Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's Your Roadmap to a Meaningful Life?

This post is from Kent Noble, Executive Director of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership.

This week a man’s reputation was ruined through a series of lies and denials he perpetrated on the public, his teammates, and his sport.  Ryan Braun, a five-time All Star and former National League MVP and rookie of the year, was suspended for the rest of the season by Major League Baseball for the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). 

While many players have been banned over the years for using steroids, it was Braun’s in-your-face repudiations that drew the ire of so many.  Moreover, like Lance Armstrong, Braun didn’t appear to care whose character he impugned as long as he retained his fame and fortune.

While we could spend the better part of a day discussing professional sports and the use of PEDs, I would prefer to consider why some people are anchored to a defining set of principles, while others drift aimlessly in pursuit of glory and greed.

At some point in our lives, I believe most of us are confronted with the inner uncertainty—am I here for me, or am I here to make a difference? 

Even with our innate desire to do the right thing, this consideration can be sobering as it often seems easier (not to mention more rewarding and fun) to pursue a lifestyle that primarily benefits our self-interests. 

As we each consider our unique path and destiny, some will select a road of service and/or giving, while others will choose to pursue a trail of self-indulgence.  More yet will opt for a route somewhere between the two extremes. 

At the end of the day, whether you’re Ryan Braun or your community’s “person of the year”, each of us is responsible for the path we choose and the consequences associated with our decision.  Unfortunately, there are too many examples of professional athletes, Wall Street insiders, politicians, entertainers, corporate executives, and others in the spotlight who choose to pursue self-centered temptations and excesses. 

So, what should we do if we don’t like the path we’re traveling?  Well, fortunately, we can adjust our internal GPS and take an alternate route.  By following these three steps, we can develop a roadmap for a course that precisely reflects the type of person we want to be: 

1.     Decide exactly what it is you stand for—in other words, what are your core values?
2.     Communicate your values—that’s right, tell people what’s important to you and what you expect from yourself.  Now that’s pressure!
3.     Commit to “walking the talk”, especially when it’s difficult to do so.  Remember, if you don’t, Step 2 is going to make you look bad.  We told you the pressure was on!

Obviously, this process requires a significant degree of buy-in from the individual.  Defining, declaring, and pursuing your principles takes dedication and persistence.  However, if you commit to examining life’s big and small decisions through this lens, we feel confident you’ll blaze a trail that will result in a meaningful and rewarding journey.