Overcoming Obstacles. Personal Story of Tragedy to Triumph
(After this video/article, CLICK HERE to watch another video on the 8 Ways We All Self-Sabotage and How to Stop.)
Importance of Choosing Your Purpose & Life Mission in Overcoming Obstacles
The 14th century Frenchman, Michele de Montaigne correctly noted that:
“The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost. To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
Purpose or Mission: The Number One Key to a Fulfilling Life of Meaning and Success - A Personal Story.
It was late spring of my high school senior year. About a month from graduation. I was a terribly lost soul, recovering from a serious drug problem and a highly dysfunctional family.
It had taken me five years to complete four years of high school. I stopped skipping school only when they threatened to expel me and took tests only when necessary to avoid flunking out.
The proverbial lost soul, I had no direction. And, as if it were possible, I had even less self-confidence and self-esteem. I'd never had any guidance or support from my highly dysfunctional, broken family. In fact, my family was the source of my problems and only served to consistently tear me down.
It was around 8:30 in the morning. School would soon begin, but for now, a hundred or more kids milled about, chatting, in small groups, in front of the school.
They Actually Ranked Our "Success" in School – Kind of Like Real Life - Go Figure??
Some sort of list made its way from group to group. When it found itself to my group, I asked my friend who received it what the list was.
“The class rankings” she said
“Hmmmm.” I had no idea the school ranked us. Never before heard that.
So, what do you think my next thought was? If you were me, what would you think?
Sure, of course: I thought, “Where am I on that list? I want to see the list.”
But First… Let Me Digress
At age fourteen, I was sent from my highly dysfunctional home to a drug clinic, some 300 miles and two states away from my hometown in northern Virginia. I spent six or more months there.
My father was an abusive man. Physically and psychologically. His constant tearing down—being told at every turn that I was worthless, unlovable and a loser—ate away at my self-confidence and self-esteem and left me feeling worthless, meaningless and powerless.
I have one relatively benign memory of my father: the last time I ever saw him when I was about twenty-four.
I don’t have a single positive memory of my father. Not one. And I have a childhood of incredibly negative memories.
All of my experiences with my father were highly charged and extremely negative. Intense emotional and physical cruelty and violence.
He was very successful. A lawyer, businessman and politician. It confused and distressed me as a young boy that so many people seemed to adore this monster. But, of course, the person I knew was not the person the public knew. The two people bore no resemblance to each other.
Back to the Future – Returning from the Drug Clinic
When I returned to high school the year following my time at the drug clinic, I was off drugs. But it wasn’t because of the clinic. I had already quit drugs before being sent to the clinic. A result of two intensely terrifying experiences with hallucinogenics.
Returning home, I still lacked what I needed: self-esteem, self-confidence and direction in the form of purpose. And I still lacked a single adult to act as positive example, mentor or support.
I was a life pedestrian, wandering, aimless, lost, and profoundly confused. Destined, by all accounts, only for frustration and failure in life.
High school could not have mattered much less to me. My only interest was to somehow graduate by the skin of my teeth. What I would do then, I had no idea. I got through high school without studying a single time and with doing the minimal required work to make D’s and graduate.
Perhaps the Low Point of My First Fifty Years
So… it was a beautiful spring morning. Sunny, cool and crisp. A month before my high school graduation. My friend finished with the class rankings and she handed me the list.
Bad move on my part.
As I remember it, my class had 326 students. That number is close, if not exact.
Looking over the first couple of pages, I saw the usual suspects. It was pretty obvious who would be on those pages.
As mentioned: I already had no self-confidence, self-esteem, direction or purpose at that age.
I hadn’t thought this through, but I was under no illusions that I might see my name on the first few pages.
Once I reached the final page and hadn’t yet seen my name, it began to sink in.
As If My Self Confidence Wasn't Already Low...
Suddenly, I was terrified to finish the list. Afraid of where I would find my name. Also scared that I might not even appear on the list. I was already of the opinion that I was an irrelevant, non-entity and it honestly wouldn’t have surprised me to not even find my name on the list. It would have hurt, but wouldn’t have surprised.
Now I needed to finish what I’d started and see where I fit in. Or didn’t fit in, to be more accurate.
Reaching the final page, I still didn't seen my name.
My Stomach Tightened...
...and my breathing became more and more shallow and weak. My heart sunk.
Only now did it dawn upon me that, if I even found my name on this list, it was going to be near the bottom. A public declaration of my loser-hood. The single largest authority in our lives declaring to me and everyone who mattered to me that, yes, Babson is a huge loser.
I made my way down that last page. My heart sinking with each name, because each name was not mine.
Until I made the final name. the dead-last ranked kid in my class of 326.
It was there:
Fitting In and Image are Everything to a Teen
Do you remember being in high school?
Remember how desperately you wanted to be cool and to fit in?
