At face value, Do Life Differently is a quick read that could easily be mistaken as a motivational speech. It’s chock full of powerful words and biblical allusions woven through stories of Jeff’s pivotal moments as a businessman, father, community member, outdoorsman, husband, influencer, and even athlete. The subtle bravado and frequent use of italics are just noticeable enough that a casual reader may miss what’s most important. Yet even this, I suspect, is intentional. A litmus test to see whether you’re ready to be different.
See, most people who consume self-development content are not actually pursuing self-development at all. Most people are looking for the author to develop them:
“What’s the secret?”
“What’s the formula?”
”What do you know that I don’t?”
”What resource or mindset or habit am I missing?”
So they read the book, they listen to the podcast, they go to the conference, and they leave with the solution they were itching for.
And odds are, they’ll be back next year, the same person that they were.
Do you want to be different? If you’re merely stuck in a habit of reading self-development books, you probably won’t like Do Life Differently. But if you’re ready to look for the lessons in between the lines, if you’re ready to do some soul-searching and action planning, you’ll get more than your money’s worth out of this one.
The best and worst thing about Reeter’s book is that he refuses to give you the ‘answers.’ He doesn’t presume to know your journey. He doesn’t define success for you. He doesn’t tell you what your goals should be or direct your next step. Rather, he asks you questions - questions that only you have the answer for. He calls on each of us to look within ourselves to find our passions, giftings, and calling. In other words, Jeff isn’t trying to lead you; he’s trying to get you to lead yourself.
Leading yourself comes down to intentionality. Making deliberate, thoughtful choices about who we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. No one can lead us like we can, and no one will. So to the extent that our lives matter to us, to the extent that we believe we can impact others and do good in the world, to the extent that our dreams beckon us and our passions ignite us, we ought to utilize every resource available to us in our self-leadership.
Reeter devotes his book to equipping readers with his go-to resources for this pursuit. Arguably his favorite is what he calls the MAP - or Master Action Plan. I’ll let you read the book for yourself to get the full value, but essentially the MAP the result of an annual process that includes assessing where we are and who we are right now, and where and who we want to be 5 years from now - in each area of our lives. Don’t rush this part. It’s the key.
Then, with vision for what’s ahead, we start back tracking. Where would we need to be in a year to be on track to get to our 5-year target? What could we do on a daily basis that would get us to our 1-year checkpoint? What will keep us motivated and accountable to these daily actions? Again, considering each aspect of our lives individually. Next year, we’ll set our sights on new 5-year summits - being able to see higher and further for ourselves than what we thought possible when we first set out on our journey.
It’s formulaic; it’s systematic. It’s not what most people do - meaning we’re well on our way to being different. When we take the direction of our lives as seriously as CEOs take the direction of their organizations, our priorities straighten and our values grow deeper.
The beauty and effectiveness of the MAP and Jeff’s other tools is not their novelty but their seamless integration into our everyday lives. If we can keep ourselves fixated on our horizons while keenly aware of the steps in front of us that will lead us there, we’ll live every single day of our lives full of meaning, activation, growth, and fulfillment. Our lives will be the lives we envisioned for ourselves, worth living in every way.
Here are a few more themes I picked up on in Do Life Differently:
Play Your Game, Not Anyone Else’s
“Summarizing the beliefs of leadership guru Warren Bennis, Rob Asghar wrote that ‘most people who become good leaders don’t set out to become leaders. They simply set out to become themselves, in an authentic manner” (p. 20).
“The world needs the leader in the center of your chest” (p. 23).
“For almost everyone in the lead-yourself journey, the biggest distraction - by far - is what the people around us are doing. And just as surely as taking your eyes off the road can wreck your car, being overly focused on the world around you can wreck your dreams” (p. 89).
“‘Where would your heart take you in your career? You’ve told me where your head would take you. What would you do if you could do whatever you wanted to, knowing you couldn’t fail?’ You will have far better vision, and vastly more passion, if you are seeing your world with the eyes of your heart and not merely the eyes of your head” (pp. 142-143).
“Our dreams and our destiny intersect when we’re seeking the path we are meant to take” (p. 161).
Live Life By Design, Not By Default
“Suppose you and your family are headed to Disney World from Pensacola, Florida. You’ve planned this vacation for months. You’ve saved up for it, talked about it, and even worked some overtime so you could be undistracted for the entire week. The kids are absolutely elated about this trip. What happens if, after passing through Tallahassee, you miss the I-75 exit toward Orlando? Would you continue heading east and decide to spend the week in Jacksonville instead? Should you get a flat tire along the way, would you tell the kids, ‘We’ll just sit this vacation out, right here on the shoulder of the road’> Of course not! You’d fix the tire, turn the car around, and, with the help of your GPS, backtrack until you found the road to Orlando. This illustrates the value of having a vision. When you have a goal, a destination in your mind’s eye, it focuses you as you travel. It motivates you to reroute should you get off course. Most importantly, it helps you know where you’re going, quite literally multiplying your chances of completing your mission” (pp. 78-79).
“Anyone who claims they can’t lead themselves because they’re minus something - that’s fear talking, not the truth. Believing you lack what you need to succeed at anything - overcoming obstacles, building healthy relationships, achieving financial security, living out your dreams - is a sure route to self-sabotage and, consequently, to a defeated life. Yet it’s unnecessary because, I can promise you: none of us come to our journey on this planet unequipped. Whether you live by design or not, you have been designed with everything you need for the individual journey you’re supposed to take” (pp. 100-101).
“Default takes many forms, but it is most evident in passive patterns such as:
“If you’re too tired to engage in anything but ‘you time,’ you’re not getting everything you can out of life, and you’re not truly leading yourself” (p. 142).
Effective Execution Depends On Effective Evaluation
“Consider: How do you feel about your current position in each key area? … Do words like disappointed, frustrated, afraid, weary, and lost come to mind, or perhaps content, encouraged, optimistic, and inspired? (p. 68).
“It’s time to look back over your shoulder and assess: How did I get to this spot? Who and what led me here? …
“Take a close look at your life. As you consider what impassions you, keep these characteristics in mind:
“Ask yourself: When am I at my best? How can I replicate that in my everyday life?“ (p. 172).
“The essence of excellence is the mastery of fundamentals - persistent execution at increasingly higher levels” (p. 178).
As someone who has known Jeff personally and professionally, I have the privilege of attesting to his complete authenticity and impressive ability. He's the real deal, a trustworthy source, and a quintessential example of someone living an enriched life. The value in Do Life Differently is there. I can only hope the book inspires you to action as much as the author behind it would if you knew him.
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