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Do Life Differently
A Strategic Path Toward Extraordinary
With Kris Bearss
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- ebook (Unabridged) $11.99 $15.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
- Trade Paperback $16.99 $22.99 CAD
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Countless books focus on leadership. Numerous podcasts and TedTalks speak about leading others, leading organizations, developing leaders, and so on. But before you can lead others well, much less discover real success or leave a legacy that others will remember you for, you must first learn to lead yourself.
Jeff D. Reeter is a successful businessman, as well as an accomplished leader who has helped many become better versions of themselves. He has guided many on the path to achieving their goals, and he believes that when you live your life by design and make decisions based on your intentions, you can lead yourself to live the life you have always imagined.
Do Life Differently will help lead you toward extraordinary in all areas of life by offering guiding questions and exercises that will help you create your very own custom-tailored master action plan. Each step is designed with the purpose of helping you understand how to become the best version of your authentic self. You will also create a legacy that encourages others to learn, grow, and gain wisdom, values which will help them on their own journey.
What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?… I avow my faith that we are marching toward better days… We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.
Benjamin S. Carson Sr., MD
Professor Emeritus of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine
In this important book, my friend Jeff Reeter tackles a topic that is near and dear to me, especially given my life’s experiences. Whether you are just getting started in life or well along the way, you need to know what you can do to invest well in making certain that you are living to meaningfully benefit others while giving yourself the satisfaction of creating a life of significance.
Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. The life systems in this book have been found tried and true for enhancing the probability of broader success, greater adventure, and outcomes beyond the ordinary. Readers will find that they can intentionally map out their lives toward an extraordinary pursuit of abundance and adventure through leading themselves, instead of following someone else’s ideas or plans for them. So many people in our world today, young and old, are lost without direction, and often they are not even aware of it.
I was fortunate to become aware at a young age that I was lost. I started on my journey of intentionality at age fourteen. My life took on a very different trajectory after I decided that I was the one responsible for taking control of my anger as well as the circumstances in which I found myself on a daily basis. My life has been extremely different than it could have been when, at such an early age, I began to understand the importance of leading myself.
In Do Life Differently, Jeff shows the reader that the person who has the most to do with the outcome of your life is YOU. You determine your goals and you determine how much energy you will devote to accomplishing them. That goes for relationships as well. This book will help you take control of your life and move forward with intentional ownership of your future.
LEAD YOURSELF—CHOOSING A LIFE BY DESIGN
LOST AND FOUND
I was lost. Really lost. I just didn’t know it yet.
For several hours, I had followed a winding game trail up into the high country of the Uncompahgre National Forest in Colorado. It was an afternoon hunt, and I was unaware that I had made a wrong turn earlier in the day. Consequently, as I hiked and stalked, hoping to find an elusive elk, I’d been distancing myself from our camp all afternoon, heading farther and farther in the opposite direction.
Because wilderness hunts are both a spiritual and physical experience for me, I was far more focused on the excitement of the hunt than on where I was going. A very rookie mistake. The mix of colors around me—reds and oranges in the distance at lower elevations, golden-leaved aspens blending with the deep green of firs, and the browns and grays of the rocky ridges as far as my eyes could see—made for a majestic backdrop to this fall adventure.
A little before sundown, I settled in at a scenic spot near a game trail and a small spring. I saw deer but not the prized elk that I sought. Soon, the sun began to disappear past the tops of the western mountains and the air grew noticeably colder, alerting me that it was time to begin hiking back. I geared up, strapped on a headlamp, and pointed myself toward camp. Or so I thought.
The trail was easy to follow, and I moved forward in the graying day at a good pace. Yet the farther I went, the more I realized: I’m not recognizing any landmarks. Still, I was confident that if I stuck to the trail, I would soon be joining my hunting buddies for dinner and a couple of rounds of poker before snagging a few hours of sleep prior to tomorrow’s hunt.
A mile or two later, the landmarks I was looking for still had not materialized. And my compass wasn’t making sense. I knew which direction the sun had set, but suddenly “west” seemed… complicated, and somehow not correct. That’s when I reluctantly came to the realization: I’m lost.
At that thought, what had been low-level anxiety suddenly spiked, and I did what amateurs do when they get scared: I sped up. To make matters worse, my faster pace caused me to perspire, increasing my risk of hypothermia as the temperature started dropping precipitously in that thin mountain air. My light camouflage clothing was ideal for an active spot-and-stalk hunt during the day, but not for being stranded outdoors overnight in the subfreezing temperatures.
