We don’t get a lot of trolls around my office. We help people live a better story, which doesn’t create much internet drama. But we do get some pushback. The main focus of the pushback sounds like this:
“Don has changed. I miss the old Don.”
We normally get this pushback when we promote our conference or my brand-strategy company. I get it. Whenever you try to sell something, people consider you suspect. It makes sense. There really are people who are only in it for the money. I’m glad my little company isn’t like that, but I fault nobody for making us prove it.
Apart from that, though, I’m so grateful I’m not the same guy who wrote Blue Like Jazz. Certainly I still love the book and am grateful for it, but it’s been ten years now and I’ve changed.
If I haven’t changed, something is drastically wrong.
There are forces in the world that do not want you to grow, change or get stronger. A variety of motives cause this resistance, but regardless, it must be fought.
God designed you to grow from a baby to a child to a teenager to an adult and even after you’re an adult you’re designed to continue learning about God, about love, about each other and about yourself. Not a day goes by when we aren’t given the opportunity to become a better person. Why in the world would anybody want to stay the same?
When I wrote Blue Like Jazz I was dirt poor and weighed 387 pounds. I was terrible at relationships, codependent and confused.
I was also isolated.
I hid from the world watching television and eating ice cream. The only thing I had going for me was that I was open to new ideas and I was willing to be honest. And that was the beginning of a beautiful, transformational journey.
These days when somebody says they miss the old Don, I get it. I understand. He was a super nice guy. But he really wanted to please people because he believed if he took a stand people would leave him. As much as I love the old Don, I don’t miss him.
I like being 150 pounds lighter. I like being in a healthy and beautiful marriage. I like the fact that since Betsy and I got married 8 months ago we’ve had over 80 people stay the night at our house and more than 500 over for dinner.
I’m no longer isolated. And I love the team we’ve built at Storyline and StoryBrand. This team is like family to me.
I also love the fact that I don’t live in reaction.
I show up to my office every day and do my work because showing up and doing my work with consistency greatly improves my chances of being able to pay my mortgage. I used to look for other people to take care of me but I’m stronger now. I can make opportunities happen.
I also love that I get to bring good things into the world that change people’s lives and I don’t mind telling people about those things. I don’t ever want to be a salesman, but I also don’t want to forfeit the public square to snake-oil salesmen. I honestly think more good creators should sell more of their stuff as a way of helping the good team take more ground.
I’m 42 years old now.
And life has indeed changed.
I don’t care as much about what people think of me and I care more about connecting with them. I have specific goals I want to hit unlike the old days when all I wanted to do was listen to music, eat simple carbs and disengage from the world.
But none of that is what this post is about. This post is about being okay succeeding and evolving and becoming healthy and strong. Why do we so oppose these noble ambitions? Why do we consider them suspect? What is it about the people around us getting stronger that strikes fear into our hearts?
I believe it’s okay for all of us to get better.
I believe a depressed person is better off if they seek help and move through their pain, if at all possible. I believe that an unhealthy person is better off becoming healthy and that an isolated person is better off in supportive relationships.
I believe people without access to clean water would be better off if they had a well near them. I believe those who are not given opportunities for employment or education would be better off if we created paths of opportunities for them.
I believe some ways to live are better than others and I believe we should all head toward those more healthy ways to live, not only as a way of bettering ourselves but as a way of bettering the world.
Do I love the old Don?
Of course I do. He was not a loser. He suspected life could be better and I thank God for that suspicion. And so he changed. I love him but I don’t miss him. I’m better now and I’m not going back.