Life Doesn’t Come with an Instruction Book‏

My wife and I were listening to the radio when the DJ asked what would you change if you could turn back the hands of tyme? It was a Daylight Saving (End) question! To say that my life hasn’t gone according to plan would be putting it lightly.  I had a very different idea for what my life would look like when I was almost 40 when I was in high school and even a more different one in college. I thought I’d be a retiring Hall of Fame Middle Linebacker or on a steady climb up the corporate ladder of a Fortune 100 company. Yes! Like most of us, my early goals and aspirations were nothing more than the ego driven pursuit of a life that looks good on paper. But somewhere along the way, I took one turn in a different direction and ended up taking the scenic route through life.

Taking the scenic route tends to be interesting but if you are in too much of a damn hurry, you actually miss the point of taking the scenic route. Along the route I’ve failed quite a bit, most of those failures led me to where I’m at today. As Steve Jobs once said in a commencement speech, the dots connect when you look back at them. People cite a few key moments as defining in their lives. In many cases those defining moments are often the ones they’ve planned for and dreamed about as long as they can remember. For some people it’s the day they get married and for others the day they have kids.  “We plan for the future, but don’t live in fear of it” – Jennifer Boykin

Despite what you’re local bookstore, Tony Robbins and all the self help books you’ve read tell you, life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Straight A’s in high school, famous college, all the check boxes crossed off, and guess what?  Sometymes life doesn’t go according to plan. And when you’re completely dependent on the instruction manual you’re left scratching your head wondering where it all went wrong. You learn about life by living it, not reading about it.

Your intuition is worth more than any book, intuition comes from experience. The way you learn to trust it is by ignoring it and having it come back to bite you in the ass. Oprah Winfrey once said “your feelings are a GPS system for life.” But it’s only when you end up at the wrong destination that you finally start paying attention to that GPS system we call your feelings or intuition. Every book will tell you this, but the authors have only learned it by failing to trust their intuition in the past. The knockout punches, wipeouts and battles scars make you who you are.

In a interview of Jennifer Boykin, I heard her say “why not share your broken places, nobody else has that story?” We’ve all been punched in the face and on occasion taken a knockout punch from the game of life.  What makes that story so damn interesting is that you have the courage to get back up and keep fighting. If you don’t have any wounds or scars, then you haven’t stepped on the battlefield. A friend told me “there’s the life you live and the one you’re destined to lead.” This is one of those social scripts and the life you think you’re supposed to want.

Social scripts cause us to ignore the life we’re destined to lead. We often get caught up in the life we think we’re supposed to want which isn’t too far off from the ego driven pursuit of a life that looks good on paper.  But for the first tyme in history an entire generation is questioning the social scripts that they’ve been force fed since birth. According to the American Dream, I’m supposed to want a house with a white picket fence. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I ever want to own a house until I got married, and my wife said my Bachelor pad was no longer good enough. Did I mention I NEVER, EVER, EVER thought I would be married! Even in his book I was blind but now I see (highly recommended) James Altucher encourages people not to buy a house. Does that go completely against conventional wisdom? Yes. But conventional wisdom will lead to conventional results. When you start to think outside our box, you’ll find out The Thing You Never Knew You Needed Is The Thing You Can’t Live With Out!

I have absolutely no idea what lies ahead. Am I nervous? Surprisingly NO. But what I do know based on a few other experiences is that opportunity tends to unfold when we’re willing to take a leap of faith and “Let Go & Let God. In a recent guest post, I mentioned that you’ll see things that you may have been blind to prior to taking the first step because now you’re standing in a different place and looking at the same situation from a whole new angle. Sometymes life’s greatest experiences lie in midst of the unknown. Somewhere along the journey you might realize that you are actually addicted to the life you are trying to escape. Don’t worry, since it’s really a waste of tyme and energy. Awareness is the first step. When you start to just play for your love of the game, it all gets better.

Playing the hand you’ve been dealt is easy when you use the circumstances of your life as an excuse for leaving your fate in someone else’s hands. However, you do have a choice in the matter.  In the movie “Rounder’s” there’s a great quote from Matt Damon where he says

“Put a guy like me in a game… the cards themselves hardly matter. Fold or hang tough. Call or raise the bet. These are decisions you make at the table. Sometymes the odds are stacked so clear there’s only one way to play it. Other tymes, like holding a small pair against two over cards, its six to five, or even money, either way. Then it’s all about feel, what’s in your guts.”

I don’t know much about poker, but from what I hear it’s about playing the hand you’ve been dealt. Maybe we should have the same attitude towards life. I know it’s easier said than done and sometymes I have trouble following my own advice. Let’s face it. You have two choices, you can spend your life living or you can spend your life planning to live it. I’m going with the former. I’ll let the chips fall where they may because at least in the end it’ll be a damn good blog.

*Resources: Jennifer Boykin, Rounders & Skool of Life
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One thought on “Life Doesn’t Come with an Instruction Book‏

  1. Pingback: Leadership Thought #226 – Sometimes You Need To Recalculate « Ed Robinson's Blog

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