There was another dynamic at work that I am a little embarrassed to share. I like to think of myself as a man’s man, with enough nerve to get through any situation. Frankly, though, I was fearful. It felt like the dangers of the unknown were ever present. Was I the hunter or the hunted? The noises coming from the shadows worried me; I imagined that a mountain lion or a bear was lurking nearby, ready to maul me at any moment. As much as my reason and intellect told me that those were highly improbable occurrences, they were still in my mind.
To fight the panic and sense of isolation that can easily take over in times like these, I decided I would keep moving, but change directions. The game trail hit a creek bed that led me down the mountain. This seemed a favorable sign. Yet I couldn’t help regretting an earlier decision. The dates for the trip had been selected, in part, so that we could hunt on a week with very little moonlight (elk tend to be more active during the day when there is a “lesser” moon at night). How I would love to have a little of that moonlight now! I thought as darkness overtook the dusk. Thankfully, the clouds above me shifted at one point, allowing me to see the Big Dipper and its spout, which always points to the North Star. Once I located that, I was able to make sense of my compass readings and regain my bearings. And just a little way farther, the creek bed crossed a dirt road.
I was feeling relieved until I came face-to-face with my next dilemma: I didn’t know which way to go on the road. After consulting my compass again, I picked a direction and kept walking at a steady pace, trying to keep my body temperature up. Finally, well into the wee morning hours, a local in an older white pickup truck drove by. I desperately waved him down and told him I was lost. He offered me a ride and I climbed in, gratefully soaking in the warmth from the truck’s heater as we chatted.
“I’m amazed you got to where you did on foot,” he said when I told him where our camp was. Knowing the entire area as he did, he drove me safely back to our site, where I found my buddies soundly sleeping, not at all concerned for my safety!
LEARNING TO LEAD
Looking back on the early years of my high-mountain hunting adventures, it’s a wonder I didn’t get lost more often. I was pretty clueless—there’s just no other way to say it. I had some knowledgeable friends I hunted with, I’d gone hunting with my dad and brother for years, and I regularly read books and magazines on stalking techniques, but generally speaking, I saw scattered success because I didn’t know how to guide myself. I hadn’t yet had the privilege of going on a guided hunt, either.
Once I began taking professionally guided hunts, my knowledge grew by leaps and bounds. Most of the time I learned things to do, and some of the time I learned things not to do, to be successful. And the differences between myself in that early experience in Colorado and those top elk-hunting guides in their expertise have become more and more apparent. There is nothing haphazard about their approach.
They remain keenly aware of the objectives. Yes, one of those is to provide a fun, productive hunt for their clients. But a safe return to camp is the other, so that no one is unnecessarily put in harm’s way.
Their steps are strategic.
They are constantly checking their compasses and tracking our position.
They monitor the terrain, the skies, and the horizon for any signs of trouble.
They note wind direction and observe temperature changes.
They listen and watch for signs of animal activity, analyzing how to move us from a good location to a better one, and from better to best.
They gauge our distance ahead of time and adjust our pace as needed so we can make camp before our resources are depleted.
They move more slowly when it matters and move more briskly (but quietly) when it doesn’t. Strangely, they listen to the stillness and find direction. Distinctively and differently, they quietly and faithfully position us for success.
As I’ve grown older and added several guided hunts to my experience, I’ve also—thanks to the training and example of these guides—learned to lead myself. To make my steps count. To determine ahead of time where I want to go and plan for it. To be a stronger observer of my surroundings. To know my strengths and weaknesses so I can maximize whatever situations the wilderness presents me with and enjoy even greater success in my pursuits.
I’ve also discovered I don’t want to stop there. Said another way, successful hunts are no longer my end goal. I strive to make every trip its own adventure, pushing myself to pursue greater goals, create richer memories, build deeper connections with my traveling companions, and gain further insight into who I am and why I’m doing the things I do.
This, in essence, encapsulates my intentions for my life, too. As I’ve learned to lead myself out in the wilderness, I’ve sought to apply those lessons elsewhere—to my life and heart. I am determined not to be a default dad who lets his sons raise themselves, hoping they turn out okay. Not to default to poor habits, expecting my body to stay healthy on its own. I don’t want to be the kind of guy who, as Jeff Turner said in the foreword to this book, is a wild success at work but leaves a neglected wife in his wake. I want the most I can get out of this one life I have. That means doing everything possible to not only set and succeed at lofty goals but to pursue the loftiest outcome of all: a life of significance where I’m also serving others with my time and gifts. I call it pursuing “Life at its BEST.” BEST is an acronym for Balance, Excellence, Service, Truth. Over thirty years ago, my coach and friend, Jack Shaw, and I developed this concept, and we’ve been seeking to live it and teach it ever since.
