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Reader Note: If you are just catching on, each Thursday we’re are doing a chapter each week of a book I’m writing for Millennials – teaching the insights that will (hopefully!) allow them to live long and prosper – and be around to clean up after us Old People who made a mess of getting civilization this far.
There are three sections to each chapter. Something you can read to children, a general reader part, and the advanced/business section.
We pick up with morning like so…
We established in the first chapter that there is RECIPE for everything we do.
Chapter 2 involves understanding (and owning) PROCESSES.
Chapter 3 discusses recipes and processes of INVENTION.
Chapter 4 looked at FLOW The reason we do management reports is so we can spot problems and head them off at the pass.
Chapter 5 considered “WORLDVIEW” and how that “place we stand in our minds” determines what happens in the strange land “outside our heads.”
Chapter 6 focused on “TRAVEL” and considers the importance of travel as a way to more deeply understand worldviews since people with similar problems will come up with surprisingly different answers to the problems of Life…
In Chapter 7 “Matrix 512 is discussed as a unique way of keeping your worldview consistent and how to use it as a tool for clarified thinking in an every increasingly complex world.
In Chapter 8 we discussed the keyword “MAKE” and how it is that what we produce really is a large measure of our value in the world. Being natural DIY’ers, humans love their tools and what they can “make” with them…
Chapter 9 discussed the the tradeoffs we make when a certain lifestyle is chosen for one’s time on Earth. What, after all, is “living well?”
Today in Chapter 10, we consider our Purpose in Life. And in the process, we find the recipe for plugging into unlimited energy for those lucky enough to have their attention totally arrested by a great purpose in Life.
For all Readers
One morning Tom the Royal Baker just couldn’t get out of bed.
So he called his assistant Little John on the phone to tell him he would not be coming to work today.
“Are you sick, Tom?” asked Little John with a worried tone to his voice.
“No, nothing like that,” explained Tom the Baker. “It’s just….just….I don’t feel like working today. It’s like I don’t feel like there is a purpose to it…motivation problem on my end.”
“OK, boss, I understand. I get those days, too. I call them “Days Without Purpose – DWP’s for short.”
“You do?” Tom was a bit taken aback by Little John’s admission. “You know, Little John, I would never have known that. You always show up on time and you’re always anxious to work and help wherever you can. And you always have a great attitude. How do you do it?”
Tom had never been a particularly ambitious fellow. He’d always wanted to “be somebody, someday” but in truth he’d just sort of fallen into his success as the King’s Chief Baker and Food Preparer. So you can understand why Tom was anxious to learn where Little John’s great attitude came from.
“It’s kind of complicated,” began Little John. “Most people never really think about what their “purpose is” in Life but I do. In fact I think about it almost every day. It just takes a few minutes.”
“How do you mean, Little John?” Tom prompted.
Tom was a good boss and he knew that he had learned many things about cooking from everyone in the kitchen. Tom’s parents had taught him that “Everyone has something to teach you – some fine gift of knowledge to share.” But many people don’t know this simple recipe because it is hidden in plain sight. As a result, the majority of people don’t listen to ideas that aren’t their own. It’s their loss, more often than not.
Little John thought for a moment before answering Tom in detail.
“Remember when we made that delicious Smorgasbord for the King?”
Tom thought back. Oh, yes! That was a superb meal, indeed. A Smorgasbord is a fine assortment of meats and and fish, breads and vegetables, plus cheeses, wines, and taste-tempting desserts. It’s a help-yourself buffet where you can choose anything you want. And usually you can go back for seconds, thirds and even more.
Some people came to the Smorgasbord to eat Tom’s perfect breads. But others came because Little John, having lived in Sherwood Forest, had mastered the art of cooking and smoking wild game. His Barbeque would melt in your mouth.
A few guests had desserts only, too. The pies and cakes were miracles of perfect cooking. There was ice cream, fudge toppings, and strong coffee for a finishing touch.
