4 Ways to Live Well

Most of us love to receive verbal affirmation. Hearing things like, “good job!” and “well done!” can invigorate and refresh us, especially after working hard and giving our all. But as satisfying as it to to hear those words in response to a short-term success—like getting a good grade on a final exam, or winning the game for your team, or performing well at work—how even more satisfying would it be to hear them in response to how we lived our entire lives? 

I believe we would lead more fulfilling lives if we strived to live well. Here are four ways you can do just that. 

1. Lead Yourself First

Great leaders are needed everywhere—in our schools, churches, workplaces, and communities. But despite that many of us desire to rise up to lead others, we often fall short. I believe the primary reason for this shortage of good leaders is that many of us fail to lead ourselves first. It’s easy to want to jump right into a leadership role, but a great leader must learn to manage his or her own life before managing others’.  

Before committing to a leadership role, ask yourself: 
– Am I exercising and being responsible with my diet so I have the energy to lead?
– Do I read or take classes to continue learning? 
– Can I say “no” to the things I want but aren’t good for me? 
– Do I face head-on the unpleasant things that I know will ultimately benefit me?

To live well and to reach our potential as people and as leaders, we must commit to leading ourselves first—something no one can do for us. 

2. Love the “Least” 

Our society tends to show the most honor and respect to those in positions of power, authority, and fame, while those it regards as “lesser” are often overlooked. Even mistreated. But how we treat the “least”—the pizza delivery driver, the grocery store bagger, the school janitor—reflects our character more clearly than perhaps anything else. 

Do you find yourself ignoring or looking down on the people who can do nothing for you? Or are you sometimes too busy or distracted to notice them? Make a conscious effort to engage with those society overlooks and treat them as people of importance—because they are. Choose to live well by loving the “least” and don’t shun opportunities to share a kind smile or an uplifting word with someone—you never know how badly someone might need just a little encouragement.

3. Learn to Lose

Pursuing victory is a worthy goal, but let’s face it: in life, we don’t always “win” at everything we set out to accomplish. We often encounter failure, and failure can lead to discouragement and even anger—but how we lose reflects who we are. 

Everyone hates to see the little leaguer strike out and hurl the bat in anger, but can you imagine watching an adult coach losing his cool and berating his players in front of everyone? The thought is cringe-worthy. The truth is, the stakes of losing badly heighten as we age and can cost us job opportunities, relationships, and our reputations.

I think we can all agree that winning is awesome… When we are the winners. Anyone can win well—but how we choose to respond when things don’t go our way is crucial in determining how “well” we live. 

4. Live With Purpose

As an employer within a very people-dependent business, I’ve had the opportunity to receive a lot of “front row” glimpses into the lives of others. And while our company is blessed to engage with people who aggressively pursue their potential to live well, too often we also encounter those who constantly drift. The sad truth is that too many us fall short of reaching our God-given potential, and living without vision and purpose is one reason why.

Each of us were created with unique gifts, strengths, and talents, but we don’t always know what to do with them. That can cause us to lose sight of who we are and where we want to go, leading us into a state of complacency or burn-out. But when we put forth the effort to discover how we can use our gifts to enrich our own lives and the lives of others, we develop vision—not only of what we want to do, but who we want to be, and this is what creates purpose.

And with purpose, comes fulfillment. Make it a priority to develop your gifts and clarify your vision so that you can live well—with purpose. 

What are some steps you can take this week to lead yourself? Is there something you can do to show love to those around you who are society’s “least?” How can you learn to lose well? And finally, what are some steps you can take to begin to better use your gifts?