While exercising at the gym, running hard on the elliptical, I noticed a person in front of me had a t-shirt with the saying “what do you live for?”
And it got me thinking.
Maybe the bigger question in life is: what are you responsible for?
Responsibility gives life meaning. Men, especially young men, are hungry for that. As the great psychologist Jordan Peterson puts it: “women know what they have to do, men have to figure it out.” A man has to decide that he is going to do something in life. And what makes life attractive to him is taking responsibility.
Too often we focus on rights, but it’s impossible to have half of a discussion, because your right is my responsibility.
So we take responsibility and at some point in life we all fail.
As we push ourselves outside our comfort zone, we find growth. There is no progress coming out of a comfortable, cozy life… you need to bet big on yourself.
Perhaps that is the sense of the Bible’s original sin - that life is a struggle, and if it’s not hard, you’re doing something wrong.
Well, what happens next after you fail? The best advice I read is to take control of something, even in the face of hardship and focus on it with all your might. Then, gradually, your circle of control begins to widen and you get back on your feet stronger then before.
The SEAL warriors, arguably the best special army detachment in the world, have what is called a 40% rule. It goes like this: when your brain taps you on you shoulders and says “you’re done”, you are really only about 40% done. You need to dig deeper and try harder. And this is the key to overcoming mental barriers.
Hemingway said: “the world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Many, but not all, an important distinction, but I think that truer words were never spoken.
He also said: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
A wise man.
I am taking this retrospective look at life tonight likely because my birthday is soon, Friday the 13th. Not a big one yet, but close.
I have taken chances in life and I’ve bet big, and still do.
Life is a highway and I’ve loved every moment of the ride.
As the great song goes:
Cause I'm a picker
I'm a grinner
I'm a lover
And I'm a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a midnight toker
I sure don't want to hurt no one
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler