In this episode, Chad explores the powerful, 3-word opening sentence of “Moby-Dick.”
Call me Ishmael.
What is your life calling for you? What are you calling for yourself?
Raise your ambition, upgrade your life.
To learn more about Chad’s work, visit ChadPeevy.com or InstituteForProgress.com
Call me Ishmael, The famous three word opening sentence to Herman Melville’s. Moby Dick. Call me Ishmael. I’ve been obsessing over these three words lately because I am so struck by the message I hear in them. Do you. Call me Ishmail. Ishmail is the narrating character of Moby Dick. One assumes that Melville could have just had him come out and say, My name is Ishmail, or, I am Ishmail, but he doesn’t.
He says, Call me Ishmail. At first, I thought, Why is this guy lying to me? He’s telling me to call him Ishmael, but that’s not how we talk. That’s not how we introduce ourselves. This is an American. That clearly isn’t his name. He’s asking me to call him something other than his name. Well, why lie about it and why start the book that way?
Why ask me to participate in this lie, this fantasy? But then I realized he didn’t lie and he isn’t asking me to participate. In some fantasy, it was an authentic statement. Perhaps the purest of truth lives in that statement. A conscious decision to be who? And. He has decided to be for himself. And by the way, you too, Dear reader, You will see me this way.
I insist on it. He didn’t say, You can call me Ishmail if you’d like to. No, no. He said, Call me Ishmail. It doesn’t matter his background, his upbringing, his circumstances, it doesn’t matter how much money he has, his race, none of that. He simply declares, This is who I am. Call me Ishmael. Even the name itself is a little bit curious.
He could have just as easily said, Call me Jesus. Call me Paul. Call me Peter. Call me. Call me Chad. But he didn’t. He chose Ishmail. Ishma in the Hebrew Bible is the son of Abraham and Hagar Hagar’s the. Abraham’s actually married to Sarah, and Ismael is passed over for Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah to be the heir.
Ismael is a notable person in the traditions of Christianity, Judaism in Islam, but he’s not the richest, He’s not the most powerful, not the most or the best of anything. He just is. It’s interesting to me that the Ishmael of the Hebrew Bible would wander the. While the ish male we meet in Moby, Dick will wonder, the open seas two figures destined to search and to explore.
Now, I’m not a biblical scholar, nor am I going to pretend to understand Melville’s motives in Moby Dick. The point I wanna make though is this, of all the names that he could have chosen, he chose Ishmail. So what’s important about that? Well, it’s important simply, He chose it. It would not have been the name I would’ve chosen had I been given the choice.
And I really doubt that you would’ve chosen that name either. But it wasn’t our decision to make. This was his. And so with certainty and absolution, he said, Call me Ishmail. No apologies. No rationalization. No reasoning. No explanation, no permission required from you or from me. He decided what to be. How he wanted you to see him right from the beginning, how he sees and what he expects of himself.
If only we too. Were so courageous. Hi, my name is Chad pbe. Thank you for listening to my podcast.
If you were to rate your life right now on a scale of zero to. How would you rate it? Just an overall life satisfaction rating. What number would you assign to your life overall between zero and 10? Just pick a number now. How would you rate it when you were at your lowest? Think back to when things were not going your way, when things seemed really bad.
What would you have rated your life then? For me, right around the time I turned 30, I was dangerously. And then a few years later, I became just, okay. Not great, but okay. And as time went on, I got to the point where I would’ve eventually rate myself, my life as a five. I had gone from basically a zero to one to about a five.
Now a five is comfortable. A five Is the Goldilocks number. Not too hot, not too cold, not too good, but not too bad. It was, at least I thought of it just right now. Don’t get me wrong, a five can feel really, really good and it feels so good because it’s not a one anymore. At one, I had lost my business. I’d had a car repossessed, posh and I were flat broke.
I could barely get out of bed. I was so depressed. I felt like shit. I had hit rock bottom. That’s what my life was like at that zero to one stage.
