannot take pride in reaping benefits from someone else’s hard work.

It’s right for children to reap generational benefits from their parents… It’s also right for children to reap the generational disadvantages. The only thing that we are all equal in is the fact that we had no control over the hand we were dealt.
We can’t control where we start, we can only control the progress we make and hand it off to our children.

If your starting point is further along than someone else’s, you should help them along, help them grow and get better. That being said, don’t neglect your own growth. It’s not wrong for someone to go further in life just because there are some who aren’t as far along the path.

If your starting point is farther back than everyone else, while your circumstance sucks, your goal should still be to further your own status in life and help others to do the same as well. You might have a further distance to go, but the reward is greater when you can look back and see how far you have come.

Improve your status, and help others who are less fortunate to do the same.

Regardless of your starting point, the above sentence should ring true.

Littering

It’s amazing to me the amount of trash that I find in my yard on a regular basis. Every two weeks I mow the lawn and there’s 7 or 8 random little pieces of garbage that I find. The person who made their contribution to the garbage didn’t think much of it. “It’s just a candy wrapper, it’s not a big deal.” And then the next person thought the same thing, and the next one, and the next one…..Pretty soon all those little pieces of trash that really didn’t matter that much made a pretty big impact in the space of two weeks. All those little pieces of trash made my yard quite, well, trashy.

Most people don’t make one big decision to mess up their life. It’s the little things, the little compromises that add up over time. Compromising your values just a little bit every once in a while- it adds up.

Don’t let the little compromises pile into a mess. Hold your ground, maintain discipline, and say no when the opportunity to be lazy presents itself.

 A lot of little, unchecked compromises eventually leads to big problems.

Leadership and Responsibility.

“Well, they didn’t follow through on what I told them to do.”
“My team just doesn’t care about their jobs.”
“This person is significantly holding our team back.”

Deflecting, passing blame, pointing out other people’s failures- this is what bad leaders do. In the short period of time that I have been in the workforce, it amazes me how many people seem incapable of admitting a wrong. Even when it is glaringly obvious that they failed, the person at fault still tries to pin it on someone else.

Own your mistakes.

Take ownership. Take responsibility.
Good leadership is taking responsibility when the team fails, and praising those below you when the team succeeds.
Good leadership is painful, because it doesn’t take credit for the success, but takes blame for the failure. It requires selflessness and humility.
Most people want the credit, they want the attention, and it’s not worth it to them if they don’t get it.

Lift up the people below you, but take the hit for them when they fail.

Why I won’t play the lottery anymore

There was a winner for the powerball last night, someone hit the $758 million jackpot. You know what also happened? Millions of people got their hopes up a little bit, and then were let down. I’m included in that group. I’ve only bought lottery tickets a few times in my life, but every time I buy them I find myself fantasizing about how I would spend the money. Passing the signs on the highway, thinking to myself how awesome it would be to suddenly be a multi-millionaire… I wouldn’t have to work anymore, just go travel the world with my wife, buy a bunch of expensive things, and never have to worry about anything ever again…

What a load of crap.

Money doesn’t buy fulfillment, doesn’t give your life meaning, and if you have an abundance it can lead to more problems than solutions. We have all heard stories about someone who came upon a large amount of money and it ultimately ruined their lives. I think money loses a lot of it’s value when you don’t have to work for it. Do I want to be financially free and secure to take care of my family? Absolutely. I also want the satisfaction of knowing that I worked hard/smart to get there. I want to be able to look back at my life and see where Hannah and I started financially, look at all the progress we made, all of the people we helped along the way, and be proud of that journey.

I’m no longer going to waste time fantasizing about what could happen if I was the 1 in 300 million to hit the jackpot. I’m not going to float away into my imagination, I’m going to focus on the present and what I can do to improve it.

The metaphor of working out.

Testing yourself, pushing your limits, making yourself adapt and get better.The rush of adrenaline, the pain of stress, and seeing the results of your work slowly take shape. 

Working out has been metaphorical.

Initially, making yourself go and do it is agonizing. Everything that is in you is grating against going to the gym and putting in the time. After a few times of forcing yourself to do it, you see a little bit of progress. That brings some encouragement, but it’s still difficult to make yourself go and do the work. Slowly but surely you build up a cadence of going to the gym, and you start to believe that you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym. Once you start to believe that you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym, you start to look forward to working out. You look forward to putting your body through the stress because you know you will see results. When you look at yourself as the kind of person who goes to work out, it’s no longer a chore, it just becomes what you do. It’s no longer about something you’re striving to be, it’s just natural for you. After some time, however, your results will start to plateau. In order to maintain a high growth rate you have to give yourself a new challenge. You have to make yourself uncomfortable and force your body to adapt to change. 

If you are always adapting to change, always challenging yourself with another aspect of your training, you will see consistent growth and keep getting better. 
Applies to a lot more than just working out…

Invest

In people. They’re what matters. I have no desire to have my legacy die when my house burns down and all of my stuff is gone. Working hard and getting money is completely worthless if you’re stepping on people on the journey. Heck, it’s probably still completely worthless if you’re only polite to the people around you and there’s never a genuine investment of your time and care.

I would rather have a couple thousand people at my funeral with no money left behind, than five people at my funeral with millions left in the bank. There’s nothing innately wrong with making a lot of money, but it should be a side product and not the end goal. The end goal needs to be making a massive impact on the lives of those around you.

It’s so much easier to just be head down, blinders on, and focus on yourself than to take the time to invest in other people. When you’re only focused on yourself you don’t get hurt. Sometimes investing in others sucks. You will get hurt, you will get stepped on, and people will completely forget about you even though you made a significant investment in them.

Investing in other people is not about the return on investment, it’s about doing the right thing.
It’s about putting effort into what ACTUALLY matters.

It’s not easy, our default as humans is to put ourselves first and not care about others. It’s normal to try and protect ourselves, but protecting ourselves in this fashion is crippling to our meaning.

Give more than you receive. Take the time to invest in others, it’s worth it in the end.