Posts tagged with: meaning of life

UAC 122 | Engagement

 

Would your life be better if you can do anything that you want? In this short but sweet solo episode, Thane Marcus Ringler dives deep into what it really means to have a purposeful life. Learn how having responsibilities add joy and meaning to your existence and why being engaged in life makes a difference. Thane reveals his childhood quest to play a role and be proven capable and competent. Discover how a possibility of failure contributes to your success in life.

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Engagement, Meaning, Responsibility

This is all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that fundamentally, it takes living with intention in the tension. That is our catchy mantra coined by my brother, Adam Setser. It’s what we believe is the key to living a good life. It’s living with intentionality and infusing it into all that we do. That is what we’re about and we get to do that. You’ll see solo episodes, peer-to-peer conversations and you’ll also hear interviews, deep dives into somebody’s story, unpacking the lessons they’ve learned and sharing it with you. That is what we’re here for. Thanks for tuning in and joining the Up and Comers Movement and Community. We’re so glad you’re here.

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This is a solo episode. I’m going to drop some thoughts for you. I’m going to dive in because there are a lot of words to say. I do hope that this idea and this topic is helpful for you. It’s something I’ve been putting a lot of time, energy and effort into as I’m rolling out a program for different corporations and companies to help with the engagement of the workforce. Engagement is something that has been perennially low in our society and culture. The first thing to say about that is it’s not a personal issue. It’s not necessarily an individual issue. It’s more of a societal and cultural issue at play that affects the individual in a major way. Where does engagement come from? We’re not going to talk about why it’s there. We’re not going to talk about how it’s there, how it’s expressed. I’m more concerned with practically speaking, individually speaking, what can we do about it?

The first question is where does engagement come from? I believe it comes from a few places. The first is having a reason to be engaged. Engagement comes from an underlying reason that motivates us to be engaged with something. This is both the specific reason for the thing that you’re engaged with and your underlying purpose for why you were engaged in anything in the first place. It’s your foundational why and the specific why with the thing you’re doing. “I am washing these dishes because they’re dirty.” That’s a specific why. For the greater why, “I want to be a responsible and effective manager of my household. I want to run a tidy organization, so I’m going to make sure the dishes are washed and to respect my roommates.” The first place that engagement comes from is having a reason to be engaged.

Engagement comes from having a reason to be engaged. Click To Tweet

The second is having the right threshold of personal challenge. If you have an endeavor that is sufficiently challenging, yet not too challenging that it deters your efforts, that is a sweet spot of hard enough that makes it a fun challenge and that challenge is what helps produce greater engagement. The third-place I think it comes from is having some measure of reward or a feedback loop where you get to personally see and experience or learn about the positive impact that is created and produced for the lives of those around you. It’s participating in a greater cause, which is a fundamental need that we all have. We will inevitably have greater individual engagement in a cause that is for a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves. It’s a foundational part of it. There was a great quote on this, it’s from Jonathan Haidt who said, “We may spend most of our waking hours advancing our own interests, but we all have the capacity to transcend self-interest and become simply a part of a whole. It’s not just capacity, it’s the portal to many of life’s most cherished experiences.” I’ve definitely seen that to be true in my life. If we get back to engagement, the other question is where does engagement fundamentally come from?

On the fundamental level, engagement comes from meaning. We’re engaged with things that matter to us or mean something to us in the moment. Meaning comes from responsibility. My entire life, I wanted the responsibility. Ever since I was a kid, I longed for the day when I could be “responsible” enough for the responsibility. This deep longing, as naive as it may have been, is a longing that lies deep within each human heart. It’s a longing for something more. The longing for not just another task to do or another role to play, but rather the longing for what’s behind both task and that role. The greater picture of what it all means. Meaning is inextricably tied to responsibility. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

UAC 122 | Engagement

Engagement: People generally long for ownership over something and be proven worthy by the results that ensue.

 

As a kid, I wasn’t expected to bear responsibility. I was rightly seen to be a child who would often behave in childlike or childish ways. This bugged me as a kid. I wanted to be seen as capable and competent. I want to be viewed as someone who could be trusted with responsibility. I wanted to have ownership over something and be proven worthy by the results that ensued. One of the earliest memories of this longing came in meeting one of the most basic needs in life, cutting grass. As a toddler, I would see my dad pushing the lawnmower back and forth for hours each week as he cut the front and backyard, keeping them pristine and manicured for us to play on. Not only did I desperately want to be hanging out with my dad during this time, I also wanted to play a role.

