Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, out of oppression, out of tyranny. But he leads them not to the promised land, the land of freedom and milk and honey, but to the desert. Without anyone to serve, without orders and order, without their oppressor, they turn to false idols.
God, being unhappy with their worshipping of false idols, and sends in poisonous snakes to bite them.
Moses, of course, talks to God and asks Him to get rid of the snakes. God’s answer is incredible, he tells Moses to make a bronze sculpture of a snake on a stick. And tells Moses to tell his people to look at the snake.
Rather than getting rid of what they fear, He told them to look at it.
In short, face your fears, see them, look deeply at them, because it’s better to be strong and brave than it is to be safe.
What’s your fear?
We too often go through life without ever thinking about the bigger things, where we want to live, who we want to be, what we want to avoid, what we really want to achieve.
My fears aren’t really about being alone or lonely, I’m fine with that.
They’re not death; it’s useless to fear the inevitable.
My greatest fears center around not seeing the success I crave in life.
Success is a broad term, and a personal one. You have to tie it into your deepest desires, your long term and not short term wants. But tie it to your skill set as well, what you’re good at, what you do that others see as work but you see as play, as being you, being alive.
My greatest fears are not living up to my potential, getting to the end of my life only to realize I wasted talent, time, didn’t give enough effort, became complacent, allowed fear to keep me in my safe zone.
I think all men have this fear.
Being a man isn’t like being a woman, we have to find our purpose, to create it even. Women are born with the incredible gift of motherhood. Men aren’t blessed in the same way. We’re essentially challenged to figure out why we’re here and to produce some result for us having been here.
Chris Rock said something along the lines of, “only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally,” whereas “a man is only loved under the condition that he provides something. I’ve never heard a woman in my life say, ‘You know, after he got laid off, we got so much closer.’” After all, when a man meets someone new, his friends ask, “What does she look like?” When a woman meets someone new, her friends ask, “What does he do?”
I’m not saying life, for men, is only about work. It clearly isn’t. But we’re here to provide, to produce, even if – like me – you don’t have a family of your own, you’re still here to provide some benefit to others, be they those around you and close to you, or society on the whole.
A life well-lived, for a man, is one where he ends up better than where he began.
Maybe you come from a family that’s struggled with obesity, but you broke the chain, became strong and lean and changed the trajectory of your family forever.
Maybe you come from poverty but figured out how to earn, and you pass that knowledge onto your kids.
Or what if you come from a long line of men who left their families, but you stayed with yours, became a great husband and father and now future generations are far more likely to follow in your example.
In each example, the fear was likely the thing that was overcome.
Instead of ignoring the fear of being a bad father, of being poor or fat or weak, you have to look at the fear, see it, and move toward it with courage.
Men who avoid their fears are destined to live life under their thumb, to repeat what they fear they’d repeat, to end up where they feared they’d end up.
See your fear. Write about it. Face it. Come to grips with what it really is and what you should do about it.
You conquer the fear and live the life you want to live not through a grand act, but through consistency.
The wealth, the weight loss, the strength, heck, the stoic, wise dad you’re trying to become doesn’t just happen with the intention of it happening.
We’ve heard it thousands of times, but as Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
You create what you are, you get who you are.
You can’t afford to wait for a blessing or a gift. They’ve been given in your talent or ability. You have the potential to do nearly everything. That’s the gift.
The actual achievement is earned through consistently getting better. Day by day adding another good day on top of a good day before it.
Stacking knowledge on top of the previous days knowledge until one day you’ve figured out exactly how to get what you want and all that’s left is the effort part – which we all have access to.
In that sense, fears are less deterrent than they are magnet.
We should be attracted to our fears, facing them, chasing them, rather than cowering at the thought of them.
Our deepest fears are things we have to conquer to feel as though we created that purpose. Conquer the poverty, the obesity. Do it without the delusion that it will come easy or quickly. Without wishing for it to be handed to you. Don’t rob yourself of a great life by having false expectations of how life occurs.
There will be tough times.
There will be many, many times where your back is against the wall and you have to figure out how to stop from drowning. There will be serendipitous moments where everything comes together and you have to have developed the skill set to take advantage of that moment.
This isn’t the ‘path to happiness’. Happiness exists regardless of circumstances. You can’t attach your happiness to getting something or winning something, as that’s a contract with yourself that you won’t be happy until you get that thing. And when you get that thing the happiness only ever lasts briefly.
We’re talking your purpose, your evidence to yourself – and even to others – that shows why you were born.
The only way to feel as though you’ve won is to actually win.