On my blog, I write a lot about the concept of duty. I’ve written about why we should do it, I’ve looked at how it’s changed throughout history, and I’ve discussed convenience and excellence—the two major internal cultures that every individual has to choose between. But today, I want to tell you what duty means to me.
When I toughen up, I’m doing my duty. When I choose excellence over convenience, I’m doing my duty. When I’m doing my very best, living my life’s purpose, and achieving my potential, I’m doing my duty. Why? Because we’re all connected, and we all have our jobs to do. Each one of us has something very specific that no one else in the world can do in quite the same way. If we don’t do that task to the best of our ability, if we decide to make excuses when the going gets tough, we let everyone down. As author and pastor Mark Batterson once said, “Uniqueness isn’t a virtue, it’s a responsibility.”
When I was still working as a military diver, it was my buddies’ responsibility to look out for me. And I did the same for them. In the military, the way you do your duty could mean the difference between life and death. Thankfully, they did their duty, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post today.
The story of Paul Kariya’s winning goal in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals is one of my favourite examples of a man who’s done his duty. According to the Calgary Herald, he took a major blow to the head at the hands of Scott Stevens. He was taken off to the dressing room for first aid, and everyone assumed he was out for the game. To the crowd’s astonishment, he came back out onto the ice and scored the winning goal. He did his duty at a time when everyone would have completely understood if he’d decided to bow out.
Now think about your life’s purpose. Are you working towards it? Have you chosen a culture of excellence? Because if you aren’t, the world is missing out on whatever it is you do best. It may not be a matter of life and death (although it’s possible that it is), but it will still make a difference to someone. As I wrote in Toughen Up, “We’re all worse off because some people choose convenience over excellence in their lives. And we’re all better off because some people have chosen to do their best, to live their life purpose to its fullest.” American president Theodore Roosevelt put it like this: “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, safety first instead of duty first, and love of soft living…”
It’s probably not your life’s duty to score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals. But maybe it is. Or maybe it’s your duty to be a patient parent, even when you’re exhausted. Or to build a business that helps others. Whatever your duty is, will you tough it out when you’re on your last legs? I hope so. After all, everyone else is counting on you.
Enjoy your weekend!