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  • Writer's pictureWayne Scott

The Proper Function of Man Is to Live, Not to Exist

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying[1] to prolong them. I shall use my time.” ~ Jack London

Many of us often get caught up in our daily lives, especially if we’re running the company as a CEO or in the C-Suite positions. Meetings, agendas, investors, and customers all take up time, lots of time.

But what about you?

● Are you living?

● Are you thriving?

● Or are you just surviving?

It takes courage to answer these questions honestly. And if you aren’t living or thriving, and you’re just surviving, know you don’t have to stay there.

After taking an honest assessment of your life, next, ask what’s working well. The trick here is to keep doing more of what’s working in our lives and squeezing out that which isn’t.

Most often, what isn’t working well is that we’re trying to do it alone. We have no one to confide in. We fail to delegate tasks that may be in the areas of our Zone of Excellence––and that may be the biggest problem.

In her article, “How To Get Into The ‘Zone Of Genius’ And Unlock Your Highest Potential,” Brianna Wiest interviewed Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, where he identified four zones of function. He said, “Most successful people are operating in their zone of excellence, in which they are doing things at which they are highly skilled. This zone is ultimately unsatisfying, though, because it does not engage the innate genius of the individual."

This is likely where we are just existing––and that’s sad. We are meant to live and contribute our unique gifts to the world. And here’s Hendricks's suggestion for breaking free of the shackles that prevent us from really living:

As with any other kind of lasting, meaningful change, commitment is the gateway to the zone of genius. When I work with busy executives, I start by asking them to make a commitment to block out just ten minutes a day in their calendars to devote to cultivating their genius. The ten minutes can involve journaling, meditating, or any number of other activities, just as long as you are focusing on your genius for ten uninterrupted minutes. After you have gotten your ten minutes a day, you’re your routine, then bump it up to fifteen minutes. Ultimately, I want to see people I work with spending 90% of their time in their zone of genius, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and my recommendation is to start with ten minutes a day.”

Now, it’s time to get real with yourself. What is your proper function? Where do you operate in your Zone of Genius? Where are you wasting time in your Zone of Excellence? What changes come to mind when you consider the words of Jack London?

Next, get your calendar out. Block those ten minutes for the next seven days. Then increase that to fifteen the following week. Commit to living your proper function. Let me know how you are doing.

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