I wanted to play a part in being responsible for making sure the grass had its weekly haircut. This was important. There are pictures that show my dad leading the charge with his big boy lawnmower and me, following closely behind with my Tiny Tikes plastic mower, making sure that he didn’t miss any imaginary spots. This desire for responsibility was also one of the major subconscious drivers for why I ended up gravitating towards the sport of golf. Along with wanting to be trusted with responsibility, I had a competitive streak that would do anything to ensure victory. I remember in first or second grade, I came home and practice shuffling cards for a week so that I could be seen as the best card shuffler in school. It was a neurotic competitive streak at times. In my young eyes, team sports opened up the door for too many variables and too much-shared responsibility.

Decisions are never harmless. Click To Tweet

I preferred my odds a lot more when I could take on full responsibility and control for the outcomes of win or lose. While this was nearsighted and rather childish, this perspective inwardly prodded me towards the game of golf where I would be the sole determinant in the results that ensued. This is a perspective that came with ample evidence against it. The longer I competed in the higher I strove, I realized that it meant bearing the full responsibility for failures. Over the years, this childlike and starry-eyed version of responsibility was shown to be only partially true. Responsibility was a good thing to be desired, but it was also a weight to be carried. Not only was it an opportunity to play a role and be proven capable and competent, but it was also an opportunity to have weaknesses, exposed and failures to be learned from.

One instance in college helped show the childish ignorance found in my view of responsibility. As a junior in college, I was given the responsibility of being the team captain of the golf team. This was an honor and one that I definitely cherished. My inner child leaps for joy at the chance for another tier of responsibility to be added to my plate as a student-athlete. What I failed to recognize is that this responsibility meant my decisions no longer affected only me. They now affected each of the seven guys on the team and the ultimate success or failure that we would experience in our season. That year, our team was consistently ranked in the top twenty. We were looking to make a good show in nationals thinking that this could be our greatest shot at a championship.

UAC 122 | Engagement

Engagement: Not having any responsibility robs us of the joy of meaning in life. It takes away the human longing for making a difference to ourselves and those around us.

 

We had qualified for the national tournament. We’re on our way to seeing the dream through to potential reality until responsibility showed up knocking on my front door. Earlier in the spring season, I had made some decisions for myself, along with several of my teammates that broke school rules, as well as team policy and not to mention legality. These decisions, like every decision we make, had to weight. This responsibility did not factor in my mind as much as it should have when making those decisions. It seemed harmless at the time, but decisions are never harmless. If you desire responsibility in life, then decisions carry in added weight that can’t be turned on or off like a light switch. These decisions led to a several week period before finals when everything was brought to light. I’m no longer was responsible, this starry-eyed pearl of highest possession that it was when I was a child.

It was a judge on duty staring down the gavel at my childish ways with words of the sentence primed to leave her lips. This is one of the starkest wake-up calls in my entire life. It was the gas-producing splash of ice-cold water in the morning, the jolt of adrenaline that smashes you to alertness when waking up in the opposite lane of the highway. Responsibility is not only an opportunity but also a duty. It meant that each decision in action mattered. Not just for the person making it or taking it, but for all the people associated or affiliated with its effects. These two illustrations help show that responsibility has both a weight and a beauty to it. The beauty is that it brings value and importance to any activity, knowing that others are counting on you to come through for them and for the greater good or cause that you’re aiming for. The weight is that they are depending on you to act in their best interest and in the best interest of the whole. When we fall short, which inevitably will happen, we end up not only hurting ourselves but also hurting those who depended on us.

This is a two-edged sword of responsibility. There’s beauty in both sides of responsibility. Both the blessing and the curse because it means you have something to play for. The only way you have something to play for is if you have something to lose. Without the possibility of failing, there’s no possibility of success. Without responsibility, we won’t grow. If we go back to meaning, the middle of factor, meaning in life isn’t inextricably tied to responsibility. Without responsibility, there is no meaning to your actions. The beauty is in being human, you are endowed with a God-given natural responsibility. You have a conscious choice. Responsibility creates meaning because it gives us purpose. Not having any responsibility, robs us of the joy of meaning in life. It takes away the human longing for making a difference, for mattering in life, not to ourselves but to those around us and more importantly to those that we love. Practically speaking, what does all of this mean? Engagement matters because otherwise, what’s the point in living? If you’re not engaged in anything, then why are you alive? The question is, why meaning matters? Without meaning, what’s the point in doing anything? Finally, responsibility matters because if we aren’t required to do anything, we will opt for the easier path and either self-destruct or self-decay.

