“The big question is whether you are going to be able
to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
~ Joseph Campbell
In our last installment we began discussing risk as it pertains to your own Ultimate Human Performance and a life well lived.
Regardless of how much we attempt to fool and convince ourselves that we want certainty and predictability in life, the research proves otherwise. In fact, mounds of research prove otherwise.
True mastery is the art and science of life and living.
To truly live you must be willing to make high consequence decisions versus putting yourself necessarily in a high risk environment. (reference UHP 2).
The lover must risk being vulnerable and facing rejection…
The athlete must risk physical exhaustion, pain and potential harm…
The artist must risk being unappreciated, misunderstood and even possibly becoming the brunt of jokes…
The author must risk rejection and no one reading his work…
And you must be willing to fail, look foolish and fall flat on your face.
It’s nobler to follow your own dreams and purpose imperfectly…
Than to perfectly follow the dreams and purpose of another.
Let’s face what we often attempt to deny, life is risky. Getting in a car is risky. Getting on a plane is risky. Crossing the street in Manhattan is risky!
In Manhattan the bicycle messengers, the crowded streets, the cab drivers, the buses, the exhaust inhalation, and the muggers are legion!
Attempting to avoid risk is to avoid life. Please let that sink in.
One of the biggest high risk decisions and consequences you can create for yourself is to choose to build a business of your own. To live your life fully and completely in the same way you earn a living.
As we discussed previously, studies show that most entrepreneurial ventures fold in the first eighteen months or less. But here’s something you may be hearing for the first time… the average life cycle of a large corporation (like the one you may be working for right now), is twelve and a half years!
Your security does not reside in your job.
Your security resides in your power to produce.
Security, much like the denial of our own physical death, is the grandest of illusions. (reference Ultimate Human Performance installment 2)
Many individuals I work with are so completely afraid of dying that they forget to live. They’re so afraid of risking their own false sense of security that they actually risk fully living and end up merely existing.
Please let this not be you.
Ultimate Human Performance (UHP) as we’ve discussed, must begin at the beginning. What do I mean?
UHP begins with finding your unique genius, your Innate Ability and unique purpose, and then putting your entire energy, time and effort into developing those Innate Abilities to live your purpose fully and completely.
This is the process that I’ve coined as Innate Ability Development™
Will you be alive and fully living?
As you may be aware, the vast majority of individuals that I work with are entrepreneurial. And I submit that in no other arena, save the much studied adventure athletics, is it so possible to develop your own ultimate performance.
According to ESPN, 2011 was one of the grimmest years in history for adventure athletics. In that year alone it was reported that one professional adventure athlete died, pushing his own physical boundaries, every three weeks for the entire year!
Yet while the adventure athlete literally risks his own life and physical harm, I wonder how many budding entrepreneurs put their livelihood, as well as their mental and emotional order, into the abyss of chaos in the same time period.
The billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk states, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”
Have you been there?
I certainly have!
All great innovations and creations are birthed from chaos.
No matter how uncomfortable the chaos may seem, let me remind you that psychological research on peak experiences proves it true nonetheless. Not just limited research. Research that includes over a hundred thousand individuals from all over the world! Read those numbers and ponder your own life deeply.
Years ago behavioral psychologists conducted research of a cross section of hundreds of individuals from diverse areas around the world. Each of these individuals was tracked over multiple years and contacted at random time periods and asked two basic questions;
- What are you doing?
- Are you happy right now?
The results were staggering and overwhelmingly conclusive. The times when each of these individuals experienced the most joy was when they were involved in some great problem or challenge that they were stretching to master.
In many if not most cases they were completely uncertain if they even could figure out their challenge, much less master it. Please read that again.
When contacted during their leisure time, they were actually most unhappy. Put that in your coffee and stir briskly.
The key to true wellbeing and fulfillment is to master your own mayhem.
But it gets better.
After being shown the results they were subsequently asked, “So do you want more work or leisure?”
The answer was a resounding, “Leisure!”
Old conditioning dies a long, hard slow death.
“Sometimes we’ve been so heavily conditioned in a lie, that truth itself knocks at our door and we turn it away.”
~ Gautama Buddha
We’ve been heavily conditioned in the idea that we should work toward more leisure. But the fact is that we only truly live when we work toward more meaningful and challenging work.
Lest you misinterpret… I am not advocating a lack of recovery. In fact, far from it. Recovery is as vital to Ultimate Human Performance as physical rest is to the athlete. But no matter what we fool ourselves into believing… sitting on a beach sipping margaritas is not real recovery.
Remember that the word recreation implies re-creation of ourselves; and to the wise this recreation is for the sole purpose of taking our next personal Kilimanjaro.
While both are important, the true purpose in life is the continuous climb…
Not just sitting on the summit and enjoying the view.
Psychologists (as well as my own personal experience) agree that to reach and sustain optimal states of experience you must find a purpose that sustains you for life versus just an intention.
Both are important.
Purpose is fundamental.
One of the major causes of discomfort in our lives is what the field of psychology terms as psychic entropy.
Interestingly enough, psychic entropy ensues when we have no goal or intention to bring entropy’s opposite, psychic order. In other words, when deeply ensconced in leisure, there is no order in the mind and therefore no happiness or fulfillment. No point of extreme focus. Are you thinking?
A clear intention and purpose brings order to the mind.
Yet while intentions are powerful, they’re not enough to sustain long term psychic order. For once the intention is completed, entropy or chaos kicks in once again. You’ve experienced this.
Think about it, once you achieve a goal what’s it time for?
Of course the obvious answer is “another goal.”
Whether we like it or not… psychic entropy/chaos is the minds normal state of affair.
This is where a life purpose creates sustainable order. A purpose is ongoing and for life; and once it’s clearly defined, all goals and intentions are but incremental steps in its fulfillment. Do you follow? (reference mentor with James)
A purpose is always more compelling than a goal.
A purpose gives a theme to life and when it’s clearly defined and lived, even the most difficult of times begin to make sense.
I can assure you from my own personal experience that purpose was the single grandest salvation for me during my own times of major tribulation and trial.
I can promise it will be for you as well.
What does this have to do with Ultimate Human Performance?
In a word: Everything!
Purpose is as fundamental and profound to Ultimate Human Performance and complete fulfillment as oxygen is to life.
A purpose is for life.
A purpose is life!
Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist, summarized it perfectly in the preface to his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim and make it a target the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue… as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”
The single most frequently asked question of me, bar none, the world over, from countless thousands of individuals, is “James, how can I find my purpose?”
We are all hardwired to purpose and meaning… and I truly hope that you’re beginning to at least consider—if not fully realize—that purpose and meaning, as well as Ultimate Human Performance, does not come from literally the lowest common denominator of materialism and money.
Nor does it come from pursuing a life of leisure.
It only comes when and if it does when you commit to something meaningful and purpose-filled. And you must be willing to commit so fully and completely that you’re willing to risk everything you have to bring your own personal greatness to the world.
And the journey continues…
Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic!