Whom do I envy?
Ponder with me for a minute. Do you know what the path is for your life? Where do you see yourself next year? In five years? Ten? If you have a path, how did you determine it? If not, how do you think someone would plan the path for his or her life? Would you try to eliminate failure? Many people have set up their life path based on “not failing.” From an early age, our “logical thought stoppers” ingrain in us not to do things. No is the first word most of us learn as toddlers. We learn what we do not want, we associate learning what to do with what not to do.
Fantasize with me for a minute. In the course of your life, there are many great moments. Picture yourself striving to be in those moments. Let’s examine your future from a different point of view, not from the point of view of how to minimize pain, but from the point of view of how to seek euphoric moments. Look at ways to organize and use foresight as you act to achieve your desired situation instead of living merely to minimize retribution.
Determining a path requires that you know some things about yourself and that you have a measure of honesty with yourself about your true desires, feelings, and comfort zone. What do I need to know about myself? What topics should I explore that will give me insight into what my path should be? Here are some areas we will consider: Whom do I envy? How do I want people to see me? How do I want others to treat me? With whom do I want to surround myself? What environment do I want to be in? What situations make me feel alive? Over the next few posts we will explore these seven questions, Let’s start with the first.
Whom do I envy? Who would like to feel in a manner which I perceive this person to be.” I have found that this is the best place to start when pursuing self-knowledge in order to determine one’s path. What I mean by “whom do I envy” is, what kind of professional or high achiever has the kind of life that I would like to have? A better way to word this may be, “who do I admire?” Many of us were very young when we first identified particular individuals or a kind of professional that we’d like to be like. You may have wanted to be a doctor, a firefighter, a police officer, a baseball player, a teacher, etc. Before I list a few categories, I will tell you whom I envied in this way and exactly where it started.
I was already a young man and had a professional job that I was proud of, but I viewed it merely as a way to make money to have fun with my friends. One day something changed, however, and I began to want to achieve a professional status that would differentiate me from someone who worked only to play.
I was working at a hospital overseeing a project to remove asbestos from ventilation systems. I was introduced to the building engineer, whom I will call Bob. He kept everything mechanical in the entire hospital running smoothly. Bob and I only spoke for five minutes or so, and I am sure that he would not remember our encounter at all. In the course of my work, I was all over the hospital. Everywhere I went, someone mentioned Bob. Each time, however, it was more like a whisper of reverence. Every reference to Bob was a display of reverence for the ghostlike, grandfatherly, all-knowing figure. He had kept the building in tiptop condition. Every engineering facet of the building system sparkled like new. Each department had relied on him for some critical action that had saved lives because of equipment he had repaired. Other accolades reflected the way he helped maintain certain comforts, such as by repairing the plumbing of a coffee pot.
In the time I was there, at least five people from different departments of the hospital had brought in some homemade baked goods or ribbons of recognition to present to Bob. For nearly two weeks, I did not run across Bob, but the nearly silent whispers of his appreciation rang in my ears many times each day. When I finally had to make a trip to the basement engineering room for the inspection of a ventilation system that had undergone asbestos removal, I was shocked to see the boiler system for the entire building meticulously laid out in pieces, with each piece perfectly cleaned, inspected, ready for reassembly, and arranged in the exact order it was removed. It looked like an engineering drawing with each part disassembled on a page with all the connecting hardware and parts shown for reassembly. Off to one side, Bob had stooped down to look at an O-ring that sealed one of the covers. Without looking up or being distracted by me in any way, he ran his fingers around it, said something to himself about how it needed to be replaced, then tagged it with something, turned to a list of part numbers in a manual, and added the information to a list.
After an initial moment of amazement at what seemed to be an assembly-line project fit for more than twenty people, I greeted him and introduced myself. I mentioned that I had heard his name often around the hospital. In response, he joked about how many things break in a hospital. We talked for a few minutes mostly about the boiler project. He answered a few of my questions about some of the precision measuring tools meticulously placed around the work area that were packed in foam cases like a hitman’s sniper rifle in the movies. As we talked, we walked over to his bench area, which was packed full of hundreds of little accolades, such as the ribbons I had seen the woman upstairs bring to work to present to him. Our conversation ended with him solving an issue I’d had a few days prior, about which I had spoken only with someone in a different department of the hospital. To address the problem, he had actually prepared a document—without ever having met me—and had it ready at his workbench to hand me on this, our first, meeting. As a young man of nineteen, I was more than impressed. Bob seemed to know everything and was completely on top of everything in his domain. I wanted to be this person. I wanted people to look up to me the way they did to him. I wanted to have the flexibility of his position. I wanted to feel that I was able to resolve any situation that I encountered as he appeared to feel. I wanted the confidence and the competence he portrayed. I wanted to have the same well-maintained things around me. I wanted the same quiet serenity that filled his environment.
Almost all of us can recall a similar encounter or exposure to an individual whom we admire. Check out this audio version of Chris Gorog talking about the individual who inspired him as a young person. When these individuals entered our lives in some cases, we may have felt starstruck such a person may have seemed far more advanced than us or even untouchable. Here are some examples, to help find yours. Maybe someone who is the kind of high achiever listed below has made an impression on your life.
I don’t expect that this list all-inclusive, but it’s a good start toward getting you to think about the type of person you envy. The identification of this type of person can provide you with a path for your personal development. Even though your perception of such a person when interacting with them may not have affected them, your desire to model yourself after them, or after your perception of them, can be the strongest factor in your life.
Next week we will explore the next of these seven questions: how do I want people to see me?