Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

What is your footprint?

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The March issue of “Time For Change”

“Time for Change” focuses on different issues about the Disquiet. It’s like a coaching conversation in which I will work on a particular aspect and provide steps you can take to work with your own Disquiet. You can ask questions or share you experiences here in the comments below.

Please note that these monthly newsletter editions are not available on the Feed. So if you want to receive your own issue when it’s published, you can subscribe by filling out the form box on any sidebar on this site or by clicking here. You will also get a copy of the report from my ongoing study based on interviews with men around the world who discuss their Disquiet.

This month’s article:

What is your footprint?

I recently turned 50. Boy is that a complicated birthday! It is a rich topic and I will probably visit its different facets and links to the Disquiet here in future articles. There is one particular piece I want to bring up here.

As my 50th birthday approached, I imagined all kinds of ways to celebrate it. Most were “last hurrahs for youth”. All of these ideas were ridiculous.

After some quiet reflection, I kept getting an image of a footprint. The question that bubbled up was: “What footprints have I made during my half a century on this planet.” That’s what I want the arrival of my 50th birthday to be about. I want to know what impact I have had. And I want to know now. Not at my funeral,
where while it’s possible I may hear it, I certainly will not be able to do anything with it. I want to know now because I want it
to help shape what I do and how I live for the “autumn of my years”.

I think this desire resides in a very deep place inside the Disquiet. There is a calling to answer. When we were young, it was, “What do I want to do?” Later, it became, “What should I be doing?”

I think I am now touching into a new cry from the soul and that is “What do I want my life to mean?”

That will be the theme for my 51st year on this planet. My dear partner, Leslie, helped kick this off in a big way. She gave me this amazing gift – a collection of writings and photographs from some of my colleagues, friends and family all describing my impact on them. Amazing reading! This has been a tremendous gift that provides me with important data to help me create a map and a compass for the next part of my life. It covers the distance I have already traveled and will now help me chart my course ahead.

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Have you ever daydreamed about who would show up at your funeral and what they would say for your eulogy? Why wait! Here are some things you could do:

Have your own footprint book created, either by someone you ask or even by yourself.
Interview colleagues, friends and family.
Send them an email or letter explaining what you are doing and why.

Here are some questions that could be asked:

1. How have I impacted your life?
(Hint: If they struggle with an answer, understand that it’s a hard one. What may help is to play the “It’s a Wonderful Life” game and ask what their life would have been like if you had not been a part of it. That usually kicks the conversation up a whole level!)

2. How would you describe my values?

3. What are you most proud of regarding my accomplishments? (Yes I mean they answer what they are most proud of – I bet it will surprise you)

4. What else would you want me to know?

How does knowing your footprint help for the future?

Learning about your footprints can help you see where your core values, gifts and unique voice show up. And you will see where they don’t. You will see how you have made a difference in the lives of those you care about at a stage in your life when you can build on those successes or “lack of successes”. You will learn that there are a lot of things that you may take for granted or don’t even see as particularly powerful, yet others cherish them. Pay attention to that! Take stock of those and let them help you create your own map for a more meaningful life.

This is not some narcissistic fishing trip for platitudes and compliments. That is way too gooey. It’s not the point of this exercise. If you explain why you are asking you will get responses that are sincere and valuable. The people who care about you will be honored and thrilled to do this for you. Wouldn’t you if you were asked?

I learned a lot about who I have been for others. My deepest values and wishes have been showing up as a partner, dad, friend and colleague. It doesn’t mean I can kick back and rest easy. I have things to do. But I may not have to work so hard at some of these things I seem to do well. I can bring some ease into my
life. One person wished that I “see not just the size of your footprint, Dave, but its depth, its reach and its impact as well.”

That is a wonderful wish and I wish it for you as well.

We are hungry to know answers to the questions, “what for?”‘, “on behalf of what?”, and “how do I want to live?”

Let’s find ways together to uncover those answers for me and for you.

Jackson Brown’s “For a Dancer”, has been in my head and on my lips for a couple of months now. This passage seems to play here nicely.

Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
By everyone you’ve ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

So what are your footprints?

Let me know!

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4 Responses to “What is your footprint?”

  1. Adam Kayce Says:

    Hey Dave,

    Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this concept of the Footprint. Very cool stuff (yes, I hail from California!), especially the depth of the searching that questions like this can engender.

  2. Dave Schoof Says:

    Thanks Adam.

  3. Engaging the Disquiet » Blog Archive » What are my goals? Says:

    [...] Here is another related article that might help prime the pump: http://www.thedisquiet.com/newsletter/what-is-your-footprint/ [...]

  4. What Is Your Contribution? - Dawud Miracle @ dmiracle.com - (formerly Healthy WebDesign) Says:

    [...] Very quickly I discovered that my footprint was much larger helping people who wanted to do good in the world. When I had a healing practice, I worked with one client at a time. Helping them might ripple out into the greater good of the planet. But now I work with web-based business clients who want to do good work for others. Helping others get their good message out means I’m reaching far more people in doing good work. [...]

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