About two years ago a friend of mine was going through a really hard time. He was busy but not feeling fulfilled. He was surrounded by people but didn't really feel known by anyone. It's a really common place to be...
It's a really dangerous place to be.
My friend is young, uber talented, a good-looking dude. He creates a lot of positive energy when others are around him. When he moves, people follow him. But sometimes the pressure gets too high or the loneliness goes too deep, and we start making decisions that go against the grain of who we want to be.
So I found myself sitting across a table from him in a cafe near LAX. It was late.
But it's never too late.
"Right now," I said, "Your actions only affect a small amount of people. Your friends, your family. Some of the people you lead. But that's now. And now turns into tomorrow quicker than you think."
He looked at me and I remember thinking, "I love this guy so much." I know it's weird to say, but hey-- if Jason Segel and Paul Rudd can say it, so can I.
And then, before I could stop it, these words escaped from my mouth:
"You are destined to lead. It's in you and I know it's kind of a crappy deal sometimes, but that's the way life goes. So although it seems your life is small right now, your influence is going to get bigger. Probably a lot bigger. Which means the mistakes you make are going to get bigger, too. Which is why we're having this conversation now."
"These issues in your life, it's time to start working through them. The You 20 years from now needs you to. You don't want to be 40-years-old with these choices to wrestle with. The 40-year-old You will have way bigger problems, way greater challenges to deal with. He'll have a wife and kids. He'll have responsibilities that would scare the hell out of you now if you knew it, and he won't be ready unless you start serving him now."
"For the sake of the Future You, and the thousands of people you will be leading, fight this. I believe in you. I know you can do it. I know you want to do it. So do it, and know that you've got a friend for the journey."
We finished our coffee (I got orange juice because I hate coffee) paid the waitress and went our separate ways. I drove home that night with the Los Angeles cityscape reflecting off my beat-up car wondering if I said too much or if I didn't say enough. It's hard to know, sometimes.
But can you relate to my friend? Can you relate to his sense of destiny? That fragile whisper that you protect and rarely talk about that says you were meant for something extraordinary? Maybe you can relate to his loneliness or his subconscious drift into a life he would never consciously choose.
For you, it may already be late.
But it's never too late.
Posted on Fri, May 8, 2009