“Tiger, one day you will come to a fork on the road,” Boyd said to him.

“And you are going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.”

Using his hands to illustrate, Boyd marked off these two directions.

“If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.’

Then Boyd posed, to make the alternative clear.

“Or,” he said,

“You can go that way and you can do something, something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.”

This extract from Ryan Holiday’s amazing book “Ego is the Enemy” got me thinking.

To be somebody or to do something.

In life there is often a roll call. And like Ryan puts it, it’s a fork on the road, and like they say, when you arrive to the fork on the road, you have to decide either you take it or leave it.

You have to decide whether you are driven by position or by doing work that matters.

Reality says that many people are driven by position, incentives, commitments, recognition, awards etc.

Ego aids in that deception every step of the way.

But the thing is appearances are deceiving.

Our obsession with positions is driven by ego, our obsession with doing work that matters is driven by purpose.

Having authority is not the same as being an authority.

Having the right and being right are not the same either.

Being promoted doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing good work and it doesn’t mean you are worthy of promotion.

Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.

The choice that Boyd puts in front of us comes down to purpose.

What is your purpose? What are you here to do?

Purpose helps you answer the question: To be or to do?

If what matters is you, your reputation, VIP status, inclusion to the club, your personal ease of life, your path is clear: Tell people what they want to hear. Befriend people as a stepping stone to climbing the ladder. Seek attention over the quiet but important work. Say yes to promotions and generally follow the track that talented people take in the industry or field you have chosen.

Purpose on the other hand says:

It is about the doing, not the recognition.

Purpose is not: “Who do I want to be in life? but instead: “What is it that I want to accomplish with life?

Purpose sets aside self-interest, it asks:

What calling does it serve?

Next time you encounter a fork on the road, ask yourself:

Does it serve my ego or does it bring a difference.

Am I making this decision based on the glitz and glamor or on the difference it makes in my environment?

To be or to do, life is a constant roll call.



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