Sunday, May 25, 2014

In Memorial Of What's Been Lost

In Memorial Of What's Been Lost

Remembering What's Been Lost
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, 2014. I imagine it was not coincidental that I received an email from YouTube on Friday, the eve of a weekend that comes each year in the month of May and culminates in a day meant to remember the people who gave everything for what they believed in, with a recommendation to watch the TED Talks video, "Sebastian Junger: Why Soldiers Miss War.

Who do we remember? Whose examples do we treasure most? I'm not just talking about soldiers, even though there is a tendency to focus on them during this holiday. I'm talking about the people who had the conviction to live in a way we each wish we could, regardless of whether they served in the military. I'm asking: Who has served mankind in ways that are meaningful to us? Do we even understand what that means?

Sebastian Junger's message is important and I believe he is right in that we need to understand "why soldiers miss war". For them. For ourselves. Please take the next thirteen minutes and eight seconds and listen to him explain it before you read on:

The last few minutes of Junger's talk is focused on love and brotherhood. Military history is full of examples like those discussed in the video, stories about ordinary people doing heroic things in extraordinary situations because they love the people around them more than they love themselves. As a veteran, I appreciate Junger's message here about soldiers, love and brotherhood and trust forged in the crucible of actions taken for the sake of others. As a human being who is no longer a soldier, I crave that feeling more than anything else. Ask any veteran what they miss most and they'll tell you, "The camaraderie of brotherhood." 

What Do We Value Most

Profile Video - Specialist Ross McGinnis
Ross McGinniss
In my first book, "Finding Success," I share a story I read about in Kelly Kennedy's powerful book, "They Fought For Each Other," to illustrate the concepts I've put together in my GPS Theory model to help people define, for themselves, the reasons why they would do things for other people. The story is about a soldier, named Ross McGinness, who sacrificed his own life so his friends, his brothers, would be able to live. When I tell his story in the book and in my workshops, I ask people to answer this question, "What words would you use to describe him and the life he lived?" I invariably hear words like, loyalty, duty, honor, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. 

I never knew Ross McGinnis but I believe those words all describe the life he lived. The reason why he was willing to personify all of those words, however, can be summed up into one word: LOVE. The people in these workshops often struggle with understanding how to reconcile the tragic results of McGinniss' actions with the example of values-driven success he really provides. The question they're not asking themselves is: Why do we honor him? 

Regardless of the tragic result, regardless of the amount of time he lived after he decided he was going to save his friends, when it comes down to it, he lived a lifetime of love, brotherhood, and trust. Didn't he? Ross McGinnis received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. He couldn't be there for the ceremony. What does that matter? Do we honor him for the medal, or for how he lived his life in the final moments?

Ross McGinnis didn't get to see the results. The medal, the lives he saved, he did what he did on faith. 

Twelve years after I left the U.S. Army, I'm still searching for relationships like the ones I forged with the people I still identify as my brothers and sisters, today. I've known that sense of belonging and a purposeful desire to do what it takes to be worthy of brotherhood and trust. I've looked for it in the corporate and business world over and over only to find myself still craving it like other soldiers who have known it and lost it do. 

I still find myself feeling as Sebastian Junger puts it, "...just back in society, like the rest of us are, not knowing who they can count on, not knowing who loves them, who they can love, not knowing exactly what anyone they know would do for them if it came down to it" (Note: You can find this quote 2:20 into the video). I couldn't have said it better myself. 

Soldiers don't crave war, that's not Junger's message, they crave love and brotherhood with people they trust. My biggest question: Why can't we create those conditions in all of our relationships? Why do we need wars and extraordinary circumstances to create relationships based on brotherhood and trust? I ask these questions because I don't believe we need them. Yet, my experience, my search, indicates without getting ourselves into such dire circumstances, we have a tendency to not focus on what we want the most.

