The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Preface:

These two postings are the story of me and my growth from angst to acuatlization and the son of a dear friend who is commencing the same journey. He is me at 20 or I was him at 20. At the age of 20 we were both "crippled" by our potential and ignoring our possibilities. I've made the transition from worrying about why I can't to a new excitment of discovering that more often than not - YES I CAN!

Jason, I believe, is takikng the first steps in his journey to maturity. He'll do fine. He's intelligent, passionate, and finally committed to a new world, a new life, and new possibilities - unlimited possibilities.

I encourage you to scroll down to the preceding artilce - read "Poppa's Got a Brand New Bag" first and this post second.

Enjoy - reach out to someone who is struggling - you'll grow from the experience.

Godspeed! Thank you.

MGM

In my last post to this Blog – I talked about Jason’s “new bag” – his commitment to a new and better lifestyle and future for himself. His commitment started with nothing more than a realization that his status quo is no longer working – his pain and frustration with today are too significant to ignore and the opportunity of tomorrow is now worth the risk. This is progress. “Change is not progress – change is the price we pay for progress.” (I read this somewhere – I just don’t remember who said it].)

My commitment was to help Jason with his journey – now that he has agreed – I must honor my part of the bargain. What advice and direction can I offer a young man who is just like me when I was 20? I know the “part” – it is just such a new stage, a new world and it’s been so long ago for me. What is the one tool I can offer to help Jason’s journey into tomorrow to be positive, exhilarating, and meaningful?
Many years ago I taught graduating seniors at LSU about life – it was done under the guise of a Risk Management class. If you can’t make the connection, let me explain.

Risk is uncertainty. Uncertainty is the difference between good things happening and bad things happening in your life. Good things are your dreams, goals, and assets (once you achieve a dream or goal it is an asset). Bad things are perils and contingencies that interfere with your achievement of a dream or a goal or that destroy an asset. Management is control. Risk Management is the control of uncertainty. The purpose of Risk Management is to maximize good and minimize bad (or mitigate the impact of the bad) in your life. Got it? You’d get an A in my class. Most students did.

Two of the instructional tools I’d use were the Wheel of Life and the Balance Matrix. The Balance Matrix was shown to me and a group of men at a retreat many years ago. The retreat master explained that most of the men there were seen by the outside world as very successful – rich, prominent, respected, powerful, etc. They had many, many assets. He also explained that most of these same men met with him to discuss their “failures” and their “spiritual poverty” – many were unhappy, frustrated, angry, addicted (to something – alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.), spiritually lost, etc. They were not fulfilled.

His answer to our problem was simple. He said that the “asset” that matters most in life is “peace of mind.” To obtain peace of mind you need BALANCE. He then drew a simple cross (intersecting lines) on the board and in each quadrant he placed one of the following words – Faith, Love, Work, and Play. He said that in life we need spiritual guidance – a higher power, people (friends and family to love), work (a vocation) and play (an avocation). He then explained that if we keep these in balance – we will have Peace of Mind.

Someone suggested that you can’t have too much Faith or too much Love. Father Tom corrected them – explaining that too much faith can lead to Jim Jones and David Koresh (Jason’s too young to know these guys but a trip to the Internet will help him discover what “unbalanced” can do) type disasters and too much love today we call stalkers. We all understood without explanation “over work” and “over play” – plenty of good examples were in the Chapel and we knew who we were. To reinforce this thought – he also reminded us that “too much” in anyone element diminishes another element. Balance – it’s about balance. Try it - draw your own matrix. It’s simple and powerful.

Often I’d also draw the Wheel of Life on the board. I don’t remember who introduced me to this concept but it is (in my opinion) effective. You start with a small circle – this is you, “as you be” not in terms of what you “do.” Today we spend too much time defining ourselves by what we do and not enough time and thought addressing who we “be” – what’s in our heart, mind, and soul. Establishing our identity is maybe the most important thing a person can do. As defined by my friend, Carter Featherston, “Identity is your deepest conviction of your own personal value, goodness, and power.”

Off of this hub, draw eight equal length spokes. Each of these spokes is about the “doings” in your life – the how, what, when, and where of our existence. These can be categorized as you like – I’d suggest:

• Family and friends (social / people issues)
• Work (profession / vocation)
• Fiscal / Financial
• Play (hobbies / recreation)
• Physical (health / wellness)
• Emotional (mental health / fulfillment)
• Faith and Spirituality
• Passion and Vision

The outer perimeter of this wheel is “where our rubber meets the road.” As an ideal these spokes must all be of equal length. A perfectly round wheel assures a smooth the ride. As a practical matter our “current reality” is never the future ideal. So score (mark) each spoke as to where you think you are in that aspect of your life. Remember if you are where you want to be mark at the end of the spoke – anything “short” of that ideal will be marked closer to the hub. Be honest – be real in your markings.

In the short term your challenge is to make the wheel “round.” In the long term the challenge is to make the wheel “big and round.” Remember the bigger the wheel the easier is the pedaling and the faster you can go! This is a process not an event – you’re going to fix your wheel as you go along.

So for Jason I’m going to strap a seat and pedals on this wheel and offer a unicycle that he can ride into his tomorrow. Here are observations as he mounts for the first time. Just start pedaling – back up, go forward, look to the horizon, don’t look down, don’t panic, and when you fall pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. If the road seems rough – your wheel has gotten out of shape – fix it – align the spokes. When things go wrong – don’t feel like a victim – don’t make excuses. Just get back on the unicycle and ride – you’ll then be a survivor! Life is not a destination – life is a journey. Remember you are on one wheel so stay balanced. Look, listen, love, and live every moment – it will be exhilarating. Jason, this is your time – don’t just spend it – INVEST IT WISELY! Godspeed, Jason.

Go Back To Blog