Whats it like to go inside a volcano So here's the situation; a few months ago I was in a real funk and had been for a few years. I've been an entrepreneur longer than I've been an employee. But I was living in fear; I was afraid of failure, I was afraid of not acting like a man, I was afraid women wouldn't find me attractive, etc. I felt emasculated because entrepreneurs are not afraid, entrepreneurs are BRAVE. For several years a couple of my friends encouraged me to attend a Mankind Project (MKP) men's retreat.
I've been on similar retreats with other groups so I hadn't felt the need to attend MKP. Once again I received an invitation to attend and I did what I did with all previous invitations, declined the invitation. The day before the retreat began the invitation popped up on my email again as a new email. I assumed the organizers were giving me one last chance to attend the upcoming retreat.
The opportunity to attend MKP felt like it was what I needed at the time, it just felt right. Quick side note: I later found out that nobody had resent the invitation, it was an electronic fluke on my end (I confirmed the anomaly by searching my inbox and found only one invitation). So I provided all the required participant information over the next two hours. So there it was, I was at the MKP retreat the next day.
Since I had attended similar events I knew what to expect and I had a couple of take-aways that I wanted from the retreat. One take-away was to be brave again, a concept that was eating away at me. The weekend didn't offer an immediate answer to my weakness but it set me on a path of self rediscovery. I was instructed to take the name of a creature that I wanted to represent me. Most people had names like "Soaring Eagle with Rainbows and Butterflies." I took the creature Shark.
A shark never rests, a shark has no bounds within the sea, a shark takes advantage of opportunities and above all a shark is BRAVE. I slowly integrated myself into the world as a shark; I started a relationship built on making myself vulnerable, not guarded, I quit my "job" and I began thinking of what opportunities existed for BRAVE ME. Then something happened that caused the shark to prowl with purpose and see weakness where I abhor it, it reflected me over the past few years.
I asked a friend what her plans are now that she is unfettered with her recent divorce, kids in college, etc. The comment that came back to me: "I'll go where the wind takes me." For some reason this comment caused shark to thrash, become agitated, unsettled. It was a phrase that shook me to the core. A shark moves with purpose, it follows the currents with a purpose, it hunts for nourishment, it needs the challenges of the sea. Going wherever the wind blows is a life without purpose and is a living embodiment of fear (anti-brave). This is how I felt my past two years were like. I bristled and the comment boiled inside me like a pool of magma ready to erupt from the crust that holds it deep inside. I didn't want that life, I wanted to live with purpose, prowl the currents, creating space for me to exist.
Keep in mind I'm sure my friend didn't intend for me to interpret her statement this way. It spoke to a part of me that I didn't like about ME. This is not a reflection of her (someday she may even read this).
The Shark decided that wandering aimlessly is a life without purpose. The Shark has purpose and so should anyone else that desires something bigger than themselves. I don't mean this in terms of making a lot of money or having power over other people. Seeing the world and its opportunities is bigger. Traveling through life with the purpose of learning more is bigger. Humbling yourself to an infinite being or philosophy is bigger. The Shark doesn't mind if others latch on to it or follow it through the dangers of the sea. The Shark, aka me, moves with purpose, will take what it needs, ferociously defend others and above all else is brave.
If you see me and I don't respond to your salutations it's because I'm lost in thought. Please try again to get my attention, this shark won't bite. I also invite you to seek out what is important to you. I have an exercise to get you started.
Many moons ago (actually a couple of decades ago) I read a book The On-Purpose Person. I don't remember who wrote the book or if it's still available to purchase. In the book was an exercise that I conducted more than a few times.
Create a list of all the things you want out of life. The list will be long, take a couple of weeks to write things down as you think of them. It doesn't matter what order you write them. After you've got yourself a comprehensive list create a tournament style bracket for your list. Then pit each "want" against one another until you have a single "want." It might not be the "want" you initially expected, so it's OK to run this exercise every once in a while. Use the list to make wise decisions in your life.
Sometimes you will make decisions that satisfy your wants in life, but are unpopular with some friends and family. This is your life, so get what you want out of it. Live life with purpose, release the magma from your volcano. I can't think of anything more sad than to have a bucket full of unsatisfied wants when all it would have taken is to focus on the purpose of your own life.