Your Story Is NOT The Answer | 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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If you solved all of life’s problems today, what would you do tomorrow?

This afternoon, I attended a program at Amherst College called Career Choices. It was a panel of alumni talking to students to give them advice on how to find a job in this difficult economy. There were several different alumni from all walks of life telling their stories and offering up wisdom to a younger generation of college students. And, as a young alum listening to the wise advice of an older generation, I found it rejuvenating and re-energizing. It made me realize, once again, that life is just a process of trying to figure it all out, especially, when it comes to finding a career and finding a passion.

I found it re-energizing because it reaffirmed the obvious: everything is going to be okay. No matter how much turmoil, uncertainty, fear, and madness is going on in the world, everything is going to be okay. If you’ve lost your job, your finances are in peril, and you’re girlfriend is leaving you, it’s still going to be okay. (Try to put yourself in your own shoes as you continue, especially if you don’t think that everything is going to be okay).

How do I know? Well, other than being a seer, I know that it’s only a matter of how you look at your life, and that being said, everything is going to be okay.

Now, that may seem like an obvious answer to some and an over-simplification to others, but I think it’s just right. The fact of the matter is that the rest is just a story of your individual circumstances. Beyond the story, there is a reality that no matter how challenging or daunting, you have the ability to overcome the circumstances of your life.

It’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the circumstances of your own story. This is what I did, this is what happened, this is what she said, this is what’s going to happen, this is why my life is ruined, blah, blah, blah. They are only circumstances with no real assessment of what is going on and how you are going to overcome the circumstances.

Interestingly enough, this is a very difficult problem because our lives are frequently shaped by our circumstances. When our circumstances change drastically, rather than reevaluate and adapt, we go through an identity crisis and begin to panic. We look inside of our box of possibilities to what was, rather than look outside of our box of possibilities to what could be. Rather than generate new possibilities to fit our current reality, we try to make old possibilities conform to where we are. The old reality no longer makes sense in our current reality, but we have yet to let it go.

So, yes, once you’ve let it go, it’s going to be okay.

At the edge of your box of possibilities you are constantly aware of the attitudes, judgments and beliefs that are affecting your reality; you are conscious of where you are right now in the world and living in the moment; and by virtue of this awareness, you are living life fully all the time! Isn’t that the point of living life, to live life fully?

I personally believe that it is your destiny is to be who you are. We each have a different passion, a different personality, and a different path. Our lives will inevitably ebb and flow as we try to navigate the waters of life. And yes, there are times where we fear the worst and get caught up in our own circumstances. And yes, there are times when it feels like we are paddling up stream and going in the wrong direction And yes, life is challenging and reality can be daunting.

But you know what, it’s going to be okay.

This was the lesson that I learned today from watching alumni tell the stories of their lives to students. They talked about their circumstances to help explain the lessons they learned over the years. And the moral of all of their stories was: it’s going to be okay.

So, as I continue to beat a dead horse, you’re probably wondering why I won’t just be done already. Because it’s an easy concept to hear, but a much harder concept to embrace. We are so intertwined with our circumstances because they make up the very fabric of our lives. The circumstances create the lessons even if the lessons are not the circumstances. They are very difficult to separate sometimes because we want something to hold on to. We want to wrap ourselves in the fabric of life and hold on to the fleeting existence that has already happened. In the now, there’s nothing to hold onto because you only have the moment!

It makes my head hurt and my stomach turn sometimes to think this way, let alone live try to live this way. When I take a deep breath and try to let it all go, my mind asks, what do I have if I don’t have my circumstances? What am I going to do without my story?

Everything is going to be okay no matter what happens.

I hope that this makes sense and perhaps helps you better understand how to separate your own circumstances from the lessons that are hidden just beneath the surface. Whether it does or it doesn’t, I want to leave you with this question to ponder if you missed it earlier: If you solved all of life’s problems today, what would you do tomorrow?

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