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April 9, 1992

Back to Reality

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, Joe does not exist. How could he? The math alone will never add up. We might be able to mirror Joe’s life in one or two phases, but never across the board. It just isn’t possible. This entire parody reminds me of the man-made marketing concoction created by a group of beach buddies back in the late 90’s that has grown to a $300 million dollar world-wide brand called Tommy Bahama. There is no real Tommy Bahama and there is no real Super Joe. So why would any one of us aspire to be “Super Joe” if we know he is just a man-made promotional fiction? And further, why would we listen to folks—and there are many in our culture—who want to line up ‘Super Joe’ as our ideal?
One part of the answer is simple. Alive in every one of us is an inherent knowledge that we are meant to do more than one thing. To be effective, we know that we need to juggle at least a few balls all at once . At the same time, a perhaps even stronger impulse tells us that we need to do those things well. So, even though we know Super Joe doesn’t exist, we feel an internal (and likely external) call to effectively manage a never-ending portfolio of tasks, opportunities, relationships and dreams. This can be an overwhelming proposition, not matter what your ideal is. When that ideal is some version of ‘Super Joe,’ life quickly becomes an exhausting, emptying treadmill.
To drive this point home, a world-class counselor friend of mine often gives a particular homework assignment to the hyper-achieving, Super Joe’s who walk into his office. He tells them to buy a hamster wheel and put it on the desk in their office. An ever-present reminder that the chase is futile.
We must learn to manage ourselves well and be comfortable with the fact that “I’m not going to be Super Joe, but I am going to be a great portfolio manager”. I can be me—the composite, multi-faceted me that God created, and can do so with confidence and no regrets.

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