One of the exercises that came out of this was to give my life a brand and work toward making that my true brand by working toward being who I want to be. Like BMW is "The Ultimate Driving Machine", this particular task was to set a brand for yourself. This was really difficult imagery to narrow down - something that you truly desire and can hopefully accomplish.
So what did/do I want my brand to be you ask? What I came up with then is now still something I think about regularly and work for in my life. I wanted and still want to be: "A deep well to draw from."
There's a selflessness in this that appeals to me. It ties in with my upbringing as a Christian and also my current love of the Tao and most of the people I really admire in life. Those like my friends Howard Potratz and Ed Cox who devote their life to help others reach their potential. But I've been thinking lately on how there needs to be more specifics now to this brand I desire to be. A deep well of what? I've come to some conclusions:
1. A Deep Well of Wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to apply your life lessons and learning to current situations. This isn't some pie in the sky, etherial quality, it comes from a life long desire to learn and a focus on introspection - "what did I learn?" I've had a lot of failures in my life and will have more, but I've learned from most of them what not to do in similar situations. My gray hair is proof of this! Mostly though, I want to be able to help others through applying the knowledge I've gained in life and learning in a wise manner and when it's wanted. This also spurs me on to keep learning through living and study. Ghandi said: " Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever."
2. A Deep Well of Love. I want the people around me to know that I love them. Not for what they can do for me or even for what they can do for themselves, but for who they are. This doesn't mean I don't have expectations for those I interact with, it just means my love for them doesn't depend on those expectations. Unconditional is how it's put in a lot of circles. I also want people to be able to dip in and draw love when they don't feel it themselves. It's why I care about the plight of the hungry and homeless. most of whom have a serious love deficit. Again, there is a personal responsibility for me to make sure I have a love surplus. Letting people love me. Honestly, that's been one of the hardest lessons in my life and something I still struggle with. You can't love others without letting others show their love to you. It's how you learn to love and it's also how you build up a surplus.
3. A Deep Well of Joy. I think Joy is a combination of two things: Contentment and Simplicity. Being peaceful and content in where you are and who you are is a life long journey. This doesn't mean you don't have goals and desires, it just means you don't let them rule your attitude. If you fail, learn from it. The Tao teaches this best. Think of your life as water; though water is soft and compliant, there are no obstacles that it will not eventually conquer. Visualize the Grand Canyon. There is nothing in your way that you cannot eventually master. In this, you can be truly happy, for without contentment, joy is unatainable. Also, getting your life to it's simplest form creates joy. Your life may be complex compared to others, but reducing complexity always leads to happiness and joy. Building up a surplus of joy, being so content on simply where I am at and who I am that joy spills over; this is how I want to live.
This is a bit of a life manifesto for me, a passion to keep me going, for at times my well runs dry. It's then that I am so thankful for my family and friends. I could recount how each one at times has let me draw from their own well when I am parched. I hope to be that person for you when you need it.