Life Inside Out: Part 3

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Brian Kight

There was a man I knew, I'll call him Jim (not his real name), who reached a place in his life where he had everything a man his age was supposed to have, but something was missing.

He read a book recommended by one of his friends, not a book he usually would have read, that seemed to wake part of him that had gone dormant. The more he read, something exciting swelled within him. 

Though he felt a need for personal growth gnawing at his mind and tugging on his heart, he also felt the weight of his existing habits. The established routines at home and work felt immovable. After thinking about it day and night, he concluded that his life patterns were too far established to do anything about it now.

Surprisingly, the author of that book was the speaker at Jim's company conference later that month. All the sparks he felt while reading the book, those feelings he had chosen to ignore, came flooding back. He did not believe this was a coincidence and could no longer ignore it. 

When he got home, he nervously told his wife about how the book had stirred something in him, about hearing the author speak, and about his new commitment to transformation. He wasn't sure what to expect, but he could see in her eyes that she thought this was a brief flirtation with a change that wouldn't last. He would prove her wrong.

His first two months of effort were tumultuous but showed progress. For the first time in 15 years, he was on uneven ground and had no map for where he was going. By far, the most prominent early impact was on his relationships -- with his wife especially, but also with his friends, co-workers, and even his kids. His changes triggered a transformation in most of his relationships, many for the better and others for the worse.

Six months in, he hit a wall. The novelty and excitement were gone. He was tired, frustrated, a little lost, though he wouldn't admit that, and suddenly full of doubt. He strained his relationship with his wife. His kids were confused. He'd never felt more disconnected. For the first time since he started this process, he considered whether she might be right about him.

When he was at his lowest emotional point, he had an epiphany. This was a test. This was the price of his change effort. The emotions he was feeling were the same emotions that set off his desire to transform in the first place. So he doubled his efforts. Then he tripled them. Six months later, after an entire year of intense work, he had successfully transformed himself.

A new problem surfaced: he had transformed, but no one else in his life had transformed along with him. He was a new version of himself, one he was proud of, but suddenly felt like an outcast. What good was it to improve himself if it isolated him from the people he cared about and wanted to share his life with? 

He refused to go backward. He would not revert to the prior version of himself. It was the most brutal series of conversations he and his wife had ever had, and for a while, he didn't think their marriage would survive. They tended to avoid difficult but necessary conversations about their lives and relationship. This time though, he was firm but patient with her, and she was skeptical but open with him. After finally getting vulnerable enough to express and understand each other, their relationship became closer and stronger than ever before. Each was better for it, as independent people and as a couple.

Once Jim was aligned and unified with his wife and kids, the changes became evident to everyone else. People began to ask what he'd done, why, and how he'd done it. They saw in him a reinvigoration, a reawakening they craved in their own lives. He was happy to share the parts of his story he thought might be useful but knew they needed to have their own experiences to reap the true rewards in their lives.

They had to make those decisions for themselves, for their reasons, as Jim had for himself a year earlier, as you have to for yourself.

Answer the call. Do the work.

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