In your heart of hearts, I suspect that’s what you long for, too, even if you’ve kind of given up hope that it can happen. I’m wagering that no matter your current situation—whether you’ve seen some success or not, whether you’ve lost your way or maybe never found it in the first place—you still wish for greatness. You want a great career, a great family, greater wealth, greater purpose, greater impact, and greater faith.
Let’s test this. You walk into a room, and you see this word written on a whiteboard in black marker:
How does the word ordinary make you feel? What do you visualize?
When I ask a roomful of people the same questions, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s age or income or relationship status is; the answers are immediate and pretty much the same:
“I don’t want to be ordinary!”
“It’s just so… vanilla and boring.”
“There’s nothing remarkable about it.”
“But ordinary is normal!” I respond. “That’s what most people claim to be happy with!” Then we start to apply this term to areas of significant meaning: “Ordinary spouse,” I say. “What’s an ordinary spouse?” After hearing some answers, I sum it up with, “Whether I am an ordinary spouse or I am married to an ordinary spouse, that setup works pretty well for maybe seven or eight years—until somebody throws in the towel with divorce papers.”
Next, we move on to ordinary health. “One number comes to my mind at this lack of sustained activity,” I say. “The number sixty-six—the average age of a first heart attack among American men. Is that okay with you?”
After we go through a few more key examples, the room will claim, “Ordinary is not okay. Ordinary is normal, and I want more than that!”
“Okay, then,” I challenge, “what if we add something to it?” With a bright-colored marker, I write five letters in all caps at the front of the word.
“That’s it!” they’ll exclaim. They want to be EXTRAordinary.
And that’s what I’m counting on in this book. That in your heart of hearts, you don’t want to be an ordinary spouse or an average parent or an everyday single with a job that bores you and a life that empties you. You want that something extra. Something more compelling, energizing, and stimulating that draws you out of bed each day and propels you to engage your heart and mind in everything you do.
I’m also pretty sure that you don’t like being lost any more than I do. Yes, we all get off track sometimes in our lives and lose our way. I can get lost on any given day in my life because of pridefulness, lack of focus, or failing to effectively value another person. Still, I have three goals for myself and for you:
1. that we get lost a little less;
2. that when we’re lost, we still navigate forward effectively using life systems we can depend on; and
3. that we wholeheartedly plan and engage in the kind of life pursuit that captivates us and inspires those we influence.
If you’re on board for EXTRAordinary, then you have to be willing to be atypical. Uncommon. A bit radical, as in willing to go beyond the status quo. Because people who lead themselves are different. They do life differently on a strategic path toward extraordinary. At some point, they decide to step away from the crowd and do what others aren’t willing to do.
You simply can’t be the same as everybody you know if you’re intent on leading yourself and achieving significance. This is a road less traveled, a distinctive journey packed with uncommon adventures, fantastic summits, and a spectacular ending that continues to be felt long after we’re gone.
Not everyone dares to travel apart from the pack. But those who want more from their lives do. Those who want to lead others do. As one reporter wrote: “People become leaders in stages and gain essential skills at each turn. First, they learn to lead themselves, then to lead others.”1 They prepare so that when change is needed, and people are crying out for someone to show them the way, they’re ready. They’ve already learned their purpose, and they’re going hard after it. They’re maximizing their giftedness and resources. They’ve tightened up their habits. They’ve dreamed big things and developed a bold vision that is progressively coming true. In essence, they can assume the lead because they’ve practiced leading themselves first.
Take a moment to process this. I’m challenging you to be abnormal. Out of the ordinary. To most of the people you know, not being normal is a truly scary proposition. Yet the road less traveled, as poet Robert Frost wrote, is the one that makes all the difference. I’m so hopeful you’ll see the difference as you read through this book.
You will have to lead yourself to live distinctively, intentionally, and according to your unique purpose, but as you do, amazing vistas will spread out before you. You will reach many summits and plant many seeds. And in the end, you will have made a difference, a legacy, a life for yourself and for the generations to come.
This is what it means to attain significance, and this is what we’ll be training for in the pages that follow. The secret is to rise up and lead yourself according to your one-of-a-kind design, not according to the “designs”—the expectations or plans—of others.
