Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let’s Trade Lives–Yours is Better

I ran into someone recently whom I don’t know but who knew quite a bit about my Life.  At one point in the conversation, he said “Your life is so cool. I would love to live the Life you have”.

In thinking about this comment, I can somewhat see what he based this observation on.

After all, my early years were spent growing up in this house in Newfoundland ….

[First house[2].jpg]

and my career eventually evolved into an award-winning one in New York where I got to associate with people like Bill Gates and others (I’m on the right, Bill is on the left, in the photo below) …..


I survived 4 muggings in NYC, having an up-to-now 4-0 record.

I walked away from 4 airplane incidents that some pilots have rated as the most terrifying moments in their career.

I was blessed to co-found a successful company in NYC with some of the most brilliant people on the planet.

I have a bazillion stories that make people laugh and cry.

Yup – my Life has been perfect.  I can see why he would want to live my Life.  Who wouldn’t?

Well … not exactly ….

He is basing his desire to live a Life like mine based on the rewards that he sees.

He doesn’t see the difficulty (as well as the blessings) in growing up in a poorer part of the country and feeling, as a kid, not as worthy as the wealthy crowd.

He doesn’t feel the terror when confronted with imminent death, either at the hands of a mugger or contained within an aircraft that is destined to splatter us all on a runway.

He is not feeling the anguish at 2 in the morning when one is wondering how to make the payroll for all the staff (and their families) relying on him as the company attempts to make the transition from inception to sustainability.

He doesn’t feel the guilt of knowing that one of his teammates died in the World Trade Center as a result of an action he did or didn’t take.

He hasn’t experienced the pain in the gut one feels when terminating the employment of an individual who tells you, while you are firing him, that he just discovered this morning that he and his wife are about to experience their first child.

He hasn’t experienced the difficulty of balancing success with personal relationships.

He doesn’t experience the burden that I carry as a result of being exposed to confidential information that can’t be shared that conflicts with my own personal values and my concerns for the planet.

He’s not seeing the times when I have been taken to the edge spiritually, emotionally, physically or financially.

He just sees the glory.

The truth is that everyone’s lives are a mix of triumph and disaster, glory and struggle, terrifying moments and immense rewards.

And while he compares his Life to mine and compares the mundane stuff that he perceives in his own Life versus the rewards he perceives in mine, he has blinded himself to the great stories that he has in his own Life and the complexities that I have in mine.

He’s not comparing the whole package, either his Life in its entirety or mine in its entirety.

And there’s a great flaw in this method of comparison.

As is noted in the Desiderata:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Personally, I see my Life as a series of blessings that I am grateful for every day … the good parts of it as well as the difficult ones.  I wouldn’t trade any of it nor could I easily recommend it to others - not all of it is for the weak-minded or the faint of heart.

And so, before we so quickly aspire to live someone else’s Life, we should ask ourselves three questions:

1. How much do we really know of the unknown side of the person whose success we marvel at and what they have experienced in their Life besides just “the good stuff”?

2. Are we truly ready and prepared to endure what it takes to harvest the rewards that the other person appears to have?

And most importantly ….

3. Should we not examine our own lives first and recognize that our individual stories of Life’s tribulations and rewards are as amazing as anyone’s?

While we may marvel at the story of someone else’s Life, someone is marvelling at ours.

And that’s a cool story worth wanting, living and sharing.

In service and servanthood,


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