Leaving the gym with a pal we come to our trucks, pause, and then he asks a question:
What’s the big picture in your business? (Read This: 9 Lessons in Business Learned Over The Last 3 Months)
It’s a question I’ve been struggling to answer on my own, so when he asked it I fumbled and stumbled and couldn’t come up with an answer. I was honest. I’d been asking myself that question almost daily for months now.
I love to write. I love to write about solutions I seek because I feel as an average fella there are many other guys wanting the same answers that I’m seeking.
But how does this look in the big picture? Is it books? Is it a web site? It can’t be public speaking or live events simply because I like being somewhat hidden. I like solitude, writing in my office more than I like being a public figure. I’d rather have an article gain popularity anonymously than myself have a bunch of new friends on the Facebook or followers on the Instagram.
And yet, I’m in what is the most vain industry around, the “fitness” industry. Sure, I’m only about halfway in it. Most of my content isn’t about fitness at all, nor are my videos.
That’s the thought process that ran through my head as he asked the question. It was a series of thoughts and smaller questions about me, my place in this world and where I fit in it.
It was a line of thinking that was ass-backwards but a product of the society in which we now live.
The Selfish Commencement Speech
Youtube has a bunch of wonderful college commencement speeches. Each with many views, typically read by a celebrity who tells the young people in the crowd to follow their passion.
The speech is wrapped differently in each individual’s case but the content usually is the same. Our focus is always on us, the individual, the center of our own universe. But that cannot be why we’re here. We were not thrust out of the womb to be servants to ourselves. It’s a path that can only lead to emptiness. It may lead to wealth and some happiness but happiness cannot be the only goal; the goal must be effectiveness, usefulness, and on a personal scale, the betterment of one’s self – something that, oddly enough, cannot happen simply by following one’s passion.
I love this question by Frederick Beuchner:
“At what point do my talents and my deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?”
It’s an acknowledgement that we do have talents and that what we love to do is important, but only in relation to how we can best serve the rest of humanity. This “rest of humanity”, however, doesn’t have to be the entire planet. It can be relegated to our communities or even our tribes.
The commencement speech is a microcosm of how we’re taught to seek happiness: through a personal journey with ourselves at the center.
Where true greatness, success, and value exist, though, is in a quest to both improve everyday and to give yourself to something greater than mere individual achievement.
The quote has two parts:
One, that there are talents and gladness and that we must procure and develop them. But second, that these talents must be put to some use.
The attempt to find the answer to this question is what I realized would help my find the big picture to my business, my reason for being here, and its answer is only half about me, but entirely about what I am best suited to give.
In his book, The Road to Character, a wonderful read by the way, David Brooks says its your job to figure certain things out, namely:
What does this environment need to be made whole?
What is it that needs repair?
What tasks are lying around waiting to be performed?
Find what needs fixing and figure out how you can fix it.
It feels arrogant to say that I am best suited to fill a void in society, and I don’t think I really am. I’m just a guy. I ask questions all the time. I read and think and work hard to find answers.
It just so happens that most of the questions I ask revolve around being the best man I can be, and on a societal level, how can men once again return to being valuable, virtuous men?
It’s clear that, as a society, we don’t prize virtue nor character like we once did. It’s also clear that we don’t have the strong, self-reliant men in droves that we once had.
We have evil in our world, yet we don’t have an entire generation willing to fight for freedom. We have but a few, strong men willing to lay their lives down for people who clearly have no clue what these men are fighting and dying for, nor do they really care.
We’re weaker than we’ve ever been. We more susceptible to being taken advantage of, tricked, or coerced because we’re also less informed. At the height of information we know less about what it means to be a man, a good man, and good at being a man.
The big picture for me, isn’t about me. It’s about the thing that society is missing: Real Men.
The BEST You Have To Give
I’m 30; not that young, not that old, just smack dab in the middle and I’m still trying to figure out how I can best serve. It’s likely a quest that will continue for a lifetime, but to continue to think merely about myself won’t even give me what I want. (Read This: 4 Lessons Learned in My First 30 Years)
While the commencement speakers are well-intended and they do really feel as though they’re doing good. They’re giving our children yet another excuse to be selfish, self-centered, and self-focused.
What ends up happening is horrible.
We develop a society that feels entitled to a “passion”.
We lose the strong, gritty men that built our roads, buildings, and cities, and replace them with starving artists looking to find something that makes them feel good.
With each day I’m realizing that this life isn’t a matter of setting goals for yourself, but rather about two factors:
- How can you best serve this world?
- How can you improve every day in every way?
You are on a personal quest to strengthen your weaknesses, to become morally better, to build grit and character, toughness and strength. But you’re strengthening yourself so you can strengthen society.
A weak you does no one any good. Just as a selfish you does no one any good. You need to be better than you were yesterday, but the best you have to give isn’t a singular seeking of a passion, but a quest to find how you can best serve.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.
You can contact him at –