Update November 29, 2010: Have moved this from a dedicated “Page” to simply a post. Certainly don’t expect anyone to read it for being pithy. More like a manifesto.
December 23, 2008 5:30am
Ever find yourself lying in bed, waiting and wondering if the alarm will ever go off? Talking to yourself saying, “I can’t wait to get started. Bring it on.”
It’s that feeling you get when you are so excited about something you can barely stand it. Like the first day of school. Anticpating your first kiss. The first day on the new job you always wanted. Can you picture it in your mind? Can you feel it in your heart? Can you remember it like it was yesterday?
So here I am, typing away at the true meaning of Christmas. We all know it’s not the material things in life that bring us joy. Yet, we travel down that road anyway, subconsciously ignoring the obvious.
This year’s Christmas gift to my family is very different from years past. This year’s gift, to be unwrapped in just two more days, will be a gift of hope and empowerment. And certainly, opportunity.
It all started eleven months ago, in January of this year (2008). Preparing the Christmas gifts of money (checks and cash) I received, to be deposited into our checking account, I heard a voice inside my head tell me to spend the money on it’s intended purpose – me. Year after year, I deposit these monetary gifts into our checking account and end up paying bills, never appreciating the true reason the money was given – to do something nice for myself.
The idea must have been in my heart for a long time. Maybe 20-30 years. I say this because I immediately knew where to go to spend the money. GoDaddy.com, a internet domain name and website hosting company. I purchased a few domain names on January 12. Within a month, I had purchased a few dozen. It was a start I needed to make. A distant promise that was now just starting to be delivered on.
Then, the predictable happened. Nothing. Nothing happened for the next eight months. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Thank you John Lennon.
So this Fall, I got back up on the horse. The creative juices started to flow again and more work was done.
So here we are, two days before Christmas and the joy of being decisive and keeping a childhood dream alive, is, well, alive.
I have always, at least as far back as I can recall, been able to think differently than the social norm. What is usual and customary, isn’t. For me, it seems the big question is, “What if we did it differently?” Funny how our little minds get programmed. Who knows? Who cares?
The whole idea of Christmas commercialized has always felt off-course to me. Even back in 1944, when the Christmas classic, “Miracle on 34th Street” was inspired, people where questioning the reason for the season.
I had to tell you all of that so I can tell you this. This year’s Christmas gift to my family comes in the form of a choice. A choice to do it differently this year. With an impact that can change the course of our lives. Enhancing the way we live. Creating a new set of challenges to be sure. Maybe even making life more challenging for a while. But the hope is this – to create the opportunity to serve my family and the people I love more effectively.
Life leads everyone on a path. The same path, yet different. From birth through death. The same for everyone. And still, it looks like many different paths for many different people. All along these paths are opportunities to make choices. Big choices. Humans are easily distracted. Seriously.
The choices we make, and don’t make, weave the fabric of our lives.
Big choices are hard. If they were easy, nobody would have to worry about much. We’d all be decisive, and make great decisions. And enjoy great outcomes.
But life doesn’t work like that. Never has and never will. Not here on Earth anyway.
The key, the blinding flash of the obvious, is that some choices have the power to change the course of our life. For the better. But a wrong choice also has the power to change the course of our life. And make it worse. Scary as hell, right? And even when we choose not to decide, we still have made a choice.
The thing that is tricky, and sticky, is that no one has a crystal ball to look into the future and see which decisions will pay off positively and which won’t. This is the fundamental reason we grow old. We stop growing. I guess this is part of the grand plan. But I also wonder if it’s not.
If it’s not, then what are we supposed to do?
Well, I’m doing what I think we’re supposed to do. And that is to take risks to make life better.
I’ve used fervant prayer and deep thinking. I’ve studied and analyzed mistakes and successes – mine, as well as other people. These methods allow the tough choices to become clearer. Not easier, just clearer.
What doesn’t become clearer is the desire to risk our current standard of living. Our status quo. Because of this, we risk nothing, do nothing. And then we experience pangs of regret. To ease the regret, we get busy doing other things. Less important things. Things that really don’t matter much in the big scheme of our universe. And so it goes.
On the other hand, what is thrilling, to me, is to work hard, and create a compelling vision for the future. One that puts others first. Gayle Sayers, the famous Chicago Bears running back from the 1970’s, and the author of “I Am Third”, which inspired the movie “Brian’s Song”, said it simply, “God is first, my Family is second, and I am third”.
Words for me to live by.
By the way, the movie “Brian’s Song”, tells the true story of Brian Piccalo and Gayle Sayers being rookie roommates at the Bears training camp. It’s a heartwarming, yet sad, story of differences. Differences of color and abilty, but the generous sharing of brotherly love. Brian gets terminal cancer and Gayle gets famous.
Back to the story.
Success stems from two very basic concepts. One is a deadline. The other, purpose.
Deadlines provide focus. How important is focus in accomplishing anything, especially anything great?
Purpose provides a reason. A compelling reason. A reason to live. A reason to believe. A reason to try. A reason to not quit, no matter what. A reason to pay whatever the price. A reason that puts others before self. A reason to serve mightily, and humbly. How important is having a purpose?
Can you imagine the power you obtain when you have a reason and focus?
Having a purpose in life gives you the reason why. When you know why and how long you have (we don’t have forever), there’s no stopping you from making a difference.
This year, Christmas is about making a difference. Merry Christmas. And, Happy Birthday, Jesus.
In 2007, Randy Pausch, married, 3 kids six and under, Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, Disney Imagineer, and all-around good and brilliant guy, was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, the worst kind, with the lowest survival rate. Randy gave a 75-minute Last Lecture (also on You Tube), but this 10-minute version is a reprise he did on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It surprises me, still, how many people have never heard of Randy Pausch or The Last Lecture (Randy’s Book). You owe it to yourself, if you still have unfulfilled childhood dreams, to watch. You can thank me later: