THE Most Important Question You Will Ever Ask
If you’re like most of us, your life is busy… very busy getting things done… sometimes feeling bad that you didn’t accomplish much. Let’s say you did get it all done, what does that give you? Say you reach every goal you set this year. That’s great, but what if those were the wrong goals? What if you got really good at something that didn’t matter?
Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This, I believe, is very true, and in large part because most people have never asked themselves the critical question.
It’s a question that will align all your decisions and inform everything you do. A question that makes sure you’re living the life you were created for, a life of incredible moments, and deep enriching relationships.
Note: Next week I’ll be joining an amazing group of people doing incredible work in Ensenada, Mexico. If you want to join us in building a house (in 2 days!) for a family in Mexico, it’s possible we may be able to squeeze you in last minute. We get picked up at the San Diego airport 12:30pm Thursday, 11/10, and dropped off at the airport Sunday 11/14 (or 11/15). Reply to this letter if you want to see if YWAM can possibly add you to this life-changing experience.
THE Most Important Question You Can Ever Ask
I was in hot yoga this morning thinking about my life… My sister died (rather unexpectedly, but over several months) on Sept. 20th. I got up 4am the next day to fly to Cleveland.
I got in late that night, then drove six hours to Louisville the next day to meet with a client. Three days later I drove back to Cleveland and led a 1:1 Inner Excellence retreat. My time in Louisville and Cleveland both were amazing. I flew back to Seattle Wednesday night and left 6am the next day for a golf trip, getting back Sunday night.
Wednesday (3 days later) I flew to London for 3 days, Istanbul for 1 day, King Abdullah Economic City (Saudi Arabia) for 8 days, then Cairo, Egypt for 4 days. I took a 14 hour flight from Doha, Qatar (traveling for 26 hours) and got back to Seattle Friday. Tuesday I flew to Atlanta to lead another 1:1 Inner Excellence retreat (it was awesome) and got back Sunday.
So I’m in Seattle (Snohomish) this week and off to Mexico (and San Diego) next week. A lot happening with Inner Excellence. There’s also the Inner Excellence audiobook that is 95% finished, and something I’m also super excited about, a new book coming this Spring focused on teaching Inner Excellence to 13-year-old athletes who read and 21-year-old pro athletes who don’t. We’re also doing a major remodel of the house in Snohomish (garage to home gym conversion) which has many decisions to make (and can easily become anxiety, since anxiety is a mind with too many concerns). In short, I’m busy.
Which brings me back to hot yoga. With so much on my mind, how do I organize my life? How do I prioritize? As I did the humble warrior and some dog stretches (woof!), I was asking myself if I was focused on the right things, if I was doing the right things, what I was missing, and if I was spending my time wisely. Then, I remembered. The most important question. The one I had to ask… which is:
Who am I becoming?
What type of person am I becoming?
You see, I can travel the world, make some money, remodel my house, help some people… hopefully do some good things for the world. But in the end, the #1 thing that will have the most impact on my future, on my performance, on my family’s future, is the person I am becoming.
This isn’t just a moral thing. This is a High Performance thing. This is a How to Live the Best Possible Life thing.
Let’s take a pro athlete for example. While I work with teenagers and single moms, executives and those with trauma and anxiety, most of my work the last decade has been with pro athletes (largely PGA Tour golfers). What I’m saying is that you’ll never achieve your potential as a tennis player, tango dancer, or Taco Time Exec, unless you develop the whole person, unless you become wholehearted.
To be your best, in the toughest moments, under the bright lights, requires you to be fully present, which with so much out of your control, is really difficult. Unless you have a solid inner world. And besides…
What does it matter if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?
So, how do we know what type of person we’re becoming?
We know by our fruit. Your fruit is what’s being produced by your daily thoughts and feelings, desires and actions. It’s your overall energy, the energy that flows from you; it’s what people sense when they’re near you. It’s what draws people to you or away from you. Your overall energy is the #1 factor with the greatest impact that you can control. The fruit of someone with powerful energy is an abundant life. An empowered one.
The fruit of the zoe life for example, the best possible life, the one with deep contentment, joy and confidence, independent of circumstances, has nine (IX) characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Love, as you may recall, is fearless.
This life is not an accident. It’s carefully cultivated energy. It’s a life with strict boundaries around what you think and focus on, what you watch and read and speak about. It’s impacted by the people you hang out with, because you’re becoming like those you spend the most time with.
The true test of who you’re becoming is the fruit that flows from you when things are not going how you want, when life is especially difficult.
You can evaluate the energy you emit (fruit) in two primary ways:
1. How you deal with life when you don’t get what you want (or get what you don’t want).
2. How much gratitude you have (or don’t have) in those same difficult moments.
The reason your energy/state is crucial in performance (for all the pro athletes reading this) is that to be perform your best, you need to be fully engaged, heart, mind and body, when you’re competing. Competition, by definition, is designed to challenge you with adversity to test your skills. The #1 skill in any performance is the ability to be fully present in the big moments, when you’re facing adversity, when things don’t go as planned.
When you’re squeezed (when life doesn’t go as planned), what’s in your heart (the fruit) will come out. When you lose a game you really wanted to win, do you handle it with grace? Or do you kick the cart and/or the kid selling candy canes for the Christmas concert? Are you grateful or grinding your teeth?
When you’re most uncomfortable, not getting what you want, (or getting what you don’t want), that’s when we see what you’re made of. What type of fruit. The bitter one or the grace-filled one. What you’re made of–what’s inside you–that’s your destiny. That will be your legacy.
What do do:
- Look back at your life in 2022. How have you handled the tough moments, when things didn’t go your way? With grace, or gritted teeth? This is not a finger pointing question, it’s just a question for your own self-awareness as to whether you need to make changes in your life.
- Recognize that the best move some of you reading this can make may be to stop all progress, because you’re going in the wrong direction. Don’t keep getting more of or better at certain transactions at the expense of your soul.
- Ask yourself, if i continue on this path, with similar thoughts and feelings, attitudes and actions, who will I become in five years? Ten years? They say when you’re old, you just become more of who you’ve been. It shows. The whole world will see how much of your life has been lived in self-centeredness and self-protection.
- Clarify your life purpose, how you want to live, how you want to feel, and the type of person you want to become. These 4 things are a part of every IX retreat because they are so crucial for performance and for life.
- Get after the first three IX disciplines:
- Examine your life. Consider taking the Heartstyles indicator to see how your behaviors have impacted others and what this reveals about you in 4 areas: love, humility, fear and pride.
- Simplify your life (Remove everything that is not helping you become the person you were meant to become).
- Be still (ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life).
I’d love to hear where you’re at with the person you feel you’re becoming (or have become thus far) and the fruit that’s revealed in your difficult moments. (Note: It’s hard for all of us to have grace under adversity, so don’t beat yourself up. The point is to realize what’s most important, and what has the greatest impact on your future personally and professionally).
When I think about the person I’m becoming (or have become over the past year), I have some serious concerns. Some areas stand out to me that I know need to be addressed, If I’m going to become the person I want to become, the one I’m created to become, and live the amazing life God has prepared for me. For example, I’ve gotten frustrated far too quickly. I’ve walked in fear far too many times. I’ve also neglected many crucial routines (I could say due to my travel but it’s really been due to lack of discipline).
If you’re a golfer in the San Diego or LA area on Monday, 11/15, let me know. I may be looking to find a place to play. That is, if you’re willing to play with a guy who needs some serious inner work on his life. 🙂