She looked me in the eyes and said. “But what made you that way?” “Like what?” I asked. “People aren’t just that way, the way you are. Something happened. What was it?”

I looked back at her knowing one thing for sure…that she had seen right into me and that she almost already knew the answer. Like I always say, the specifics aren’t actually the important part. It’s everything after the event that actually matters. Maybe it wasn’t just in that second that she knew, but she knew. I’ve never really been called on that part of my life before. I’ve always been able to sense that in others…but never had the mirror turned my direction.

So I sipped my drink and started to tell the story, only to be cut short. But as the words stopped coming out of my mouth, I started to think.

You’ve probably heard the phrase in some sort of variation , “I see myself every day so I don’t really notice much of a difference.” Usually people will say that when they are referring to weight…but in my case, and as I took a walk tonight thinking about this very question that she had asked me, I started to actually think about where I have come from. As someone who deliberately focuses on living in the present, I don’t often visit the past. But when I do, I am now much more comfortable with confronting some of the situations I have been through in my young life. You have to be careful though – because when you visit this place, you have to make sure you can get out. Sounds a bit ridiculous, but coming from someone who used to be stuck living there, it’s all too easy to focus on what did happen versus what is happening right now.

So I asked myself, “How did you become you right now?”

On one note, there was the massive forces of change and my worst nightmare coming to life, and on another there’s the product of habit. I decided to visit the first to start. Many of us know exactly what will happen if we don’t change our course. In my case, I knew exactly what I was sailing at. The captain steered his ship directly at the reef bank with the sharp jagged rocks sticking out on the water…a location that had been marked on the map by many as “Don’t go here…you will sink.” The question of why that was the case is still a little bit shady, but nonetheless, it happened. We are the product of all of our decisions up to this point. Sure, there are natural events that occur throughout our lives that we cannot control in the slightest, but in all honesty, we have the capability to make our own decisions and steer our own ship on whatever course we decide. In the end, it was you at the helm…and it is you that must go down with the ship.

But after being rescued by my crew, I came to the realization that I indeed was responsible for my own life and that I could turn it all around. It was Aristotle himself who said that we are the finest representation of our actions. So I took that idea to heart and began to pound away, as a blacksmith creates a sword, at the characteristics I wanted to exist in my life. The age-old question of “are leaders/heroes born or created?” is easily answered for me now. I believe that within each of us there is something great and we can all leverage that ability, hone it, and improve upon it until we have created something fantastic that looks almost drastically different from what started we with in the first place. I am a firm believer that you can create your own path and your own story. Because once you realize that the past is indeed just a story, you have every opportunity to pick up the pen and start writing a new one on fresh clean white sheets of paper.

All the tools you need to create something amazing are already in your toolbox. In His infinite wisdom, he didn’t give you every tool imaginable, but gave you the basic ones to be able to create the big kahuna. So instead of looking at others who have figured out how to make an awesome tool and try to buy it off of them, go make your own unique replica that is completely suited to you. Trust me, it will work much better that way.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project