“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are . . . whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are . . . whatever are not our own actions.”
– Epictetus (c. 50 – 120)
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.”
– Frederick Douglass (c. 1817 – 1895)
I was struggling to be the person that I was committed to being. I was struggling to create and sustain the value necessary to make the most of my Life. I was struggling to have the kind of impact that I wanted to have, that I knew I could have, that I felt deeply that I needed to have in order to honor and respect the opportunity that I’d been afforded.
See I had this vision in my head of what I wanted my Life to be – how I wanted to carry myself, what I wanted to stand for, what I wanted to do, the kind of impact that I wanted to have on my wife and my boys, and so on and so forth. My vision encapsulated everything that I wanted in my Life – it was my picture of meaning and it represented the highest level of well-being that I could imagine.
Generally speaking, I was doing a decent job of seeing to it that my vision was making its way into the actual results of my Life. But I was coming up short more often than I wanted to be – more often than was acceptable to me. And when I when I did, the losses I experienced – both externally and internally – offset and diluted meaningful gains I was making elsewhere in my Life proving costly to my bottom line well-being and to the quality of my Life experience at large.
Never one to sit idle in regress and Pain, I was always trying to figure out what had gone wrong, what I needed to do in order to improve myself and my situation. As it went, my analyses kept pointing to the same obstacle. Once I got through the blame/victim filter in my head and got down to assessing my role in my own failures, I kept finding that most every single setback that I was experiencing was essentially a product of my own doing.
Certainly other people and outside events had an influence on the outcome of everything I was engaged in and I fully accepted that. I also accepted that it was my job to consider other people and outside events with respect to their impact on the progress that I was trying to make in my Life and prepare, engage, and adjust accordingly. When it got right down to it, I just flat wasn’t controlling what I could control and my failures to do so were compromising the value potential of my Life.
Understanding My Expectations
“It is as impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself, as for a thing to be, and not to be, at the same time.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
Failure and adversity in the normal course was just a cost of living in my mind and as a highly independent human from a very young age, I was no stranger to it on any level – personally or professionally, individually or collectively.
I had no issue with failure as a part of Life, as a chance outcome of engagement if you will, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to be perfect. As far as I was concerned, if I wasn’t failing on some level, I probably wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. That said, I took significant issue with failing on my own account and I absolutely was expecting my best effort in execution.
What I really wanted to see from myself was a level of effort that reflected respect for my whole Life – for all areas that I was accountable for – a level of effort that I could actually respect and live with. I wanted to see myself doing all that I could possibly do in order to create the value that I was committed to creating. But that wasn’t what was happening.
When the results of my actions fell short of what I was committed to because my best effort didn’t make it to the field of my Life, it was like adding insult to injury. Coming up short of the progress I wanted and needed to make was one thing but coming up short as a result of beating myself was something altogether different. I had no expectation of being able to control what I couldn’t control; I had every expectation of being able to control what I could.
I was convinced that there had to be a better way to run my Life, there had to be a better way to close the gap between what I wanted and I where I was. The freedoms and powers that I’d been afforded to self-create my Life and make the most of my opportunity weren’t being maximized – of that I was certain – and I was just flat unwilling to accept that as my fate.
Seeing the Way Ahead
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are . . . whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are . . . whatever are not our own actions.” – Epictetus (c. 50 – 120)
The more real I got about my struggles, the more I knew that I was lacking the ability to lead and control my Life the way that I wanted to:
- The more I knew that the vision I was committed to wasn’t properly anchored, complete, or protected.
- The more I knew that my bottom line well-being, which was on the line every day of my Life, wasn’t being properly managed and was nowhere near as protected or secure as it needed to be in order to be optimized.
- The more I knew that there were fundamental weaknesses in my approach to creating and sustaining value across the whole of my Life that would eventually catch up with me if they weren’t dealt with and remedied.
- The more I knew that I was ill-equipped to control what I could control, that I was ill-equipped to execute upon what I knew needed to be executed upon in order to free my mind and my potential and create all that I wanted to create in my Life.
