Monday, April 23, 2012

Find your own Path...realize your own dreams

For years now I have been considered by my friends and family members as an "Extreme" type of guy. A guy that takes chances, lives on the edge and finds adventure. I think that in my 20's and early 30's I did lead a life that the general human population might find a bit out of the ordinary. I jumped out of planes, paddled wild rivers and spent many nights under the stars with nothing but the wild animals keeping me company. I flew all over the world speaking and giving lectures on Team Performance, Leadership and how organizations could use PLAY as a way to strengthen their teams. I embraced my own "Creativity" and let it simply flow out of me without any thought or "struggle". I simply, lived. True to my heart and true to my spirit. Nothing seemed "forced". I was LIVING.

Does this strike a cord for you? Does this seem like the way you are living your life? Free from struggle? Living simply? Not forcing anything with only the "right" things happening to you. If your answer is NO, let me tell you, you are not alone. You're not the only one simply "Existing" rather than "Living". I know that for a period of 5 years in my life I was doing the same thing. I was only "Existing" rather than "Living".

I know the exact moment when I went from living the life I was born to lead, to the living my life for others. It was when I made another persons dream my own. I embraced their vision for the future and in my mind and actions allowed it to be mine. I let a "Big Picture" be painted for me that I really didn't believe in dictate the actions of my life. I let go of me, and became a "For You" guy. My life became a series of questions: What can I do for you? How can I help you? When do you think this will happen? How are you going to find more funding? When can you pay me? Where are you going to sell this? Do you think this is going to work? What happened to you? Why are you not calling me back? Why aren't you sending me any more checks? If you have ever been an entrepreneur then these questions will strike a cord with you.

I went from living and "acting" on "My purpose" to living and "reacting" for someone else. I existed only in the shadow of their dream. In my case the "Dream" was big enough and an entire team of us embraced it and lived for it. We became slaves to the dream and were blinded by its promise. I spent years trying to find success in a "Dream" that promised me riches but in the end only gave me an experience. A painful experience, but an experience nonetheless. 

 Thank the heavens that I am an experiential learner and I embraced that side of me. The dream slowly died and along the way each of us who followed the dream dealt with it in our own ways. Some jumped off the ship before it started to go down while some rode it to the bitter and tragic end and others are still to this day trying to find some of the "promised gold" via legal battles (they haven't let go of the dream yet). What I took away from this experience is the realization that when you are following a dream which is not fully yours you are only "Existing" and not "Living".

It took me a long time to break out of this "Funk" that I was in. I was used to everything going "My Way". It was only after realizing that I hadn't been living "My Way" but rather living another person’s way. I was living the life of what I now call a "Floater". A Floater is just that someone who gets caught up in the current and just "Floats" along. Look at any river or ocean in the world and you will find all sorts of different stuff "Floating" along. On beaches all over the world you will find "Floaters" no longer floating but grouped together and left to die or even worse staying put and waiting for a big unknown storm to pick them up again and get them moving. I like the line from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" where Andy Dufrense played by Tim Robbins says, "Get busy living or get busy Dying". He makes a choice to not buy into the "Prison" dream. He makes a choice to "Live rather than Exist" and is now sipping Margaritas in Ziuatanejo, Mexico. He chose not to be a "Floater".

The "Floaters" are everywhere. I see these people in boardrooms, on sales calls, in politics, teaching our kids, leading companies and even walking the streets (you can pick them out I swear). So how come there are so many "Floaters" and how do you stop yourself from becoming one or even recognize that you are one.

It is my belief that there are so many Floaters because as a collective, we have lost the ability to live as our authentic selves. As children we initially spoke, acted, desired etc, on impulse and without hesitation. We lived authentically and in alignment with our inner self. As time went on the "conditions" of the world started to shape us. Our parents guided us one-way, our peer group another way and so on. Over time these "conditions" played havoc with our "authentic self" until we reach a point where a choice is made. This choice can be conscious or unconscious based on the amount and intensity of the "conditions" placed upon us but make a choice to hold on to our authentic self or let it go.

Now before everyone gets all upset and stops reading I am not suggesting that everyone out there is not authentic. I know when people believe in something they become passionate about it. I know when we say, "I love you" that they mean it. I know that authenticity is alive and well in the world. I also believe that there are many different "aspects" of an authentic self - it's not just being authentic in business, as a parent, as a spouse or friend but being consistent in our authentic approach to all areas of our life. What I am suggesting though, is that the majority of people walking the earth are not living authentically to their true self. The self that somehow was conditioned over time to be something they are not. The depth of this conditioning away from their authentic self, leads to them to being called a "Floater".

Ask yourself this question. One a scale of 1-10 am I fully content with my life. If you don't give yourself a 10 then you have to figure out what you need to do to get to a 10. Nothing else is important. You have to be living your life speeding towards existing at a "10" at all times. You can't be just "Existing".  Existing is for Floaters. SOAR with the Eagles or Quack with the Ducks. The choice is yours.  My question is what are you waiting for?

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