What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

by Frank

Father and SonJust the other day my oldest son asked me, “Dad, what should I be when I grow up?”

For a second I stood there pondering what preprogramed response I could give him that was spouted off to me by my parents are teachers during my adolescence.

Doctor?
Lawyer?
Stock broker?
Basketball Player?
Military?

Personally as a college student I struggled with this question as I tried to choose a major. Then I became a full-fledged adult, after passing the right of passage of utility bills and debt, and noticed that the question no longer mattered. Once the “you owe money” notices started rolling in, it was a lot less about what do you want to be, and more like who will hire me and pay me enough to exceed my massing expenses.

With knowledge of this experience, I looked down at my son, stared in his eyes so intensely that I could envision his future, and responded slowly and thoughtfully,

“I know exactly what you should be when you grow up.”

He stood there like a hungry baby bird waiting for me to feed him with direction and a plan. I opened my mouth slowly and uttered a two word answer that was deeper than his 10 year old mind was ready to comprehend but it was something I meant that will be as unwavering as the seasons.

Ian I want you to…

BE GREAT

Has anyone ever asked you to do something so simple yet hard at the same time? I didn’t want to put a title on his future. I didn’t want to limit him to my preconceived notions about a successful life. I didn’t want to taint his imagination with responsibility. I had one intention for his future and that is that I wanted him to be great.

Great in a sense that is self-defined not world defined. Great, which would not be determined by a title, monetary wealth, or social status. Great, not defined by an act but by a life of significance and contribution. I want my son to live a life of meaning determined by his purpose, passions, and talent.

I want the same for you.

I don’t know exactly where you want to go or what you dream of doing with your life. But whatever it is, I want you to be great and today I am going to share a great template on how to get you started.

1. NEVER SETTLE

About five years ago I found myself on a new team at work. Each individual contributor was a top performer who had a track record of exceeding expectations and going above and beyond the call of duty. With a group of tenured and engaged representatives we destroyed every comparative metric in every category in or line of work. It was a great energetic and contagious atmosphere where I felt I could spend my entire career as a part of. Then about two years into my dream job, the people around me started to get opportunities and advanced their careers one by one. Instead of focusing on their growth, I grew frustrated that they were leaving. I had settled in my area and being comfortable stopped me from moving forward. From this experience, I have learned that you can never settle for something just because it is easy. You have to…

2. CHALLENGE YOURSELF

“Without struggle there is no progress.” Frederick Douglas

In order to be great, we have to learn how to continually put ourselves in uncomfortable positions to learn and grow. One of the easiest ways to do this is to constantly challenge yourself. Over the last few months, I have been a part of an organization called Toastmaster. This organizations purpose is to help individuals become more confident and dynamic speakers. Just like most people, I hated public speaking. Every time I walked in the room, even though it was full of people I knew, I get extremely nervous and uncomfortable. Even with the nerves I show up every meeting and have given a total of three prepared speeches and received positive and constructive feedback.

It was not easy. It terrified me. I doubted and discouraged myself daily but yet I show up week in and week out because I am challenging myself and this is a practice I will not quit until the day I die.

3. BELIEVE IN YOU

“David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6

So often, like my son, I sought out the confidence and approval of others to determine my success in areas of my life. If no one else believed in me, I felt like my actions were misguided and off track. For years as a writer, I gauged my ability strictly off the validation of social media “crack”. If I didn’t get like, I felt I didn’t add value or that I wasn’t making an impact. This limiting belief keep me from being a blessing to the many who were being inspired and motivated by the things I wrote. Then an audio book I was listening to spoke something to me so profound that it caused me to reflect deeply on my own actions. “You can’t add value to others if you don’t value yourself.” I had to learn how to encourage and believe in myself.

Once I started to live with the realization that my dreams were possible, my perspective of life changed and so did my actions.

THE SPARK

Where you are now is not where you will stay. Today you have a choice to move forward towards being the best you possible or you can stay trapped in the limited expectations you have created in your mind or that others have planted there for you. Choose right now if you want to be controlled by your circumstances or if you want your circumstances to be the catalyst for change in your life. I dare you to be great. Never settle, challenge yourself, and believe in you.

That is a great way to get started. And remember, if no one else believes in you, I do.

BE GREAT!