Beating The 2 Ugly Brothers (Confusion & Frustration)
Odds are high that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a driven person — someone seeking “more” from life.
Perhaps you’re trying to adapt to a new, challenging season you’ve entered.
Net-net: Your vehicle was thrust off the highway for what you thought would be a brief detour but has proven to be a grueling off-roading expedition.
Perhaps you’re a young gun trying to find clarity on where you’re going in the midst of a really messy, noisy, angry world.
Choosing your college major when you have no idea what you want to do with your life.
Newly-single, "ready to mingle," but tired of wasting time and sad about your investments in the last relationship not paying off.
Net-net: Road-signs everywhere, but images you either can’t comprehend or conflict with the next one.
Sound familiar? Good, you're in the right place (and, dude, I've been there).
Confusion and frustration — two “ugly brothers” who often puff up their chest to strong, focused, courageous men like us.
Every man faces them, a small portion (including us) admit they’re tough, and an even smaller portion (still us, bro) overcome them.
How can we keep this rig rolling and intact despite rocky, unchartered terrain and a mess of road-signs cluttering our view?
How can we drown out the unnecessary noise cluttering our brains?
How can we emotionally recover from the mistakes we made the last time we pursued something passion-invoking?
How can we return to that positive, energetic space in which we're hustling, creating, and exploring?
Simple answer. We SIMPLIFY.
The way to beat confusion and frustration is to re-focus yourself to handle the simple things — the things you’re likely being distracted away from, or taking for granted — with excellence.
This could be a massive shift or a minor adjustment for you, but regardless of its size, taking this step will de-clutter that overactive brain and de-sputter that over-working engine.
My personal example:
My Achilles heal is dreaming too big, too consistently.
I so thoroughly enjoy sitting down with a pad, pen, and a glass of something smooth and envisioning the impact I’ll someday make on the world that I can overlook the impact I’m already able to make as a husband, father, worker, and member of my community.
My eyes are so fixated on massive, visionary things that I fail to see, appreciate, and shepherd the practical, important ones right in front of me.
When I realize this — often when my wife or mentors call me out on it — I take a deeper look at my behaviors, habits, and time-expenditures, and often realize that the key hallmarks of my successful living are being jeopardized by the “big, awesome, passion-invoking” #SELFISH stuff.
I’m not spending time with God, and so my goals turn more self-seeking and shallow.
I’m letting the not-so-fun stuff on my to-do list at work collect dust, which cripples my service of the team and my inner confidence.
My brain jests with the “big” questions (“how will I get there?” and “what’s the next step?”) while I’m with my wife and kids, blocking me from relishing precious moments that others would die for. Moments that I’ll NEVER get back!
Ruh-roh: my priorities have taken a backseat to my purpose. I need to get back to investing into the foundation of my identity as a husband, father, and man — I can’t stack anything on top of a faulty foundation.
This isn’t a time to speed up. I need to keep my tires under me as I navigate this rough new terrain.
This isn’t a time to rely on confusing end conflicting signs — all promising perfect shortcuts — to “master” the course. I need to keep my eyes on the road so that I can navigate the bumps and bends.
Don’t ever stop dreaming, but be willing to ask yourself if this is a season to dream or a season to take care of business.
Don't ever fail to learn from your mistakes, but there is a huge difference between remembering them and ruminating on them.
Don't neglect who you're around -- we are products of our environments -- but it's virtually impossible to maintain momentum and confidence if you're constantly comparing your "behind the scenes" to everyone else's "highlight reel."
Instead of looking behind you, at others, and too far ahead, focus on what's in front of you.
Focus on the duties, people, and opportunities directly in front of you — this is the ONLY arena you can truly champion right here and now.
And when you take action in the here and now — when you're present and prepared enough to handle these scenarios right — you reap the rewards of doing so, which include:
1 - a greater confidence in your ability to get things done;
2 - some valuable experience in overcoming the opaque to achieve the important;
3 - a stronger sense of direction (because you're actually moving).
Some of you may be asking; "But what if the stuff that's right in front of me doesn't necessarily reflect where I want to go or who I want to be?"
"What you want" (hopefully) is purpose and progress, and you'll only get closer to having that clarity -- ruling some things out and others in -- by taking action in the here and now.
One of the ugly brothers -- confusion -- uses the oldest trick in the book to keep you his slave: getting you to stand still. Wise up. Put him in a headlock by taking action.
And think about this too:
Maybe (just maybe) what's in front of you isn't there to be your end-all, be-all.
Maybe what's in front of you -- the tedious duties and boring people and generic opportunities -- is there to give you the experience, or perspective, or connections, or humility, or patience, or [something else] you need to know what you truly want.
The only way to beat the ugly brothers is to meet them in the schoolyard. They are there for a reason. Face them head on.
We will never become the best version of ourselves by overlooking what we've been given, both possessions and opportunities.
Too many men are too preoccupied fantasizing about their one-day achievements than their today’s assignments -- golden opportunities to love, to serve, and to steward.
I've been one of these guys and I'm freaking done. I want clarity and fulfillment, and I know that by deciding to SIMPLIFY what I'm focused on and take ACTION in the here and now, I greatly increase the chances of beating the ugly brothers once and for all.
Focus your heart and mind on the most foundational, pure duties in your life. Face the ugly brothers. Tangibly build towards your purpose -- clarifying it in the process -- rather than simply envisioning its materialization.
Some questions for you:
Which brother is taking you to school right now -- confusion or frustration? Try to get to a one-sentence description of why he's beating you.
Take stock. In your spiritual, relational, mental, and physical health, where are you not taking care of business?
Mentally sift through the activities eating up your time right now. Visualize cutting each one of them out of your life and measure how much peace that gave you mentally.