What do you tell people when you first meet them? Like anyone else, I can tell my life story as a healthy version or a victim version.
I grew up in a home where we didn’t even have running water until I was in the 8th grade. I knew nothing but poverty. As a 5-yr-old I was forced to get up at 5:30 AM to do my share of the farming chores. Most Christmases I got a new pair of blue jeans – my one gift for a non-joyous occasion. I was not allowed to wear neckties or fancy clothes. Because of my parents’ legalistic religious beliefs I was not allowed to go to movies, dances or sporting events. Our home was rigid and somber – little laughter. I received zero in financial help for college from my parents. I hated the cold weather in Ohio. If only I had been born into a family with more opportunity –
In my family we learned how to make good use of everything – nothing was wasted. We grew our own food and I created toys from things other families discarded. As a small boy I had the opportunity to experience real work and to begin my commitment to work that was meaningful – and profitable. With no TV or radio in our house I became an avid reader and that opened me up to a wealth of wisdom and knowledge that continues to serve me well today. I worked right through my college years and valued the education I was paying for myself. My father’s devotion to his religious views prompted me to deep study to formulate beliefs I could be equally committed to. Today I value the work ethic and the uncompromising integrity I learned in that strict Amish/Mennonite environment. As my own man I wore neckties until I came to the realization that there was more than legalism to provide reason for not wearing the silly things. The creativity and ingenuity I experienced as a child has served me in a thousand ways in helping me “see” opportunities others miss.
Both of those versions of my life are equally true. If you’d just met me, which of those stories would make you want to get to know me more? Which one do you think makes me more confident, happier and gives me more energy today?
Out of those stories also come the core message that I have leveraged into the business I have today:
- Don’t be a victim
- Accept responsibility for the life you have
- See things in ways other people miss
- Mindset is more important than circumstances
- We can determine our own future
And central to everything I do is this:
The story you tell yourself reinforces where you are – and what your future will be.
What is your story? Even if you lost your job, your dog died, you’ve got heartburn and they repossessed the truck – what story do you want to be replaying in your mind to move to a higher level of success? What picture are you presenting to others? If you’re telling yourself an unhealthy story of your life it will perpetuate the same reality. Creating a healthy story could change the way you see your life – and the way others see and respond to you.
Oh yeah – that’s me in the white shirt in the picture……….probably had a home-made slingshot in my pocket.
(Story and principle expanded in Wisdom Meets Passion)