Rick Charlie

How to hold on and unlock your authentic why

Hold on

The one thing you can always hold on to.

I didn’t have anything to hold on to

The insanity of counseling my first Jr. High summer camp had taken its toll.  I happily accepted an extra 2 days at my friend’s lake cottage for some R&R.  After a really good night’s sleep, we headed out on the lake to go inner tubing behind the ski boat.  I was an excellent skier, however in all my years I had never sat in one of these rubber donuts before.  Seems pretty harmless.  What could go wrong?

We were double tubing – two tubes behind the boat.  My buddy took the fancy new bright colored tube.  It had handles and was the kind that was designed for this.  Me?  I ended up with the classic black tractor tire inner tube with the 2 foot long air valve that was digging into inconvenient places.  I was informed that the best experience doing this was while on your belly, and not riding on your keester.  I believe that this lie was provided at my expense.

Unlike my buddy’s tube, there were no handles jutting up to grab on to.  So, I just wrapped my arms around the giant tube and hung on.  My friend’s wife gunned the motor and we were off!  The cottage was in a large bay, and it made for smooth as glass water, so it was pretty easy going.  We were having a lot of fun being zipped around the bay, when she decided to head out to the main part of the lake.  Where the bay and the lake meet, there is also a large Island, and the odds of what happened are ginormous to one.

At the exact moment we headed out of the bay, a dual engine 50 foot yacht (which was hidden by the island) cleared the no wake zone and hammered down both motors.  It went straight across our bow. There was not enough space to turn the boat around back into the bay, so we went head on into that wake.  The boat probably got about 3 feet of air after hitting that.  Had I been smart, I would have just dived off the tube.  Did I mention I was tired?  “HANG ON!” is what I heard.  Hang on?  Hang on?  WTF what I supposed to hang on to?  The two ft long air valve that was trying to impregnate me?

It’s an interesting sensation being jacked 10-15 feet in the air at 30 miles an hour.  My slow motion brain imagined that this is what that guy felt like when he wiped out from the giant ski jump in the intro of Wide world of sports – the agony of defeat.  I can only imagine what it looked like – stick man arms and legs flailing in all directions.  I was completely out of control.  Sky above me, and water below, that was it.  Nice, soft, cool water to land in.

Let me tell you, flying 30 MPH through the air, water suddenly becomes as hard as frikin diamonds, and as smooth as a gravel road.  There is no plopping in with a nice Greg Louganis splash, no you skip across the water like a flat rock rag doll with water jetting into orifices you didn’t even know you had.  I now know why you have to wear those 2 sizes too small life vests when doing this.  1. They have a mind of their own, and desperately try to escape your body when skidding across the water.  2. When you finally do stop and sink into the water, they actually do help you to get upright.  Though you look like a drunk bobber, it’s fine because you stopped, and the water now embraces you as its buddy instead of the mean dominatrix it just was.

As I was contemplating my life as a piece of driftwood, a pontoon boat with about 7 bikini clad sorority girls came slowly chugging by.  They were all staring and snickering.  I’m sure it was quite the sight.  I tried to be all cool about it, and gave them a goofy sailor salute.  They just burst out laughing.  It took me a second, but that is when I saw them; my bright yellow swim trunks just floating by.  Traitors!

I didn’t have anything to hold on to Pt.2

We dated steady for 3 years.  It was one of those magical things from the beginning.  She was one of my best friends little sisters, and the very first time I met her, I knew we would be going out.  We were like peas and carrots.  Both of us were just as goofy, yet humble and heartwarming.  We were THE couple.  The one’s all the popular kids wanted to be like, but were too stuck in their own shit show to just let loose and be themselves.  We went everywhere, did all the high school dances and pretty much had the time of our lives.  We cared a ton for and about each other.  I still look back today and think, yeah, that was pretty great.

The third year, things changed.  We changed.  I was now a sophomore living in the city dorms, and she was in her senior year back in the suburban high school.  I was no longer about such childish antics, and she was running high and wild in her final year of captivity.  College was a time of new self exploration, and I was all about it.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was sure living up to my Richard nickname.

When she finally broke it off, I was completely devastated.  I cried like a baby – often, which, if you really know me, never happens.  I did not see it coming.  I had been pretty self absorbed, which was also not so like me.  So, what did I do?  Become twice as self absorbed of course!  Oh yeah, pretty much for the next year I went to the wild side.  Fortunately the crash on the other side of that ride was not horrendous.  That summer, I counseled at my first camp, and I realized why this had all happened.    Checking into the dorms that first year, I had lost my why.  I just… WENT, direction be dammed. Having no why to guide me, I had nothing to hold on to when we crashed.

Hold on to your why

Your why is the thing that you hold on to, Every.Single.Day.  It is your basis for everything you do, and it never changes.  It becomes fully developed in you in your late teens to early 20s.  It is the sum total of WHO you are, and your life is the opportunity to live in balance with it, or not.  If you feel like you are living on an unstable and shaky iceberg, you are not living in your why.  You have lost your grip on the very thing you need to hold on to.

