Where are you Big Baller? | Max Woolf

Max Woolf is a motivational speaker and career coach for Gen Y and beyond. Max speaks to organizations, groups, sports teams, and individuals to help them maximize their potential, live life more fully, and discover their passion and purpose. He has developed a new context for living that invigorates life experiences and improves quality of life called Living at the Edge.

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I took a deep breath as I stood silently in the doorway. I stared with excited trepidation down the long hallway in front of me. There were at least ten doors on either side. I could make out the names on the glass, but that was all. I could not see what lay behind the smoky-tinted glass. Each name represented an exciting opportunity in my life—a different path to follow—and I simply had to choose a door. But how could I choose? What was on the other side? The doors read: Business School, Hospitality Consultant, Endless Travel, Unconditional Love, Buddhist Monk, Motivational Speaker, Youth Development Coordinator, Reunion Committee Chair, Spiritual Vagabond, Yoga Master, Elephant Charmer, Unknown, Power of One, and there were a few at the end I could not quite read. Surprisingly, I was afraid to choose a door. What if I chose incorrectly? What if it wasn’t what I was expecting? What if, What if, What it…

And so, I quickly darted down the hall and entered the first door on the right: Business School.

When I returned from my road trip across the country, I had aspirations of going to business school to get an MBA. I was excited. I had figured out the next phase of my life, and I knew how I would occupy myself for the next few months. But when I began to study for the GMAT and prepare to write essays and complete applications to different schools, I felt lost and confused. I could study for three hours or read about different curricula, but I lacked the passion and excitement of my friends who were also applying to business school. When anyone would ask why I wanted to go to business school, I was at a loss for words. I would literally stammer and stumble trying to articulate a coherent answer.

Obviously, I had chosen the wrong door. I may need the credential someday, but not now. I turned around and closed the door carefully behind me. I would always have the opportunity to go through that door again, but now was not the right time.

So what did I learn by going through that door? I found a series of new doors, some of which were the same as in the first hallway, but there were several new opportunities that now existed simply because I had made a choice to go through this door. This is one of the most important realizations that you can make when deciding a course of action or a life-path. You will never know if you’re on the right path until you make a choice! Once you have made a choice, you can determine if it fits or doesn’t fit with who you are and where you want to be. Until you have opened that door, it is simply speculation in your mind.

So I continued down the hallway and went to the third door on the left: Unconditional Love.

When I arrived to Boston, Shelly was eagerly waiting to pick me up. I think it was the first time in over two and a half years that I had nervous anticipation getting off a plane. I had been traveling across the country for the past month, and I was going to move back to Boston to live with Shelly, and we weren’t even dating! Try explaining that one to your parents.

“Does she have an extra bedroom?” “No.” “Are you sleeping on the couch?” “No.” “What do HER parents think of this?”

Well, needless to say, the past month and a half has been amazing! When you have been single for two years, it is very difficult to let go and open up completely to another person. You have to unconditionally place your trust, faith, and love in another person’s heart knowing that they are ready to do the same. It is comforting and invigorating, and at the same time, frightening and overwhelming. Fortunately, the last two are only temporary. Once you’ve overcome the initial love-threshold, you’re walking in the clouds. It’s truly a great feeling to be warmed from the inside out as you bask in love’s glory. It makes you happy to be alive! Makes you wonder why everyone’s not in love. Actually, we won’t tackle the relationship side of the coin, just yet, only the love side. I had clearly chosen the right door.

So now that I found myself in a new hallway with more doors, I decided I would take the third one on the left again: Motivational Speaker.

After deciding recently that I would not apply to business school for the upcoming year, I have been trying to figure out my next step. I have been trying to find something that would fulfill my personal vision and passion of: teaching others how to build productive, inter-developmental relationships; how to show compassion and understanding for others; and ultimately, how to use compassionate relationships to create a better world and global community. This was a vision that I came up with several months ago, which led me to give workshops with my father entitled Living at the Edge.

Recently, I have thought very seriously about being a motivational speaker for young adults in an effort to help them find their passion, personality, and possibility. I think that hearing a message from a peer would resonate very strongly with high school students, college students, and recent college graduates. Now is the time to realize that life is about discovering who you are, how to make difficult choices, and understanding how you can make a difference in your world! I have been developing an hour long presentation entitled: Who do you want to BE when you grow up? And the punch line is: You can DO anything when you grow up, but you will always BE who you are!

As I stepped through this door, I was in a large atrium. In the center, there was a large statue of a leaning Buddha stretching from one end of the room to the other. His golden arm pointed towards two immense golden doors: The Power of One.

During the end of December and January, I will be traveling to Thailand with my father and sister on a program entitled The Power of One. Ironically, when I agreed to go on this trip several months ago, I knew very little about the content of the program itself. I only knew that I would be working on an Elephant Nature Park and that they had a fantastic time on the trip last year.

Are you ready for this? The mission of The Blue Star of Hope, which is the organization running this program, is to, “foster global understanding and compassion, celebrate cross-cultural similarities and diversities, and promote a consciousness of peace and empowerment while supporting economic prosperity, social progress and ecological integrity for all of Earth’s inhabitants.” As a mentor for The Power of One, I will be working on an Elephant Nature Park, participating in service work in local Thai communities, and, most importantly, mentoring American and Thai High School students. The ultimate goal is to help these students learn the value of being global citizens by learning about how they can personally make a difference in the world. Could this be a more fitting trip to culminate the transformative journey that I embarked upon several months ago?

Over the past three months, I have truly tried to Live at the Edge. I have sought to define the edge of my personal box of possibilities, by constantly reevaluating my attitudes, judgments, and beliefs. I have made difficult choices to which I did not know the outcomes. I have experienced mixed emotions, faced challenging circumstances, and at times struggled to stay At the Edge. And in the end, I have realized that Living at the Edge will always make you feel uncomfortable, to some extent, because you are in a constant state of flux (or impermanence). Once you cross the edge of your box of possibilities, you have crossed a very important threshold. Things cannot go back to the way they used to be, and you have not yet defined the way things are going to be. Therefore, the way things are is frightful and fulfilling, fearful and fabulous! In order to sustain yourself, you need a solid support system, and the ability to see life with the right kind of eyes.

So, now, I find myself walking down an endless hallway with doors. I am slowly and methodically meandering down the path of life, while carefully tight-rope walking along The Edge. Truth comes in many forms as long as you live a purposeful existence. Compassionate relationships, fantastic experiences, and mystifying adventures present themselves everyday. You can DO anything that you want to do, as long as you remember to BE who you are! Live purposefully, Live mindfully, Live at the Edge!

2 Responses to “Where are you Big Baller?”

  1. HerrSlam says:

    In the words of Thomas P. Smith: “No one has fewer options than he who must keep them all open.”

    I applaud your initiative, your resolution, your passion, young Master Woolf.

    I will look forward to seeing where this next door leads… and to a double-date dinner with you and Shelly.

    Until soon, brother.

  2. Meehov says:

    hey there, Max. Your blog, and especially your last entry, are really amazing. You have such an honest and beautiful way of looking at the world. I know no matter what door you choose and where you end up, you will find meaning in it, and hopefully, continue to share it with all of us! Thank you for writing.