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JOURNAL ENTRY…

First, help yourself

Live a Big Life is an adventure. It is an outworking of everything that sits at the core of who I am. It flows out of a burning desire to stir up a revolution that equips and empowers an entire generation to pursue the adventure into their real lives.

But, as admirable as it may be, the burning desire that drives Live a Big Life – a desire to unleash a better world – is the same burning desire that has been the downfall of many valiant adventurers, and the death knell of many an adventure.

As those adventurers pursued their own revolutions to unleash a better world – whether in politics, education, commerce, industry, religion or wherever – they placed the needs of the ones for whom they wanted to unleash that better world ahead of their own needs.

And, slowly but surely, as they prioritised the needs of others, they crumbled under a weight they could no longer carry.

Those adventurers suffered because they did not heed a simple principle: the desire to help others must come second to the reality that, first, you have to help yourself.

That may sound like a selfish thing to say. It isn’t. If you don’t help yourself first – if you constantly put yourself second – eventually you run out.

You run out of money, time, energy, patience, emotion, resilience. You run out of you.

And, if you run out of you, you can’t help anyone.

Airlines know this. The pre-flight safety video of any reputable airline clearly instructs you that, if you are travelling with a child or someone not able to easily fend for themselves, you must put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else get attached to theirs. Why? Because, if you are passing out from lack of oxygen, you are no use to anyone, and both you and the person next to you will be in trouble.

And that principle – to help yourself first – is not confined only to airlines and oxygen masks. The requirement to help yourself first applies to much of life, and most definitely to the pursuit of the adventure into your real life.

As you drive deeper into the adventure of your real life, you draw on your resources – not just your financial and other, practical, resources, but your emotional, physical, spiritual and mental resources, too.

Those resources are finite, and require replenishment on a regular basis because, if they run dry, your adventure will derail.

That is exactly what happened to those valiant adventurers who put the needs of others ahead of their own: their adventures, and with it their revolutions, derailed because they gave without taking time to replenish their supplies; and, eventually, the well ran dry.

The fact is that you cannot give away what you don’t have.

If you have no money, you cannot give it away. If you have no emotional strength left, you cannot offer emotional support to others. If, physically, you are a spent force, you have no energy to put to your adventure, or the people you so want to benefit from what that adventure produces. And so it goes on.

It’s common sense, right?

Of course it is, but so many adventurers let common sense disappear out of the window as the needs of the world around them overwhelm them.

Think of it this way: your car, if you have one, requires oil, anti-freeze, washer fluid, fuel and a whole bunch of other things to keep it going.

If you take a trip, the fuel tank slowly (or quickly, depending on what car you drive) empties as the engine uses up the fuel. Each trip consumes a little oil. Each time you clean the windscreen, a little washer fluid disappears. And, if you don’t periodically fill up the fuel tank, top up the washer bottle, or change the oil, your car will eventually stop working as it should.

And, because you know that things run out on your car, and you wouldn’t expect to never have to fill up the fuel tank, washer bottle or oil on your car, what makes you think you can get away without refilling your vital resources: your emotional and physical strength, your spiritual wellbeing, your mental capacity, and your finances?

You want to live your real life. You want to be the best you can be. You want to bring your revolution to change the world to life.

And, central to all of that, you want to help others. You want to give yourself away to usher in that better future you have seen, and that is a special thing. But, you cannot achieve all that you want to achieve if you don’t learn to look after yourself first.

And that’s not selfish, it’s common sense.

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