Life is Messy

Don’t panic, bring your towel

Am I Motivated or Simply Inspired?

One of the rites of passage for many teens in the USA is learning to drive and gaining their driver license and I was fortunate enough to do so when I turned 16. The car that I learned to drive in was a manual transmission, which means that in addition to learning the mechanics of steering, parking and navigating the people overly familiar with their machine, I needed to learn how to quickly and smoothly get the car up to speed in a reasonable amount of time.

For the uninitiated, while there are small variations the driver has 3 pedals to operate: gas, brake and clutch; in addition to a shifter lever to change gears. To operate the vehicle successfully with the safety and sanity of its occupants in tact, the driver must press the clutch to the floor with their foot, select the correct gear, release the clutch and press the gas pedal with their other foot. This process takes a bit of time to find the correct timing of letting the clutch out and giving the right amount of gas, which in the interim leads to either repetitive stalling and restarting the engine or to whiplash-inducing bucking of the vehicle.

I think that in life we face the same learning of timing with inspiration and motivation. Like learning to drive a manual transmission vehicle, if we don’t give ourselves the right motivation (gas) at the proper place, our inspiration will be like the clutch and we will be spastically hopping down the street of life wondering we are always having to start over, why our batteries are flat and why we’re out of gas. Our inspirations catalyze us to movement or change, but our motivations propel us to satisfy the purpose for which they we born.

How do you control your motivations? Examine them ruthlessly, starve the selfish through inaction, feed the life-giving actions and learn how you motivate yourself. Not sure? Look at what you really want and ask yourself: why? Do you want to lose weight because of how you feel (or want to feel) or because of what others think? Do you have a job with good money because you love it or are you trying to win the love or respect of someone else through riches, fame or honor?

Let’s be unafraid to take a biopsy of our motivations, to confront the selfish and lazy, to ask for help to heal the hurts and to learn ourselves well enough to be unequivocal in dragging our motivations into the open with safe people.

To change the world, we must first change ourselves - the only thing we have the power to change.

Dear Younger Me

My friend over at Boring Married Guy recently wrote about ”The Idiot’s Guide to Enjoying Single Life and it got me thinking: now that I’m in my mid 30’s, what wisom would I pass on to my 21 year old self? So to younger me, here’s some wisdom for a man.

Find Your Alpha

As a recovering Nice Guy, I tell my young self: this will make or break life for you as a man in career, home, fun, relationships, women and especially in your self-respect. Identity is key - be assertive and learn to say “This is what I think, this is who I am”. Check yourself frequently to make sure you are not a tyrant, however people are either going to like you for who you are or they are not. You’ve got to accept that as a fact of life and not care whether people and especially women like you. It’s not worth it putting on an act to please people, what you crave is respect and people will respect you more for having, pursuing and defending your mission and ethos.

Remember that the heart of the good king is to better his kingdom and its inhabitants - not to please them, but what’s good for them, know that he will benefit from a healthy kingdom.

Do Dumb Things You Can Recover From and Find Your Adventure

Males of most species are continually testing themselves and us humans are no different. Push yourself, do dangerous things, drive too fast occasionally and break the rules from time to time. learn your limits of energy, of strength; stretch and grow them so that you know yourself and what you can do. Keep growing what you can do in that and keep testing it. More importantly, have fun. Part of the joy of being a man is to do things that aren’t “safe”, to go where others fear to tread, to master your fear and to learn to live with fear as a friend and guide. Many people treat fear and pain as things to be avoided, however pain is an indicator that something physical or emotional is trending out of a limit or tolerance and fear should simply be the catalyst to help us either challenge a situation and make it known or to rectify/avoid where we are for our and others well-being. Adventuring is implicitly unsafe and unknown - or it would not be an adventure. Remember that pain and hurt from an adventure are a part of the risk of life and reminds us - life is neither guaranteed nor safe nor predictable.

Young self, do not under any circumstance other than with your wife, adventure or do dumb things with sex. Sex is not to be feared or something to dabble in and must be treated as an extremely powerful force that in the right context gives life, health and happiness, and in the wrong context takes all of those things away along with your integrity and self-respect.

Develop Your Mission and Ethos

Speaking of integrity and self-respect, develop your mission and ethos: Your mission is your over-arching goal, that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and helps you push through when it gets tough and you want to quit; Your ethos is your character, your guiding belief and ideas - how you do business.

When it comes to mission, some guys know what they want to be from the time they were a twinkle in their fathers eye and some guys in their 50s are just discovering themselves; the time is now to figure out what motivates you, what you love to do, what you don’t love to do and to decide what you are going to do. Choice and decision is key here, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you’re going to. Just keep moving forward and live a full and passionate life. Dr. Corey Allan of Simple Marriage says it like this:

Growing up is being able to handle life on life’s terms and not be dominated by any of it, but choose what we want.

Since your ethos is how you do business, your core principles and character you need to develop it: build a good work ethic, set good boundaries, defend your integrity against yourself and others; while your reputation may not be as tight-knit as it once was in smaller communities, your integrity or lack thereof will quickly make itself known - develop it to protect you and your self-respect.

In that same vein, one of my close friends recently talked with me about developing the 30% rule - when it comes to time, money and energy, keep a 30% margin to rely on. Don’t spend all of your time or all of your energy in any one area, even if it’s good or you love it. There are times when you need to spend your margin - that’s what it’s there for, however should it be come a long-term strategy, it’s time to re-evaluate why you need to do so.

Synthesis

Let’s synthesize these concepts into more stark language: Young self, grow a pair of balls, ask women out and expect to hear yes but don’t care much whether they say yes or no; climb the hill, catch the wave; spend less time working - it doesn’t make you happy. Invest in the right places in church; streamline your time and energies. Find the meat and marrow of life and savor it - don’t eat to shovel stuff into your face; stop, taste, enjoy, marinate in whatever experience you are in, good or bad and be fully present in wherever you are. Remember that life is about people and relationships; those can’t be stolen and won’t rust away. Develop great man friends, great guy friends and great younger man friends and help them become great men.

Develop a mission bigger than yourself and pursue it, don’t be swayed by those who say it’s not possible or not worth it - only you can define if it’s worth it to you. Make your choices, be a man and live with them. Demand honesty from yourself, never settle for good enough.

Develop good character and boundaries - the world, your friends, your family and your woman will respect you for it.

Most importantly, you will respect yourself.

Life Is Messy. Don’t Panic, Bring Your Towel

For a few months I’ve been feeling like I needed an adventure, something new, something to switch it up and keep things from being boring, and yesterday it hit me: My life isn’t boring, it’s as full-throttled as it can be, I just need to pay attention.

You see, the core of life is relationship - God and other people. Should those relationships be severed it stands to reason that most of the joy and purpose in life is gone and our life becomes running from escape to escape in order to deny the messiness that is us.

This site exists for me to grow my writing skills, to communicate better and to hopefully give others inspiration and motivation to jump into their adventure of their lives and embrace it as a close friend.

Welcome and remember: Life is messy. Don’t panic, bring your towel.