I recently attended a mastermind event for entrepreneurs. The attendees were happy, optimistic people whose attendance at the event tacitly expressed a commitment to improving their lives and businesses. Their presence expressed a desire to develop the discipline and tenacity to win at life and grow personally. At the beginning of the day, the room buzzed with the excitement of the hundreds in attendance who came to learn how to live better.
Somewhere in the late afternoon, the room emptied somewhat. Nearly two hundred people left abruptly before the event was over. This left me to wonder why so many of these committed, action-oriented entrepreneurs staged a mass exodus from the event? I later learned it was because there was an NCAA championship game that they didn’t want to miss.
Wait, had their commitment changed? Were they truly more interested in watching the game than being active participants in their goals, hopes and dreams? Did they really prefer to sit passively and watch someone else living their life?
The irony of the scenario nearly bowled me over. On the one hand, the basketball players all demonstrated a single-minded focus toward achieving their goals. They practiced for hours to the point of exhaustion; reviewed films, studied opponents, visualized, ran plays, etc, all in the service of actively participating in the pursuit of what they desired. In bizarre contrast, about two hundred people paid money to attend an event to learn skills to help improve their personal and professional lives. They woke up early, waited on line, drove for hours, rented hotel rooms, took pictures with the speakers, and paid for meals away from home only to leave early to sit around a television set or drive across town to the arena to become onlookers and cheerleaders. They pressed pause on the pursuit of their own goals to go watch someone else try to achieve theirs. In effect, they went to all the trouble of suiting up only to go sit in the bleachers.
As I watched this melodrama, I was reminded of how much we live in a vicarious culture. Many people actually get more enjoyment from watching others live their lives than they do from living their own. We constantly watch reality shows, celebrity headlines, and stalk other peoples’ social media feeds as entertainment, distraction, and escape from our own lives. We applaud the achievements of those who were courageous enough to take massive action.
Don’t set the bar so low for your life that even you don’t want to watch it. Go live a life worth taking about instead of being a bystander in someone else’s story. Execute to the point that people want to come watch your story unfold. Wake up, wise up, and stand up. Get out of the stands and get in the game.
Don’t be a spectator in someone else’s life at the cost of not participating in your own. The stories of those who do nothing are never told.