The question is, do you want to be more engaged with what you’re doing in life? Universally, we’ll all say yes. In order to do that, we must understand the greater meaning behind what we’re doing, as well as the specific role and meaning that is involved in each specific action. For example, why am I recording a podcast? The specific role is that there’s a schedule. I want to release episodes on the schedule to be responsible, consistent and committed. Also, I want to be faithful to this duty and this opportunity that’s presented in front of me and walk alongside others in their journey to learning how to live a good life. What’s the underlying purpose of that? I believe life is a gift that is given by God. I’m going to do the best that I can in this life to make the most of it. Not for the benefit of myself, but for the benefit of those around me. I believe that is my calling. That is my foundational why it’s given from God.

If you want to be more engaged with what you’re doing in life, you need to understand the greater meaning behind it, as well as the specific role and meaning that is involved in each specific action. If you want to have more meaning in your life or if you want to live a more meaningful life itself, the key is to start taking on greater responsibility with the first step, always being the taking of individual responsibility for your thoughts, decisions and actions. Responsibility is the key to meaning. Meaning is the key to engagement. Engagement is what the world needs from you. Your role matters. We can’t dilly dally around and wait for the world to change for us. It won’t. We must take ownership of our lives and never settle for less than we are capable of. That is our duty. That is our responsibility. Together, we can help create the change we wish to see one day at a time and more importantly, one step at a time.

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UAC 116 | Direction In Life

 

In a world where we are constantly told to set goals and strive for achievement, it is easy to get enslaved with our idea of the perfect destination. What if we can choose our life’s direction rather than be tied to a future we may never predict? In today’s episode, let’s explore the idea of exchanging destination with direction and the many ways we can be unstuck and empowered to pursue the things we really want. This new sense of freedom will let you enjoy the process of life you never thought you could.

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Direction: How Choosing A Path Instead Of A Destination Can Empower Action

Our show is all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that the best way to do that is by living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with tensions that we have to live in the midst of daily and some days we do a better job than others. We think that the best way to do that, to live in those tensions is with intentionality. This is what our show hopes to do. We want to share examples and stories from other people who are striving to live with intentionality and are journeying through this process of becoming. Thanks for joining us on this journey and being a part of the Up And Comers family.

If you want to support the show, there are a few easy, simple ways to do that. The best way is either by leaving a rating and review on iTunes. It takes about one minute. It is such a great way to help us be discovered by others. The other way is if there’s an episode you enjoyed or encouraged by, sharing it online through social media or even texting it to several people that could benefit from it. Those are the two best ways to share the love and spread the good word about what we’re trying to do with this community. If you want to support us, we are on Patreon. That’s a great way to keep the lights on and keep the funds going. Always be, feel free to send us an email at TheUpAndComersShow@gmail.com. We love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

I’m excited about having a shorter solo episode. I love having some time each month to share some thoughts and things that I’ve been stewing on. This is one of those. This episode is kind of crazy. It’s been a long journey and I’m so grateful to be here. Thank you for being a part of it. I wanted to talk a bit about this concept of direction. I think that this idea around direction can be freeing and empowering for us. I want to unpack some thoughts on that. I do have a special discount going on with my coaching practice. It’s going to be 50% off to a few of you who are interested.

Beyond just making a large number of decisions or choices daily, we are also now equally faced with more options than ever before. Click To Tweet

I wanted to start by a couple of quotes that I thought would set the stage well and are pretty profound. I love a good quote. Christina Rossetti said, “Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.” I love that because both are sad, but not even beginning the work that you feel called to is inevitably the saddest one because you’re not fulfilling, those roles that you were called to do in life. We’ve each been gifted in so many ways and not beginning the work that you are called to do is unfortunate for you as well as a society that needs that. Another one is from James Clear. He said, “You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.”

Putting something out there is dangerous. It’s scary, it’s risky and you will inevitably be judged on it. If you leave it inside you, you will get ignored. It will never see the light of day and it won’t be able to bless others. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” I love it. It is a simple way of saying you are uniquely you and you’ve been filled with talents, gifts and abilities that are uniquely yours. We have to lean into that and not try to copy other people’s callings, talents or gifts. Lastly, Alan Watts said, “You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” This is challenging the consistency bias that we all have of saying, “Because I’ve said this or acted this way. I have to stay on it to be consistent with who I said or who I’ve portrayed myself to be.”

