Answering powerful questions, No. 3

The third of “6 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Life Forever” has been on my mind the last few days. The first two were relatively easy to answer, one being a list and the other…also a list, but with shorter and with some elaboration.

It stands to reason that these questions get progressively more challenging to answer. After all, they claim to have the power to change one’s life forever.

This next one presents a bit of a stumbling block for me because if i’m honest i don’t completely understand the parameters of the question.

Question No. 3: What would i stand for if i knew no one would judge me?

List everything that you would do if you weren’t afraid, even your wildest dreams. This will help you discover your greatest values.

See what i mean? The question by itself makes me think of something like an issue or a cause. But the explanation suggests something more akin to a bucket list.

Stand up 1

So i guess i’ll just take a stab at tackling it via whatever comes to mind after considering the question.

Since i do plenty of self-judging, the notion of worrying about how other people might form opinions or make conclusions about me has never really been in my wheelhouse. On top of that, since i’m answering these questions in a truthful way publicly, i can’t really afford to be reserved about my answers.

[After writing this post, i realize it has the potential to be more inflammatory than anything i’ve written previously. It is what it is; the nature of this question almost insists the answer not be milquetoast.]

At this point in my life, one of the bigger-ticket ideals i stand for is personal responsibility. In this particularly volatile political climate we have here in the US during this presidential election year, the idea of personal responsibility feels like an underlying issue across the campaign platforms, at least to some extent.

So i’ll start with that idea and see where this goes. Taking responsibility for myself is something i can stand for and support.

Stand up 2

This is tricky territory for me here, because i’ve always strived to keep The Long Shot a politics-free zone. So i don’t want to delve into that morass to make a point. What i will say though, is that in my experience, it is overwhelmingly satisfying to set and accomplish goals that require an investment of one’s own time and resources, regardless (or perhaps because of) any societal roadblocks that must be overcome to reach them.

For a good example that i think will illustrate a variety of points in this outlook, i’ll use the ongoing debate about minimum wage and the accompanying “Fight for 15” movement.

As i understand it, the segment of the population that supports this believes our government should regulate wages so that all working people earn at least this amount. It has a particularly strong advocacy among fast food workers, who say that businesses like  “McDonald’s and low-wage employers have made billions of dollars in profit and pushed off costs onto taxpayers, while leaving people like us – the people who do the real work – to struggle to survive.

Like so many others, i put in my time behind the counter, as a teenager and in my early 20’s. As i’ve done at pretty much every job i’ve ever had, i applied my strong work ethic at these places, and when the time came around for raises or promotions i moved forward. In relatively short order i became at least a shift supervisor at all of these places i’ve worked.

Similarly, in more professional environments, i did my best to excel and enjoy the benefits that came along because of that. i’ll never forget a heated discussion i once had with my boss, after being assigned to a brand new position that dealt directly with the company’s finances in a measurable way. After a few months in the role, and seeing actual dollar figures that doing the job efficiently had generated, i naturally asked for a raise (there was no pay increase upon transitioning to the position). In the course of the discussion, my boss asked if i knew why people go to work.

“Yeah – to make money!”

He countered with the idea of personal satisfaction, which he read in a book about management that he recommended to me. To his point, i get that, but at the end of the day people are at work to earn a paycheck, and personal satisfaction doesn’t stave off the bill collector.

More recently, i am enjoying the fruits of having gone back to college to earn a degree in journalism and promotional communication. My goal there was actually to accomplish both the goals of that long ago conversation between me and my old boss: better income and more satisfaction. It was a hell of a lot of work to finish school while working, then switch career tracks, then move 1,300 miles away and start over.

i am not currently making $15 an hour, like the legion of fast food workers insist they deserve. i have college debt, as well as decades worth of other debts alongside cell phone bills, internet bills, rent, utilities, health and car insurance and so on.

