Today’s Discussion Group was was focused around Jim Stovall’s book, The Ultimate Life. The premise of the book is to teach 12 life lessons through the story of Jason Stevens, a young man whom inherited billions of dollars from his grandfather. The rest of the family is not happy with this so they drag him into court to make him prove that he fulfilled the duties required by his grandfather’s will. The story line itself isn’t the important part of this book, the 12 lesson that make up The Ultimate Life are what really matter.
The Ultimate Life
- The Gift of Work
- The Gift of Money
- The Gift of Friends
- The Gift of Learning
- The Gift of Problems
- The Gift of Family
- The Gift of Laughter
- The Gift of Dreams
- The Gift of Giving
- The Gift of Gratitude
- The Gift of A Day
- The Gift of Love
Read that list. Now, read it again. Are any of these gifts connected in any way? Is this just a random list of nice characteristics to develop? The discussion that we had this morning really showed me just how connected, and synergistic, this list is.
The Gift of Work
“The real gift of work lies in your ability to pass it on to others, to inspire others to work for their dreams.” That one statement from the book defines the very reason that the JFL Education Solutions Leadership Academy was formed. That is my life’s mission: to inspire people to pursue their dreams and offer guidance in detecting what their life’s purpose is.
The Gift of Money
Find a need and fill it. Keep your eyes and ears open. People will tell you what they need. Focus on serving your community, not on your compensation.
Isn’t it interesting how money and work so often go hand-in-hand? To share the Gift of Work is to really share the Gift of Money. Both only have value when they are used to serve others. Have you ever noticed how focusing on money never helps you get more money? Yet at times when you aren’t even giving money a second thought, but you’re just out living life and being a blessing in the world- that’s when money seems to come at you from everywhere. The Gift of Money is really all about serving. Focus on serving the world and money will take care of itself. (With that said, you do need to develop Financial Intelligence and not be careless with money.)
The Gift of Friends
Friendship and friends are gifts we receive. The only thing we can do is plant the seeds and help other people plant them; and occasionally when we’re really fortunate, a friendship will grow and blossom and provide seeds for more friendship in the future.
Here again, what is the key to friendship? Serving. Friendship takes a lot of work. It can be down right hard to build friendships, sometimes. But the more you are willing to serve, and be a friend, the easier it gets. The one thing that can really make friendship difficult is when we expect to be served as payment for us serving our friends. Keeping score in friendships is certain to destroy them. It is our duty to be the best friend that we can be. If people choose to reciprocate, great. If not, we still love them because it’s all about serving them, not being served by them. Like Chris Mattis says, “Friendship is a one-way street.”
Are you seeing how each of these gifts ties together? We still have a ways to go, but if you can really mold all twelve of these gifts into your life, who you are at your core, you truly will live your Ultimate Life.
The Gift of Learning
Most learning in life occurs outside of school.
If you have been following me for any amount of time you know how I feel about this subject. It is our duty to be constantly learning and growing through a self-directed education. Just as importantly, we need to be passing that on. We need to be talking about what we’re reading with people. We need to be handing out, and recommending, books to people- especially our family and friends. With everything that our government is doing to undermine quality education in this country, now, more than ever, we are duty-bound to make sure we are getting an excellent education, but also that our children and the next generation is also. It is our responsibility to make sure that our children don’t get swallowed up by the State Programming Machine (i.e. Free Education).
The Gift of Problems
By “protecting” people from problems, you rob them of the ability to learn how to solve them.
You’ll notice this goes hand-in-hand with the previous gift. The Gift of Problems is all about learning the lessons God is trying to teach us everyday. The Gift of Problems is the wisdom gained from a life well lived, and well reflected upon. We have the opportunity, everyday, to overcome a new challenge. We have the opportunity to learn a new lesson. If you don’t ever take a step back from your problems you will never see the lesson, you will just be consumed by your problems and they will define your life.
Embrace your problems. Overcoming challenges is how we learn and grow. Our problems help to shape us into the person that we are supposed to become.
The Gift of Family
Some families are formed by birth, others by legal documents, and still others are formed through love.
Have you ever stopped to define what family really means? Too often we limit our idea of family simply to our blood relatives. It’s great to have a great birth family. Being born into a great family is truly a blessing, but our sense of family shouldn’t be limited just to this group. To me family encapsulates your entire tribe of people with whom you share a common bond, and most importantly unconditional love.
The Gift of Laughter
It is impossible to experience fear, hate, or defeat when we are laughing.
Laughter is truly contagious. Whenever you hear someone laughing, even if you don’t know what they are laughing about, you can’t help but smile. Laughing makes everyone around you happier. Laughter is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give to someone. It costs you nothing, it lightens the other person’s load, and it puts everyone in a good mood. It is also a medical fact that laughter makes people healthier. Finally, it says a lot about you anytime that you can laugh at yourself. There is nothing less attractive than a person who takes themselves way too seriously.
The Gift of Dreams
Reality is not always easy to define, and everything is not as it appears. It’s not so important what your dream is, as much as it is that you have a dream.
Dreams are what create reality. Everything that exists in the world today first existed as a dream in some body’s imagination. If you’re not happy with the way things are going in your life you need to dream. You need to take control of the direction of your life. You do that by dreaming. Dreaming is the way that you steer your subconscious mind to take you where you want to go.
Once you allow yourself to start dreaming you need to share your dreams with other people. Your dreams will empower others to dream, and dream bigger. The Gift of Dreams is all about sharing our dreams with the world. You’re going to need their help to make them come true, so start sharing your dreams with everyone who will listen.
The Gift of Giving
Be open, and looking, to always give away a part of yourself to someone who needs it.
If you truly want to leave a mark on the world- give it you. Don’t hold anything back. Give yourself to someone everyday. Being open and vulnerable with people will endear you to them, they will love for it. If you give away a little bit of yourself everyday you will never want for anything.
The Gift of Gratitude
First thing every morning make a list of 10 things that you are grateful for.
If you start every day with gratitude you will never have a bad day. Gratitude creates a great attitude. When your attitude is right anything is possible.
The Gift of A Day
The Ultimate Life is nothing more than a series of Ultimate Days.
What would you do with the last day of your life, knowing that it was? Tomorrow isn’t promised. Would you be disappointed with today, if today is your last day? One day it will be. What do you want to be doing with your days that you currently aren’t doing? What would every day look like if money wasn’t an issue? Would you still be selling your life for dollars? What are you waiting for? You don’t have as many left as you think.
The Gift of Love
If we fill each day with love, we will always have enough of everything.
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
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