The Best Version of YouJan 02, 2023
Back in February, I shared that I was spending 2022 studying and thinking about aging gracefully. I am not finished. To be honest I’m still processing it all. 40+ books / 75+ passages of Scripture / hours of prayer, reflection and conversations / podcasts and Ted Talks.
I got on this quest because in August of 2021 I read a statement that hit me like a random head butt from someone walking past you in a restaurant. What was the statement? “As most people age, they become an exaggerated version of their negative self (think traits, qualities, habits, etc).” I said under my breath – Wow, my family might be in trouble!/Is that really true?/Are there any alternatives?/That explains some of my friends.
Why don’t people become the best version of themselves as they age? Or, for that matter, how do I become the best version of myself at any age? What is the best version of yourself? Are you living it?
I usually pick a learning theme to ponder for the year in front of me. Perhaps 2023 should be spent pursuing the best version of yourself. Here are a few high-level observations for you to consider that concept.
Your best version self… includes an elevation of who you are above what you do.
We have been told we are more than our work, but often it is a challenge to actualize that truth in this achievement addicted culture. My wife and I recently attended a funeral of a friend we have known for decades. Afterwards I sent a note to the two pastors who spoke telling them how moving the service was and what a great job they did. They both said the exact same thing. It was easy because the man who died was such a great man and had lived an exceptional life. Who he was poured out through every story of the service. The best version of yourself doesn’t neglect what you do, but it emphasizes who you are and who you are becoming…not just how you earn your money. How could you put more strategic thought into who you are and not just what you do?
Your best version self… is rooted in calling and purpose.
We all need something deeper than opportunity, challenge and adventure to fuel and steer life and work. Author Joey Reiman wrote an entire book on the corporate search for purpose. In his introduction he says, “Aristotle called it whatness. Nietzsche called it why. Kennedy called it the moon. Since the dawn of human thought, purpose has guided us, inspired us and given us a reason to believe in something greater.” If we’re wise, as we age, we tie ourselves more tightly to things of purpose and value, and we loosen our grips on trivial pursuits. How much of your existence is anchored in purpose and calling? What larger cause draws you forward now more than ever?
Your best version self… leverages your superpowers.
There’s a framework I use in my executive coaching to help leaders in transition that has four parts to it: voice, center, path, and toolbox. Your voice is the unique sound of your life—the set of experiences and giftedness that make you…you. It is the core DNA of your superpowers, as we refer them today. It is the parts of your life that you are uniquely wired to deliver. Remember that verse in Psalm 139 that says you and I are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” That means we’re made intentionally. Your best version of yourself identifies your unique gifting and passion and gives it opportunity to flourish. I am, at my core, a Macro Strategist, A Connector, A Content Farmer and an Encourager. Those are my superpowers. Like the Olympic sprinter Eric Liddell famously said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” What comes easily to you and benefits others?
Your best version self… is generative.
D.H. Lawrence said, “Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.” Your life is something to steward. As the Parable of the Talents describes, God has graciously put individual gifts in our bag, and we need to use them effectively. The best version of yourself doesn’t just benefit you. It creates goodness around you. It plants seeds that grow. It’s not hedonistic but consequential. It’s something deeper than a shallow, impulsive, free-spirited, detached, self-oriented quest. Your generosity, kindness, creativity, wisdom, should create ripples. Who is better off because of your living over the past 3-5 years?
Your best version self… yields deep fulfillment and joy.
Deep fulfillment and joy grow only in healthy soil. They are results and outcomes of a flourishing life. Years ago, I wrote a book titled Flourishing. While researching that book, I was reminded that we can create a surplus of substitutes and alternatives to deep fulfillment and joy. We naturally have to redefine things a bit but any number of things can anchor our life. But not all anchors and journeys yield fulfillment and joy. Many of them actually deliver the reverse. They trap us. They drain us. They ruin us. They disappoint us. If fulfillment and joy had a score what would your life get today?
William Irvine, in his book A Guide to the Good Life, talks about the danger of “misliving” saying, “There is a danger that you will mislive—that despite all your activity, despite all the pleasant diversions you might have enjoyed while alive, you will end up living a bad life. There is, in other words, a danger that when you are on your deathbed, you will look back and realize that you wasted your one chance at living. Instead of spending your life pursuing something genuinely valuable, you squandered it because you allowed yourself to be distracted by the various baubles life has to offer.”
I’ve learned from many who have fought the trend. They have lived rather than mislived, and have, as they aged, become better versions of themselves. I want that to be my story, and yours.
Make a commitment to spend 2023 discovering the best version yourself.
Want to receive Steve's articles in your inbox?
We will never sell your information, for any reason.