Maybe your role models didn’t teach you how to set measurable goals.
Maybe you have no clue about which habits will make you thrive.
Maybe there are so many voices speaking into your life that you can’t locate your own.
Maybe aspirations such as “living your dreams” and “reaching significance” seem as beyond your capacity as summiting Mount Everest.
If any of those “maybes” describe you, I’d like to be one of your guides. Not because I’ve figured it all out, but because I had others who showed me how to lead myself, and I’ve both seen and felt what a difference it has made as I’ve applied their expertise. That’s what I want for you as well.
It’s a lifelong process; we will always need to be leading ourselves if we’re going to strive beyond mere success and aim higher as spouses, parents, businesspeople, and citizens. But I’m on that trail, and I want you to join me so that you can find not just success but significance, too.
This isn’t about me telling you who you are and what to do. You have to be you and take your own path, not follow Jeff Reeter’s route. I’m here to help you plan and think your way through for yourself.
On your trail will be many surprises. The goal is to equip you to live your uncommon adventure, figuring out what empowers you. What triggers your courage. What sustains and motivates you. And most of all, what you really want from your time on this earth so you can maximize the journey you’re on.
My wife and I just got back from a mountain hike on a snowy day. It was a chilly, brisk adventure. We walked up the trail for a ways before the snow got so deep we couldn’t go any farther. Thankfully, we had packed snowshoes, so Cindy and I strapped them on and continued our outing. The snowmelt above us caused the brook along our trail to rush with rapids and waterfalls. It was majestic and invigorating. We experienced the thrill of accomplishment (and some incredible scenery) on our journey.
This little outing of ours is a microcosm of the life adventure that I believe is available to each of us. We’re on a path we have chosen, alongside companions we have chosen. Though the trail forward is somewhat unknown, and the conditions are not always ideal, our preparedness greatly affects the success of the outing.
BY DESIGN, NOT DEFAULT
At the end of the day, doing life differently is about living by design, not by default. It’s about making life happen rather than letting life happen to you. Very simply: it’s about YOU leading YOU based on your unique ability.
That’s what makes this book different. Countless books focus on leadership. (I have several shelves full of them myself!) Numerous podcasts and TED Talks speak about leading others, leading organizations, developing leaders, and so on. There are far fewer books on the importance of leading ourselves with bold vision and carefully considered life systems. And yet, before you can lead others well, much less discover real success or leave a legacy that others will remember you for, you must first learn to lead yourself.
This book is about you leading yourself, again and again, through the many adventures that life presents you with. It’s about you leading you whenever you’re lost and afraid. You leading you to get unstuck every time stuck happens. You leading you to track down your greatness. And, this may surprise you, but it’s also about you leading your own fight against the gravitational pull of average to powerfully pursue what matters most in your heart of hearts.
What’s wrong with default? What’s wrong with being like everybody else? Nothing—except that “good is the enemy of great,” as author Jim Collins says.2 Logically, then, ordinary is the enemy of extraordinary. Settling by default for an average life means following the crowd, which means relinquishing the opportunity to achieve more, impact more people, and live your life to the fullest.
As a financial adviser, I’ve asked literally thousands of people: “In the next three years, what are your goals personally, professionally, and financially?” Most of them had none to start with, but as we worked through their ideals with great intention, and paid real attention to their individual designs, I watched person after person lead themselves out of any “wilderness,” any tragedy or circumstance, to greater levels of success and significance. This was done by purposefully walking through uncommon adventures to their finish, by making very specific plans to succeed, and, most meaningfully, by making choices to serve and impact others, not just themselves.
I’ve been pursuing this kind of intentionality for over three decades. But here’s something critical for you to know: I am truly just a normal guy. My family moved around quite a bit when I was a kid, but I considered Jenks, Oklahoma—the heartland of Middle America—home. How in the world I arrived at some of the places I’ve been makes no sense, except maybe that I’ve had my fair share of good influences and mentors in my life, and I’ve tried to pay attention to them.
The reason I’m sharing this with you is that if a dude like me can do some of the things I’ve done, then I’m absolutely certain you can do plenty of extraordinary things, too. It’s important to give yourself a chance, because your entire experience on this earth depends on your daily decisions between “default” and “design.” You can be led by others, by the happenstance of circumstance… or you can saddle up and take the reins for yourself.
