I imagine many (if not all) of you have seen the movie Saving Private Ryan. It’s a movie that tells an amazing story from World War II, capturing the reality and brutality of war. At the very end of the film, long after the explosions and gunfire have ceased, Private Ryan is seen standing in front of the headstone of Capt. John H. Miller. Captain Miller was responsible for saving his life during the war. Now well along in years, Private Ryan stands alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. After gazing for a long while at the headstone, he looks back at his wife and says, “Tell me I have lead a good life. Tell me I am a good man.”
That scene grips me every time. Private Ryan had an incredible motivation to live a good life and be a good man. He was instructed with Captain Miller’s dying breath to “earn” the opportunity he had given him to live a full life. Many of us don’t have such a motivation. Yet it has been my observation, as well as my own self-recognition, that those same doubts of Private Ryan’s are common among many men.
Many of us have a deep-seated FEAR that the lives we lead are not good enough or meaningful enough. We may not even realize it, but we have a fear that, deep down, we are not good men. If people knew us on the inside, if they truly knew what we were like, we would be found drastically wanting.
We fear FAILURE.
We don’t want to fail, and we definitely don’t want to be viewed as a failure. So we ask ourselves these questions: “Am I a good man? Do I have what it takes? Am I making a difference in this world?”
I think this fear can creep so far into the heart of a man, that it keeps him from ever truly succeeding!
We think “If I never try, then I will never fail,” and that thought becomes the foundation for our life and actions (I know because I have been there). Fear grips us to the point of inactivity. But the reality is, such thinking is illogical, and if we continue in it, we will never be able to answer those “worth” questions positively.
When I sit there paralyzed by fear of failing, I often let people down, let opportunities pass by, and in extreme cases, let people get hurt (both physically and emotionally). This only ensures I am NOT a man who will make a difference or leave a legacy of any sort.
Central to Living to LAST are four values:
We firmly believe these core Living to LAST values are also core to your manhood.
The first of these is learning what you don’t know.
This core value has two meanings:
- Testing and pushing yourself hard enough to find the limits of your skill sets, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, strengths, etc.
- Changing that reality- learning more to extend your abilities!
A large part of Manhood is about taking initiative.
The problem is that with so many guys afraid of failing, they never take any initiative. The first half of learning what you don’t know will never happen if you stay in your current comfort zone.
Ask yourself: “When was the last time I tried doing something I have never done before?” Maybe it was a household project or a task at work that no one prompted you to do? Maybe it was a hobby, skill or topic you are just tired of not knowing more about? If you can’t think of anything, I would wager you are letting the fear of failure drive you.
Ask yourself another question: “When was the last time I was in a situation where I realized if I had more knowledge, skills, wisdom, etc. I could have altered the outcome of the situation for the better?”
Do you remember what you felt the moment you realized you could have made an impact? Do you like that feeling … of helplessness or inability? I sure don’t! But I will admit I know it all too well.
Don’t become numb to that feeling. Don’t let yourself be comfortable with wishing you could help. Don’t just bury it with distractions. Do not let it destroy your confidence. Instead let it drive you to LEARN what you need to so you can change the outcome next time.
Life is about learning, and if you aren’t willing to learn, then your experience of living is going to get painful and boring quick.
Yet, we must remember that with learning comes failing.
I can’t stress this enough: YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO FAIL. No one masters anything without failing along the way. We must change our thinking about what failure truly is! Trying and failing does not make you a ‘failure’ or less of a man. However, never being willing to risk failure and letting your fear control you does!
It may not be easy to learn something new at first, but part of the process is training yourself how to learn again. Some learning experiences will be easier then others, but don’t give up. Press on and press in! You will be a better man for following through in the end. After a while, you may find yourself with a growing appetite for learning new things rather than watching opportunities pass by. What will feel truly rewarding is being able to help make a difference with what you’ve learned. Taking the initiative will be easier when you realize, with greater confidence, that YOU can help. The saying is true – it is far better to give then receive. We want you guys to learn to be men who give sacrificially and experience the fullness of life where the threat of failing does not limit you.
Lets wrap this up by encouraging you to do a few things. If anything I’ve said resonated with you, don’t wait- take action now!
- Take the initiative to do something new. Extend yourself to discover your limits.
- Humble yourself and be comfortable with admitting your limits. Until you are honest with where you’re starting from, you can never move forward. There is no shame in this.
- Go learn something new. Ask an uncle/father/friend to show you how to – fill in the blank -, take a first aid class, pick up a new hobby, audit a class at the local community college, learn how to service your own car… ANYTHING! The opportunities and options of what, where, when, and how to learn are endless.
In doing this you will start living in such a way that will LAST.