Archive for August 2016

Pigs, or maybe goats

goats-and-pigsQuick! What does success mean to you?

It’s not usually a question we can answer quickly. Most adults I’ve spoken with struggle to answer it at all. But what if your answer was as simple as “pigs and goats?”

I had a conversation with my grandson recently that made me realize how much white noise and external expectations adults have to wade through whenever we think about success. Kids usually don’t worry about those things, so we can learn a lot from conversations with them.

My son and my daughter-in-law are moving back to the farm after living in town for a while, and I was talking with my grandson about that recently.

He told me, “When we move back here, I’m getting pigs. And, or, I’m getting goats. I’m not sure, but I’m getting at least one. Maybe both!”

I chuckled about how definite his plan was, and I asked him why he wanted pigs, or maybe goats. He said, “That’s what’s going to make me happy!”

This eight-year-old kid has plainly defined what success was to him—not frogs, not cows, not guinea pigs, but pigs, or maybe goats. I love that! He’s figured out what it takes many adults years and years to learn—what will to make him happy and successful.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that much clarity in your life? In business, we define success in any number of ways, but most of that’s white noise and doesn’t really touch on what will make you feel successful. That’s going to be different for each person, and will be as specific as pigs, or maybe goats.

When you think about what success would look like in your life, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. For me, success meant living on a farm. So I asked myself, what does success look like, living on a farm? And for me, success living on a farm meant taking care of animals on that farm. Knowing that, I can dig even deeper and think success looks like for me when I’m living on my farm taking care of animals.

Knowing what success means to you, and being specific about it, helps you cut through everyone else’s expectations. Because other people’s expectations won’t make you as happy as the success that’s most meaningful to you.

Where’s your energy going?

low-energy1There’s so much we can discover about our priorities if we pay attention to the things we’re spending our time and energy on. Where I focus my energy is such a litmus test for what’s important to me.

Something that’s struck me as strange recently is the amount of time and energy people spent complaining about Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma. Surely there are more relevant, significant things in our lives than whether a professional athlete stays in our city or leaves it.

I know a friend whose marriage is on the rocks. In the context of his life, Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder doesn’t really have any lasting effect. But he’s so upset about it! It’s eating up a lot of his energy.

We’re only given a certain amount of time and energy, though. What would happen if my friend turned some of his energy toward investing in his wife instead of talking about a professional athlete he doesn’t know?

The things that are worth your time and energy are the things that are significant to you. For most people, that includes their spouse, their kids, and the mark they’re going to leave on the world.

Here’s a challenge for you: think of something that’s getting a lot of your energy. It could be the fact that Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder, but there might be something else that’s captured your attention.

Think of the amount of time you spend worrying or complaining or stressing out about this one thing. What would happen if you redirected that energy somewhere else?

If you took your grandson, or your nephew, or your niece, out to get ice cream and talk about life with them?

If you went to the store and offered to help someone take their groceries out to their car?

If you mowed the yard of a neighbor who’s struggling?

Investing your time in those things is probably going to align a lot better with what’s significant to you than focusing on something that’s not going to affect your life in a month or two. Make sure you’re spending your energy on the things that matter.