Making Choices And Decisions Daily

UAC 116 | Direction In LifeThis is oftentimes a misconception, misperception, and a false assumption that we make that keeps us in a rut a lot of times that isn’t helpful. He is freeing us from that by saying you have no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago, which is a helpful challenge. Today’s society is filled with so many choices and decisions daily. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have such a high amount of decisions and choices that we have to make every single day. It could be decisions on what shirt to wear, what breakfast to eat, which route you should take to work, what podcast episode you should listen to along the way? What music I’m feeling right now at the moment? What coffee sounds good for my morning cup of Joe?

Maybe it’s about what priorities to accomplish first in the tasks at hand and on and on it goes. These are only some examples from the first three hours of the day. We are inundated with choices. Beyond making a large number of decisions or choices daily, we are also equally faced with more options than ever before. This is the world we live in, a place that has endless possibilities and opportunities. In the same breath, we find herself often in a place where we feel like we have no options or no ability to do anything more than our current work. We feel stuck in the place we’re in with no way out. We feel in a cycle that will never end.

A Blessing And A Curse

This is the spectrum arrange of tensions that we all experience within this land of opportunity that America is. I’ve had many conversations with people on disengagement with their current work or disenchantment around what they’re doing. It’s this feeling of lethargy or frustration of being stuck in a place that they don’t want to be. There’s this weird tension we face between this idea of endless possibilities yet feeling like we have no opportunities beyond where we’re at. I think one of the things to think about is with a plethora of choices, it does provide both amazing opportunities, but can also be equally debilitating.

They can be a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, we now have the ability to find virtually anything we want. Not just anything but the specific type of anything that we’re looking for in the specific color, size, shape that we want, which can be customized to our own liking. This is undoubtedly a blessing, but on the curse side, when we have endless options or endless decisions. “Do I want this shape or that shape, this shade of blue of that shade of blue? Do I want to buy it now or wait for a better sale, a better option or a better price?” Options can quickly become debilitating if we let them. This is where even I’ve thought about how wonderful it would be to have a daily uniform. I’m going to buy a dozen white tees and several of my favorite jeans. I’m going to wear that every single day so I can eliminate a decision to make in the morning and save it for more important decisions in the day.

We have to start stacking the deck in our favor to eliminate this decision fatigue that we all face from these endless choices. You combine this with another parallel problem, which is the reality of endless of possibilities. Living in America, we do have the ability to almost doing whatever we want. In picking the right job or career, there are endless opportunities, but with that comes a lot of fear around making sure that we make the right choice, that we pick the right path and we choose the right opportunity for what we want our future destination to be. This is the world that college graduates, young professionals and the majority of adults find themselves in. Whether you’re on your first foray into finding a job or you’re on your 10th round of job looking, job applying or job interviewing, the dilemma is still the same. How do I know which path is the right one to take? How can I possibly make the right choice? Which opportunity will lead me to the destination that I want or desire? These are the questions that we face. It’s a modern problem that every person has to come to grips with, which has two different sides.

Figuring out the direction to take is always easier than to predict the destination. Click To Tweet

Direction Versus Destination

One side of the coin is decision fatigue and overwhelm that we face from having endless options, a plethora of options. On the second side of the coin is fear and uncertainty of having an abundant amount of opportunities. Since we have so many opportunities, we’re afraid of picking the wrong one. We have many choices and decisions to make in a day that we get worn out and overwhelmed by having to make more decisions than we need to. These are the dilemmas and problems that we can relate to in our own way. The question is, how can we overcome them or live in light of them? It is helpful to understand the false idea of the destination. When we face the dilemma of not enjoying life, wishing we were in a different lane or pursuing different work, we remain stuck far too often in getting caught up in thinking that we have to have the destination figured out before we take any action.

I love this quote from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He wrote a book, Flow. He said, “Success like happiness cannot be pursued. It must ensue as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” If you think that this destination you pick down the road will lead to success and happiness, you’re missing the mark with that because the destination cannot be pursued. It’s inevitably going to be different. It must ensue as a side effect that’s unintended in picking a direction, a course that’s greater than ourselves being dedicated and committed for a longer period of time. What will help free us from being stuck is exchanging the idea of destination with the idea of direction, because figuring out the destination is impossible.

