Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I want to live a story worth telling to my kids.

This is how the young owner of a thriving business describes himself on his company’s website.

How do you answer the question? Your answer is profoundly important as it reveals who you are, even to the very depths of your soul. Here’s why:

1. Our young hero focuses on being, not on doing.

Whether the questioner asks “be” or “do” we most often think about activities: our career, a skill we want to master, or an adventure we want to experience. Yes, “doing” is how we make our way through life, but “being” speaks to the purpose for which we are doing things in the first place. This father understands that in all of his “doing” his children need to see a worthy purpose behind it all. Not many are willing to be known for who they are rather than what they do. So, in a sense, this father is a hero, if only an ordinary one.

2. He focuses outward.

In our day-to- day lives, it becomes pretty clear what our goals are and who we aspire to be. Rather than desiring fame or fortune, our hero’s goal was to be “worth something” to others. This outward focus is evident in how he treats others and values them. He focuses on how he can better others, making them know they are valued … and worth talking about.

3. He focuses inward.

Our hero understands that knowing himself is of first importance. Only with deep knowledge of himself can he build a legacy worth talking about. Knowing his strengths and weaknesses, our hero uses this knowledge to guide his life and his family toward something greater than themselves. Then, no matter what life brings, there will be something worth remembering.

4. He knows growing up is a journey, not a destination.

We are a destination-focused society. Everything from school grades, to clothing labels, to social media followers, to the size of your home are indications of whether we have arrived. And arriving is an activity of upmost importance. A longer term view sees activities as merely tools to discover who we are and how we can serve those we can. Be they family or people in distant places. That’s journey that our hero has his heart set on, with the hope that someday he can tell a worthwhile story about it.

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

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