I have a bunch of friends who founded a consulting company called Junction Solutions about 6 years ago. They worked hard and the company has grown exponentially. As a result, they are all very successful and likely quite wealthy.
One of the founders is named Jeff. I talked with Jeff several times about the possibility of joining the company (a decision I sometimes question) and I'll never forget his signature line - "I'm living the dream". These guys were all working like crazy and sacrificing a lot to make their company successful but they viewed it as fun and as living out their dream.
I get a little jealous when I hear that they are living the dream. As I think about my own life and career, more often than not I look like I am in the battle for my life. I usually look more like I am struggling and fighting for survival than looking like I am thriving and at ease.
This is a lot like my running. When I run I am generally pushing myself, tired, out of breath, and looking like I need a long nap. Take a look at this picture below taken moments after finishing the Las Vegas Marathon in December of 2006. Do I look to you like I am living the dream?
In short, no. I look spent, completely used up, and nearly dead. Which is exactly how I felt that day in that moment. I was trying to get a 3:30 marathon time to qualify for the Boston Marathon and on this day, I came up short. I was utterly exhausted and dehydrated as well. I had my wife Norma, my brother Scott, and my friend Tim all there to support me and I felt like I let them down because I did not do what I came there to do. I went all out and I did not achieve my goal.
The thing is, I often work like this as well. I go all out and wind up looking like I am spent, used up, and just hanging on by a thread. I don't imagine it is attractive to others and I don't believe it conveys an image of success. It does not look like I am living the dream.
Or does it? Is it possible to be spending yourself entirely, to be going all out, to go after your goals with abandon AND to be living the dream at the same time? Is it possible that this look of exhaustion is also a look of living the dream?
What would living the dream look like for you? Would it be a smile of contentment as you sit back and relax in a lawn chair sipping a cold drink? Or would it be the look of near exhaustion as you strive for your goals - whatever they are - without looking backwards or to the side? Can we be 'in the fight' and 'leaving it all on the field' and living the dream at the same time?
I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed living the dream and I want to be more comfortable telling people that. After all, I am doing work that is satisfying and rewarding to me. Like Winston Wolf, I have a reputation for fixing problems. I am building relationships with people all the time and helping organizations to reach their goals. I am using the unique gifts and talents that God has given me. It is a wild ride that often leaves me drained, exhausted, yet somehow satisfied. If that isn't living the dream, I don't know what is.