Your great adventure is not something that will happen at some point in the future. It is what is happening to you right now. Your decision to say “yes” opens you up to see things in a new way and recognize that every day, every moment you are becoming who you were created to be.
I believe every person was uniquely created to accomplish something specific and timely. There is something only you can do that you must do. I can’t tell you what that is—nor can anyone else. You won’t find it in a personality test, and you certainly won’t find the totality of it in any job that you do.
The secret to discovering your divine design is to say “yes.”
Mentorship is something I practice in my life. I have mentors, and I mentor others. It’s a part of how I unlock the parts of myself that are hard to see. It’s what has helped me be open to moving from being a sports broadcaster in a major market to a pastor, from a pastor to a dean, and from a dean to university president.
Who would have that? I sure didn’t. But I kept saying “yes” even when it was uncomfortable, inconvenient, and seemingly impossible at times. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” I believe that’s true for you, too.
The other part of saying “yes” that is important is that it signifies action. You won’t discover who you are by sitting on the couch eating potato chips. You learn about yourself by taking action, getting involved with the people and opportunities around you, and doing something.
Life is a series of ups and downs, successes and failures, and victories and defeats.
The key is to keep everything in perspective and begin to see how everything in your life is cumulative, nothing is wasted, and even bad experiences prepare you for what’s now and what’s next. It’s how you process through all those experiences that will help you uncover your divine design.
My biggest regret is the time when I find myself distracted from the present by the future. I think this is the bane of every leader. We spend so much time thinking about the future that we fail to be fully present in the moment sometimes. And yet there are so many hints about who we are, what we should do, and who we can learn from that are already surrounding us. It then becomes our choice to pay attention or to postpone the discovery of our personal mission in life.
Every time you think your story ends; it’s just the beginning of something new. That’s how life works. I’ve never met a successful, fulfilled person who doesn’t talk about their biggest failures as gateways to their biggest successes. Again, the focus is on action, movement, and activity.
Life is not a “one and done” endeavor. It’s not a zero-sum game.
My heart always breaks when I talk to students who think they’ve made decisions that have counted them out from the work they have been created to accomplish. Not every decision is a good one, and all decisions have consequences. But every decision and consequence shape you in the person you are and the person you are becoming.
The only person who can count you out is yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, the power or position they hold, or the situation or circumstance you find yourself in. There is always a way up no matter how low you go. Whoever tells you otherwise is just flat out wrong.
Whether or not you are a person of faith, the idea of grace is, I believe, generally accepted. I hear this in conversations with educators, business professionals, and entrepreneurs. There is a force in the world that often becomes the wind in our sails just at the right time. It wasn’t planned or anticipated. It just happened. And in the process, you went farther faster than you ever thought was possible. This is what I mean when I talk about grace.
If you want to know about yourself and your unique purpose, listen to the stories that you tell.
· If your stories are full of regret, you are limited by the expectations of others.
· If your stories are full of fear, you are limited by anxiety about the future.
· If your stories are full of anger, you are limited by emotions that grip you.
· If your stories are full of defeat, you are limited by your perception of what’s possible.
· If your stories are full of excitement, you are open to the adventure in front of you.
· If your stories are full of enjoyment, you are building meaningful relationships with healthy people.
· If your stories are full of satisfaction, you are on a journey that is in sync with your deepest desires.
· If your stories are full of purpose, you understand that who you become is even more important than what you do.
You will discover your divine design as you say “yes” to the adventure that is in front of you. Watch and listen as your stories change over time. Most important, observe how others will change how they engage and react to you. When you are moving forward, others will begin to follow. And that’s when you know you’ve fully activated your divine design.
CHALLENGE: Write down every reference you make about yourself to others for an entire week. At the end of the week, review what you’ve told others about yourself. Do you like what the stories you told say about you? If not, how can you change your stories to align better your divine design?