We have to understand that discerning the direction is always attainable. If we wait until we have fully figured out the destination that we want to arrive at down the road, we’ll either wait forever and never take action or we’ll end up blindly following the path that is nothing like we expected or wanted to be. Placing our focus on the direction instead frees us up from the pressure of trying to project the perfect destination. It will allow us to take action sooner while enjoying the process more along the way. Whenever we focus on the destination, we will inevitably miss all the joys of the journey along the way. This is something that I had to learn the hard way when playing professional golf.

UAC 116 | Direction In Life

Direction In Life: When you have accepted that there is no perfect destination in life, you will stop blindly following the path you’ve chosen and start enjoying the journey along the way.

 

I remember my grandfather and others would always tell me, “Thane, make sure you’re enjoying the process. Make sure you’re enjoying where you’re at.” I look back and I’m sad to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t have the joy, happiness and fulfillment that I could’ve had with the places I was at because I was so focused on the destination. I was putting pressure on myself and carrying so much responsibility to reach the destination that I missed the beauty in the journey along the way. I missed the joy that it could have had in each step of the process. The funny thing is we can never know the destination beforehand. We don’t know the future. We can’t predict it.

For us to pick a destination that we won’t reach for five or ten years down the road and say that this is the goal and pursue this endlessly, we’re going to get to that place five or ten years down the road and realize that we’ve changed so much that we don’t even want that anymore. We’d realize that the thing that we thought it was, was so different that we don’t like that thing either and now, we feel stuck in that place. The whole time to get there with was spent suffering just to get to the destination. It’s always easier to figure out the direction to take than to predict the destination, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a difficult task.

The work that I do with individuals in my coaching practice, through it I found one core question that I think is a massive help in bringing clarity around the direction to take. The important thing to know is what direction to take, not what destination end up with and how do we figure out the direction to take. This is the question I love and I’d love for you to sit with it. The question is, “Who have you been created, equipped and called to be?” This is a question I sat with for two or three months as I was thinking through the decision of whether or not I would continue pursuing professional golf or pivot in a new direction.

The two to three months were spent seeking counsel, meditating, praying, trying to sit with, discern, journal, reflect and understand this question. I want to break it down just a little bit further to show why it can be so powerful. The question is, “Who have you been created, equipped and called to be?” The first part is, “Who have you been created to be?” That means, “What are your natural wirings and your inherited tendencies?” The things that you’ve been given at birth with that you’ve been blessed with that only uniquely are your giftings and your talents. The things that you’re naturally good at and the things that you are better at than your friends because you naturally had a knack for it.

The second one is, “Who have you been equipped to be?” What have your life experiences up to this point given you? What is your journey, the different places you’ve lived, the different learnings you’ve had, the different jobs you’ve worked and the different people you’ve met, what have they equipped you with to be right now? “Who have you been called to be?” What is the fire within your soul that will not die? What is the thing that is not in the world right now? You can’t stand that it’s not, so much so that you need to put into the world? What is the thing that the endless driving force for your motivation, your life and your passion?

I love this question because it brings into mind the past, the present and the future in evaluating which direction we should go. I truly believe that if you sit with that question, journal about it, meditate on it, think through it and even asked for feedback on it, the direction will become increasingly clearer. I love walking alongside people in this process. I’m having a fourth-quarter sale with my coaching packages. For the first three people to lock in a package, I’m offering 50% off my standard rates. If you go to ThaneMarcus.com you can book a discovery call to talk more about this work. You can always shoot me an email at Connect@ThaneMarcus.com.

The short version of this coaching work provides you with two things that we can’t get on our own. The first one is objectivity. It’s the ability to see yourself clearly, which is inherently subjective, even to ourselves. The second is accountability. It’s having someone to hold you accountable in maintaining integrity, doing what you want to do or that you’re committed to doing. It’s ultimately holding a space for you to process these things. This is a place of empowerment. It’s trying to help you grow and become unstuck to discover and discern the right direction and figure out the strategy and game plan of how to get there.

I love calling the word collaboration because that’s exactly what it is, a collaboration together. I would love for you to reach out to learn more and it would be such a joy for me to journey together on this path of growth, of taking ownership and never settling for less than you’re capable of. I want to end with a quote from Abraham Maslow. He said, “What you can be, you must be.” I think there’s no better place to sound off.

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