The Six C's to a Revolutionary Life
I am almost three years into living a life as an entrepreneur. I have learned so much about myself during this time. There is no way I would be the person I am today without all of the challenges that come with living a life of uncertainty. There is something about getting out of our comfort zones that makes us reach down into the depths of our souls to see what we are made of. Being an entrepreneur has done that for me. Here is what I have learned in the last three years.
Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one. What we crave more than anything in our world is safety and security. We desire control and predictability. At least the vast majority of people do.
I had a steady paycheck, in fact it was a pretty large and steady paycheck. Being in the pharmaceutical industry is a pretty good gig. The pay is good along with a lot of perks. There is nothing wrong with that if it is what your heart desires. The pharmaceutical industry, despite its bad rap for being a money hungry industry, has done a great deal of good in our world.
But quite simply, it wasn’t for me. Think square peg in a round hole. A deep introvert in an industry dominated by extroverts.
I knew I had to do something different with my life. I could have coasted for the rest of my career making a great living, but I knew that wasn’t for me. But I was frightened. I was scared to death of the unknown. I had so much self-doubt if I could make it out on my own. I have been dreaming of being an entrepreneur since I was twenty three years old.
Here I am almost three years later since starting this journey, living the life of my dreams doing what I love feeling more alive than ever.
My mind often goes back to, what if I didn’t have the courage to take a leap of faith and leave the pharmaceutical industry. I think about the lives that have been transformed, including my own, since becoming an entrepreneur.
Here is a quote from one of the men, Cade Hairgrove, who has been involved in my men’s fitness ministry.
“The results of Troy’s fitness ministry are that I constantly search for ways to push myself and better myself mentally, physically and spiritually. He has made me strive to be a more integrated man. Someone who shows respect to all people, and he has helped me get out of my comfort zone in many areas, which helps me grow as a person.”
Cade’s life has been impacted because of my courageous move to become an entrepreneur. Cade has recently been hired to be part of the Fort Collins police force. I know we are in good hands because of the type of young man Cade is.
In what area of your life are you being asked to be courageous in? What leap of faith do you need to take so our world is a better place? Being courageous doesn’t mean you are fearless, it means you are afraid and you do it anyways. The world needs you to be courageous.
A person of conviction is someone who has a strong or belief. A couple people come to my mind when I think of people with a strong conviction.
I think of Tim Tebow who has been very outspoken about not having premarital sex. He held true to that despite public ridicule and persecution. I admire and respect Tim because he was willing to hold true to his beliefs despite what the world around him was saying or doing. That to me is the epitome of conviction.
Another example is Desmond Doss. Desmond was a young Seventh-day Adventist Christian who refused to carry a gun and had not killed a single enemy soldier. His only weapons were his Bible and his faith in God. He was the first conscientious objector to receive the esteemed Medal of Honor.
With a continual prayer on his lips, he vowed to rescue as many as possible before he either collapsed or died trying. His iron will and unstoppable courage resulted in at least 75 lives saved on May 5th, 1945, his Sabbath.
That is the ultimate level of conviction when we are willing to die for our beliefs. Desmond Doss is a rare soul. How many of us are willing to die for our beliefs? It’s a reminder to me what conviction truly means.
Having conviction can be a lonely place. My conviction is that fitness can be used as a platform to transform men’s lives. That is why I have started a men’s fitness ministry so I can transform people’s lives through my work as a fitness minister.
I know too many men who go to church on a regular basis and their lives aren’t transformed. It’s more of a check the box experience. It’s done out of duty and obligation.
They go to church and still don’t see themselves the way God sees them. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency and comfort. I know that all too well.
I love the thought of gym church. For me the less churchy a church looks the better. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. My dad was a Lutheran pastor. When I was young and for many years into adulthood I didn’t really get the point of going to church. It was somebody up front talking. I saw their lips moving, but the words didn’t sink into my heart. My life wasn’t transformed. In fact I went the opposite direction and rebelled. I was missing the point.
The point is that we live a life that makes us feel fully alive. That we develop a personal relationship with Jesus and we are transformed through this relationship.
That we live lives that are full of risk, adventure and we become forces for good. Not idly sit by on our hands doing nothing.
We start to live fulfilled lives when we take a chance on ourselves.
My conviction is that by being revolutionary in leading a men’s fitness ministry that we will become a brotherhood of ordinary men living extraordinary lives.
