All Australians will know who Grant Hackett is…
Aussie Olympic Swimming hero.
Ex-Aussie Olympic Swimming hero.
I wonder if Grant, who’s currently hiding out in a Gold Coast Hotel right is now asking himself; “How did I get here?” (If you don’t know why, google it).
Have you ever asked yourself the same question? How did I end up here?
One universal truth I’d be willing to bet my house on (or better still, Grant’s house) is this;
As humans, we’re all hardwired with two very strong desires;
- The desire for significance.
- The desire to add value to others.
And behind these two desires are some serious internal drivers too…
Think of these drivers like a cocktail I call ‘Mahatma Trump’:
- 1 shot Humanitarian
- 1 shot Egotist
It’s the dualism of this cocktail of desire that muddies the waters here, because we never fully know if we’re drawn to, or pursuing something for the right reasons…
As we go about trying to fulfill our deepest desires, the pathway of life generally leads us to believe that our best way forward is found in some kind of talent, skill, title, or role.
I call these ‘Modes’.
Singer, Teacher, Mechanic, Wife, CEO, Piano Tuner, Olympic Swimmer, Tele-Evangelist…
A mode is simply a delivery vehicle for your talent, skill, title or role. A channel through which you can more easily deliver your contribution to society.
One problem with ‘modes’ is this little ol’ thing called ‘mode lock’.
‘Mode lock’ is when we focus and channel the majority of our time and energy into one delivery vehicle, viewing this particular vehicle as the only way of fulfilling our deepest desires.
If you can swim like a torpedo then awesome, but if you believe swimming is your only contribution towards significance and a better humanity, then you’re ‘mode locked’.
When you announce to the world; “I’m a swimmer” you’re probably ‘mode locked’.
Often, the ‘mode’ we dedicate the bulk of our energy and time to is usually our biggest ‘social earner’.
The one that brings the most affirmation.
The one that makes people clap.
And applause complicates matters more…
What happens if the applause stops?
Guess you’d best ask Grant Hackett about that…
But if your ‘mode’ doesn’t have an expiry date, then you’re likely to become obsessed with mastery.
More skill = more applause.
Did you know it takes 10,000 hours to master something?
That’s a whole chunk of time spent on one ‘mode’.
What if you put 100 hours into 100 different things? You wouldn’t master anything much, but you’d be a whole lot more rounded as a person.
I reckon being a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ isn’t such a bad way of life.
If your ambition involves being the best ‘whatever’ in the world, I’d throw you this challenge;
Is there too much Trump in your cocktail?
Amateur psychology aside…
Life would be simpler and easier to define for me if I would only see myself in a ‘mode’; Coach, Pastor, Businessman, Communicator, Amateur Psychologist…
But that’s not the whole package. The truth I can’t deny is, I’m more than that.
And you’re more than a singer, swimmer, teacher, coach, nurse, candlestick maker, whatever it is you refer to yourself as.
At the end of the day, modes are simply tools in a toolbox, and in the bigger picture of life, modes leave us short-sighted.
The truth is, you are you, and you are many things.
Or even more simply put…
You are more than what you do.
What if your gift to the world isn’t about what you do or what you’re good at, but about who you are?
What if your gift to the world, the delivery vehicle through which all of your desires will be fulfilled, is simply your presence?
A good friend told me this once about myself, but it didn’t fully land at the time.
However, it was a worthy seed sown, and over time it grew.
What if the most powerful thing you can do any day of the week is to just show up and be you?
Are you feeling the pressure lift even as you think about this possibility?
This got me thinking about what people do and don’t say at funerals…
Will people say at your funeral:
“He was the best general manager in the country,”
“She was was a great speaker,”
“He was an awesome cook,”
Or will they say:
“She knew how to make me smile,”
“He was funny,”
“She was always ready with a listening ear,”
“I felt like he saw me for who I really am?”
People may mention what you were good at, but let’s be honest… Nobody’s really gonna give a toss about what you & I were good at.
What people will remember about you & I when we’re cold & pale, resting in that overpriced wooden box will be mostly how we made them feel when we were around them.
The effect that our ‘presence’ had in their lives.
Let that land for a sec…
I often get contacted by people who I spent a little time with over the years, who encourage me about the impact my time with them had on their life.
I am generally surprised because I usually can’t identify the ‘mode’ that made the difference.
I now realise it was simply my presence in their lives, and how I made them feel that left its mark…
Likewise, when I think of those who have left an imprint on me, it was their overall presence, more than a role they played.
In the age of planes, trains and automobiles, last year I travelled across Spain…
One guy in particular left his mark on my life in the month of walking together. I still can’t tell you what particular role he played, or what mode he operated through, because it was all of them and none of them. He just gifted me with his presence, and it was powerful.
If you can catch this idea, it can dramatically simplify your life, and hopefully help you spend less time trying to be the greatest ‘whatever’ in the world, and free you up to give your attention to being a more present you.
Personally, it’s a huge relief to know that what I do doesn’t define who I am.
So, a few parting thoughts for you to ponder…
How do you make people feel when they’re around you?
Would time spent improving the quality of your presence rather than mastering a skill be a better life choice for you?
What would it look like for you to just show up and be you?
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