Give a Damn

Give a Damn

“Whatever!”  Have you heard this phrase recently?  Have you said it in a conversation, or used it as a quick retort?  It can be fun to throw out when joking around with friends.  It can also be used to instantly communicate that your interest in the topic of discussion has been exhausted and you’re ready to move on.  However it’s used, the message it conveys is clear:  “I don’t give a damn.”

It’s become trendy not to care and to be cynical and apathetic as opposed to giving thought to a topic or perspective and actually caring.  Perhaps it’s easier to do so because people are busy or are mentally engaged elsewhere.

I was recently listening to another Entrepreneur on Fire podcast and was struck when the guest gave his favorite success quote.  It was simply, “Give a Damn”.  Something about this quoted really resonated with me.  It reminds me to actually care about the things I’m pursuing, the people I’m with, the effort I give, and the person I’m becoming.  This phrase reminds me to be engaged and committed to what I devote my efforts to.

There’s another thing I love about that quote.  No matter what I’m doing, I can add “Do I…” to the front of it and regularly ask myself, “Do I give a damn?”  That’s a powerful question!  No matter what I’m doing or what I’m engaged with, I can stop and ask this question of myself.   If my response to that question is “Yes” and my effort or engagement is sub-par, then I clearly need to step my game up and engage at a higher level.  If I answer, “Yes” and I am fully engaged, that confirms I’m right on track.

What if the answer to this question is, “No”?  Then what?  It seems like the next logical question might be, “Why don’t I give a damn?”  This question warrants an honest answer beyond simply, “because” or “I don’t know”.  It may be that a bad attitude is to blame.  That’s easy to correct, because we have complete control over that.  What if the attitude is good and the answer to the question of whether we give a damn is still, “No”?  This could be a strong indicator that we’re pursuing something that doesn’t align with our passions, strength, or values.  It could also mean the people we’re with, or activities we’re engaging in are not fulfilling or causing us to grow and be stretched.

Let’s be mindful of what we’re spending our time and effort doing.  Yes, there are some things in life that we need to do, which we may not care about.  However, the point here is not to voluntarily waste significant portions of our lives on things we don’t give a damn about.

Make sure that you give a damn in your efforts to cause something to happen.  Greatness never came from someone who didn’t care.

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A Sure Thing

Everyone wants a “sure thing”.  You know what I mean; it’s that investment or strategy that is guaranteed to provide you with a significant return on your investment of time and money.  We’re not interested in wasting our resources on something that won’t yield a decent return.  So where should we invest our resources that has the greatest potential for the highest return?  Is there even a “sure thing” out there?  If so, what and where is it?  I’m glad you asked.

I’ll give you a hint.  In fact, I’ll do even better.  I’ll show you exactly where to find this guaranteed, sure thing investment.  Ready?  Here it is:  Go find the closest mirror and stand facing it.  You see that person looking back at you?  That’s your sure thing!

We tend to think of investments as deposits of dollars we make in a bank account, a 401k, or some other retirement or savings plan.  While it’s true that those are indeed important investments, have you ever thought of yourself as a worthy investment?  Have you ever thought of yourself as someplace worthy of investing your time and money, with the expectation of a significant return?  You should, because you ARE.

So what does investing in yourself look like?  Does that mean putting an extra sum of money in your wallet or pocket every month?  Not quite.  Investing in ourselves involves committing our time and resources into materials, activities, experiences, and relationships that cause positive growth in our lives.  This is growth that enables us to be better prepared to pursue our goals and dreams and to take advantages of opportunities that align with our goals and dreams when they arise.

Some examples of investing in yourself may include:

  • Purchasing (and reading!) books in an area of interest, vocation, or career.
  • Signing up for a relevant seminar or conference in an area where you are attempting to grow.
  • Enrolling in a class or pursuing a degree.
  • Purchasing training or coaching from a professional that will increase your skills and knowledge in order to help you go to the next level.
  • Finding and fostering a mentoring relationship with someone who has done, or is currently doing, what you’d like to do now or in the future.
  • Traveling to a new destination to learn about a different culture.
  • Creating a growth experience that stretches your understanding, knowledge, and/or comfort zone.

This is certainly not an extensive list, and only offers a small glimpse of the possibilities for investing in one’s self.  Anything you can do that requires effort, resources, or both, which increases your knowledge and understanding in your area of interest is a worthy investment in yourself.