But I started working, working on myself, exploring, as Melville says, in Moby Dick, that one insular Tahiti full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. I explore this insular island I sought and I fought. I often felt the encompassed horrors was ashore in my life, fighting each pool of the tide as I sought to stay ashore.
I missed my own inner peace and joy, at least what of it I could find. So I sought and I fought. I sought knowledge about myself and about life. I sought to learn about a way of being and thinking that would save. I fought to move my life forward. I fought to keep my head up and then one day I’ll last.
I’m at a two. Now. Being at a two was still painful. It hurt still almost to the point of being unbearable, but it was a little better than one. So I sought and I fought and I was making progress, and things were getting better and I didn’t stop. I kept going three, then four. Things were getting better. My insular island didn’t seem so small anymore, and I was able to manage the push and the pool or the tide.
Life had become just more manageable. Now one day when I finally hit the five, it was like I was able to breathe again. I was literally able to move again. I was able to get out of bed and smile and function in society and at work, and contribute at work and at home. But a five. While better than a one is still just surviving.
Have you ever felt this way, this Goldie Locks life? I did, and I think too many people are living at a five convincing themselves that they finally made it. They convince themselves and those around them that they have worked so hard and they have arrived at their destination. They have reached the proverbial comfortable life.
I get paid, I pay my bills. I’m checking off life’s task list. The list that my parents handed down maybe, or maybe it’s a list that I created for myself many years ago, outdated and long surpassed it. But it’s the list that I have and that’s what I’m working on. Or it’s a list that society or my associates have passed on.
I’m checking things off the list, only 35 more years to go, and I can finally relax, retire, and have the life that I always wanted. You discover a little bit of stability, a little bit of freedom. Maybe you get married, you begin to feel the duty and the responsibility owed to other people, and you also begin to feel the weight of other people’s opinions.
I get it. I was. It may sound a little ridiculous when you hear it said out loud, but for too many, this is how life goes. We set a goal, we get comfortable, and we never consider what else is possible for us. Let me tell you something. The ugly truth is that living at a five is perhaps the most dangerous of conditions.
Living at a five has robbed many good men and women of their destiny. Living at a five has killed many dreams. Close the business before it was ever opened. Erase the book before the first word was written. Left lovers lonely because fear kept them from ever meeting at all. Living at a five has denied too many their greatness.
Before Ismail sits to see, he notes how many people are drawn to the water. He remarks on how many people live inland in comfort. You see, when Iry Moby Dick, I believe Melville is actually talking about man’s search for purpose and his life. Through this story, I think he’s talking about man’s search for himself.
He notes that many are called to the shore. To peak into the vastness that lies before them. He speaks of those who take the journey to sea, but as passengers or passive observers. But Ishmael, he has chosen to take to the sea as a sailor, an active participant in the process. Passengers, he says in the book, will pay for their trip.
A sailor. The one that’s gonna work for it. He’s paid for taking the trip, and I think there’s an important lesson to be learned there. When you stop to reflect on the life that you have before you, what do you see? Will you embark on this journey to find your life beyond your comfort zone as a passive observer, will you pay the price for your passivity?
Never realizing your potential or promise, because while you saw it, you never put any effort into it. Will you see what is possible? But be riddled with anxiety and fear? Because while you can see it, you never take responsibility for your role and your own journey, or take the necessary action that will determine your Destin.
Will you look at the open sea of opportunity and potential for your life as wide, deep, and vast? An adventure that is yours to explore or will you stand on the shore out of fear of what lies beneath and beyond? You have to raise your ambition, and I’m inviting you today to do just that, To raise your ambition, to upgrade your.
To discover what a six, a seven, even a life at a 10 would feel like. But first, you have to decide that that’s what you want. You have to decide that you will not deny yourself or the rest of us, your gifts, your talents, your brilliance, your beauty or your abilities. You, if you want it, have to decide that living at a.