I believe we all crave the same thing as what Junger describes in this video. We become confused about what it means though. We tend to become driven to serve ourselves instead of each other when our situation threatens our status quo. When I rediscovered this simple truth, it inspired the creation of GPS Theory. I developed the model because I never want to forget what is most important to me, again. I am sharing it with whomever truly wants to be the person they want to be because I believe it can help them to always remember what they value most, do things that will make them satisfied with their efforts, and find life-long success. 

How Do We Satisfy The Craving For What's Been Lost?

The moment we accept that we're all equally susceptible to forgetting those three things is when we recognize we need relationships with people based on love, brotherhood, and trust, only then can we be successful in our personal, professional, and organizational lives. We must remind ourselves. The soldiers Sebastian Jungers talks about understand what they are willing to die for- Love, and all of the values that grow from it and lead back to it. They remember a time when they were willing to live for it. They crave the sense of purpose, belonging. They crave the brotherhood. 

In my own searching for success, I've learned the reasons for my deepest cravings really come down to these questions and answers:

Q: Why do I choose to remember and honor people?
A: They have loved heroically.

Q: Why do I need extraordinary situations to love heroically?
A: Any situation where I love is heroic. Loving is the first step.

Q: How can I feel like I have people in my life I can trust?
A: Showing them love is the first step. I cannot plan beyond that.

Q: Why am I so afraid to love first?
A: I am focused on the results. I want success now. I forget that if I can trust the people around me, they will help me get the things I need. I forget that only if I am the person I want to be can I find relationships that are meaningful to me.

The situations we create and the results we want, but have no control over (we can only influence), tend to twist our logic in ways we can't always perceive. We hold tighter to what we have. Our thoughts focus away from how we can gain more strength through relationships based on what we truly value. Our decisions become driven to achieve external results. We lose sight of how the means keep us from being the person we want to be.
  1. We crave love. We can only get it if we give it.
  2. We crave brotherhood. We can experience it when we engage in relationships that are meaningful in ways that represent the person we want to be. 
  3. We crave trust. We can only earn it if we help others find it in us.
When we forget these three things, we try to fill our cravings with things we can get through methods we find easier and emotionally cheaper to invest, like money and things. We then see external results and perceive we're making the kind of progress we want. 

When we remember these things, we recognize the root of our greatest fears. The key to solving any problem is identifying the root cause. We fear giving love, because we may not find the love, brotherhood, and trust in those we give it to. No reward comes without risk. If we don't keep giving love, we'll never find the people who are willing to give it back. Keep giving. You will find the willing, but only if you take the risk! Be Bold!

Remember Who We Have Lost By Remembering That Which We Valued In Them.

We think we honor people who have shown us the way by remembering them. We do. But, it's not enough. It's not really what they would want us to do is it?  What, do you think, they would want more? To be remembered? Or, for us to understand what they believed in, who they loved, and why they lived for both? Any one of them would say, "I found myself in extraordinary circumstances. I did not control that. In those circumstances I lived for love. I made that choice. It wasn't easy, it hurt me and the people I loved. I would do it again. I believe in love that much!"

I want you to think about these questions and answer them for yourself, whether you're reading this on Memorial Day, or any other day:

Q: Who do you choose to remember and honor?

Q: Do you know why you would love heroically regardless of the situation?

Q: How can you feel like you have people in your life you can trust?

Q: Am I willing to put love first?

Q: What words do I want people to use to describe me and the life I've lived?

Q: Am I spending my time and energy on finding the people who would recognize those words in me and give them back?

Remember what has been lost. Get it back!

Remember the people who have loved heroically. Honor their memory and their example by knowing why you would do the same. The last question I asked you is the question I asked myself on the day the concept of GPS Theory was born. 

Do things that represent the words in your answer to that final question. When you do:

The things you do will help you satisfy your craving for love, brotherhood, and trust.

You will help other people.

You will love heroically. You will be remembered for that by the people who value it. Can you really ask for more than that? 

Never Forget This: You Get It Back By Bringing It Back.

Tom Eakin
Success Engineer, BoomLife

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