So, remember about 16 months ago, before this blog went on hiatus, and I was posting two times a week, furiously trying to be the next big personal development blogger and selling my soul in the process? Yeah, good times.
Anyway, around 16 months ago, I read (and reviewed) a book by Donald Miller entitled A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I talked a lot about it then, and it’s still held my interest captive this whole time. It’s not like I’m obsessing about it or anything, but telling a good story with my life has been on my mind a lot.
Quite a bit has changed for me in the intervening time period: work has provided more responsibilities for a bit more pay and a much fancier title, and my son has grown into a strapping, precocious four year old (“Dad! I’m four AND A HALF now!”). I still wonder if I’m telling a good story.
Day-to-day life isn’t memorable enough to bring everything to mind when looked back upon. I think of that quite often these days, especially when I’m spending time with my wife and son. I know that a lot of the stuff we do now will be forgotten by my son as he grows; he’s still a bit young to remember a lot of what happens. So, my wife and I talk occasionally about what we’ll do to make experiences as memorable as possible for him. You have to do something big to stand out at this age, like a trip to the Magic Kingdom or something equally grand.
It’s like that in our interactions with other people, too. The ones that matter are the ones that make an impression. All too often I feel as though I’ve been one to simply fade into the background of other’s lives because I don’t make an effort to stand out. I’m not talking about constantly drawing attention to yourself, like many of you may have done in school as the class clown (myself included). I’m talking about intentionally focusing your effort to make a difference in the lives of someone else. This, like anything else done intentionally, is difficult. It requires effort, sure, but it also in many cases opens us up to rejection by the very people we’re trying to help. And no one likes being rejected, right?
So, making life memorable is going to require getting out of my comfort zone. For all of my proclivities toward pro-action and planning, I am, at my core, a lazy, self-centered person. I don’t like going out on a limb for something I’m not sure will succeed. I don’t enjoy taking on a challenge that I don’t feel one hundred percent confident will succeed. Because I don’t like failing.
So, how do I motivate myself to do these uncomfortable things? What benefit possibly outweighs the fear? I know I want to live a meaningful live, but how do I maintain my focus on the long-team good in order to conquer the short-term pain and effort. That’s the question I have to answer before anything else
Ah, questions. You’ve never left me alone for long, no matter how much I try to ignore you. It’s good to be back.