A Four-Legged Stool: Why Are You Here?

“It isn’t about what you do; it’s about why you were created!”

Do you wonder why you are here and what you should do with your life?

Everyone eventually searches for real meaning in their lives. Without meaning, we are left simply drifting along like a ship on a windy ocean with no rudder. In our work we have never personally met anyone who was born knowing the reason why they are here. It’s a question we all ask and yet the answers are as varied and as unique to you as your DNA.

We search because the reason for our existence is not easily found and requires quite a bit of introspection. The good news is your answer is out there for you to find … if you know where to look.

In our last post (click here if you missed it) we introduced the first question (leg) in our four-legged stool concept: “Who are you?” Today we ask the second question. Remember, these questions aren’t special – it’s your answers that are! Like before, today’s question requires contemplation and honest self-evaluation. Take the necessary time to thoughtfully consider your answer.

The Second Leg: Why Are You Here?

Your stool’s second leg is constructed by figuring out the answer to the question “Why are you here?” Some refer to this as their calling, mission, or purpose. The specific label isn’t necessarily important, but resolving the question is.

Too often, we default on this answer and go for something obvious, convenient, or generic. If your answer is your job, you have more digging to do. Our professional roles do not define who we are in this world. It isn’t about what you do; it’s about why you were created!

There is a defining scene from the movie City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance that captures how personal and frustrating seeking an answer to this question can be. In the film, Mitch Robbins (Crystal) struggles to discover the secret to life. Curly (Palance) asks Mitch, “Do you know what the secret to life is?” Mitch says, “No, what?” to which Curly responds by holding up one finger and saying, “This.” Mitch is clearly confused. Curly looks at his finger and says, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean s***.” Mitch presses Curly for what this mysterious “one thing” is. Curly then says, his eyes sparkling, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

We might often feel like Mitch—we just need someone else to tell us what our “one thing” is. The problem is that it’s different for each of us. We can’t tell you what your one thing is. No one can … no one but you that is. While seeking input from others can be helpful, only you can make this decision for you.

So how do you do it? For some it seems obvious; for others, it requires the hard work of sorting through options until you uncover your one thing. It can be the work of a lifetime.

Perhaps the things you are most passionate about are a clue. What do you care most about? Bill Hybels, in his book Holy Discontent, describes our passions as those things that make us really angry, that we truly love, or that make us want to do something now. He calls these our areas of “holy discontent.”

Another great way to think about this is to consider those things in life that are most important to you. We call those your “non-negotiables”. What is irreplaceable to you? What things would you never consider changing? Basically, when your life is added up some day, what things do you most want to be remembered for?

Are you struggling? Seek help from your family, friends, and others you trust. And a good life coach will have the tools and resources available to help guide you through this question until you get to an answer.

For us, discovering the “why” leg of our four-legged stools took time spent in exploration and discovery. It was not quick or easy. It was, however, absolutely worth pursuing until we had our answers. We encourage you to go the distance and stay engaged until you discover why you are here.

Discovering your one big thing, or your calling, always starts with you—how you are uniquely shaped and how best to interact with the world and people around you.

Stay tuned for our next post when we will cover the third leg of this four-legged stool.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors-Speakers-Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

 

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A Four-Legged Stool: Who Am I?

“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter.” —Rabbi Harold Samuel Kushner

For us, moving from a life revolving around materialism and performance-based satisfaction to an intentional, authentic life focused on things that really mattered was not always an easy journey. We discovered we needed to be intentional about making decisions and to put a plan in place to move from where we were to where we really wanted to be. This reality will be true for you as well if you are seeking a similar life transition.

It isn’t enough to decide that you have been focusing on the wrong things and expect change to happen automatically. You can’t just identify what is wrong; you have to do something about it. It starts with reimagining what a successful life looks like for you. You must decide what your life goals and priorities are.

Decide who you want to be, what’s most important to you, and how you want to spend the rest of the one life you have been given. This is key to moving forward and embracing a new life.

As a professional life coach, Bob often leads new clients through a series of four strategic questions. We will cover the first of those questions today. The remaining three will be covered in the next few weeks.

We refer to these four questions as life’s four-legged stool. There is nothing special about any of these questions – but your answers are! Your responses to these questions will be unique and special to your life and serve as a solid foundation upon which you can sit confidently.

Each question will require contemplation and honest self-evaluation. That is the reason for not covering all four in one post – we encourage you to take time to prayerfully consider each. Change requires hard work and should be well-thought-out.

The First Leg: Who Are You?

If you don’t know who you are, you will grasp whatever is easiest and within reach. So many grasp for the life of the Joneses—trying to discover identity and purpose through performance, comparisons, and competition.

We too often try answering this question in terms of what we are or what we have. “I’m an accountant, a plumber, an attorney, a teacher, a nurse, a broker,” we might say. Or maybe we mention the company we work for, the neighborhood we live in, the floor we work on, or even the type of car we drive. But this is a flawed approach to stating who we are.

Thomas Merton comments on this question in his work New Seeds of Contemplation: “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him, I will find myself, and, if I find my true self, I will find Him.”

The theme verse for our book Who Are the Joneses Anyway? says “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are…” (Ephesians 1:11 MSG)

Each of these quotes point in the same direction. They both state that when we find God we will discover who we are. This is where we discovered the starting point of our transition. Part of the process of figuring out your “who” is discovering how God uniquely wired you to be unlike any other person ever created. You have a distinctive DNA, your fingerprints are unlike anyone else’s, and no one else has eyes exactly the same as yours.

You also have a personality that is yours alone. There are many assessments available to better understand your unique “you.” Bob uses several of these when he works with clients, including Gallup’s StrengthsFinder and a favorite called Psycho-Geometrics.

Discovering who you are can be the toughest leg of your stool to figure out and there are many approaches you can take including these assessments, conversations with loved ones, journaling, discovering your passions, and more. Don’t rush this step—you will be glad you didn’t. Drop us a note if you have any questions or would simply like a little help learning how to get started discovering your “who”.

Stay tuned for our next post when we will cover the next leg of this four-legged stool.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors-Speakers- Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Are You Enjoying Your Life? What Is Keeping You From Truly Living?

“The Western world is awash with plenty. People living in those countries have more choices in the cereal aisle of their local grocery store than most people have in their entire lives. But has [this] created contentment and fulfillment?” – Gary A. Miller, PhD

In 1913, Arthur “Pop” Momand highlighted the side effects of the American Dream that urges us to do things in order to impress other people and create a sense of social standing. His cartoon strip, Keeping Up with the Joneses, followed the McGinis family as they competed with their neighbors, the Joneses, in social status and the accumulation of material goods.

Interestingly, in the twenty-six years the strip ran, the Joneses never actually appeared in the cartoon—a clever way for the author to show that the Joneses represented much more than just the McGinises’ next-door neighbors. They were the pressure of society given a name, and though the strip was comical, it dealt with an issue that has plagued humanity throughout our existence. This was such a big problem in the early twentieth century that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” has endured in common usage for more than a hundred years.

Is this still an issue today?

I would argue that it is, both from my own experience and what I hear on a regular basis in the heartfelt confessions of friends and clients. The mental games of comparison, competition, and striving plagues us.

Gary A. Miller puts it like this, “We face a formidable enemy that constantly reminds us that the only thing that satisfies is just a little more.”

Just a little more. It sneaks up on us. It helps us rationalize that next choice, that next purchase. It affects our daily choices and our perspective on how our life is going overall.

If you have ever compared your life to someone else’s and found yourself trying to measure up to theirs, you have firsthand experience of the power this force has to change your perspective. When we imagine someone else’s life as better than ours, what we have acquired or accomplished can somehow become dissatisfying—not good enough.

That feeling is what my wife, Susan, and I experienced in our journey. We spent years comparing and competing with the picture we had in our minds of what life should be like.

Friends and clients have shared that they are stressed and working too much, and their families hardly know them. They are never home, their marriages are difficult, and they are barely hanging on. Their lives are like running a marathon on a treadmill—they put in all the work but don’t get anywhere.

Others share they have it “all”—everything life has to offer. Yet, deep down, they know they were created for more and want their lives to count for something more meaningful and have greater impact than just a collection of titles and possessions.

Still others don’t have a clue who they are. They struggle each day searching for significance and acceptance. They try everything they can think of—social media, shopping, alcohol, drugs, new fashions, and more. No matter what they do, they can’t seem to find contentment in any of it.

Some have passionately shared that they “hate” their life. They might have everything we think we’re supposed to want: the home, the job, the cars, and all the toys. But they find themselves worn out from spending all of their time maintaining their possessions. They have yet to learn that God is better than stuff.

Not everybody hates their lives, but how many of us are really happy?

How many of us are really content? Is true contentment even possible?

How many of us are enjoying our lives and spending more time loving, giving, and experiencing freedom, rather than the opposite?

It’s time to live our lives with a new perspective.

Before you think I am suggesting you sell everything, move to the wilderness, and live off the land, understand this change to the simpler, fuller life I am talking about doesn’t require changing your location. It is about being more present right where you are because you know who you are and why you are here. It is freedom from keeping up with the Joneses, from living someone else’s life, and from being caught up in the rat race. It is freedom to be more completely present with your spouse, your kids, and your community in a way that will make your life richer and more worthwhile.

Bob Buford put it eloquently when he said, “Many of us can feel like we are simply getting by and trying to keep up with some undefined, external forces that we don’t understand. Instead, we can experience intentional, authentic lives filled with passion and purpose.” This is exactly what the Halftime Institute exists for – to help gifted individuals move from simply getting by to living with passion, purpose, and balance.

How would your life change if you focused on who you are, why you’re here, and the difference you want to make with your life?

Think of the possibilities if you started living your life more intentionally, doing more of the things that matter most—and less of everything else. Could life be less hectic?

What if you spent more time doing things today that could lead to a better tomorrow, instead of just trying to survive each day?

What if you could live more simply, yet more fully?

Take a moment to imagine the decisions you would make differently if you experienced a shift of perspective like we are describing.

Sometimes a major life event gets people’s attention. Other times, it’s the accumulation of life’s pressures all adding up. It’s different for everyone—and very personal. Whatever your own journey looks like, only you can experience it for yourself. You are the only one who can discover the real you, but it might take the help of a coach to unearth the important discoveries. That’s why I became a coach – to walk alongside others and help them in this journey.

Some call it purpose, passion, calling, or a host of other things, but basically it’s just this: You must learn who you are. You must learn why you are here.

And you must decide how you are going to live your life.

 

Blessings on your journey,

Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

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