Are You Living By Design or By Default?


The idiom, running around like a headless chicken is an apt description of a tragic part of the human life – its anguish, frustrations and lack of direction. I admit, most people are not lying still and they are moving. But can their motion be properly described or are they really just running around like a headless chicken?

This is the reason why we all must answer this question – are we living by design or by default?

A life lived by design is a sharp contrast to a life lived by default. A life by design is one that assumes responsibility for its direction, achievements and contribution under the watchful guidance of its creator. Not to sound religious, its worth mentioning a need for watchful guidance because it at His discretion that men are made great and given strength regardless of whether they are conscious of it or not.

A life by default on the other hand is a thoughtless life, a life that is not arrested by the deeper and innate consciousness of achievement and contribution. Even if stirred to the consciousness of achievement and contribution, this kind of life will not assume responsibility for it. It dreams but it is murdered by its own desires, for failure to take action or accept responsibility.

With the conflicting meaning and interpretations of purpose, I advocate that whatever we settle for must involve two basic realities – your achievement and your contribution.

Your achievement is what you make of your potential (a gift of God). Your contribution is the benefit tied to the maximisation of your potential, that which impacts your generation and brings pleasure to God.

I’m always challenged by John C. Maxwell’s definition of success. He wrote in his book, Road Map to Success, “Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.

I hardly think a life can be considered well lived that doesn’t agree with this definition.

1. Discover your purpose
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Viktor Frankl

It is critical that our lives have some form of meaning, that we have something to live for, that we discern what our role is in the big picture of life beyond the here and now. You are not an accident regardless of the contrary ideas and thoughts your current circumstances might have fostered. God created you for a purpose and in its understanding and discovery, lies your fulfilment and peace.

Guess what? The discovery of purpose and living in alignment with your discovery is your greatest responsibility in life.

John Maxwell suggests, “Think about the unique mix of abilities you have, the resources available to you, your own personal history, and the opportunities around you. If you objectively identify these factors and discover the desires of your heart, you will have done a lot toward discovering your purpose in life.”

I advise that in considering your personal history, only look for clues not a definition. Your past doesn’t define your future.

2. Cultivate habits that support the discovery and realization of your potential and purpose.

This is what John maxwell calls ‘growing to reach your MAXIMUM potential’. As long as what you do daily brings you closer towards the exercise and realization of your purpose, you are on course. Anything outside of this is the cause of inner conflict and dispassionate living you often find in people.

Does that mean that people who understand their purpose have it all figured out? No, I don’t think so. But purpose-driven people understand what the picture will look like when the pieces of the puzzle are well arranged. Often, they are patient enough and understand that time is needed to arrange the puzzle.

Understanding of my purpose is the reason why I read a lot. It is one of those habits essential to the fulfilment of my destiny. I love to learn and to use my knowledge to help people grow and maximize their potential. I love to help people and organizations achieve peak performance and contribution through writing, speaking, coaching and consulting. That is what makes my heart beat.

If I don’t increase my knowledge and try to grow on a daily basis, I won’t be equipped for my purpose neither will I be resourceful enough to help others. So you see the powerful ‘why’ that keeps me going everyday – The lives I want to help achieve peak performance and contribution. It helps me fight laziness, complacency and ignominy.

I’m powerful because of my aspirations both for myself and others.

Always remember these word by Henry Ford, “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.”

3. Live a life of contribution
Success for me is empty and incomplete if I can only boast of my achievements. Nobody goes to the grave with their laurels buried with them. The only thing that eventually counts now and in the hereafter is what we make happen in and for others.

If our definition of success involves contribution, we seek to give more than we receive. It’s powerful when we have a mindset of contribution. Our politicians wouldn’t steal from the people they should serve if they have a mindset of contribution. A man wouldn’t abuse or take advantage of a woman if he has a heart set out to be a blessing to every woman who crosses his path.

Beyond contribution in interpersonal relationships is also the contribution that seeks how we might improve the world. Zuckerberg has made billions but a sense of contribution is why he is seeking through to connect the two-third of the world that currently have no access to the internet.

In the final analysis, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” as Mahatma Gandhi said. We also do well to follow Mother Theresa’s advice, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

Can I ask you these questions as a reminder

1. Have you found a meaning to life beyond the here and now?

2. Do you believe in your own potential? Are you designing a lifestyle and cultivating habits that will support its realization and maximization?

3. Who are you seeking to be a blessing to? Will people remember you for the problems you solve or the ones you create?

No matter your answers to this questions, always remember you are a work-in-progress. As long as you seek a better and more inspiring life, you have the minimum requirement for success.

I believe in you.

Layi Adeyemi


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