Most of us treat life as if it's a scavenger hunt. We scurry about
madly trying to gather things. Jobs. Money. Cars. Clothes. Homes. Women. (Or men.) We travel. We hang out. We eat, eat, eat. The more stuff, the more fun, the more more, the better. We're all guilty of it at some juncture—many of us are even Hall of Famers at it.

On the flip side, "hustle" is one of the keys to success. Many of the folks we admire for their accomplishments didn't achieve them by standing at the curb, waiting for success to drive by and offer them a ride. And often the spoils of success are, simply, All of the Above.

Unfortunately, we often define ourselves by the spoils. We become what we wear, what we drive, where we dine. We are where we live or vacation. It happens easily, comfortably. We become more proud of our "stuff" than of what it took for us to obtain it—intelligence, work ethic, integrity, passion, skill, and more. And, yes, sometimes luck.

In so doing, we diminish who we are, we dismiss our values. We ignore our core.

Today, ask yourself: "Who would I be if I had nothing?"

Not what would I be? (The probable answer: screwed!) But who . . .

Who would you be if the stuff you've obtained suddenly disappeared—poof, as if a magician had waved his wand?

Who then would you be? At your core.

Too many Americans are learning the answer these days. With unemployment hovering at around 9%, people are going months without work or income, without that which made them who they were. A catastrophic illness can strip away the stuff, too. A lost love can rip away your heart.

Who are you then?

I hope you never find yourself with nothing, with whatever stuff you've accumulated hauled off and gone.

But we should all act as if it just might happen, and ponder what—and who—we'd have left.

Would you still like you? Would you be proud of you? Would others love and respect you?

If your answers (honest answers) don't exactly thrill you, there's good news: You can work on it. Work on it as you do on your job, your relationship, your body. Work on it every day—push through plateaus and achieve new growth. In time, you'll not only like the answers, but you'll also find that the you you've created is more important than the stuff you've accumulated. Way more.

Ultimately, who we are is what we leave behind. Sure, you might have a will crammed with all kinds of stuff to leave your family and loved ones. But even if your estate is worth millions, it won't be as valuable as you and how you touched those around you, how you taught those around you—by your actions and words.

So make sure you like you when there's nothing else around.


Roy S. Johnson

Men's Fitness

Editor In Chief

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