Whatever good things we build end up building us – Jim Rohn
Beneath the Surface
While the beauty above an edifice is often its height or shape above ground, its strength and ability to endure time and the elements are tied to the foundation. The Millenium Towers in San Francisco, California, is a luxury condominium that opened in 2009. Its 400 apartments sold out quickly as star athletes wanted a piece of the latest West Coast luxurious occupancy. The beauty of the Millennium Towers did not last long. A poorly built foundation has resulted in a sink and tilt of the magnificent building. Sinking and tilting at the rate of three inches per year is enough to cause a visible lean of the building. Ron Hamburger, the building engineer, revealed that at this rate, the elevators and plumbing may cease to operate. Units that were once worth millions have now sunk to $1 to $2.
In construction and life, building a life that is lived well and lasts comes down to the foundation. Last week, after seven decades of reign, the world’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Hailed as a beacon of stability for Great Britain throughout her rule, faith was foundational to her life. Her steadfast and gracious character was unwavering in spite of the changing world around her. Despite being royalty, the Queen is an example of building a life below the waterline.
My fifth year of blogging taught me that my life below the waterline is a key component to living a high-quality life as a Christian, husband, and father and writer. Your private world is key to an effective life. Your external life is a by-product of your inner world. How do we build an effective life?
Do you constantly evaluate what you are doing and why you are doing it? Discipline connects action to meaning. This connection is crucial to sustained passion. When your “what” loses its “why” it’s only a matter of time before it runs out of gas and stalls. If you do too much of the unimportant, eventually, the important will fall to the background and disappear, leaving you empty. A clear “why” keeps erosion of passion and drift of mission afar. Evaluation from experiences invites insight that leads to adjustments that bring change where needed. Would constant evaluation of the Millennium Towers have exposed the faulty foundation early enough? Evaluation serves as a primer to introduce the change beneath the surface and leads to greater effectiveness.
Know Your Rhythms
What are three things you do that bring you the highest return for your resources of time, energy, and money? Your to-do list should reflect the prioritization of these things. In addition, you should also have a when for your to-do tasks. Do you know when you are at your best? Is it in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Match your highest return tasks with the times when you are functioning at your best. There is a connection between your rhythms and returns. As a morning person, I choose to wake up early and maximize three hours before work to do my best writing and reading. Do you know your cycles? Your returns determine effectiveness. Understanding your cycle and when you are at your best, increases effectiveness even with little time on hand.
Stand By Your Values
Values are the guardrails of our desires. When we pass our desires through the filter of our values, we ensure destructive ones don’t gain access. Despite the strength of a desire, values are non-negotiable. Consider the following questions to clarify and stand by your values:
- What are your top five values? This question clarifies your values and brings them to the dashboard of your life. Interestingly, most people don’t consider their values when desires drive them towards a goal. They fail to know, clarify, and reflect on their values. In light of pursuing your goals, keep your values front and center and allow them to guide you in building an effective life.
- Why are these five values essential to who you are: A company’s core values are integral to its identity. Similarly, your identity is tied to the values you deem essential.
- Are your values flimsy or firm? Our view on life is largely attributed to the values we hold. Are the top five values you clarified above fixed, or are they subject to change depending on the environment you are exposed to or your desires?
- Does this desire violate any of your values? Knowing and clarifying your values helps temper or eliminate rogue desires that compromise our core values. When we synergize our desires and values, we build lives free from the residue of regrets and guilt.
Final Thought: Although beautiful aesthetically, the Millenium Towers’ value continues to sink due to a poorly built foundation. By constant evaluation, which exposes areas of improvement, knowing your rhythms which are connected to your returns, and standing by your values, which temper destructive desires, you can build an effective life and avoid the sinking and tilting effect that comes with a life built on a poor foundation.
Keep on keeping on!