Take advantage of the opportunity you have to invest in a sure thing.  See yourself as the worthy investment that you are and cause something to happen by being committed to regularly investing in yourself.  You will be delighted with the return on your investment!

Cause Something to Happen… For Others

I’m currently co-leading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) course at church with my friend Steve.  This is the second FPU course we’ve taught together.  I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and solid personal finance principles and am passionate about sharing them with others.

There are 2 things I really love about teaching this course.  The first is the openness and transparency that develops within each class.  I’m always amazed at how willing people are to open up and share what’s really going on in their lives when given a safe environment with caring, supportive people.  The second, is listening to people tell me about the progress they have made, or are making, with their finances and in their marriages as a result of the courses Steve and I have taught.  Every time I hear one of these stories I’m so honored that I’ve had the opportunity to play a small role in adding value to their lives.

Throughout this blog, I’ve talked about causing something to happen that will move us toward our goals and the “ideal life” we desire for ourselves.  I truly believe we have the power to direct and change our lives if we continuously take the initiative to cause something to happen.

As I was thinking about the people in the current FPU class that Steve and I are teaching, and the successes they’ve been sharing with us, I thought about my favorite quote, “Cause something to happen”.  I was thinking how that quote is not only relevant for our own lives, but it’s also relevant for the lives of the people around us.  As we’re causing something to happen for ourselves, we should be mindful of opportunities to do so for others as well.

Steve was the one that caused the latest FPU class to happen at our church.  Through his action, he gave people in church the opportunity to sign up for the course and learn personal finance principles that can change their life.  Steve’s initiative created opportunity for others.  Whether he knew it or not, Steve caused something to happen that is benefiting everyone in the class.  Way to go, Steve!

I want to follow Steve’s example by causing something to happen for others.  How much more satisfying would life be, knowing that as we’ve not only caused something to happen in our own lives, but we’ve also sparked opportunity for others to do the same?

Where can you cause something to happen in someone else’s life, today?

Get Out of the Zone

We all have one.  For some, it’s pretty big.  For others it can be rather small.  Regardless of its size, the fact is everyone has a comfort zone.  However, what each person’s comfort zone represents to them, and how they view their comfort zone can be quite different.  I believe how we view our comfort zone has a lot to do with how we view life’s opportunities and challenges.

What I especially like about our comfort zones is that they are flexible and can be stretched and made to grow, becoming ever-larger as we gain new skills and experience and seek new opportunities.  My comfort zone also makes me aware of boundaries, either real or perceived, that are holding me back.  Its boarder represents opportunities to try new things, travel to new destinations, to meet new people, to learn and to grow.  Just beyond its boarder represents endless possibilities for a more enriched and fulfilling life.

The best part is that when we continually venture beyond its borders, our comfort zone expands, providing us with additional opportunities just beyond its newly expanded border.  What a great way to live!  I’m excited by the thought of having a comfort zone that grows larger with each year.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  Where some see a comfort zone a something to be stretched and grown, others see it as the walls of a mighty fortress, never to be breached or crossed.  To this mindset, the comfort zone represents the entirety of whom they are and who they will remain.  Anything beyond its boundaries is for other people, is impossible to attain, or is too far out of reach.  Anything outside of their comfort zone is of no interest.

But there’s one thing even worse than a comfort zone that never expands.  That is a comfort zone that has begun to contract.  This can occur when, for whatever reason, a person gives up trying to stretch and actively pulls back from activities that cause growth and development.  In this scenario, the comfort zone becomes the walls of a prison, within which our growth and potential serve a life sentence.

This is not how our comforts zones should be.  As we continually seek to cause something to happen that betters our life and the lives of others, we can be assured that our comfort zones will be stretched as part of the process.

John Maxwell gave a similar illustration with a rubber band in one of his Maximum Impact lessons.  His question was, “When is a rubber band the most useful?”  The answer:  when it is being stretched.  How true of our comfort zones as well!

Commit to regularly stretching your comfort zone just beyond its borders.  Be mindful of daily opportunities to do so and take advantage of them.  Perhaps begin journaling each opportunity you take to expand your comfort zone.  Do this and, in the future, look back and see how much you and your comfort zone have grown as a result.