Tom remembered it all and then asked “What does the Smorgasbord have to do with my feeling a lack of purpose today?”
Little John laughed as he answered.
“Tom, our Life is very much like that Smorgasbord, don’t you see?”
Tom felt confused. “Little John what you’re saying sounds like gibberish!”
Little John turned suddenly serious.
“Think back on the meal and what the different people ate, Tom. The King’s guards and soldiers ate a lot of what?”
Tom thought back to the meal. “I’m not sure Little John, but didn’t they eat a lot of your smoked game and barbequed chicken?”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Little John. “They ate that way because they were men and women of action. They were constantly on patrol and so their burned a lot of protein in their bodies. They did eat some bread, too. But not a lot. Too much starchy food slows the mind a bit.”
Tom paused to think about it. He remembered the King’s Consultant from the Country of Texas instructing his business lecture students to always told people to eat a high protein meal and a bit of coffee or tea before taking any important examination. He had explained that the brain needed plenty of energy. But he also warned that high starch and sugars made people relax. That slowed the brain and he said desserts with too much sugar were bad, too, as werer sugary foods for breakfast before school. Could he have been right?
Little John picked up again. “Remember the King’s Chief Lawyer? What did he eat?”
“Oh, that was terrible. He must have gone back to the Smorgasbord tables six or seven times! He ate so much that he threw up and he was sick for the next two days,” Tom recalled.
“And what about the Royal Jester?”
“Well, he ate very little and when he found the wine table, he could not stop drinking wine. He became so drunk that he made an utter fool of himself.”
“Exactly, Tom. Now let me bring it full circle for you. Each one of these people had a specific “purpose in life” whether they were conscious of it or not. When we were serving them, I was carefully watching them because they ate to support their purpose! When they didn’t – like the over-eating lawyer, I knew we would hear about it.”
“Are you telling me I should eat something and that would support my purpose, Little John?”
“No, no, no, Tom. What I am saying is that when you have a clear purpose in Life, it will clarify everything else you do, right on down to the very food you choose to eat. It’s automatic – something our brains do for us without noticing. Most people never see it, though, because they don’t think about their own purpose very often. They just sort of let Life happen. Leading an “accidental Life” has a far different outcome than leading a deliberate life that is totally “On Purpose.”
“Thanks Little John…I’m going to go think about this for a while.”
Little John shrugged his shoulders as he hung up the phone.
“Suit yourself, Tom.”
It seemed to him that Tom already had his Purpose in Life. But today it just wasn’t clear to Tom and that’s the only person that mattered to Tom’s attitude.
A busy morning in the Royal Kitchen followed and suddenly, at 10:30 or so, Tom appeared and he was anxious to get to work on a new dish using more of those strange ingredients and recipes he had collected on his trips into the world.
That night the King could not stop talking about the food Tom had prepared…and Tom was very much pleased with himself.
As the last of the dishes were bussed, Little John took Tom aside.
“Tom,” he said “That was the most phenomenal dinner you have ever prepared. I am totally blown-away by your skill. But tell me, how did you do it? When we talked this morning you were feeling down in the dumps and now you’re at the absolute top of your game?”
Tom smiled broadly. “Little John your story about the Smorgasbord helped get me back on track. I thought about it for a few hours and figured out that I had been allowing lots of “not aboutr cooking” thoughts into my head when my real purpose in Life seems to be as great Baker and Chief Cook. So I cleared my mind of everything else. Suddenly I felt better, totally focused, and the meal tonight was just my first effort. I promise you an even more spectacular meal tomorrow.”
Tom was positively beaming at this point.
Little John was grinning, as well.
“It reminds me so much of what Robin Hood used to tell us in the forest…” he said.
“What did he tell you, Little John?”
“We become what we think about most, Tom. Robin Hood said would could have anything we wanted in Life but we can’t have EVERYTHING in Life. It made a lasting impression on me.”
“Me too,” said Tom as he clapped Little John lightly on the shoulder. “I made you a special cake for you to take home to Maid Marion. Consider it a ‘thank you.’”
“What kind is it?” asked Little John, who loved nothing more than a great dessert.
“I call them Love Cakes.”
For General Readers
If you’re a Millennial, you may not fully appreciate your purpose in Life just yet. Many people don’t know what their purpose is often until they have completed college. Some people never find their true Purpose.
A few of us old-timers were lucky. We found something that “arrested our attention” when we were very young.
Purpose is, I believe, very closely aligned with that pop disease diagnosis for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Not that it is any more prevalent that it ever was. Instead, what has changed is a definition in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM)-V and how society responds to ADHD.
I reckon my son and I have nearly the same ADHD levels. But in the time between when I was young and when he was young, the society response has shifted dramatically.
Let me walk you through the early parts of my life and his because you’ll see an amazing shift that has occurred and it is impacting all of us.
In my case, while I was indeed attention deficit, my parents decided that it would be OK for me to begin drinking coffee at a very early age: Seven. My pediatrician, a Dr. Joy, held that black coffee was a pretty good way to fight the allergies that vexed me from birth – and he was right. Strong coffee pumps adrenalin and that health with asthma.
My parents encouraged as much reading as my two sisters and I could manage. There were at least three magazines read cover to cover each month including Time Magazine, Sunset (monthly) and we would drift between Life and U.S. News plus a few others.
My father being a fireman taught me everything about tools. He assured me that nothing was more satisfying than making something with your own hands, too.
Enclosing new space – framing up a new home – was one thing he really enjoyed. That “capturing” of space and turning it into something “owned…” Well, what could be better?
About age 11, I got a white G.E. clock radio. Having seen an uncle (John-John) work on a radio at his electronics bench, I decided to twist a few things inside that clock radio and see what would happen…
Presto! The old 2.5 MHz marine AM radio band sprung from the speaker! I was listening to Foss Tug and Barge Company traffic on the Seattle Waterfront. The Washington State Ferries would talk to barges that were letting-out, or reeling-in a tow near the ferry lanes.
Right there – at that instant – any tendency toward “ADHD” was gone. Every bit of energy I could muster was focused on learning everything about electronics. I literally ate electronics. While ADHD was a bit problematic learning Morse Code, even that was overcome such that by my junior year of high school, I was carrying on 30-35 WPM Morse code with a high school history teacher, the late K7WYK.
The first class commercial license came at age 16, much to the surprise of the Region 10 FCC field office. I was the youngest commercial op in the country for a while.
A broadcast engineering gig at the local R&B/urban contemp station led to a 21-year old girlfriend while high school classmates were trying to get someone to buy a 40 for ‘em.
By age 23 I’d been on a government defense contract in Alaska, built one and a half radio stations, had my I.A.M. local membership as a journeyman R&E Mechanic, had been a newscaster, and was then the youngest news director in Seattle. Damn heady stuff.
I had been fortunate as hell – my attention had been arrested early – on and my income equaled my fathers before age 20.
Now let’s fast-forward to my son’s experience.
My ex-wife and I had been properly “media-washed” into thinking that we needed to put “child-proof locks” on everything in the house. And that worked out fine, at least as far as the two girls were concerned. They respected the locks and didn’t waste their time on them.
For my son, however, it was a different matter. To say that “locks” arrested his attention early-on, is to seriously understate his curiosity about lock-picking.
When he was seen acting out ADHD behaviors, rather than redirecting that energy (we didn’t know better as parents at the time) I would issue “time outs.” Sit on the stairs and think about what you did wrong…
Today I can’t imagine a worse thing to do to an ADHD person. It’s like telling a claustrophobic person to put on a straight-jacket, get in a phone booth, locking it, and then turning the lights off. Seriously, ADHD is like your brain is ‘on fire’ and MUST find something to engage.
