Grow Up & Get a Life

Grow Up & Get a Life

I’m embarrassed to be writing this.

I’m embarrassed for our generation. 

While I think there’s so much energy to be found in the millennial generation, I would argue that much of that energy is wasted on really bad choices stemming from wrong ideas of the world. Why would anyone embrace a wrong idea? The answer is, no one really knowingly embraces a wrong idea. We embrace wrong ideas we think are right. Why? Because we don’t filter ideas based on rational principles but on resonance, which is how the idea feels to us. We take our thoughts in like a good drink: Did it go down smooth? But the most important ideas we will ever have won’t start smooth. On the contrary, they will be the ones that require wresting, doubting, questioning, criticizing, and honest reflection. It will require the very humble admission that I can be and many times am wrong,  that how I feel about a topic doesn’t make it true, and it’s very possible that many things I feel to be true are actually not. 

An example of how I reveal our weird thinking is with a few simple questions I like to ask in workshops: Does everyone deserve success? Does everyone deserve a house? Does everyone deserve security? Very quickly the answer of the crowd is always a loud “Yes!” I follow this up with explaining the definition of success, which is, the fulfillment of one’s goals. Then I ask, “If everyone deserves success, let’s say it is the goal of a man to have abs, does he deserve those abs?” I always see looks of confusion. “When we say someone ‘deserves’ something, we mean they have the right to have it. It means they should be able to claim this right from society, from the government, or from God or some higher power. Can this man claim his abs?” Of course the answer is no. Six packs are not deserved rights. They are earned muscles. There are body fat% conditions that have to be met in order for a person to have abs. That’s not unfair. That’s how bodies work. “Do people deserve to have a house?” I ask again, and once again I hear yes a lot. “Ok, what kind of house does everyone deserve? What kind of house do you deserve? A big house? A small house? A house with a pool? With air conditioning? With fiber internet? What house does your seat mate deserve?” This always causes some inner conflict because we like to believe that people deserve good things. That idea goes down smooth. But the rough reality is that we don’t deserve good things, we enjoy the good things we earned or were gifted. While I wish everyone had a decent place to live (why do you think I’ve been active with Habitat for Humanity), the truth is these structures don’t just magically sprout from nowhere because someone, or even millions of people, believed they deserved one. They are resourced, planned, built. Finally, does everyone deserve security? Again the answer is a resounding yes. Then I ask, “Does someone who abuses his or her body with sugar and bad habits deserve the same the same peace of mind and healthy disposition as someone who practices health principles? Of course not. Does someone who chooses to do reckless things and do risky things deserve the same security as someone who shows more prudence? Of course not. If they did, wouldn’t it be unfair that deserving and undeserving got the same thing?” In all examples, I prove one thing: What we think are rights or things we deserve are actually earned achievements. Security, a house, and success are all achievements that are enjoyed when the principles that lead to these achievements are fulfilled. They are not rights we deserve automatically.  

To believe otherwise is to believe that people should receive what they don’t deserve. To believe that is not to believe in a just and fair world.  

Entitlement is believing something is deserved without paying the necessary cost. This is the fundamental flaw in our generations thinking that reveals a very prevalent immaturity. 

This is why we whine and opine online, why we cry at the office when we fail or feel bad, and why our mothers scold our teachers for giving us low grades.

This is why we are weak.

We have so much energy but we are weak, unable to make anything more of our lives than the social media pa-cute even as we continue to mooch of our well-meanjng co-dependent parents.

How do we know we are weak?

When we are so easily stressed, we are too weak to handle responsibility. When we easily breakdown during tough situations, we are too weak to build. When we easily complain, we are too weak to address things ourselves. When we gossip or backstab, we are too weak to confront others. When we don’t stick to deliverables , we are too weak to handle commitments. When we follow the crowd, we are too weak to stand alone. When we don’t move out of home, and we are already old enough, we are too weak to fend for ourselves, and in many cases, stand independent of our parents’ decision making and resources. I can go on.

And weakness is not a virtue. It is useless. It is unattractive (at least should be). Crying in the office is not just unprofessional, it is selfish, distracting from the success of the team to deal with an individual’s feelings. You dont like your company, be part of the change or quit. Dont be the little boy crying for something better when you’re an adult with the responsibility to do something better. Complaining about your partner to your friends is weak and sows the seeds for future unfaithfulness. You are better off improving things or leaving than whining and nagging. No one wants to be with a whiner. Even the Bible says its bettee to live in the corner of a roof then be with a nagging wife. Whatever it is you don’t like you either be the change or you move away. Don’t waste  a moment acting like a brat. The world isn’t perfect so don’t expect it to be. It can be better or worse depending on how we face it.

When I was being updated by the latest drama from some of our “millennials” in our company, I very quickly remembered my 3 week old son crying in his cot. My baby cries when it needs or wants something. It cries unintelligently, unable to speak or communicate effectively what it is he requires. So he cries and cries and cries. He wails (which is like a shout and a cry combined). At this stage it’s still bearable, even cute. But someday, he will be 13 (a man in my book) and learning how to communicate effectively should be a given and whining stamped out. To see an adult crying and whining or even wailing like a baby is embarrassing. Some of you are in your 20s and 30s and you still address life like my baby.