There is so much evil in the world because men aren’t willing to stand up and be a force for good.
So let’s get out there and start to kick some ass for good!
Conviction is followed closely by commitment. Here is a quote I read this morning.
“Memorize and follow this never-fail recipe: get started. Don’t quit.” –Barbara Winter
I mean seriously, how simple does that sound. I look at how many times I have started a business and quit. I think of how many online businesses I have started and quit. How many things have you started and quit? We are all human. Quitting and failing is part of the human experience. The question is are we giving up?
Here is my commitment to me and to you based on my conviction.
I will not quit. I will not give up. I will persevere. I will go to my grave fighting for the hearts and souls of men. Like Desmond Doss, I will have the attitude of, “Just save one more.” Because lives are on the line. Eternity is on the line. Hope is on the line. Lives are on the line.
I read a timely devotional this morning that spoke clearly to my heart. It’s from a devotional called, Doing Things That Matter by Tim Mannin.
He said when we do things that really matter in this world we find ourselves standing on a limb by ourselves. I feel this way quite a bit right now as I recently launched an online men’s fitness ministry called Barbells & Brothers.
At times, great leadership comes at the cost of being in a lonely place, but trusting that God has you.
Tim Mannin goes on to say;
“Leadership is not about people following you. Leadership is about you following God. It’s not about who is behind you when you turn around, but it’s about who’s ahead of you. Is Jesus the one leading you?”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the number of social media followers I have. That’s the world’s definition of being a great leader. Jesus’ definition of a great leader is revolutionary. He showed us what great leadership is by grabbing the servant towel and washing his disciples’ feet.
I will remain committed to doing the work God has called me to do. I will lead with a servant’s heart by following Jesus. I will be less concerned about my number of followers and more concerned about who I am following.
What are you committed to in your life? What are you willing to fight for?
CALL TO ACTION
Planning and preparation are a good thing. I will be the first to admit that I am a planner. I love to strategize and create things. I have never been one to haphazardly jump into something unprepared. But at some point we have to jump in. We have to take that leap of faith. Procrastination can be the death of us.
Life change can be scary. Getting out of our comfort zone, is well, uncomfortable. Doing something we have never done before leaves us with that feeling of sweaty palms and a rush of adrenaline. And I say that is exactly the point.
When we are safe and comfortable we don’t get that feeling of uneasiness. We don’t get that feeling of sweaty palms and a rush of adrenaline.
I have been single now for about ten years after my divorce. Let’s just say I have been on a few first dates since then. I still to this day, get sweaty palms and a nervousness in my stomach when I go on a first date.
It would be easy for me to stand on the sidelines and not take action of putting myself out there in the dating world. It’s not fun facing rejection or even worse telling someone she doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me.
But if I don’t take action the likelihood of meeting someone that will be my life partner goes down significantly. As much to my surprise, no one has coming knocking on my door asking me out on a date.
We are all called to action. I was called to action when I left the pharmaceutical industry to become an entrepreneur. How many people do we know that talk and talk and talk about how unhappy they are in their job, but never take action and doing anything about it? The comfort and security of the known is far better for them then taking action for the unknown of a different job. Unfortunately for them, they will always be miserable and unhappy because they failed to take a chance by taking action.
I was called to action when I started a men’s online fitness ministry called Barbells & Brothers. I jumped in with two feet into the deep end not knowing much about running an online membership site. I am learning day by day of how this works. Of course there was some planning and preparation, but at some point I had to take a leap of faith.
That was my call to action. What is your call to action? What have you been procrastinating about? Where do you need to take a chance and take that leap of faith? I say go for it. Life is too short not to. What’s the worst that could happen? You fail. So what? We can all fail our way to success. After all, that is what life is all about.
We are not meant to do life alone. For the vast majority of my life I would consider myself a lone wolf. Someone who likes to work independently. I couldn’t stand study groups in school. It wasn’t the way I learned best. I needed to be by myself without any distractions.
I was the same way with work. It’s not that I didn’t work well with a team, after all I thrived playing team sports such as football, basketball and baseball, it’s that I was always self-motivated and would get easily frustrated with people that weren’t as driven and focused as me. I would end up doing my own thing whether that was right or wrong, I don’t know, but I have always been about getting stuff done.