By the time George II was in grade school, he had already been identified by teachers as “disruptive.” Even today, I resent it – but only because I know that everyone seems to focus on medicating away the problem rather than looking at how we each manage our “attention.” How to give it some Purpose.
As George became entered junior high, there was another bad thing happening in our society: Schools were done teaching Industrial Arts. My exposure to working wood, metal, and gas engines, not to mention mechanical drawing and so on, gave me new ways to express work out my ADHD.
George II wasn’t so lucky.
When he had is “pizza” run-in with the Lake Washington School District, he was in a kind of
“school-delivered time-out – study hall they called it. Even to this day, schools around the country promote medication over education and it’s a sorry state of affairs.
Then one day it happened: George II got in real trouble.
I won’t go into details, but let’s just say it resulted in a government-paid vacation.
That in about 75% of cases involving crime (You did catch the childproof locks hint?) young people (mostly men) identified as ADHD head down the career criminal track is a national disaster.
What put George II into the other 24% – long term recovery and out of the world of crime – was that at age 19, while sitting in his state-run accommodation, his attention was arrested. By medicine, this time, not the fellows in uniform.
That’s what changed him. Once his attention was “arrested” he could throw himself headlong into learning his first love – medicine.
Along the way, he’s rung-up some impressive results. A Red Cross “Hero of the Year” award, his EMT trainer certs and a lot more including an Extra Class ham radio license.
This week, he did a presentation on high-adventure involving back-country snow camping and ham radio. This weekend he’ll be working on radio studies for a mesh network devices company. And all while pushing forward on medicine.
It makes me proud as well, when I work out the odds he’s beaten.
One more “planned obstacle for ADHD people who drop into crime for the adrenalin rush: When a person is ADHD they are often brow-beaten into medicating. When their attention finally DOES get arrested, the ‘drug-taking” mentality that has been systemically ground into them c an still express itself.
G II’s beaten a lot as he’s grown. I am sorry he went through it, but proud of his accomplishments.
What helped? Finding an even more exciting thing to do, of course! With nearly 400 skydiving jumps he insists there’s nothing more exhilarating than TOTALLY owning your life outcome in free fall from 16-thousand feet to a 3-thousand foot opening.
Finding his attention crave was not easy. It won’t be easy for you, either.
I was in another regard, as well. This one involved “positive mental attitude” training.
When I was at KOL in Seattle, one of our evening DJ’s was a fellow named Roger Dale. He lent me a cassette of a motivational audio series by Dr. Earl Nightingale. It was from the series called “The Direct Line.”
With a solid skill set – and then armed with all the lessons of the Nightingale series – I became virtually unstoppable. Toss in a fanatical work ethic and an MBA and Life really got to be like that Smorgasbord around age 55.
Today, my son is ready for more of the PMA – Positive Mental Attitude – training. He’ll get the most comprehensive of the Nightingale-Conant series and probably some of my materials from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, as well.
- You are what you think.
- What you believe, you achieve.
- You’ll see it when you believe it.
- And you achieve what you think about most.
A few weeks back, Elaine and I sold our airplane to a young man who’s a contractor in his early 30’s up in Bismarck, N.D. It was a pleasure to get to know him, because he has it together.
Not only is he an accomplished contractor, remodeling chain food outlets, but he can fix anything with a tool, plus he’s got more energy and focus that anyone I’ve met in a long while. Needless to say, this man will have his first million far sooner than most.
It doesn’t have anything to do with a college degree. He’s driven OTR trucks and so many things more, but you know what matters most?
It’s what’s between his ears and his sense of Purpose.
And that grounds his Attitude.
He’s decided to balance several Purposes in his Life. What he’s taken from the Smorgasbord is a wife who’s in medicine, two young children, an ambitious plan to grow his company more into the remodeling space, and to develop his personal skill set further. On this last, he’ll be working on his commercial and instrument pilot ratings shortly.
