Your Hero Narrative

A friend told me that his mentor had him write a “hero narrative” of his life. A story where everything is a smashing success and all dreams come true. Then he had to write a “mediocre narrative” in which he took no risks - a story of the ordinary and the unexceptional. Lastly, he wrote a “failure narrative” in which he made every wrong choice possible and destroyed his relationships, finances, and dreams.

We can get so busy in life thinking about the best route to avoid traffic, what to eat for lunch, and whether or not we should work out that we miss the bigger story of our lives that is unfolding each day.

The “failure narrative” may seem far beneath us, or maybe we’ve come through it already, and we’re just thankful to be writing a new chapter, but it’s that “mediocre narrative” that we have to watch out for. Mediocrity is insidious. It’s what happens to us by default.

Living out our “hero narrative” takes effort. It takes vision and risk, and we won’t achieve it if we don’t even know what it looks like. So write out your “hero narrative” today. Then live it.

Working Out With a Navy SEAL

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A while back, I had the opportunity to work out with author and Navy SEAL, Chad Williams. He was speaking in our town, and my buddies and I asked him to lead us in a workout the next day.

Now we didn’t have any illusions of actually keeping up with him; we just wanted to see how long we could last. Sort of how you feel when approaching a mechanical bull. We knew it would be an epic beat down.

We were not disappointed.

Standing in the wet grass on a Saturday morning, we went through sets of squats, jumping jacks, pushups, and arm-haulers (those were especially nasty) so fast that it seemed impossible to keep up with him. He never slowed down for a second. We did 500 pushups and squats that day! Then Chad topped it off with 100 pull-ups. Some of us managed to hang with him for a few of those.*

Here’s what it taught me: Sometimes we need an outsider to shake things up and keep us from getting complacent. If we feel like big fish in our little ponds, maybe we need a SEAL to jump in and raise the bar a little.

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*My neighbor, Mike (far right), actually completed all 100 pull-ups, but I don’t think he could lift a cup of coffee the next day.

What Are You Pursuing?

Appetites are bottomless holes that can never be satisfied. Even the biggest, best meal you’ve ever eaten left you hungry again the next day.

We can never have enough money, sex, or promotions to satisfy us for good.  The appetite just comes back stronger, and you’ll need even more the next time. Carey Nieuwhof’s book, Didn’t See It Coming, explains that when we first get a little extra money we want more things, then we want better things, and eventually we’ll only want rare things. We can play this “more, better, rare” game with any hobby, object, pleasure, or vacation.

Men have ruined their lives in the relentless pursuit of more money, better houses, and exotic vacations, but this pursuit leaves us empty, unsatisfied, and alone. Ultimately, only the investments we make into the lives of others will bring joy to our hearts.

Imagine if you took your retirement account and used it to build a homeless shelter in your town or a medical clinic in Burkina Faso. If we took less tropical vacations but helped more orphans, would our lives be more or less fulfilling?

Don’t be just another guy chasing pleasures – be a man who changes lives.