What inspires you? The journey to be used up.
Updated March 16, 2019
Personal inspiration, not remodeling perspiration
This week I’m veering off the remodeling path in this reflective post about personal inspiration – back next week with more remodeling thoughts.
Taking time to reflect
I don’t mean to be “Mr. Downer” but if God wanted me out of here I’d be 6’ under by now. That’s what 2 significant heart events in less than a year will make you – or me in this case – think. However – I’m still ticking. Running an hour a day. Working more hours than I should, writing two blog posts per week, trying my best to be a good Dad and husband. Life’s challenging health events haven’t slowed me down but they have kicked up my desire to reflect on life’s journey and to keep plugging –keep moving –keep learning – and keep growing.
Who the heck I am?
In case you’ve arrived at this blog for the first time I’ll give you the 2–minute low-down on me. I’m a 56-year-old “slightly graying” (being generous to myself here) married guy from C-town (Cleveland) with 3 somewhat grown kids (their maturity and mine depends on the day) who is a fanatical entrepreneurial business owner, Christian, over the top runner and just dumb enough guy to be a Cleveland Browns fan.
Back to the story
I’m on a plane now headed on the cross-country trip to Portland Oregon to my nephew Nate’s high school graduation. While others are sleeping, watching YouTube videos or talking to their seat mates, I’m alternating my time between writing (on a “vacation day”) and reading an excellent book by John Maxwell titled 3 Things Successful People Do and the moment hit me like a ton of bricks. Why am I wired to keep doing when others are relaxing? Am I nuts (OK I might resemble this remark)? What makes me inspired to do what I do – and more importantly, what can inspire any of us (even if life has you or I down right now) to dust ourselves off and gain inspiration to keep going, striving and progressing?
Where I’m going with this post (striving for more evolution)
My goals in this post are two-fold.
First, I’ll share with you my personal reflections and what’s keeping me moving these days despite a crazy-busy life shared between faith, family, friends, business and more than a bit of writing.
Second, and most importantly, I’d like to talk about “evolution” – but not in the scientific sense (definitely not bright enough to talk about that!). I believe as people we are all in one of 3 states. We’re either evolving (learning, growing, trying new stuff), revolving (stuck in the cog of life’s grind) or we’ve dissolving (bitter, hurt and headed down the abyss of negativity). From day to day and even moment to moment life’s circumstances can move us back and forth like a human yo-yo between these 3 states. The goal in life (in my humble opinion) is quite simple. It’s to evolve, to live out our purpose, to be used up at the end. Towards that end, in the last part of this article I’m going to pose 5 reflective questions I use to guide me to get back into the state of “evolution” when life’s twists and turns want to pull me down. My hope is these questions will help you too. So, as Larry the Cable guy would say, “Let’s get ‘er done!”
(Part I) What’s keeping me moving? What’s inspiring me today?
I’ll admit to you my life is pretty good and I’m a lucky guy – big-time. Life is overflowing with interesting stuff and I’ve got a supportive family (certainly not something to take for granted). With that being said, my inspiration comes from h the here and the now – but also the influences of the past. Here are the key elements which keeping me rolling today.
Learning – A life full of “edumacation”
My Dad (a huge inspiration to me even though he passed away over 30 years ago) knew to keep living you’ve got to keep learning. Dad liked to call it getting an “edumacation.” I totally get this – and focus on learning like a complete mad-man.
Where does this learning coming from for me? First, it’s by sticking my neck out. I started a new division of my business (Innovate Home Org) over a year ago. There is nothing like becoming a “rookie” in a new business to force (‘er challenge) yourself to learn and grow quickly (otherwise you might face extinction – or in business this is called losing your butt). Second, I do some weird multi-tasking stuff/learning things I wouldn’t recommend to most (I read blog post while running in my basement and posting to social media at the same time). Yes, this is touched, but I’m keeping it real for you. A life worth living is a life worth learning…all the time!
Reflecting (some focus on the rear-view mirror is good)
I think it’s so important to try to “squeeze the juice” out of life’s experiences. What can I learn from life’s moments and the people I come into contact with? People are put in our paths to guide us, teach us, be with us – even if all the experiences aren’t as smooth as we want. The challenge becomes what can I learn from those I’ve been with today? What can I learn from life’s good and bad stuff? I believe the learning becomes deeper as I invest the time to stop, reflect and write about my journey. Do you take the time to think about the ‘journey’ which is your day today? How much sweeter and deeper could life be if you would do this? Would journaling help you?
Doing (I can’t sit on my butt and wait for things to come to me)
No matter how hard I wish to be an ‘overnight success’ (whatever that means) I haven’t found the magic formula. For me it always seems to come back to ‘good old-fashioned hard work’ (boy that sucks). I need to keep thinking what can I do today to make someone’s life better? This question is the same whether I’m working to help a customer in my business, a family member with a challenge or helping myself or someone else grow spiritually. Am I challenging myself to be “used up” today? I don’t think we were brought to this earth to sit on our rears – I’ve got to DO something NOW!
Teaching (the greatest gift of all)
This is an area I’ve got to admit ou I need to step up my game. Sometimes I take on too much myself, work too long and deprive others around me from the real thing I can do to help them – which is to teach what I know and what I’m learning. Yes – writing on blogs can be a helpful way to teach – but it’s even more important to take the time with my kids, my co-workers and ask them “what do you want to learn?” How can I help you? There is nothing quite as inspiring and fulling as teaching, whether it is through working side by side with one person, writing and sharing your thoughts or speaking to a room full of people. Teaching is not only a field for professors – it’s a blessing we can all provide to one another each and every day.
