I think one of the most important things in life, especially for those my age, is to know what you know and why you know it. The more I think about that, the more I realize that my entire life journey is one based around finding out what is most true and living by it, while sharing that with anyone who will listen to me speak, read what I write, or appreciate the things that I make with my hands. Some of these things I have been taught by a pastor, sometimes friends or family, and in many cases life circumstances. However, some of the most important things that I learn are through prayer. They come when I just sit in silence with no distractions and think about the clockwork of the world.
And if you sit long enough, stay quiet enough, and think hard enough, you can hear the world tick. I’m frequently asked to speak to others essentially about things that I have learned, and I’ve just realized that I have never necessarily spoken about some of these things. So I want to share a few. I guess you could call this my order of operations.
Now, this is not me telling you how to live. That is your journey. This is a list of some of the things that I have learned that have helped me to. I believe everyone has their own code that they operate by, and this is mine.
It’s something like…. “The B Code.”
1.) Search. No matter how much humans know, we will always search. Our minds will always wander for what is more, for what is bigger. We will always be thirsty for the unknown. Acknowledging this as human nature is the beginning to chasing anything worthwhile. Once you quit searching, you quit living.
2.) Believe in something bigger than yourself. No one can deny that everyone wants to find his or her purpose in life. Maybe it’s to be the President, or possibly to be a father. Both are equally as important. Humans need a purpose. This is why we are what we are. We are relational beings that need communion with one another. But more importantly, we need the intangible thing that sparks our souls. To believe in “Purpose” is to believe in something bigger than yourself.
3.) Be tough. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. You have no idea what you can sustain until you are required to. Then you have the option to do one of two things: you win, or you lose. And typically toughness is the judge. I have stopped using the phrase, “I could never go through that” because of this reason.
4.) Compete. No one can ever be their best self if they aren’t competitive. Competition is the most beautiful thing on this earth. I don’t believe in the, “I’m just not competitive” phrase, because if that were the case you wouldn’t exist. Everyone had to beat quite a few other little speed racers to their mother’s egg. Before any of us even took a breath, we had already won our first race. Everyone is competitive. Everyone needs to compete with others. But the most important thing of all is competing with yourself. To know more, to be more, and to live more. And at the end of the day by competing relentlessly at life, you make it impossible to lose.
5.) Know who you are and what you are capable of. The truth is that you are the best person to ever walk the earth and the worst, and because you are human, you are capable. I try and remember that truly I am awful and capable of the worst of things. And knowing this is true keeps me from them. Knowing that I am bad makes me good. Knowing my worst is never far off propels me to be my best.
6.) You can and will lose. No one likes saying this in today’s world where everyone gets a medal. But I do. I love being a winner. I love victory, but only because I love to compete. The secret to it all is learning to love when you lose just as much. It’s knowing that losses are really what created victory in the first place. If you cant learn from losses, you cannot truly compete. And if you can’t compete, you probably aren’t tough. And chances are that if you aren’t tough, you probably don’t believe in your purpose as much as you think you do. Because the truth is that “Purpose” can be the heaviest thing that anyone can carry.
7.) Condition. Train your mind daily. Think of the things that no one does that are beneficial to success, and do them. Condition and prepare a successful mind. Make your norm the abnormal, and make the abnormal successful. You will stand out to everyone as a conditioned traveler, while onlookers will acknowledge that they would have grown weary and never made it to where you stand.
8.) Diversify. Surround yourself with people who are different from you. Most of my friends are much older than I. Some of my peers find that strange, but in reality I have learned more by simply surrounding myself with people who have lived longer, than from anything else. I have also avoided pitfalls from listening to those who fell. Learn to see both sides of an argument instead of bickering, then find out what you believe based on what you have deduced from either side’s perspective. Know what you know and why you know it.
9.) Converse. Talk with others about what they think and believe. Put the cell phones down at the dinner table and talk. Enjoy other people’s company while you have it. Use conversations as a learning experience, not a filler.
10.) Test everything. I try never to blindly believe anything. I think that is foolish. At the end of the day you are the captain of your ship, responsible for its safekeeping. No one else should steer it. In the end you leave alone, believing what only you believe and knowing what only you know to be true.
11.) Zero ego. I learned this from one of my coaches. He would tell me that to be my best I have to throw my ego out of the door. Once I began to live by this, a few things changed. First I began seeing everything that previously offended me as an opportunity to see my own faults and flaws. No one should ever feel offended, only disrespected. Being offended is like a mirror. There is always a reason that lies within you that makes you weak enough to allow someone to control your emotions. Taking offense is revealing a crack in your armor. Don’t be foolish enough to think that others won’t abuse it once they see it. This is something that I work on daily and at which I can never be good enough. Have zero ego. Become less, and then you can become more.
I hope that a few of these things can be used by those who read this. Before any of you take any of my words and put them into action, I implore you to doubt it all, test it, try it, and if anything proves worthy, please take it.