Babies cry because they’re helpless. You are not. You have a mind. Use it. How can anyone with a college degree have graduated without knowing how to interact in uncomfortable relationships? What are we teaching? What are we learning? Unless you are a helpless baby, stop whining and help yourself. If you’re a parent stop raising brats thinking you’re being supportive. You’re raising a weak person who responds to life like my 3 week old. I would be so worried to work for or with someone who acts like my 3 week old. I would be dumb to do so. Same for marriage or any other partnership. I would be very stupid to connect my success to an adult who acts like my 3 week old.

Conclusion:

In one of my talks, some people  asked if I was open to being their life coach. I told them, “I don’t think most people need a life coach. I think most people need a life.” While some may take offense at such an answer (it does not go down smooth), I maintain that coaching only works for people with a life purpose (something to coach towards) and life skills (basic attitudes and abilities to navigate life). It is impossible to improve the performance of anyone who does not have clear goals or lacks basic adult skills. In a world that seems to have growing up and #adulting issues, be different. To grow up doesn’t mean boring and stern. That’s being boring and stern. To grow up, to mature, means to commit to your responsibilities and purpose, to develop the attitudes and abilities needed to meet the requirements of your responsibilities and purpose, and achieve the results you desire, not because you think you deserve them, but because you fulfilled the principles they require.  That is not just not boring, it is incredibly necessary.

To all the brats of my generation (I describe you above), grow up and get a life. This may not go down smooth but this is much more than whisky. It is wisdom. #db

What’s the Distinction?

I was in the middle of what would roughly be a 14-hour plane ride. My beautiful wife, Yasmin was peacefully sleeping beside me, with her pregnant belly more visible than ever. I felt a deep feeling of contentedness thinking about our startup family. Then my thoughts shifted to work, to the exciting things we’re doing at Bridge and Elevation Partners, to the opportunities with New Leaf Ventures and Issho Genki, and to the doors opening left and right. I prayed a silent thank you to God for being with me and saving me from the Lion and the Bear, as I shared in my last post.

Then my contentedness was interrupted by a challenge: David, are you really a Christian?

I’ve thought about this question many times, especially during periods in my life when I was not living virtuously, but rarely did I think about this when I felt like I was in the “center of God’s will”. Like many others, I make the mistake that being on the center is proven by having no problems and feelings of happiness, that because things are happening for me, God must be blessing something I’m doing right, and He must be pleased with me. But then I thought about the city I had just come from, London, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with so much happening for the people there, so much beauty, so much wealth, so much history, so much legacy, and such a big role in the world, yet not a lot of Jesus in the conversations I had there. (Though I did gain a lot from the Bible studies, church services, and conversations with other local believers.) I highly enjoyed the rational discussions but found over and over that many of these excellent people were not driven by Christian principles. If “the life we always wanted” is the proof of God’s presence in our life, than how does one explain the amazing lives of those who don’t believe in God, much less obey Him, and much less have Him? What is the distinction between an excellent person and a Christian who is also excellent? What is the distinction between a good mother and a Christian who is also a good mother? What is the distinction between a good businessperson and a Christian who is also a good business person?

This brought me back to the original question: Are you a Christian?

I typed a follow-up question: What does it mean to be Christian?

And here’s a simple description of what it means to be Christian:

  • Someone who embraces God’s purpose, which is the salvation of all men.
  • Someone who obeys God’s commands
  • Someone who bears spiritual fruit

A Christian isn’t just someone praying and behaving their way to “the life they’ve always wanted”. A Christian is motivated by the cause that man has major giants, not least are spiritual emptiness and existential questions of meaning, identity, and purpose, and that God wants to redeem every area of man. He wants to save man. He doesn’t merely want to convert man into a Sunday clapper, fellowshipper, cryer, tither. He wants to save man from whatever it is that’s making him or her a slave, whether that be a spiritual issue, a financial one, an emotional one, a physical one, a relational one, or some other concern. And He wisely saves us from the heart first, because that’s where the slavery happens first and foremost. If “Christians” are not primarily motivated by the salvation of man, if we are more motivated by growing our businesses, increasing our respectability, raising impressive kids, experiencing the latest popular liesure or influencer fad, then we must admit that there is no distinction between us and others.

This really shook me on that flight. It shook me more than any turbulence could have. The flight was as smooth as can be, but my soul wrestled. It’s not a bad thing to wrestle with tough questions. In fact, it’s important. It’s important to face the inner person and learn to trust God with even that, not just our physical needs.

I started to pray, “Father, help me be distinguishably Yours. Just like the world knows I’m Yasmin’s, just like the world knows I’m a businessman, let it be obvious that my life is dedicated to the salvation of man…”

“You will know them by their fruit…” this thought intersected with my prayer.

Spiritual fruit distinguishes the Christian, and I don’t mean someone who is a prolific converter, but someone who is bearing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control, a person who is living virtuously, in order than all men may be saved.

I continued to wrestle with the idea of being distinguishable. If the average Christian has the same daily purpose of materialism, survival, comfort, and security just like everyone else; and if they’re living according to their own feelings just like everyone else; and if their fruit is just as average as well, then what makes them Christian? If there’s nothing important that distinguishes Christians from others, why be Christian at all?

This led me to three questions to ponder on during daily devotions:

  1. Who is God leading me to serve today?
  2. What is God having me do today?
  3. What virtue is God cultivating in me today?

By setting a framework of Godly purpose, Godly  commands, and Godly fruit, I am more aware of whether I am truly living a Christian life. I find in my own life that the busyness and urgency of things many times steals the purpose from my heart, the obedience from my actions, and the virtue from my results. It’s more important than ever to be deliberate about being distinguishable, because we will never be a light for others if our motivations, actions, and results are no different from theirs.

Hello world!

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