(Part II) 5 reflective questions to get back into a state of “evolution” and get inspired
I wish life was a straight line up. If you think there is anyone living the “beautiful life” which it appears they have through their social media accounts, you don’t know them well enough to understand the pains, challenges and hardships they’ve endured along the way. The road of life is filled with potholes (defeats), detours (doors which shut on us), endless bouts of road-rage drivers (somewhat crazy people) and construction delays (not getting where we want to go fast enough).
So how can you and I “evolve” along our personal journey to success? How can we live our life like a car which has 302,000 miles on it (yes – I had a Lexus once with this many miles), yet is still going strong? How can we ‘run’ our personal race with purpose, passion and performance? I will argue it begins by asking questions when we get derailed, when we feel beaten up by life. Sit back and think about your answers to these 5 questions.
Question 1 – Are you running your race or are you trying to be a cheap imitation of someone else?
Sometimes the biggest killer in life is not being confident enough to be who we are meant to be. It wouldn’t matter if I practiced basketball 24/7, I’m not going to be Lebron James. This is the reason we can’t wish for our kids to follow our dreams. We can only be inspired on the path built for us, based on our unique God-given talent and skills. Are you running your race or someone else’s? Don’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not. If you struggle getting your arms around your purpose in life I would recommend reading the book mentioned earlier by John Maxwell titled 3 Things Successful People Do.
Question 2 – Are you reflecting the light or casting shadows?
Think about the most passionate people you LOVE being around (for me that is Phil Fogarty and Nancy Whetstone). What makes them so energetic? Why do they radiate light, energy and positivity? How do they stay upbeat and encouraging?
As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change we want to see in the world.” This is something I completely agree with. I can’t wait for everyone else to be the way I want them to be! I need to be the “light,” the encouragement I’d like to see in the world. How can I do this? Encourage anyone and everyone. Put a smile on as much as possible. I will challenge myself to not let anyone steal my joy with the crap they may be spewing. If this is tough for you find the person(s) who are “the light” to you and buy them lunch. Ask them what their inspiration is? How do they handle challenging times? Learn and apply what they tell you.
Question 3 – Are you living in the comfort of boredom?
I hate roller coasters – they make me want to pee my pants. In addition, I don’t ride them today because I’m afraid they will get me another trip into physical therapy to deal with neck problems (now I sound like an old dude). However, I get why people love them. It’s the thrill of the unknown, the twists, the turns, the ups and downs.
An inspired life is like this roller coaster – it’s a bit crazy, but it’s not boring. Even if you stand still in life (live the “revolving life” I talked about earlier) you’re going to have ups and downs – so why not experience some exhilaration along the way? You’ve heard about “YOLO” (you only live once – unless you’re Shirley Mclean). Do you live a YOLO life or play things down the middle? The comfort zone is dramatically overrated. An inspired life exists on the edge. Are you living on the edge? What are you dying to try you’ve been putting off? Dig in, give it a whirl. If you don’t know where to start look for people who’ve been down this road and ask for help. Most people are flattered to be of assistance.
As Bob Goff reflected in the book Love Does, “I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
Question 4 – Are you too proud to progress?
One of my favorite sayings is from the first African pitcher in baseball, Satchel Paige, of the Cleveland Indians who said, “It’s not what you know it’s what you know that just ain’t so.” The world today is so fast paced that information doubles every 18 months! Progress comes from learning. Learning come from being a “lifetime rookie.” Recognizing I have to give up the notion that I “know” something, that I’m top of everything. Once I begin to think I’m “The Man,” and have it all figured out – is the day I’m headed down the river without a paddle. I need to embrace being a lifetime “just-called-up-to-the-majors” player. Be in awe of the experience of today, and embrace learning from others more knowledgeable than me (this can and is people of all ages). As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man I meet is in some way my superior.” The more I recognize this the more inspiration and growth are possible for me.
Question 5 – Does your “love cup” runneth over?
What all inspiration boils down to in the end is a love of life, a love of others, a love to stretch yourself. It’s about loving where you’re at in the right here and the right now. Trying to see love in others – even when it’s tough. We are called to be the love we want to see in the world. Are you afraid to even say this word? Is it tough for you take off your “mask” of being perfect, even though in life our zits (I certainly used to know this challenge as a teenager!) are glaring and easy for everyone who knows us to see. Inspiration and a life well lived are synomous with a life well loved. Can you show love in your interactions today? Would a more loving heart inspire not only you, but others around you?
An inspired life is a slippery slope – something to strive for, but never completely arrive at. Challenging yourself towards “evolution” will not be the simple path (or the one well-worn) for that matter. However, with the right mixture of love, risk and personal humility we can become the car with 302,000 miles which is still not used up!
How can I help you?
I hope you enjoyed this reflective article. I would love to be of help to you. There are 2 ways I can be helpful. One is through contacting me if you’d like to talk about leading a more inspired life. The other is connecting with me through my “day job” of leading an entrepreneurial remodeling and construction business. The best of success to you with your journey!
The author of this article, Mike Foti, is a passionate remodeling entrepreneur, occasional professional speaker, crazy 1 hour a day runner and super fortunate guy with a family who actually gets along (most of the time). He would love to connect with you. Please feel free to call him through his business numbers below. If you want to talk about your personal life journey or need help with remodeling project in Cleveland, Columbus or product supply anywhere in the country, please call his company at the numbers below (shameless plug here).
Call Innovate Building Solutions in Cleveland at 216-658-1280, in Columbus 614-565-5888 or Nationwide 877-668-5888.
If you’re a remodeler or builder and want practical advice on remodeling products, industry trends, marketing and sales tips to grow your business (and cut day to day hassles), start reading my newest blog – Innovate Builders Blog. It’s packed with ideas you can use now. Click here to Sign Up for the Innovate Builders Blog.