Purpose or Direction

Living Lessons with Duke Tirschel

Your problem is that you simply have no purpose or direction”.

One day when I was living in California I realized I had piled way too much on my plate. And so, I just stopped it all. I stopped teaching at my karate school, I walked away from my print company, I quit the work I was doing at my advertising agency, I left my photography business and I closed my stunt school.

I didn’t know how lost a soul could get by letting go of life and I never saw the worth of life until the most important part of it was gone. The very thing I was working for, is what I drove away.

I sat in the mornings on my front stoop.

Nothing beats the California sun rising in the morning. The cool brisk air feels so good to deeply breathe in and slowly let it out again. That’s the most beautiful time of day, the sun comes up bright and golden, turning anything it lands on to pure gold. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat on my front stoop and thought how I would approach the day so that I could come out of this funk I was in.

Every few days I called Steve McQueen. I worked with him briefly during the filming of Papillion and now He was working on Towering Inferno. I wasn’t working with him anymore, I let that go, with everything else. Whenever we talked, I outlined giant projects I was planning (in my head since I rarely left my front stoop anymore). Steve was no dummy, he saw that I was still out in left field. But he was kind. And so he listened to every word I said, and then; one day, he shared a concept with me that I never heard before. I wrote some notes on what he told me and the bulk of what I wrote was gleaned from those few words he used with such precision.

He knew my life, and how scattered it had became, and so he said, “Duke, you’re living in a perpetual world of self punishment, for whatever reason, I don’t know. But your problem is that you simply have no purpose or direction”.

That’s the first time I ever heard those two words, purpose and direction, used together. But, as he explained what he was telling me, it seemed to fit what I was experiencing. I began to see that it wasn’t what happens to us, but how we choose to feel about what happens, that brings us down or lifts us up. It’s not our actions, but our thoughts about how we feel about our actions that determines how we spend our time. Choosing the right actions can hurts. Afterwards we don’t feel bad about doing the right thing, we feel bad because we were forced to do the right thing.

The action is tangible, it’s real, the feeling about the action is unreal. You just decided to beat yourself up over it. If something is not real, but it still makes you feel like a failure, you need to know that you’re not where you belong. The feeling of failure is not the same as failure itself. The feeling is just that; it’s only a feeling, it’s not real. What is real is you, not the feelings. And we can change our feelings anytime we want to, just by changing how we think about the actions. The only thing that’s real about a feeling, is what we choose to be real about how we feel.

Steve really hit the nail on the head when he gave me the feedback that he did. When we don’t know who we are or what we want, it’s easy for us to accept anyone else’s assessment, and this lack of knowing who we are allows others to give us whatever we get. And if, where they place your worth hurts you; then, in that very act of hurting, you have accepted the value they have given you.

And that, my friend, is self-punishment.

And if failure plays a part in this at all, it’s not by failing to fill an empty spot by your side, or by failing to live up to what someone else wants from you, it’s by failing to discover who you are and to know what you want from life… that is purpose and direction.

And if you fail at this, it doesn’t matter what else you find, because all else is of little consequence. But the beauty of reality, and life itself, is that all doors are revolving doors and you can choose to leave the world of self-punishment as easily as you entered.

Purpose or Direction, the Why and the Where, UNLOCKS the What and When and How.