OK, so I’m not a pirate, but I was inspired to write this while listening to Jimmy Buffett’s classic, ‘A Pirate Looks At Forty’ — so I hope you’ll humor me.
It’s crazy to think that I used to listen to that song on tape cassette as a teenager (suddenly I’m realizing now, at the time of this writing I am old myself.
I’ll let you decide whether you want to listen to the song or not. Instead, I want to share some of the things that came to me as I reflected on my life thus far. Isn’t it amazing how hearing a particular song can cause us to take a trip down memory lane?
Looking back on the years …
1. I used to place value on things differently. I got started in the world of fairly early. I was doing paying jobs outside my family circle at 12. I was fortunate to begin reading personal development books, and listening to audio tapes around the age of 15. Anyway, when I was younger I remember equating “success” with how much I could earn, or the “toys” I could buy. That’s not to say I didn’t feel a sense of achievement for a task well done. Just that I distinctly remember always striving to attain “things”.
I didn’t enjoy the journey, or realize as I do now that the path is very much an important part of the equation. Perhaps the most important part in fact. When it is all about reaching the “summit” of your endeavors, there’s a very real danger of experiencing some extreme lows if, and when the results you’re seeking don’t happen as quickly as you may hope. Embracing the journey keeps you in the game so to speak. Life is to be lived after all.
2. A life well lived is best measured over time. I used to believe the “success journey” was like a statistics chart that just went up, up, up as we got older, and subsequently stacked on new life achievements. I had certainly had seen enough, and read enough to know there would be challenges and setbacks along the way. I guess I just felt like somehow I would be exempt. That most certainly hasn’t been the case.
I realize now, every setback, truly has been a setup for something greater. I have had times in my life where things were slow and I didn’t even feel like I was on the right path. At other times I was riding high and I’d have to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. Life is slap full of ups and downs. Take heart though, because if you can accept that uncertainty is part of the journey at times, then before you know it you’ll find yourself riding high again.
I strongly recommend keeping a journal. This will allow you to track your life over time. As a result you will be able to more easily see all the successes and positive life experiences you have had over the course of your life.
3. I was lucky to have my mom reminding me from a very young age that GOD gifted me with unique talents and I had the obligation to develop and use them. As I’ve gotten older I can honestly say that I have seen that to be absolutely true. Not only in my life, but the lives of countless others as well. Truly, GOD made us all for greatness.
Whether you choose to believe that about yourself or not, doesn’t do anything to diminish the fact. Therefore I hope you will just embrace it as truth, and spend time each day looking for opportunities to live out that greatness that is a part of your very being.
4. It’s absolutely true what they say about it being better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Sure, it can hurt like heck when things don’t work out, but given enough time we almost always come to realize there were good times and positive experiences along the way. As well as opportunities for growth and such.
The good memories we get to keep and cherish, even after both people have moved on in their respective lives. I have been fortunate to have loved and been loved in return by some truly amazing women in my life. Without a doubt I’ve experienced my share of hurts, but I can honestly say for the most part I would do it all again given the chance. Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t correct a few missteps given the opportunity.
5. Being nice pays dividends. One thing I have seen first hand is that the old saying about nice guys finishing last is absolutely wrong. That isn’t to say that you aren’t going to experience your share of let downs or disappointments from people if you choose to help them. That said, being so guarded that you hold back your kind gestures isn’t going to protect you from occasionally being disappointed by people either.
The reality is we can’t control how others react or behave. Here’s a truth to consider. If you are doing something with the agenda, or belief that it has to come back to you in some way you’re likely setting yourself up to be disappointed, and at the least blocking yourself from experiencing the true joy that is derived from serving another person without expectation. That is, your reward is the doing of a thing for another human being. Spreading kindness. Plain and simple.
Years ago I read a quote by Zig Ziglar which said, “you can have everything in life you want if you’ll only help enough other people get what they want.” Over the years I have tried to live out that idea in my life. I’ll readily admit that at times I have fallen short. Still, at this point in my life I can clearly see how everything that I have accomplished of any worthwhile measure stemmed from my trying to help others get what they want first.
I could go on and on with this, but instead I’d love to hear some of your own reflections that you have come to believe over time. I look forward to hearing your feedback on the ideas I have shared.