I’ve never made a “bucket list”; you know, a list of things that I’d like to do before I kick the bucket! I imagine that when the movie The Bucket List was released in 2007, thousands, if not millions of people grabbed pen and paper and began to make their own list. Perhaps you have a bucket list, tucked away in your mind, on a sheet of paper, or perhaps in your computer.
Oh, there are several things that I’d like to do before I die, including driving from I’ve the U.S. East coast to the West coast in my new Corvette (which I don’t have yet), spending a couple of weeks in Australia, and visiting a South American rain forest. I’d like to do all of these in the company of my wife and best friend, Jackie. Time will tell if God has any of them planned for me.
There’s another thing that would most assuredly be on my bucket list. I’ve tried to do this one before; in fact, I’m constantly in search of it. Ah, there’s another of those mysterious “its.” I often refer to it as being anything of importance that is missing in my life. “Pretty broad stroke of the brush”, you may be thinking, in my definition of it. But I’m not alone, you know; the rock group Queen released a song titled I Want it All (and I want it now!). It is also the title of a book written by Stephen King. I guess it was missing from their lives, too! Perhaps I should suggest to Steven Spielberg that he make a movie called The It List!
I’m sorry…back to the subject of this post.
It has proven to be very elusive, largely do to the fact that I can’t purchase a ticket for it, or mark it on my calendar as a “save the date” kind of thing. For the longest time I didn’t even know if it existed…come to think of it, I’m still not sure that it does.
So just what is It?
The it to which I’m referring is, quite simply, peace of mind.
In referring to peace of mind, I’m not talking about being concerned with or worrying about situations that I face in life. I’m talking about the manner in which I approach every aspect of my life…
A couple of months ago I was sitting in the “break room” in the back of our hair salon having a conversation with Steve Good, a sales manager with one of the vendors that we deal with. We were talking about the salon industry in general, and more specifically about our salon, Salon M². It seems that while many hair salons are struggling to keep their doors open, our salon, against all odds, continues to grow at a remarkable rate. Knowing that I would give all the credit to God, Steve didn’t bother to ask why I thought we were growing.
There was one exchange between the two of us that I’d like to share with you:
Steve: So Sam, what is your “vision” for your salon? What would you like for you and your team to accomplish in the future?
Never missing a beat, I responded “I want to own the best and most profitable salon in Birmingham. Best being defined in not just what we do, but the manner in which we do it. And most profitable being defined as every member of my team making a good living.”
Steve: “What do you use as a yardstick to measure your success? How do know if Salon M² is one of the best and most profitable salons?”
Me: “There isn’t a yardstick…and I have no way of knowing if we’re where I want us to be. So every day I come to the salon determined to make our salon the best, because regardless of what we’re doing in comparison to other salons, I don’t think that we’re there yet. In addition, there are a few members of our team that are struggling to live comfortably. And because of that, I’ll keep pushing, and mentoring, and urging, and doing whatever it takes to make my vision for this salon a reality.”
Later that night…
I was recalling my conversation with Steve, and I realized that in many ways I hold myself to the same standards that I hold our salon to. Come to think of it, they may be even more rigid. And again, I don’t have a yardstick to measure my success in life. Oh, I don’t mean success in terms of dollars and cents, material possessions, titles, awards, or anything else that we tend to use as benchmarks.
I’m talking about being a good Christian, and being a soldier of Christ, and being a light that shines, and being bold in my faith, and being a prayer warrior, and being a good mentor, and using the gifts that God has given me to reach out to others. I’m talking about being the very best that I can be in everything that I do; every day. Why aim so high?
Because during the first 53 years of my life I didn’t take aim at all; I always settled for less. And quite honestly, I accepted what I got with a lot of bitterness. And get this: I wasn’t bitter with God, or with life, or with the people in my life. I was bitter at myself for not having the right stuff. Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t have the right stuff…I had it, alright, but I didn’t know it.
“It’s your turn.”
Imagine a football player sitting on the bench waiting on his turn to get in the game. Well, I’d been sittin’ on the bench all my life, and I figured that’s where I’d be for the rest of my life…on that bench, watching everyone else, waitin’ for my chance, but not really believing that it was gonna come.
When I awoke one morning in August of 2005 it was as if God had tapped me on the shoulder and said “Okay, Maniscalco. You’ve been waiting a long time for this. I’m gonna give you a little shot of courage and put you in the game. Here’s your chance. I’m putting the ball in your hands. Let’s see what you do with it.”
Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I took that ball from God, got used to the feel of it, and took off running. First, in our business. Then in my personal life. Then in my walk of faith. Then in sharing that faith with others.
And an amazing thing happened! The harder and faster I ran, the better I got at it…and I received more opportunities from God to get into the game, using the gifts that He had given me.
And something even more amazing happened!
God began to shower me with His blessings, in our business and in my relationships with Jackie, with other people, and strangely enough, myself (yes, we all have relationships with ourselves…I’ll save that for another day!). And in the midst of all of these blessings I became a better Christian, a better follower, and a better leader. God has allowed me to become a better man.
At the end of the day, when all the votes are counted, and all things are considered…
I guess that I’m not really chasing peace of mind, after all. I live to serve God…I love being a Christian, a light that shines, a channel of His peace, and a soldier of Christ. I love being bold in my faith…writing about Him…talking about Him. My life been enriched beyond measure by His constant presence, and I want people to know of His goodness. I want to be the best person that can be, not for myself, but for Him.
I’m runnin’ with that ball, and I’m not gonna stop. Ever. Don’t want to, either; I’m having too much fun!
When the game clock of my life is winding down, and I cross that goal line for the last time, tired from the running but grateful for the opportunity, I’m gonna give that game ball back to God with a smile on my face and joy in my heart! And then I will come to know peace of mind.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! MATTHEW 25:23 (NIV)
See you next week!