And do you remember how frustratingly often you felt uncool and like you didn’t fit in?
If you are like most people, you can relate to this.
I Knew I Was a Huge Loser – Now the School Publicly Pronounced It
Well… as I’ve already told you, at that young age, I had no self-confidence, self-esteem or life direction.
I vividly remember standing there, staring at my name on that page, seeing a hundred or more kids in small groups around me out of my peripheral vision.
In my imagination, I could see each and every person staring at me, knowing what I was looking at; saying to each other “Babson’s such a loser. The dumbest kid in school.”
Of course, my ranking had nothing to do with my intelligence and everything to do with my lack of life-skills, self-esteem and direction at that point in my life. But to my teenage mind, the single largest authority in my world had publicly declared me to be the massive, hopeless, stupid loser I knew in my heart I was.
I was devastated.
How I escaped that moment I don’t remember, because my mind went blank. Somehow, my subconscious mind took over and I left the school, skipping yet another day of classes. And the day after that.
I was too humiliated to go back to school. But go back I did. And graduate I did. Dead last.
Purpose at Last
In my twenties I found some direction and purpose in my career as an actor. I loved connecting with my passions, other actors and the audience from the stage. It brought me out of my shell and gave me a true sense of purpose and mattering.
But I still lacked self-esteem or self-confidence. And the gnawing feeling of being stupid stayed with me. I longed to be intelligent.
In my naïve mind, I equated a traditional education with intelligence. So I longed to get a college degree.
At the age of 29 or 30 I scratched that itch and returned to junior college to work towards a four year school and a Bachelors degree, with the intention of going to graduate school.
I worked hard and went to two top-20 schools for my BA, then my MBA. Going first to UCLA, then to Purdue University.
After which I soon became a Fortune-20 Vice President in Corporate Finance, Banking and Business Development.
Choose Your Purpose, Your Mission – Choose Meaning, Fulfillment and Success
I left the corporate world for a couple of reasons I don’t have to explain here, as I’ve already gone longer than I like to go in these videos.
My first business after leaving the corporate world wasn’t for me, so I sold it after a few years.
It took me fifty years to find who I am and was always meant to be and do. But, truth be told, I had to go through what I went through to become the person I’ve become and to pursue my personal mission of touching many lives and being a part of as many people’s personal and professional actualization.
I encourage you to know and believe in yourself. Define your purpose and mission in life. Be your greatest self and touch and positively affect as many other lives as possible with your passions and gifts.
Back to the Beginning
Let’s come full circle back to the beginning of this video. It’s premise is the quote: “The soul with no fixed purpose in life is lost. To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
I shared part of my story as testament to the pain of being completely lost, with no real purpose and, most importantly, how we don’t have to be lost. We are the ones who must and can define our life purpose or mission.
I wanted to share a personal story to act as testimony and proof of the importance of connecting with our soul. With our higher purpose. With a personal life mission.
It’s something each of our souls’ longs for and needs.
I know the pain of being a lost soul. With no apart meaning. No purpose. No hope. No future. And I also know the exhilaration of accessing and living my highest purpose, meaning, relevance and gifts.
I encourage you to be who you were born to be. Don’t be afraid of it. And don’t feel that it is too early or too late. Now is the perfect time to begin. It is the only time to begin.
Probably and hopefully you have never experienced the extreme lack of self-worth, self-confidence, purpose, potential and direction that I experienced early in my life. I certainly hope for you that you haven’t.
I share my story, again, because it provides example. Even more so, because I am an extreme example. If I can do it, anyone truly can.
If I Can Create Purpose and Meaningful Life Mission, Anyone Can
Almost certainly you aren’t nearly as lost or without purpose, self confidence or self esteem as I was early in my life.
I encourage you to seize your day. Seize your life. Your potential. Your passions, gifts and mission. Don’t fear, doubt or dawdle. Do it now. Do it with passion, purpose, confidence and certainty.
Know that there will be dark days. Days when you are convinced you have failed.
But remember: we only fail if we fail to begin or we fail to continue.
Accept that the dark days are there for us all. Use them as tools to forge the metal of your determination, character and resolve; to develop your heart, mind and passion. Use them to squash them and any other force that would diminish or defeat you.
Choose and Live Your Purpose with Passion
It is your life. Live your passion. Share your gifts. Make a difference. Grow personally and contribute each and every day. Grow just a little each day. Be just a bit better, wiser, deeper, more productive and more giving each day of your life. And by the time your complete story is told, your growth and contribution will have compounded to result in a brilliant life of purpose, meaning and contribution. Your effect will have been felt and appreciated deeply by many.
You want to achieve great things in life; including living a great life, day to day. Whether you must only lead yourself or if you must also lead others, it is imperative for you to choose a burning purpose and life mission if you are to live your biggest life and have your greatest impact.
I would love to hear your story of triumph. Please post in a comment here and let's talk.
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