It’s a real pleasure to meet people like that, although there really aren’t many of them around.
Seems most Millennials – and honestly most of the “old grays” – never really figured out this Purpose stuff and got excited about it. A few have, but certainly not as many as we could use on this Earth.
My buddy Gaye who runs www.backdoorsurvival.com came up with the term almost 40-years ago: They are the MSH people. (Make shit happen people). They are the undeniable, unstoppable, will-fired, special people who create the future.
Even now, neither one of us really runs across too many genuine MSH people.
They’re easy to spot though. They have a sense about them and nearly boundless energy for the passions.
For one another, they often display a maniacal focus.
They have attention to detail, but they know when to stop making the “round hole rounder” and move on to the finish line.
They are immune from distraction when on task.
And their toughest boss is?
16-hours a day is brutal if you’re on someone else’s clock. But it you are forging your own future? Well, I’ll trade an hour of sleep to further my own projects most days.
In turn, when you do this – when you plug into your Purpose with enthusiasm – it’s like sticking your soul in a light socket: Boundless energy begins to flow – even though it’s hard to put into words where it comes from.
It’s like “channeling” unlimited power for your task – I don’t know as there’s a better way to describe it.
Well, that does change the perspective a bit, does it not?
To me, goals are the baby-steps that you put on your ‘plan of the day.’ But the bigger stuff, that stuff that’s inside your head and heart?
“Purpose” is the word. Energy is the result.
And the idea here is simple: Live your Life on Purpose.
Magic happens when you do. The energy we can tap is boundless
For Business Readers
I won’t harp too much on purpose, except to say that a couple of decades back there was a training program people could sign up for *(along the PMA lines) and it was called NeoTech, if I remember.
I took the course.
While some of it went off into what I thought was cultish at the time, there was some really excellent stuff that any manager can use.
The main idea that stuck with me in my management career was that any time you hire someone for a business, ask yourself “Can this person develop an “ownership mentality” for the firm?”
If the answer is Yes, then the person will be able to tap into that unlimited power I described in the previous section. Valuable stuff for a company to have on hand.
But if the answer is No, then that person will only be their driven by their need for food, money, or some base purpose.
I know it’s true because I’ve tried it.
A long time ago (and I will keep this very general) I was managing a sales team and I had a couple of under-performers.
I used to believe the idea that “There are no bad employees, only bad bosses” stuff, but it’s crap. There really are air wasters.
I have had people that I have counseled for hours. Tried to get them to “get motivated” and to align their “purpose” with the company’s goals.
Most of the time it didn’t work.
I remember feeling quite bad when the day came to let a couple of these under performers go. In fact, I told one of them as much.
“George, don’t worry about it. Now I can get on with my real plans in Life…:”
“What?” I had been trying to get this young man to “get aligned and become part of the team for months…” Yet he had held a secret plan for his own future that he never shared with me.
Perhaps, it’s just as well. If he had, I would have fired him on the spot – it was too big a dream and project for him to serve two masters. I think the job he was pretending to perform for me was just a financial holding action while he arranged his new plans – the plan for himself to own a business – could be cobbled together.
Hell of an experience.
People will talk the good story – and tell you how motivated they are all day long.
But when you’re the first one into the office in the morning, and you’re the last one out who turns the lights off at night, the truth becomes painfully clear: A person who shows up 4- minutes late every day and leaves at the stroke of five every day better have the best sales results in the company.
But when someone isn’t a sales leader, but they show up 15-minutes early, ask questions about technique and stay a half-hour, or longer to make calls…well that person in my book is about as fireproof as it gets.
They are, you see, exhibiting what the NeoTech course described as an “ownership attitude” in the business.
With that kind of attitude, they can quickly end up actually being in charge.
And they usually do.
Next Week: We wrap up with [keyword: Execution]
Write when you get rich,