Julian Dabbagh was a great guy. We say that about a lot of people and sometimes I fear the phrase has lost its meaning, but for Julian this was more than true; he really was a great guy. We spent three weeks working together at a camp several years ago, where he was my assistant – the two of us trying to serve and facilitate other leaders. During that time I grew to know and appreciate him in many ways. I was impressed by his humility, kindness and genuineness. I loved that he could laugh with the same intensity as he could be serious. I can still see him leaning forward intensely, piercing me with his eyes and saying, “Do you mean….?” I can also see him throwing his head back and laughing harder than anyone in the room.
One night he shared his story to a group of staff and volunteers and I watched as he held the room captive for twenty minutes, talking about his life and the difficulties he experienced as a teenager. Julian had a rare disease that caused him to lose all of his hair at an early age and he had withdrawn into a shell of protection, constantly wearing a “tuke” (a Canadian word for ski cap) on his head in an attempt to hide what was otherwise obvious. It was one of those unforgettable experiences – everyone in the room sitting motionless, completely enthralled – as he shared from his heart the pain of being different, and the hurt of adolescent rejection. He shared that as he found love and acceptance he shed the “tuke” and exposed himself – what he thought was his weakness – to the world.
After the meeting we talked about it. The power of his message was in his weakness – those emotions that all of us relate to and connect with – and I encouraged him to be wise about sharing his story and the power it would have with people. Not thirty minutes later we were standing together and a group of girls surrounded him wanting to hear more. I walked away, letting him have his moment, and he looked over at me and smiled, knowing that he needed to be wise and would be.
Julian died last week in a tragic car accident, his great life taken unexpectedly and unexplainably. As those of us who knew him grieve, I am reminded of that day back at camp, and I can still see the look on his face as he smiled at me.
I heard a statistic recently that 85% of the regrets we have in life are of things we wish we had done, and only 15% are of things we’ve done. In other words when we look at our list of regrets in life, only 15% of those regrets will be things we’ve done but wished we didn’t, but 85% will be things we wish we had done but didn’t.
I wish I had spent more time with Julian, and that we had laughed together more. I bet a lot of us who knew him feel that way.
I believe that when we look back at our lives most of us will regret that we didn’t take off our own “tukes” and embrace our own weaknesses. One of the surprises in Vision For Your Life is the paradox that exist around discovering your “Core Motivator.” As I have worked with many clients I have discovered that most of us believe our “Core Motivator” is our weakness. Somehow we have become convinced that what is actually our greatest strength is our weakness. In many cases we have worked hard to hide or suppress the very core of who we are in a vain attempt to be stronger; tougher. The paradox is that what we believe to be our greatest weakness is actually our greatest strength. Our “Core Motivator” is our longest suit, and most of the time we try to hide it under a “tuke” of outward toughness that isn’t fooling anyone.
The most important challenge any of us face in this life is to live out of who we are – our “Core Motivator”. When we are able to live out of our “Core Motivator” we are able to be all of who we were created to be and we can experience the joy of living our lives to the fullest.
It is then, in our perceived weakness, that we are able to be the leaders we were meant to be.
“Know Who You Are And Be It!”