But there comes a time in our lives, when we realize there is more to life than getting stuff done. Especially when we are faced with life challenges. Of course it’s great to celebrate the special occasions with loved ones such as birthdays, graduations and marriages. It’s also special just to hang out with friends and families to laugh and have a good time.
But we really need to be in community when the chips are down. When life is coming at us so fast we don’t know where to turn. When tragedy and devastation hit our lives, is when we need to be in community more than ever. How many of us turn to isolation when the wheels fall off in our lives? How many of us don’t have any “real” friends we can turn to when everything in our lives is wheels off?
I shudder to think where I would be in my life right now without being in community. I cringe to think what path my life would have taken without two brothers that lifted my spirit when I was in the depths of despair about ten years ago. When I lost my sense of worth as a man through a devastating divorce. They were there for me to pick up all of the pieces of my broken heart and help mend me back together again.
That’s why I love my work as a fitness minister. The aspect of community. I have been leading a group called Spiritual Warriors Unite for a couple of years now. This is a group where men can be 100% authentic in what is going on in our lives. It’s a safe environment where we can be courageously vulnerable. It’s a place of community where real men get raw.
I have seen a police officer break down in tears because he couldn’t save a mom and her child from the burning flames of fire. I have seen a man who helped save women from sex trafficking overwhelmed with grief because of all the sickness he sees in the world from this heartbreaking culture. These men are courageous because they are willing to be vulnerable in a community of men.
I have come to the conclusion that the best part of being in community is we find out we all share many common struggles. The common battle that we all face of, I am enough or do I have what it takes. When we share openly in community it helps to see other people have the same battles to fight. There is strength in numbers. Most people wither away in isolation not feeling their spirits lifted by being in community.
If you don’t have a community that you can be your authentic self, I want to encourage you to get intentional about that today. It doesn’t happen by accident. We have to cultivate community. We have to go out and seek authentic relationships. It only takes one or two other people that we can be vulnerable with and take our masks off that will allow us to move forward in living a revolutionary life by having others speak the truth in love to us.
What has changed my life and made it revolutionary more than anything has been the personal relationship that I have developed with Jesus. I have become a Jesus follower over the last ten years of my life. I grew up in the church as a pastor’s kid, but I didn’t understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with God.
When I dropped down on my knees about ten years ago and asked God into my life, is when my life got turned upside down in a good way. It’s been an adventurous journey ever since. I grow in my faith every single day.
That certainly doesn’t mean it has been all sunshine and rainbows. There have been many heartbreaks along the way, but through every adversity I become stronger as a man. I draw closer to God through each challenge I face.
For the first time in my life, I am learning what it means to show up as my authentic self, living from my heart.
For the first time in my life, I am not needing external validation from other people to tell me that I am enough. I know I am enough because I am finally starting to see myself the way God sees me. That I don’t need to fear man and what he thinks of me.
I use Jesus as my model of how to live my life as a Spiritual Warrior. Jesus lived his life outside the system. He didn’t care what other people thought about him. He spoke the truth. He was a servant leader. He was the perfect balance between a lover and warrior.
Jesus gave it all up for us on the cross by dying for our sins. He suffered for us so we could live our lives to the full. I am finally understanding what that means, to live life to the full. To live each and every day fully alive.
The good news of Jesus is that we don’t have to earn his love. Jesus brings us an abundance of grace, something that I need each and every day.
If you are wondering what this whole Jesus thing is all about or if you have a relationship with God but your life isn’t being transformed, I would urge you to open your heart to what it really means to be a Jesus follower.
I believe it starts by seeing ourselves the way God sees us. It starts by taking a chance on ourselves and believing we are who God says we are. That we are his masterpiece. That we are given a spirit of power. That we are a child of God.
When we start to believe this and live each and every day that way is when our lives will become revolutionary. We are all on this journey of life. How we live each and every day will depend on how we see ourselves. Is your identity in Christ and his unconditional love or is it in what others and the world says about us?
My hope is that your identity is in Christ. That you will live a life that makes you feel fully alive and fulfilled. That you will live a life of purpose that is greater than yourself.
We can all do this when we love with courage by doing things that scare us. By living by our convictions, our strongly held beliefs and commit to living those convictions out each every day through a call to action.
We recognize that to be a better person we need community and ultimately a personal relationship with Jesus to live a revolutionary life. Let’s live a life that not only make us feel fully alive, but one that changes humanity through our courageous way of being.
Troy Ismir, MS
Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers