This isn’t political.
I want to assure you of that from the outset because our journey today starts with a man in a concentration camp yearning for freedom.
Actually, let me start with where I was first introduced to that man, one of my greatest heroes.
When I was just a teenager — to my best recollection it would have been in 1992 — I read a book that completely altered the trajectory of my life. I consider it to be among the top five books ever written in the history of the world.
I know, I know. You’re frustrated. You feel lost, alone, confused.
You’ve been wandering through life trying to find your purpose.
You know Father has a purpose for you. You know you were born for something great.
But you just don’t know what that is.
No joke, no exaggeration, it happened just like this. You can’t make this up.
I’m standing in the hallway at church having a conversation with my good friend and neighbor Lee.
Lee has no degree or credentials. He’s a regular guy who lives on a regular hometown American cul-de-sac in a modest home. He also happens to be one of the smartest and finest people I know.
Lee is the inventor of Elastocrete™, the most innovative concrete product the world has ever seen, which will completely revolutionize the industry.
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Henry David Thoreau
The following are the most inspiring, challenging, or just plain fun things I want to accomplish before I die.
These goals are posted on the wall of my office where I read them every day:
You really have it with you?”
“Yes,” Alex says. “I’ve been guarding it for a year. I’m anxious to get rid of it. It makes me too nervous to have it.”
“It’s really in your bag? The same one that your grandfather signed?”
“Yes, the only one that exists.”
I sit in silence as we drive through the desert landscape, soaking it in that THE Book is in my car.
I remember the first time I read about the Book in Kevin Hall’s book, Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words.
My first opportunity, I blew it.
It was the morning after I published this article, wherein I wrote, “Never let a day pass without doing something thoughtful, kind, and loving for someone else, no matter how small, with no expectation of any benefit to yourself.”
I was in the middle of my standard morning routine, which I’m religious about; it sets the tone for my entire day.
Queen Karina was in a rush to go to an event when she remembered she needed something from the store before she left. She asked me to go pick it up for her while she got the kids ready.
I sighed. I grumbled. I reluctantly agreed, bugged by the inconvenient interruption.
“Dad, we want to earn money to buy a Chromebook. What do you think we can do?”
I’m sitting on the couch on Sunday afternoon, reading a book. I look up at my nine-year-old daughter, Libby, and my seven-year-old, Avery. “How much do you need?”
“Well, let’s brainstorm some ideas. Go grab a paper and a pen.”
We write down a bunch of ideas for the next half hour.
I’ve been struggling with New Year’s resolutions this year. Somehow, they don’t fit me any more.
It’s taken me several weeks to finally put my finger on why.
Let me explain by asking you to compare two lists:
Listen. I know you’re scared.
But here’s something you don’t know, that your fear-clogged mind prevents you from seeing: we’re all scared.
Every single one of us.
We are all scared out of our wits. We are all groping around in the darkness of uncertainty with terror shredding our innards. We are all desperately hoping and praying that it will work.
You think it’s just the quiet, unobtrusive, timid ones. The ones who never break the rules. The ones who keep their heads down and fly under the radar.
But if you only knew…
Almost every important thing I’ve done in my life has been done on the side.
Most of the progress I’ve made has developed on the side.
The side — if you have one — is where the real action is. The side, if pursued persistently, is where you find meaning and purpose. The side is where opportunity and freedom are found.
Your front is your day job, how you support your family, where you spend the bulk of your time.
The side is where you dream and discover. The side is where you wonder and experiment.