Every one of us is in the process of becoming someone, but too often we place the emphasis on what we will do and how we will spend our time rather than who we will be and where we will invest our life.Estimated read time: 4 minutes
As a parent of five children, I well remember asking each of them when they were young: “So who do you want to be when you grow up?” Their responses included the predictable: an astronomer, an astronaut, an archeologist, and even an antique collector. My kids were at first surprised when, in response to their vocational aspirations, I would share with them that those are all the wrong answers.
Because if you listen closely to my question, you will notice that I was not inquiring about what career they hoped to choose, but who they actually wanted to be at the end of their lives. As facetious as it was to pose a trick question, I was training my children to think beyond professions and positions to matters of character, choices, consequences, and ultimately, their personal legacy. Even to this day, as I spend time coaching and mentoring young leaders, I chuckle inside when I ask them this same question, “So who do you want to be when you grow up?” knowing that I am setting the snare to expose short-sighted perspectives.
Don’t get me wrong. Career is important. I love my many professional pursuits. I dabble in a dozen different arenas wearing several unique hats. However, my vocation is just one of the twelve dimensions of my life. I am much more than my titles, and my life is much bigger than my work. In fact, I want to encourage you with a few ideas that I review in my own heart at the beginning of each week. As I spend Sunday afternoon and evenings reflecting upon my upcoming week and reviewing with my wife our family calendar for the next five days, it is important for me to consider three timeless truths that can be easily overlooked as I am tempted by the tyranny of the urgent:
I am becoming more of the same person every day.
This is true. There is no escaping the fact that my daily choices and priorities-in-action are shaping me into the person I am at this very moment. I did not arrive at this point in time… being who I am… by chance. Every choice moves my character in a particular direction. Each action to do or not do something is shaping my today and my tomorrow. Whether intentionally or accidentally, I am merely an accumulation of my daily choices.
I will not eventually become someone I have not been becoming.
I have noticed a common misconception among driven and high-capacity individuals. They often believe that they are going to wake up one day having become someone they have not been becoming. Even super smart and sophisticated leaders struggle with connecting the present to the future. For instance, each person intellectually understands that death is inescapable. This is an inevitable reality for every human being that few people will deny. However, not a one of us thinks that today is the day that we will cease our time on this earth and pass from this life to the next. We not only live each day with the hope that we will live through the end of this day, but we have actually convinced ourselves that we are guaranteed tomorrow. As a result, we do not connect the dots from now until then… from this day to our last day.
The art of becoming is about daily choices.
Every choice counts. Each moment matters. Becoming someone is not as mysterious as we often think. The decision to act or not act in the moment is the essence of choice. Choices can be proactive, reactive, reflective, or intuitive, but they are all choices nonetheless. A seemingly insignificant choice to start, stop, sustain, or stall will inevitably lead to more choices that prompt other related choices, which then lead to a string and series of real life consequences.
Here is an important question: what do you hope will be said about you at your funeral? At this point, I will encourage you to pause for 60 seconds to consider your response to my probing question before reading on. Pause. I am aware that this might have been an uncomfortable question to ponder, but to consider this question will fuel your passion for becoming while simultaneously deflating your pressure for doing.
Today’s choices will certainly determine what others will think and say about us at our funeral. Sadly, I have spent time with individuals who at the end of their lives are quite surprised by the fact that they did not actually become who they thought they would become. This is the case, because they never really considered just who they wanted to be when they grew up.
The choice is yours: Will you think only about what you are doing? Or will you consider investing in who you are actually becoming?
To receive my complimentary tool for developing a reflective funeral journal to assist in identifying your core values for the purpose of becoming, write me a quick message and I will gladly send it your way.