I was listening to a book on mp3 called How To Think Like Leonardo Davinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J Gelb. My favorite part of the book was the insights into the life of Davinci most of the rest seemed lackluster by comparison. I did pick up a couple of other interesting tidbits. One was that Davinci always carried around a notebook to capture information thoughts, definitions, etc. I, too, carry a notebook which I use to capture fleeting thoughts that become fodder for this blog. Another concept I liked in his book was to write 100 questions at one sitting and analyze them for patterns. I was so intrigued by the concept, questions immediately started popping into my head as I drove my car where I could not safely write down my questions. So, I found a coffee shop and went inside. I sat with classical music playing, a bottle of carbonated grapefruit drink, and started furiously scribbling questions in a notebook.
I had no idea where my questions would lead but am not really surprised as to the theme that emerged. The overall focus is one I have struggled with for many years. I want to live a life of significance. I want to be a difference maker in the world. I want to hear on judgment day when I am finally standing face to face with my Lord and maker that I did not waste this one life that He gifted to me.
This is an angst I have suffered periodically throughout my life. It usually surfaces when I am in a time of intensive journaling. In my garage, beneath the workbench I wrought with my own two hands, is a collection of journals that spilled forth from my psyche during my most intensive time of putting my life to paper. I now find myself in another time of introspection. My writings have again resurrected that all too familiar angst. The words I write are increasingly gnawing at me, accusing me of not living a life well lived.
There have been seasons in my life when I was fairly sure I was making a difference. For a few years, I worked at my church with young children whose parents were working through marital distress. For two hours on Monday nights, I hung out with 2 to 3 year olds so either their parents could attend a group that helped them heal their marriages or the already divorced could attend a group and work on themselves.
For 14 years I coached youth soccer. In the later years of my coaching, when I finally began focusing a lot more on sportsmanship and helping kids develop confidence, I believe I made an impact. My personal goal was to be a voice of reason bring a bit of sanity to the crazy world of youth sports. Particularly in the last years, I was able to maintain a focus on player development (physical and emotional) over winning at all costs. I told the kids, if they came to practice and worked hard, they would play a minimum of half the game no matter the game situation. That was a promise I kept religiously. I always wondered if coaching them the way I did made a difference in their lives. Two incidents occurred in the last year that lead me to believe I may have made a difference.
I was at a party along with a number of the kids I had coached, kids I hadn’t seen in four years. They all hovered around me and one of them smiled at me and said, “Hey coach, remember the good old days? then gave me a hug” Those words touched my heart. The other happened a few months ago. I received a letter from one of my former players, a little blond girl I coached for one year. She won an award at a soccer camp and told her mom, “I was so lucky I had coach Dave!” Her mom went on to tell me that I had given so much to so many and was glad her daughter was one of the lucky ones that was coached by me. Again, my heart was touched.
The days of Sunday School and Coaching Soccer are past. Those were seasons in my life that I thoroughly enjoyed but, I sense, are not the direction I need to move. I attempt to make a difference in my workplace where I am a manager of people. In my role, I try to ensure my direct reports have corporate life that is satisfying, rewarding, a place where they can grow in their professional careers by using their unique talents and gifts. I thought this path was going to take me on a year long delegation to India where I could continue to grow my leadership skills but this now appears not to be the case.
I consider leading people a calling and believe this is where my future lies. Despite my past successes, I have this gnawing feeling that I am meant to do something of greater significance, that my life will be incomplete until I have a role in which I can make a much greater difference in the world. Somewhere, I believe, is an opportunity that will intersect at the paths of success and significance which will fully utilize my talents and allow me, when I pass into the next life, to stand before my Lord and maker where I will be hugged and hear the words I long to hear on this life I have lived, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”