“So, what do you want to do?” It was the second time I had asked. His eyes were still blinking trying to take it all in. I was pretty sure he was still breathing… although I had not seen his chest move for a minute. Or more?
This was my son.
“Yeah,” he finally said. “It’s just so… bright. And so many people.”
And that is how my son’s first New York experience began. We took the train into the city at night and climbed the stairs onto a quiet, dark street. We walked a few blocks, turned a corner, and…
…on a Saturday night, even.
Asking ourselves what we want to do with our lives is a little like asking a teenager what he wants to do on his first trip to NYC – “What DON’T I want to do??” But we have to choose. Time is a constraint, in our lives as much as on vacation. It is the difference between rushing from museum to museum just to put our hand on the outside wall so we can say we visited all of them, verses limiting ourselves to one, maybe two, and drinking in the knowledge and treasures they hold. The first is a frenetic race that yields nothing. The second is a joyful, peaceful experience through which we grow.
And the choice creates an emotional energy like air being squeezed to move through the valley of tall buildings or a canyon. It creates a wind-like momentum that can carry us along when things get hard. It is progressive inertia.
Most of us will probably be able to stand on a mountain top of achievement in our lives, but we can probably only stand on one. Maybe two. But not six. Choosing the Vision we will hike toward is the beginning step in the Low-stress High-performance Life. There are many helpful tools to help choose, but one is Jim Collins’ three circles in his book, Good to Great. Circle 1: “What are you deeply passionate about” or what do you love? Circle 2: “What can you be best in the world at” or what are you good at? Circle 3: “What drives your economic engine?” or what can you make a living doing? Your best Vision probably finds itself in each of these Circles: You are good at it. You love it. You can make a living at it.
There is a trail head in Utah where you can park to hike to the peaks of Mt. Ben Lomond and Mt. Lewis. But the paths go opposite directions. Both are beautiful hikes and well worth the effort, but you can only do one in a day.
A beautiful time and rewarded effort begin with that choice.