YOUR LIFE, YOUR LEAD
It’s your life to lead. Will you go for it? I’ll be right there with you, offering specific tools and training so that you can identify not only where you are but where you want to be, plus the action steps for getting there. I’ll also help you very practically apply guiding principles in the areas that seem to matter to most people: work, finances, health, relationships, and faith. This way, you can determine what you need to lead yourself, step-by-step and turn-by-turn, from survival to success to significance.
It will be up to you to customize what you learn, since your particular route will be uniquely yours. But I’ll help set you up with the vision and understanding you’ll need to reach the summits that could be in your sights. I’ll also present numerous ideas for integrating your goals, your values, your beliefs, and your habits day by day to create a life and legacy you can be proud of. The life and legacy you’re specially meant to live.
At its essence, leading yourself is what gives life to your individual dreams and purpose during your time on this planet. It means setting your sights on things that excite you, and conquering the challenges and reaching the horizons that you alone were designed for, with confidence. It means taking inventory of everything within you and around you so that you can find your way toward the top of the mountain and not stay lost or continually wander. And mostly, it means devising a system for how to live to the fullest in your work, your relationships, and your finances so that maybe, just maybe, you’ll reach the summits you’ve had your eye on.
DEFAULT OR DESIGN? YOUR CRITICAL CHOICE
You might be surprised to learn that while I was lost in the Colorado forest, I actually had a map with me. It was a “topo”—topographical—map, which shows permanent natural landmarks such as mountain ranges, forests, and waterways, as well as man-made ones (roads and railways, existing buildings, etc.). Outdoorsmen use this kind of map to get an aerial view of a specific area’s terrain so they can chart a course that will accomplish their purposes. Whether for a leisurely hike through great scenery, or finding prime hunting or camping spots, the topo allows them to choose their best route from the comfort of home, long before they ever set foot in remote territory.
So how did I get lost? I mean, I had my map and compass with me, and I knew how to use them. I also knew where our base camp was on the topo. What happened with me? For several hours on that day, I was a walking illustration of living by default. You might say I went on autopilot out there.
For one, I didn’t plot my route all the way through to the finish. The things I had done in advance of that day’s hunt are probably what allowed me to eventually find my way out, but it was a major mistake for me to charge up that mountain without a plan that would bring me to the successful completion of that adventure.
Second, I didn’t reference my guides along the way. I wasn’t in the habit of following them. Once I was actually on the trail, I quit paying attention to those guides and neglected to use any of my resources. It was almost sundown before I tried to make heads or tails of my location, and that was way too late.
Only when I “woke up” to my surroundings and the dilemma I was in did I start leading myself out of danger.
THE DANGER OF DEFAULT
- "God is big enough to create a unique plan for each of us. None of us need nor should want to merely replicate someone else's life. It would be a waste of the one-of-a-kind life the Creator intends for each of us. Jeff Reeter makes that truth practical in his dynamic book Do Life Differently. From a super successful business career, Jeff approaches life with passion, purpose, and a plan."—Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas 1996-2007
- "Jeff has a remarkable track record of developing people AND developing leaders. He has done an amazing job using an approach all his own. Do Life Differently lays out Jeff's principles in a readable way that should benefit anyone who takes advantage of his knowledge. In reading this book it's clear why Jeff has been so successful."—John Schilfske, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Northwestern Mutual
- "In our fast-moving and stress-filled lives it is more important than ever to understand that we must each be able to lead. In Do Life Differently, Jeff Reeter provides you with the tools and strategies you will need for getting a handle on your life. It all starts with you: what you are, what your values are, and what are your core competencies. I want to make sure that all my adult children read this book."—Mike Singletary, NFL Hall of Fame Linebacker, Chicago Bears
- "An extraordinary book... I sincerely appreciate that Jeff measures 'extraordinary' in a multi-dimensional way to include faith, family, fitness, community leadership, friendship, development, and so much more. This is a unique kind of book on how to live the best life you possibly can...well worth your read."—Steve Green, President, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; Chairman of the Board, Museum of the Bible
- "An inspirational guide on how to pursue a life of purpose and significance...This must-read book brilliantly describes how to find and achieve your dream."—Ken Starr, attorney and New York Times bestselling author
- "A powerful new look at leadership. Jeff Reeter shares his experience, wisdom and integrity in a fascinating and quick read. There are lessons in this book that will make all of us better. I strongly recommend that people searching for their path forward read this book."—Bill Simon, President and CEO, Walmart, US (retired)
- On Sale
- Nov 17, 2020
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Worthy Books