The more I pushed myself to answer for my actions, the more I was able to understand why I was coming up short and what I really needed to do to remedy my situation:
- How was it possible that I had no formal approach to leading, managing, operating, and governing my own Life? How was I intending to become all that I wanted to become without an organized, systematic approach to running the day-to-day operation that generated the results of my Life?
- How was it possible that I had no ability to really understand the current state of my bottom line well-being? How was I intending to make the most of my Life experience if I had no means by which to understand what exactly was impacting it – positively or negatively – and by how much?
- How was it possible that my approach to creating meaningful value failed to account for all of the areas of my Life that actually impacted it? How was I intending to maximize my potential if meaning was leaking out of mismanaged or non-managed areas of my Life? How was I intending to sustain my efforts in the highest meaning areas of my Life if I was constantly diverting time and attention to lower meaning areas that weren’t being properly managed?
- How was it possible that my Life enterprise wasn’t structurally organized or fully prioritized? How was I intending to lead all of the various different areas that I was accountable for – areas that had an impact on my well-being – without out a structured understanding of what those areas were and the relative impact they had on my bottom line?
- How was it possible that I wasn’t able to specifically articulate what I was looking to accomplish in all areas of my Life? And critically, in the highest meaning areas? How was I intending to create the meaningful value that I wanted and needed to create if I didn’t know what actionable steps I needed to take in order to do so?
- How was it possible that I could not articulate how I planned to allocate my time and effort across all of the various areas of my Life? How was I intending to achieve all of the things that I wanted to achieve without a living, breathing, functional strategy that properly addressed all areas of accountability that had an impact on my bottom line results?
- How was it possible that I had no formal approach to assessing or evaluating the results of my actions across the whole of my Life? How was I intending to understand where I was relative to where I was going? How was I intending to learn from my mistakes? How was I intending to sustain progress if I had no formal means to improve, grow, adjust and adapt?
- How was it possible that I had no way to tie the everyday actions that I was taking to what I was telling myself that I valued? How was I intending to fulfill purpose if I had no means to reconcile my actions to that purpose?
- How was it possible to guide my own family on how to make the most of their Life if I had no ability to make the most of mine? How was I intending to lead if I had no real capacity to do so?
The more I explored my shortcomings, the more confident I became that I could overcome them, that there was a means to the ends that I was after. The more I understood my weaknesses, the more I believed that there was a way to control what I could control, that there was a way to control my actions and realize the potential that I knew was there to be realized. But that way had a price.
If I wanted to become the person I was committed to becoming I knew that I was going to need to take control of my own Life, to coordinate and unify the powers that I’d been afforded to think and feel, reason and choose, and self-direct my actions, into a systematic means to protect and optimize my well-being, to free my mind and my potential, to create the kind of experience and have the kind of impact that I knew I could.
It was clear to me that my own freedom laid not in the outcomes that I couldn’t control but rather in the actions that I could. If regress and Pain resulted from failing to control what I could control, from failing to get my best effort onto the field of play of my own Life, then by implementing systematic controls that would prevent me from beating myself, I realized that I could contain my weaknesses, I could rise above my own struggles, and I could free myself to experience Life the way that I really wanted to experience it.
But while my vision was clear and I believed that I understood what I needed to do, I was not in a position to make it happen at that time – I simply did not have the knowledge or the tools that I needed to succeed. To pull off what I wanted to pull off, there was no question in my mind that I was going to need a more organized, holistic, structured, systematic, etc. approach to empower my efforts.
Ultimately, I needed to find a solution that not only helped me lead, operate, and govern my own Life, but one that would do the same for my wife, our boys, and our family as a unit. I was convinced that there was a way for all of us – as individuals and as a group – to make the most of the Life opportunity that we’d each been afforded. I just needed to find it.
“Strategies to improve well-being across populations start with the individual.”
– Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index
The search was a short one – the solutions that were available in and around what I wanted to accomplish didn’t meet the requirements as I saw them:
- There were solutions focused on creating domain specific external success but not on the Life-Wide well-being that I knew was required to sustain it;
- Solutions focused on creating meaningful well-being but not on the Life-Wide progress that I knew was required to secure and optimize it;
- Solutions focused on control in its various forms but not on managing the consent of our free will that I knew first hand was required to uphold it;
- Solutions focused on living more freely but not on the control that I knew from experience was necessary to preserve and sustain independence;
- Strategic solutions without tactical application;
- Tactical applications without strategic grounding;
- Domain specific approaches without proper enterprise consideration;
- Big picture, enterprise-like approaches without practical sensitivities;
- And on and on and on . . .
In all fairness to the systems, structures, methodologies, processes, tools, etc. that were available at that time, they probably didn’t stand much of a chance in my mind. By that point in my Life I had been an entrepreneur by trade for over 20 years. What that meant with respect to the search that I was conducting was that I was going to be relatively quick to believe that I could just create my own best solution and so, when my initial search didn’t bear any low-hanging fruit, that is exactly where my mind went.
And even though my search efforts weren’t successful in finding the solution that I was looking for, they weren’t without return. In networking my way in and around the space, I had gathered information and connected with fellow seekers. What became very clear, very early on in my search was that I wasn’t alone in my quest. There were masses of people from all walks that were working hard to figure out how to bring their best self forward in favor of creating the highest quality Life experience that they could:
- From high profile celebrities, athletes, CEO’s and executives to schoolteachers, first responders, 9-5’ers, and homemakers;
- From wealthy billionaires and millionaires to all of the various layers of the working classes;
- From great grandparents, grandparents, and parents, to young adults, teens and kids;
- From city folk to rural folk, from beach towns to the inland suburbs, from the mountains to the plains.
Irrespective of socioeconomic status, age, location, etc. individuals of all kinds were in pursuit of creating, sustaining, and optimizing bottom-line well-being in Life and like me, were struggling to do so on a Life-Wide basis and in a sustainable way. What struck me was not the common nature of our desired ends, but the common nature of our struggles to achieve them.
The lack of a viable, systematic means to run individual Life was a clear void. The complexities we were all facing as individuals were intense and as much as humans had brilliantly advanced so many aspects of existence through time; we’d yet to adequately innovate our approach to running Life itself and it was costing us dearly.
In connection with my search, I ran into a significant amount of data surrounding the state of individual well-being on the planet. What I found was alarming to say the very least. Beyond the objective data, the anecdotal evidence was every bit as disturbing. By any rational account we were collectively struggling and the state of our regress and Pain was not only obvious and prolific but also trending in the wrong direction.
So what began as a quest to find a solution to benefit myself and my family quickly materialized into an opportunity to develop and contribute a solution to benefit other individuals and other families with similar ambitions and challenges. The clear void of solutions available was a call to act, a call to innovate, a call to serve self, family, and others no doubt.
“You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.”
– Bob Dylan (1941 – )
At that point, my wife and I had a decision to make. The highly dynamic and ever-changing world that we were living and operating in was becoming increasingly complex – it was apparent that the widespread lack of systematic control over individual Life was going to become more and more of an issue not less and less of an issue. The risks associated with not having a viable means to command and control the whole of our Life and protect and optimize our bottom-line well-being were material and expanding.
Given the state of the human state and where it appeared to be heading, we felt that it was imperative that we do whatever we needed to do to get our family enabled with the infrastructure necessary to properly lead, operate, and govern the enterprise that individual Life had undoubtedly become.
We were passionate about empowering our boys (and ourselves) with the means to organically self-create and self-sustain their own well-being – externally and internally – in connection with freeing their own highest potential – whatever that meant for each of them. That aspect of the call was too meaningful and too important to ignore.
Beyond the vision that we were committed to for our family, the universal, growing need for a solution like the one we needed only furthered our interest and the importance and meaning of the work. For us, the “decision” wasn’t really much of a decision at all – it was a call that resonated deeply with us – a call that we ultimately responded to in connection with our own internal truth and our own highest meaning.
From that point forward, we dedicated ourselves to creating the Win. Joy. Repeat Life Enterprise System and the six-stage value creation process that powers it.