Love, Passion, Never Quit. The three words I have found that define me the best. If you have picked up this book, you are probably wondering how in the world am I going to quantify “better.” In all honesty, The Better Man Project is just a name representing something greater: transformation. There is no real way to quantify “better” because it involves an immeasurable concept. How can you tell if you are actually becoming better? What actually is better? Am I still acting better? I found out quickly when I was starting to write that there had to be some way to tell whether or not I was growing. In my quest to become a better man, I started becoming a student of humanity, of its victories and defeats, and of what drives people to great heights.
I became entrenched in studying different perspectives and the paths individuals took to achieve their dreams. If you listened to my iPod right now, you would hear music mixed with speeches and motivational teachings. That’s just the way I am. In no way was I trying to become better than anyone else, but rather to aim high and reach a potential I truly had never realized. I knew that I had something great in store for myself, but I never could find that key to unlock my greatest dreams. I would soon realize that the key to unlock those dreams isn’t found, it is carefully and painstakingly crafted.
How did I even get to this point? What drove me to even start something like this? To be honest, over time the true answer to that question, if there was even a true answer to that question in the first place, has been lost in thousands and thousands of words spilled onto countless pages. To answer it in the best way I can, I have to take you back to a time when I just started to fall in love with cursive.
There is something about seeing those squiggly lines on the paper – elegant, soft, yet packed full of emotion. I wrote to get my feelings and emotions out. I never wrote in cursive unless I was writing in a journal or on paper that could be hidden away. I guess it was an effort to pay my respects to the lost generations of writers who poured their emotions out in a similar way. I do fancy myself as a romantic at times…and maybe this is my gesture of appreciation for their work. Whatever the case may be, I found that whatever I was going through in my life could eventually be calmed by writing. Throughout my late teen years, I wrote on and off only when things really hit the fan. There were about five years of my life where I was an emotional tornado, and the pages began to fill up with ink. I would write anywhere and everywhere, and eventually I started to fall in love with writing as a whole.
In high school, I was a terrible writer. My teachers confirmed this with mediocre grades on my papers and a visual bloodbath of comments referring to my lack of detailed connection with the “big idea.” The big idea…that’s what I was great at. The specifics unfortunately eluded me. As I continued to write though, my ability to connect ideas and express them in my own unique style grew. Eventually, as I reached the starting point of The Better Man Project, something funny happened. I woke up one day and just decided to put it all on the line, forever, and work on becoming a better person each and every day. What caused this? One of my heroes Greg Plitt talks about change and what causes change. He says that when the present becomes too much to handle, the pressure of change and that something right around the corner getting ready expose you will force you to take action. Change is often caused by the presence of a threatening force ready to create an earthquake that will shatter the brick foundation of your life. What was the force causing my change? It was the direction I was headed.
Realizing that the path you are on is the wrong one can cause a lot of turmoil. For me, it was definitely a wakeup call. Who knows exactly what sparked this awakening, but it happened and I realized a few things about myself. First, I let fear paralyze me from taking action. We will come back to that one in a later post. Second, I was an emotional wreck. Personal issues, many successive heartbreaks, unhappiness with what I was doing, lack of a stable foundation, and a non-existent purpose all piled up on me at the same time. Of course those things had manifested themselves in specific events throughout my life, but had never before come knocking at my door all at once.
So I did what any man of mettle would do – I decided to move forward. I was scared out of my mind but I chose to take action. And I started with the one thing needed to make the whole project work: accountability. Writing everything down in a blog forced me to be accountable for my actions. I really didn’t know who would be reading my writing at first, but I knew there would be people in my life that would, and if I wasn’t practicing what I was proclaiming, I knew they would let me know. I then decided on a simple course of action: to focus on one thing a day that I had learned and that I was certain I could implement in my life. The project began, and two weeks later I was hit with one of the hardest situations I had ever had to deal with: the loss of one of my best friends. I was heartbroken.
I was torn to pieces for a long time, but the project went on and I continued to learn about myself, to dive deep within the caves of my soul and to find past events, stories, and lessons that had shaped my life to this day. I found things I really didn’t like about myself, and I found strengths that I never knew were there. The emotions and feelings flowed out of me, and I began to share things that were very close to my heart. After a while, I began to focus on another thing: authenticity. How can you believe my victories if I don’t tell you about my defeats? Believe me, there were a lot of defeats during those days; but just as the sun goes down, it also rises, and my victories eventually came.
As time went on, I continued to write, and write, and write. The pages continued to fill up, both within the blog and also on sheets of journal paper. My writing evolved, I evolved, and I began to see transformations that I could have never foreseen. I can sit before you today and tell you I am 100 percent authentically Evan Sanders because of this project. I am not just a better man; I am a man that transformed. I made a decision in my life to take a stand for something, and that decision changed everything. Better for me isn’t the only important thing anymore. I can see a major difference in the path that I have taken, and that has been an amazing adventure. Remember the path I was on before? Well, in the words of Robert Frost, I chose to take the path less traveled by, and can see a difference in my personal life and in my relationships with my friends and family. It may sound funny, but I lived my whole life not knowing myself. I am sure there are many people out there that resonate with this feeling too.
I’ve thought a lot about how I would put this journey into a book. Then it dawned on me while writing the introduction that it is perfect in its own piecemeal way, which is why I have chosen to present it in the same way it flowed from my mind to pen to paper. The book is split up into three major life events that have truly defined my path so far. I have found that the one thing you can bet on in life is unpredictability, and I think that the project and the words you will read in this book reflect what can happen when you embrace that unpredictability head on.
Music equally saved my life as much as writing did. Before there was the courage to write, there were many hours spent with headphones on. I wasn’t ready to put myself out there to the world, so I sought answers in lyrics and the beat. When a song makes it into a post, it is not by accident. In the back of the book, there is a playlist where you can find all the songs and what posts they are attributed to. For me, there was a deeply profound connection between the music I was listening to and what I was writing. I hope you can feel it too.
Putting this project out there in print for the world to see is testing my vulnerability. I know though that this is what I want, and by doing this, I will see a dream morph into a sweet reality. I know that, for me, this project will never really end. In the time it takes me to finish this book I will probably have written hundreds more posts. But this is the amazing thing about life. Every day is an opportunity to do something that has never been done before. You can wake up, tell yourself you want to be someone, and then go out and do it. So let’s get to it – I promise you…it’s going to be one wild ride.
To read more from the book, click the link below.