Are You Surviving or Leading?

Decide to show up for yourself, define and live your purpose, and L.O.V.E. your family

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surviving or leading?
Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

I would venture to guess that well over 90 percent of humanity is living in survival mode as opposed to living in their purpose. Let me explain.

Picture a continuum, with fear on the left side and purpose on the right. Place a marker in the middle, and label this marker the ‘critical purpose decision.’ I would suggest – and I fully acknowledge that this is not scientific, in the least – that well over 90 percent of people are to the left of the critical purpose decision. Why is that?

Most people are running from fear.

That leaves less than 10 percent of the population living in their purpose – aligned with their talents, gifts, wisdom, experience, and most important of all, their deepest desires in how they serve society. The opposite end of the continuum is always in a state of craving, conflict, grasping, searching, and eager to take from others for their own benefit.

Fighting for survival

This may bring to mind ideas of third world countries, shortages of food, and lack of clean water, but it goes beyond that. I’ve witnessed in my own life that first world countries are in a fight for survival, too, even if that fight is only in their minds and emotions. In the first world, the poverty level exceeds the definition of wealth in some countries. But, even people with prosperity fight for survival in their daily lives, a battle they have inside of themselves.

For most of us, scarcity and remaining above the waterline is a mental challenge. We’ve immersed ourselves in the material world – a world in which enough is never enough. We crave bigger, faster, better, more, even though we need nothing. All we need is oxygen, water, nutrition, exercise, rest, and shelter. Our cravings for things we don’t have are so intense that it feels like we have nothing. We’ve conditioned ourselves that if we don’t have that next thing, we can’t be happy. We’ve conditioned ourselves to be miserable. It’s a no-win situation – as long as we continue to live the same way.

There is another way

There is a different way to experience life, but it requires work. And many avoid the work and just want to take the easy way out – to buy more stuff and chase the next thing. I did this for many years, so I know firsthand. For me, the next big title, the next raise, and the next increase in authority would solve all of my problems. I saw money and power as the cure-all. Fortunately, I finally collapsed into total despair, and I had to rebuild my relationship with life. I had to shift from survivorship: trying to make it until I got the next thing, to leadership: running toward a vision and bigger goals than materials or possessions.

When I think of leadership, I think of the leadership of three areas in life – self, society, and family – and three words come to my mind: alignment, integrity, and L.O.V.E.

Leading Yourself. Alignment to me means staying in tune with my internal power, my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states. Alignment means leading myself so that I can lead others. It means that I never lose myself along the way, that I always put myself first knowing that everyone else and everything else will benefit.

Leading Your Society. Integrity to me means deeply knowing who I am, what I desire most and my true purpose. None of us are here by accident or coincidence. We are all here on purpose, and we are each here to contribute in a specific way to the betterment of society. Integrity means always showing up as I am, to serve in the way I was created to serve. We are stewards of the society we inherited, and we are here to leave it better than we found it.

Leading Your Family. Finally, but certainly not least, the outcome of personal alignment and powerful integrity is that we show up in L.O.V.E. for our family – to let others voluntarily evolve. We are here to create a safe, loving, empowering, and prosperous space for our family members to evolve into who they were meant to be. We are never here to guilt, shame, threaten, manipulate, or control them.

Make the shift

Until age 43, I got this all wrong. I thought providing and expanding the financial and material needs of my family was the most important role I had, and I neglected the first two. What I see now in myself and the lives of the men that I work with is that when we understand and execute alignment and integrity, L.O.V.E. and providing a safe, loving, empowered, and prosperous place for our families becomes almost effortless.

You can switch from survivorship to leadership anytime you wish. It only takes a single decision to show up for yourself, define and live your purpose, and practice L.O.V.E. with your family.

It’s all in the formula

There is a particular order to follow. Leading self must come before leading society, and leading self and society must come before you can truly L.O.V.E. your family. You must feel internally powerful and meaningful before you allow others to truly be themselves.

Traditionally, as a society, we get this wrong – especially men. We move right to leading our families, show up in a depleted state, and then wonder why we don’t feel fully accomplished and significant. We must change the mindset and heart-set of how we show up, and it begins with this new awareness.

Men, it’s time to begin to lead and show up. It’s time to show up first for ourselves and for our society. It is only then that our family will be rewarded with all the prosperity, empowerment, safety, and L.O.V.E. they can imagine. It’s time to shift into real leadership.

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