And you know what? Here i am, getting by just fine. i am able to enjoy some discretionary spending on fun things as well as pay all of my bills on time. Every so often, i’m required to contact some entity or another to which i am a debtor and negotiate lower payments, or make a sacrifice so i can pay off an outstanding balance or whatever. i’m fully confident that if i apply myself at my new job, which i also happen to get a lot of satisfaction from, that i’ll move ahead and earn pay increases. And since i have a degree now, i think it’s more likely that my chances in the job market are better, too – meaning i won’t have to start at the bottom and prove i’m not an idiot at any jobs i might take.

Certainly, i would love to make more money. And i do think there are a lot of problems with income inequality across all sorts of racial, gender and socio-economic lines. i guess what i am getting at is that, by taking responsibility for the circumstances in my life, i don’t think it’s right to put any difficulties onto other entities. There are ways to move ahead and achieve success, and yes it is much more challenging for some by a wide margin. A big part of the argument is that anyone who works full time shouldn’t be living in poverty. That’s something i can agree with.

Not incidentally though, with a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, working 40 hours a week, a single person would not actually be below the poverty line. The argument takes into account those with families, to which i would say, why are they having families? And if they are, why not put more effort into whatever job you have – it’s not that hard to get ahead at McDonald’s.

All of this is meant to illuminate what i mean about personal responsibility. There is a lot of talk about our rights to things like education, health care and the like. And i agree with that, it is absolutely our right as humans to have access to those things. But i think it is infinitely more satisfying to achieve those things by applying yourself and taking responsibility for your own decisions in life to make them happen.

Stand up 3

After having taken a break to finish writing this, re-reading what i already had written and giving it some more thought, it struck me as a position in support of the status quo. There’s more than a few holes anyone could punch in the premises i’ve presented already, and that’s fine. In fact i wholeheartedly endorse discussion about anything i put on this site. Please, feel free to comment! i’m not one to dig my heels in on a topic; one of the greatest things about being human is the ability to learn and grow in our thinking. In fact i’m sure the “me” of just a few years ago would disagree with the “me” writing this post on many points.

Now, since we’re already quite a ways into this post, i ought to wrap it up before even the staunchest readers, like you who’ve gotten this far, drift away.

How about a short list of a few more things i stand for?

  1. Honesty/truth
  2. Civil rights (for all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age and so on. Except religion. That’s just dumb)
  3. Smaller government
  4. Trying to see and understand all sides of an issue
  5. Learning
  6. Freedom of speech (even if someone is offended by it)
  7. Acceptance
  8. Positivity in the face of negativity
  9. Art and creativity

And that’s gonna be that. The answer to this Powerful Question feels like it went off the rails a little bit and wound up being much longer than i anticipated (probably with a healthy dose of tangent thrown in).

Truth be told, i’m not feeling quite as satisfied as i usually am before i hit that “Publish” button.

On the other hand, it’s been a few days since the last post and i really don’t feel like working on this one any longer. So there it is.

What sorts of things do you stand for? This one gave me some difficulty and i’m looking forward to seeing some responses for what sorts of things come to your mind. As always, thank you so much for reading? (Especially when it’s an entirely too-long post.)

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2 thoughts on “Answering powerful questions, No. 3

  1. Quoting Rambo’s post seems worlds above what we mortals stand up for. I think the gist of your article is standing up for personal responsibility, which of course, I agree with and think is essential. But I’m not sure it falls into the same category as something I would “die for”. That suggests a much higher commitment to me. Like would I out my life on the line to save a dog getting brutally beaten in a fighting ring? Knowing I too would probably be in harm;s way? I might. But I’d have to think about that one.

    • Thanks for the comments! If i’m honest i was just looking for some sort of images to break up the text, and a search for “stand up for something” included the quote from Rambo, a film i like a lot. It doesn’t represent my own perspective on this topic, but there are certainly people out there whose convictions for other things might fall under that kind of resolve. At any rate, if it inspired some thought on the subject, mission accomplished

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