Finding Your Fire
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain
Before you can create the perfect life, you have to understand who you are. Why do you do what you do? What’s your purpose? Some call it their “manifesto”; others call it their “mission statement,” but what I’m talking about is what drives your need to do what you do beyond earning a paycheck. Is there something you would do every day, even if you weren’t getting paid? I don’t mean that big house, a sports car. Those things are great, but what do you really want? Those are all things you can buy, but legacy is everything. Legacy lives forever. What’s been important to you throughout your life is often a gateway to finding your professional purpose. Sometimes, it helps to go back to your childhood to see what made you tick. For instance, have you always loved sports, drama, movies, music, sci-fi, comic books, video games, or riding horses? You must find what you love to do. If you haven’t found it, keep looking. If you give up on your dream, what’s left? Seriously, I believe we all have a purpose and a gift, and if we don’t use it, do we really live? Get a piece of paper and ask yourself, “What’s my purpose in life?” Write down an answer. Write another one and keep writing answers until one of them makes you cry. That’s your purpose. When your enthusiasm is palpable, people will start asking you what you did, why are you so happy? What are you doing differently? The key to harnessing that passion is understanding your “Why.”
Do you remember the signs in bathrooms that staff must wash their hands before returning to work? I saw one that made me take a real look at the way I approach life. It said: “Please wash your hands and leave this place better than you found it.” Now, I know they were talking about the bathroom, but I realized at that moment, this is how everyone should approach life. If you come into someone’s life, make their life better, and even if you lose track of each other or move to a different part of the world, make sure you added value to their life. One thing you will find is that the key to being happy is to make other people happy. To succeed, you must help others to succeed.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I was growing up, my dad would invite the neighborhood kids, who didn’t have a lot, over to the house for holidays, and sometimes, I would be a little annoyed because I wanted it to just be family, and I didn’t like the kids he was inviting over. But they were so appreciative. They would continually thank my mom and dad. I thought, “My mom must really be a great cook.” It never dawned on me until later in life they didn’t have access to much food, let alone a good home cooked meal. My dad was a musician, but he also worked for the local police department and did a lot of work with the local community. A lot of the so-called rough kids would always be nice to me, and I never understood it because most hated the police because they’d had been arrested so frequently. One day after school, one kid started walking home with me, and when we walked by his house, his dad, who had been in trouble with police, was outside, and he said, “You’re John Hampton’s kid,” and I said yes. He said, “He’s the only cop that ever treated me with respect, and I will always appreciate that.” I also did not understand until later in life, but how you treat people matters. Your words and actions can have a lasting effect on people. As I understood it, it started to shape my life. I realized you really can have a positive impact on others’ lives by doing small things. I ran into one of those kids’ years later, and all he could talk about was how my dad changed his life, and I knew I wanted to do that. I wanted to help others attain their goals and dreams, and in turn, I could possibly attain my goals and dreams.
It’s better to dream big and miss than to dream small and hit. –Les Brown
Think back to when you were 10-12 years old. That can sometimes be the pivotal time in a person’s life, when their true self shows itself. When I was 12, I began delivering papers. My first paper route was around 100 houses and quickly grew to about 300 houses. I spent Saturday mornings collecting for my newspaper business, while other kids were growing up on Saturday morning cartoons. I eventually brought some of my friends to help and expanded it into 2 other paper routes. That was when the entrepreneur bug bit me. I knew I never wanted to work for anyone but myself. But when I graduated high school, I quickly realized my parents didn’t have the money to send me to college, so my only option was to join the military and have them pay for my college. Seemed like a great idea at the time, and it probably was, but once again, my belief that I didn’t want to have to work for anyone but myself was reinforced when a person who shall remain anonymous, who was in charge of me because he had been in the military longer than me, almost got us both killed by driving us into the impact area on a military base. For those who don’t know, the impact area is where the big tanks fire rounds while practicing for war. Most of the impact area is well-marked, but somehow, this person found a spot that wasn’t marked well, and we didn’t know we were in the impact area until we happened upon a burned-out tank. So, we had to radio in a cease fire on the base and got into a lot of trouble when we returned to our unit. Once again, I told myself that I would never work for anyone but myself, and this time, I stuck to that and have never looked back. I have worked for myself for many years now, and there were times when things got rough. Times when I was days away from getting evicted from my apartment, days away from getting my car repossessed, and I realized that, when your back is against the wall and options are few, you become very resourceful. People who experience life at the bottom, I mean rock bottom, times when life seems to have beaten you down and there are very few options left and you feel like no one cares, you either rise or die. The most successful people in the world were there, and they decided to rise. You must realize everyone has problems, and you’re not the first person to feel alone and unwanted, and you won’t be the last person to know what rock bottom feels like, but once you’ve reached the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up, and once you fight your way to the top and you stand on that mountain and look down, knowing what it is like to be at the bottom, you’re a better person, and you will fight harder than anyone never to return there. Everyday becomes a gift, and you cherish each day and you grow a little every day until you reach your goals.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
― J.K. Rowling
Become a victor, not a victim. Stop waking up like an accident. Find your passion, and once you discover it, live the rest of your life chasing that dream. If your why is helping people, find a way to make other people’s lives better, and your life will become better. I know your life will not change just because you read this information; you must realign you value system. These words must align with your values. You must become self-aware. Figure out what you’re most passionate about and try to live out your passion. You’ll probably fall down; you’ll probably fail a few times, but the secret is to fail yourself to success. If you don’t take that risk, that is the biggest risk of all. Doing nothing is safe. It ensures you won’t fail, but it also insures you won’t succeed.
“He who has a why can endure any how.” –Frederick Nietzsche