by Marty Hayes, J.D.
Purpose. It is such a simple word, and we all know what it means, but applying it to our lives can be a little more difficult. Driving from WA to AZ this week has given me some uninterrupted time to think about my purpose here on this earth.
When I was young (say up to 25), I think one can safely say my purpose was just to exist. Eat, pay bills, work, etc. I even was married and divorced during that time. I guess my first wife and I did not really define what our purpose was in getting married in the first place, but that is another story.
As I entered my late 20s, I was able to more clearly define my purpose, that being to help others by being a police officer. That worked out okay, but when I was around 30 years old, I became a little disgruntled with working nights, weekends and with the petty politics of law enforcement, so I decided to move on. By the time I was 33, I found another purpose, that being to help others survive criminal attack by teaching them how to shoot and teaching the legalities of doing so. That remained my purpose for over 30 years. I have just recently retired from teaching. I left my school in good hands and will enjoy watching it prosper and grow.
I was able to retire from teaching because 19 years ago, I hit upon another purpose in life. Getting a law degree became a goal; my purpose became assisting my current and former students, along with other law-abiding armed citizens, in the event they were wrongfully charged with a crime after an act of self defense. While I was in law school, the idea of the Network was born, and when I graduated from law school, I had found it was my new purpose in life. I decided to start an organization that people could join and by being a member in good standing, they would be afforded some peace of mind knowing that there was help in the event they ever had to use the gun in self defense.
Well, that idea turned out okay, and for the past 13 years the Network has fulfilled its purpose by being there for members who need our help. In keeping with how life changes, every couple of years, we freshen up our business model and the ways we can grow to better serve our members. Through it all, we maintain our focus on fulfilling that purpose. That should not change anytime in the near – or even distant – future.
But what about me? What is my purpose now? I find myself at another crossroads, having led the Network to where it is, but I cannot envision myself at the helm for too much longer. Let me explain.
Recently, we in our industry have lost several great people to debilitating disease. Death claimed Chuck Taylor, Jim Fleming and recently, Ed Head. Those losses make a person who is in their late sixties pause and think about the end game.
So, for the next period of time, I will dedicate myself to my next purpose. As it pertains to the Network, that’s crafting an exit plan for myself in such a way that the Network endures long after I’m gone and grows even stronger than it is now. While I hope for some time still before that’s necessary, one never knows. For those of you who have been wondering what would happen if I were to suddenly be taken from this earth, understand that I am working on it. I enjoy having a new purpose.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.