It’s been said that the average person will spend up to five years of their life looking at their phone. To me, the phone represents the mountain of success we are climbing. It’s about being driven by the world’s expectations. It’s about appointments, schedules, goals, productivity, and achievements. It’s about comparing ourselves to others, developing a reputation, impression management, keeping score, and measuring up. It’s about defining ourselves by how the world defines us.
And then something unexpected happens to knock us off the mountain. We fall into the valley: a cancer scare, a struggle with addiction, the loss of a loved one, a pandemic, a bankruptcy, a divorce, some life-altering tragedy that was not part of the well-laid-out plan. You suddenly find yourself in a dark trench without the cell service of what the world expects from us. No device can take us out of this kind of terrain. It takes, instead, a surrendering to the great difficulty, allowing the pain, confusion, uncertainty, fear, and insecurity to break us open, so that a stronger, wiser, kinder, and more real person can emerge.
In this unknown territory of darkness, instead of a device, we reach for a compass, an inner guide that initiates a life journey guided by values, purpose, contribution, service, and meaning.
I know the authentic journey is not this clear cut and delineated. It’s more messy. But it’s worth pausing and asking where we are on our path to success and meaning.
What are you focused on? What is driving your life? While being driven by what the world expects and measuring up to the standards of the culture is a necessary stage, the authentic journey (what I call in my book by the same title, The Other Everest) asks us to deepen our lives, to find an inner guide beyond what a device can offer us.
Success, after all, isn’t just about height; it’s also about depth.