Deep down we all share the same dream. It doesn’t matter where we were born or our circumstances of life. The flame of this dream is always burning. It may only flicker at times, but you can’t extinguish your hero’s dream.
The flame gets fanned with a simple question, “Why am I here?” And it gets tempered to a faint flicker when we are confronted with the throng of life’s inevitable adversity. But our hero’s dream can’t be extinguished.
There is something every hero does. It’s the key to breathing life into a purposeful journey. Heroes think ahead. They don’t let the future surprise them. Heroes think about what finishing well would look like.
What Does Your 25 Year Plan Look Like?
You might be laughing—”25 year plan? I don’t have a plan for today!” I understand, but stay with me. This thought came to me in the last few weeks in the juxtaposition of a seven year old’s birthday, a high school graduation, a wedding and the celebration of an 80th and 91st birthday.
Oh and you can toss in my 60th birthday.
Think about your 25 year plan through the words of Matthew Henry who wrote, “It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our final day.”
My experience and study has lead me to conclude we too commonly stumble upon the future only to be met with disappointment and regret. It’s really not (shouldn’t be) our goal to predict or craft the future.
Our goal should be to do our best to prepare to meet our future with zeal and passion. Why? Because your hero’s journey was purposefully ordained to deliver meaning impact and contribution.
The Four Acts in the Hero’s Journey
So how does it all unfold? Think about your hero’s journey like a four-part play. Each stage bringing with it lessons that prepare you to move on to the next.
Get ready to launch! In “Act One,” you don’t know what you don’t know and you are surrounded with plenty of people pushing you along. You feel pressure to figure life out quickly in spite of the fact you shouldn’t and don’t really need to figure it out yet.
Figuring it out should be fun—preparing for something with the unknown being the biggest variable. Unfortunately, we are increasingly expecting perfection and imposing unrealistic expectations. It’s okay to test, probe and fail—really!
The vital preparation necessary to perform requires humility and leadership. Leadership to create environments that help young people fail successfully. And helping “Act One Players” grow in the power of humility that will allow them to stumble in discovery and development of competence.
The first stage of the hero’s journey is about preparation. It is engaging in the struggle and the pursuit of knowledge and development of skill . Because 80% of life’s most defining moments occur before the age of 35, according to researchers, this time of preparation is vital.
The humility to prepare provides the foundation for next quarter of life which gives us the confidence to be ourselves.
The goal is to be the best version of yourself. Good preparation should unveil our gifts to us. Gifts are unique! Some are called to serve, other to teach and encourage. Others will be called to lead and inspire. As parents and leaders, we do our best work when we help the people we love and lead discover and use their unique gifts. Your gifts (unique to you) are the seeds of your greatest contributions and where the best version of yourself is discovered.
Hero’s believe their best is always in front of them. Every chapter of their story is preparation for greater impact and contribution. You know you are “Act Three” when you start to see it is not about you—pride gives way to humility.
I recently met with a wealth management consultant. We were exploring coaching and leadership. He told me he worked with a lot of business owners and CEO’s. I asked him, “Why are they coming to you?” His answer did not surprise me. “They come to me when they figure out that it is all going to end.”
Significance is a shift from what go I get to what can I give.
There is a deceit about worldly success perched upon money, fame and power that leads people to believe they are “bullet-proof.” Hero’s are not deceived. Rather they no longer think about what they can get, but now focus on what they can give—significance.
The last day is always at hand. Hero’s truly think ahead. They are thinking about the finish line.
Finishing strong is not easy. You want what you do to matter in the end. Legacy is about producing impact and influence that extends beyond you're earthly existence. It possesses a love that is sincere. It means honoring others above yourself.
It’s never too early to consider, “What kind of legacy will I leave?”
The Finish Line
I am not sure what “Act” you find yourself in as you read this. But I am sure you think about being the hero of your life’s race. You want what you do to matter.
So, imagine yourself 10 to 15 years from now. Which ACT will you be living out?
Now ask yourself, “What will you think will be most important to you?”
Now imagine your last day. Yes, your very last day—taking account of your hero’s journey.
What are you doing today to prepare yourself for that reality?
G.K. Chesteron wrote, “I had always felt life first as a story—and if there is a story there is a story teller.”
It is never too early to think about finishing strong.