With The End In Mind
"Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you please allow me to become a professional baseball player."
Until I was 12, I'd say this prayer every night before I went to bed. I never made a big deal about it. My parents never knew - my friends didn't either. I've never known how to express my faith or relationship with God, so I have always kept it to myself.
However, about the time I was 13, the prayer changed, "Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you please help me do something great in this world." Whether the 13 year old me saw the writing on the wall or not, I do not know. But, I do recall the prayer changing. When I was 13, I began struggling with what many people know as the 'yips.' It's an athletes inability to do a common movement within their sport due to extreme nervousness. This nervousness arose, not because of others, but because of the pressure I put upon myself. I wanted to be perfect while playing a game where you fail far more frequently than you succeed. I never got over the yips, and 9 years after they first started, they ended my career. But, luckily, the 13 year old me had changed the prayer, so it was still within reason. I could still 'do something great in this world.'
I'm sitting at my office in the Mercer Innovation Center, and I receive an email from a potential customer I had met with months prior. He tells me that he would like for me to come to his office. He never mentioned whether he wanted to discuss coffee, but I assumed we would. So, first thing the next day, I make my way to his office, hoping to solidify another Z Beans customer. I walk into his office, and as soon as he started talking, I realized this wasn't about coffee.
"Shane, I would like to offer you a job. You can work with me for a few years, then afterwards I will give you my accounts, as I'm looking to retire shortly."
While we had met before, we didn't talk all that much. Other than the story I told him about Z Beans, he did not know anything about me.
"Thank you for the offer, but I'm going to give Z Beans all that I have."
"Good. I had a feeling you would say that."
As a man who has achieved quite a bit in his company, has experienced many things life has to offer, and has never had to worry about money, he says to me, "Shane, no matter what you do, think with the end in mind. When you're gone, and your son or daughter speak at your funeral, what do you want them to say about you?"
What provoked that statement? I do not know. But, it has stuck with me ever since.
So often, we correlate a happy, successful life with financial freedom. But, what if we thought about it in terms of freedom of guilt? Guilt that arises from not doing what we had always wanted to. Guilt because we weren't willing to take that risk. Guilt because we weren't willing to give up comfort in exchange for purpose.
When my time comes to an end, I want to know that I did my part to create opportunities for others. If I can say I did that, I'll leave knowing I did something great in this world. Now, whether or not I achieve financial freedom, God only knows, but with freedom of guilt, I'll be able to rest in peace.