It’s ironic. We spent two weeks to get sun and warmth, but instead got clouds and rain. Today, waking up in Austin, the sun is shining, the temperature is warm, and the glow of golden light greets my morning, putting a big smile on my face.
Last week during the storms, the rain, the dark clouds, and the high winds, everyone was hunkered down, staying inside as much as possible, trying to stay warm and dry. Yet as I looked at the sky from inside, I noticed some giant birds were taking advantage of the high thermal winds, frolicking about like surfers who had found high waves.
Instead of hiding out in a tree, they were soaring more than ever, taking advantage of what the rest of us thought were bad conditions. I could have watched them for hours.
A Call for Help
Last week I received a message on social media from a man who said he’s been watching me for years. He runs a business and asked me for some time so I could offer him some advice. According to him, “I’m amazed at how much you get done and want to know how you do it.” I’ll tell him it’s about growing your wings.
A Mega Yacht
Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to take a ride on a mega yacht owned by one of the wealthiest men in America. We got to know him because his yacht was docked across from the houseboat we were staying on, which he also owned.
It’s easy to be impressed in a situation like that. Riding on a multimillion-dollar yacht, hearing about his racehorses, his classic sports car collection, his dozens of businesses, some of which are household names, and his jets. It’s also easy to allow yourself to feel small and insignificant for not having accomplished that level of wealth. This man had unbelievable financial success, but did he have wings?
When I was a young business guy, it was great wealth that I wanted. Our society has drilled that into our heads: Success is stuff. Lots of expensive stuff. And I spent years chasing stuff and finding there was never enough; someone else always had more. In comparison to this guy, I could maybe have afforded one chair on his boat. Nothing more.
But that is a dead end game for me. Maybe some people are cut out for it, but it was not until I let go of it that I started to feel my body lift off the ground. It’s when I started to grow my wings. The more I let go, the more I lifted off.
The Magic of Purpose
Wings grow from purpose. And when you grow wings, you begin to lift off. The more purpose you get, the more good you do, the more you reveal your true heart, the higher you will soar.
It’s like the more you give, the more you get. For instance, there is a principle called tithing, meaning giving a percentage of what you earn to do good things. It can also be a percentage of your time. And the more you give, the more you end up getting.
You see, wings are about letting go. We tend to cling tightly to things, to money, to what we have … yet the minute we start letting go of those things, we start to soar.
You won’t find this in business books or books about success, yet it is one of the greatest principles of success.
Purity of Heart
Of course, some try to game the system … meaning they give more just to get more. But that lacks purity of intention, and when it occurs, they will get some lift, but they won’t soar. When your heart is right, when you’re doing things for a grand purpose and making it all about others, your wings will take you to play in the winds overhead.
Once I let go of the foolish idea of chasing wealth for the sake of wealth, and instead chased generosity and the idea that my life needs to be devoted to helping others, the skies opened up, the wings came out, and I’ve been able to soar to do more.
That should be a slogan … Soar to do more.
When we let go of self, when we stop worrying about ourselves and start doing more for others, we’ll be dripping with reward. Your heart will be the happiest it’s ever been — but it can also lead to financial reward if your intent is pure.
Last week I talked about happiness and never letting things or others define what makes you happy. But if you can engage others in your life in your bigger mission, you’ll soar more, and you’ll help them soar. For instance, my employees have a bigger purpose knowing that we take 10 percent of our company earnings every year to build a house for the homeless shelter in my town. We’ve built several now, and it changes lives.
True encouragement will also give you lift. Surround yourself with people who believe in you even when you have doubts about yourself — people who truly can be the wind beneath your wings. We all need that. We can fly without it, but it’s better when you can share it with others who believe in you.
When you grow wings, some will want to help you grow them bigger and help you soar higher, but others will want to cut them off or weigh you down. You have to be willing to embrace those who encourage you and ignore those who want to see you fall.
“Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury
Don’t Wait for Perfection
People want to make things perfect before they take a leap, but perfection does not exist. Tiny efforts lead to bigger wings. Find something you can do that will use your dreams to help others, or just jump in and volunteer somewhere. It’s also one of the best ways to overcome depression. You get a rush of dopamine when helping others and when you stop being selfish.
I believe we all have wings, and they will come at the right time. But you can’t wait for them. They are waiting for you.
“Wings are freedom only when they are wide open in flight. On one’s back they are a heavy weight.” —- Marina Tsvetaeva
The Death of Self
If I could do just one thing for my kids to secure their future, it would be to help them understand that selfishness is the road to ruin. Selfish may get you great wealth, but if you want a fulfilling life, it’s about being selfless. The death of self is the beginning of life. It’s taken me decades to learn that and get my own wings.
It’s not about how much I can do, it’s that when I have wind under my wings, and I see that others are benefiting, I cannot do enough. You’ll also find that to be true.
Stop being self-focused or career-focused and instead use your imagination to discover how you can leverage your skills and career to help others. Then, and only then, will you truly get your wings.
I wish I had discovered this decades ago. Looking back, others tried to tell me, but I thought I knew better. Still, that resulted in me spending my life learning powerful lessons that made me ready to receive my wings when it was time.
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali
What about you?
Have you grown your wings?
Are you focused on generosity?
Can you soar more?
When you have wings, all your aches and pains and problems become secondary.
PS: Last week, I received three different e-mails from people who said, “I feel like you wrote this especially for me.” This happens to Laurie and I a lot at church — we feel like the sermon was just for us to hear. Though these Coffees are just life lessons, not sermons, if you know someone you think would enjoy it, or maybe someone struggling to get some wind under their wings, maybe you could pass this along and they will subscribe for free. And if you’re not a subscriber, I hope you’ll consider it.
Today I’m getting on an airplane, but not for business for a change. I’m treating myself to a one-week workshop in painting from masters David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw in Scottsdale. One of my personal deliverables for 2020 is to be a better painter, which excites me, so I’m launching my year with this in mind. Yes, it’s selfish, but it will help me soar in other areas of my life. I’m also signed up to study with another artist later in the year.