In a recent talk Chelsea Dinsmore talked about “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  I like that.  Take a moment to think about this.  Anything you do, is based off of one simple thing, and that is how you should do everything.  I am going to tweak that a bit and say, “Why you do anything, is why you do everything.” Click To Tweet

For example, I don’t post political meme’s anymore on FB.  I used to get angry, or used to think this is so funny, but really, was I inspiring anyone to be a better them by doing this?  Certainly not!  As a matter of fact, I was probably doing the opposite.  Why you do anything, is why you do everything.

Tragic events don’t create it

“Tragedy does not create your why, it merely provides it the opportunity to live, where perhaps it did not have one before.” ~ Simon Sinek

Oh and if you know me, I certainly carnally know tragedy.  It can FEEL like the tragedy is creating it.  What is really happening is that your insides are so torn open, your why, that has always been there, is calling you to get together with it.  It is saying, work together WITH me, and we will make this better.  You will still experience pain, sadness, and other darker things, but you will come to understand them better and be able to move forward instead of wallow in the standing still.

So what is a why?

So, what is my why?  It is really super simple.  And yes, I HAVE had this in me since I was about 18 years old.  And it is this:  To help and inspire others to be fully themselves.  Basically, to inspire YOU to find and be YOU!  THAT’S IT!  It’s simple, clear, and basically all that I am about.  It is the thing I can hold onto, and now that I found that again, I am making a picture of it, and putting up on my wall, so I NEVER lose it again.

YOUR why may be completely different.  I can’t tell you what yours is, it’s something you have to dig into your life and come up with.  It could be about creating something, or making something better, or giving great value, service, or impact.  It is never negative. It is always a positive instrument that in one way or another creates possibility.

In my early 20s I started using my why as a Youth Minister.  I did groups from the local level all the way to the national level.  Directing our state camp was extraordinarily meaningful to me.  Just the other day, a former camper reached out to tell me how something I did touched him to be who he is today.  No money can buy that, and no THING is worth more than that to me.

Youth Ministry was the HOW and WHAT of my why.  It was how I delivered it to people.  But, I was getting a bit disillusioned with the church, and wanted to take my why to a different level, so I went back to school and got a masters in social work and became a therapist. That was great, and not so great.  It was a new and more focused way to deliver my why, but it still was not right. I started feeling stuck and losing direction a bit when – BAM!

How I lost my why

I met a woman.  I lost my why in the sea of responsibility, and doing all the things I thought a husband and father was SUPPOSED to do.  None of that tied to my why at all.  It COULD have, had I been listening, but I didn’t.  Thus, I was not the best husband I could be, nor the best father.  I didn’t even realize that I was lost, because I never took the time to think about it.  This is a crucial thing.  You MUST take/make the time to check in with your why, at least 4 times a year.  Once you get to know it, your why will start to tap you on the shoulder and say things like, “Do you really want to say that?”  or “Is this really what or how you want to do this?”  It guides you.  Why you do anything is why you do everything.  And when you lose your why, there is nothing stopping you from doing really stupid shit.

Last note about Why’s

It is important to note that your why is NOT a person, place or thing.  Case in point.  In the movie City Slickers, Curly the old rough cowboy tells the very lost Billy Crystal that the meaning of life is one thing, and if you stick to that everything else don’t mean shit.  He didn’t know it, but he was talking about your why.  It’s a great scene.  Unfortunately, the writers blow the whole thing in the end with the sappy society model of what that “one thing” is.  Billy Crystal spends the rest of the movie figuring out that it’s his kids that are his one thing.  And I say – BULLSHIT!

Look, you can stalk my FB page and what you will find is pictures and posts of my kids and I doing a TON of things together.  I live in a “top” suburban community, not because I love it so, but because I feel it is the best place for my kids to grow up and develop their why’s.  I love my kids dearly, but in the end, they are going to leave.  They NEED to feel free to do that, and to go out into the world holding on to their why.  They can’t feel that way if I am holding on to them (or they to me).  And, where will I be when they go?  That’s right, left with nothing to hold on to.  The same goes with a spouse, home, or job.  It is also not a goal.  Your why goes INTO making your goals, but in and of itself, your why is NOT the goal.

One can apply their why TO their kids, spouse, home and job.  Hell, you are supposed to do that.  But don’t confuse the context and essence of who you are with roles you may play in people’s lives.  They aren’t who you are.  YOU ARE.  And you are much more amazing than you think.  That will show through them, so remember to let it.

So take some time.  Go out in the woods, or fields, or beach and sit alone with just you.  What is it that really makes you tick?  What did you DO when you were little?  What is REALLY true to you?  Look at all the relationships you have had over the years.  When where they best, and what were you doing?  These are the basis of your why.  Oh, and don’t forget to write it down, and keep it someplace safe, because let me tell you, once you lose your why, it can be really hard to find it again.

Peace my friends!

Rick Charlie signature

P.S.  Be on the look out!!!  R/C’s coming up with a challenge soon to help YOU find your own why!  Scroll down to the bottom here to the Sign up for our Tribe fill it out and sign up to RickCharlie.com and you will be hearing from me soon!  Details are coming!!!  I’m SO excited!

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