In the grips of the comfort zone just isn’t enough. Not for you, Not anymore. You have to decide that what other people think of your pursuit is none of your business. You have to decide that you’re not too old, you’re not too young, you’re not too poor or too established. To try to push harder, to try something new, to exceed your norms, you have to decide to raise your ambition.
You have to decide that the way you’ve been thinking about things isn’t working for you anymore. You have to decide that you need to keep working on yourself. You have to decide that you’re willing to ask for the help that you’re gonna need to get there. Now, the good news about all this is like, Ismail, you don’t have to take this journey alone.
In fact, if you try to do it alone, you’re gonna be subject, not just to loneliness, but to danger. No, no, you, you don’t have to do. You take to the promise and the potential of your life with a crew, you get help. It was my coach who told me that I had to raise my ambition. When I heard those words, it hit me hard.
It hit me hard because I knew I had grown comfortable and I knew I was just scared. I was scared about what I would have to do to go to that next level. I was scared of what I would have to give up. But what I feared the most, after doing a lot of thinking, I realized that what I was really afraid of was the fact that I was leaving my fullest potential.
I was leaving a great life untapped. I knew that I had to give more, and I knew I had more to give, and I knew that it was my fear causing me to play it safe. I knew that it was my time to make my mark. I knew it was my time to make a contribution. It was my time to give back. It was my time to live full out.
It was my time to live fully as the person that I had worked so hard to become. I was not small anymore. I was not gonna play it small anymore. You get behind me or you get outta my way. Call me Ishmael. And that was it. I had decided. And once you decide, once you set sail out into that great sea, there is no turning back because once you know that there’s more, you will not be satisfied with the way things are any longer.
You won’t allow yourself to go back to the way things were. It’s not good enough for you. Not anymore. Yeah. When I heard those words, you gotta raise your ambition. I began to fully grasp what they meant for. In that moment, I had to give myself permission, permission to live fully as the person I had worked so hard to become.
I wasn’t at that one anymore. I was at a five. I admit that, but five was no longer enough. That was the moment I decided that I wasn’t gonna leave this world leaving anything on the field. I wasn’t gonna sit in the bleachers of life and watch the game go by. I was gonna get on the field and play full out because of.
This right now, This is my time,
but how I’d gotten all worked up and I knew there was more possible for me, but I had no idea how to achieve it. So I became obsessed in a healthy way with personal and professional development. I had an insatiable appetite to learn more about myself, about life and how I could get the most. I started reading everything I could get my hands on.
I dove deep into every book and every academic journal that I could find. I started reading ferociously. What had these other people figured out that I had never been taught? What did I not know that I didn’t know? I got a coach. I joined a mastermind group. I started investing in myself like I had never before.
I was thirsty, as Les Brown says I was. For a better life. When I was seeking any opportunity to quench that thirst, I wanted to know what it took to go from surviving to thriving. Cuz by God, I’d survived. I had made it. I got to comfortable, but comfortable was no longer enough. What is it gonna take to go to the next level?
And I learned a lot during that. I was introduced to a world that I didn’t even know existed, and along the way, I found my people. I found my tribe and I was learning, and I was applying, and I was doing better, and I was feeling better. Call me Ishmael. Was it easy for me? No. Is it gonna be easy for you? No.
Do people think I’m crazy? Will people think that you’re crazy? Yeah. Probably. Will people understand? Probably not. Will you sometimes doubt yourself? Yeah. I imagine. So. You gonna go anyway? You’re damn right. Never tamp your ambition to make other people comfortable. Never tamp your ambition to keep yourself small or unseen or unheard.
Lean into your dreams, embrace your greatness, and raise your ambition. I was listening the other day to someone who said that ambition isn’t necessary. They made the argument that the baby doesn’t need ambition to grow into an adult. The acorn doesn’t need ambition to grow into the mighty oak. Granted, maybe I’m just not that en.
But that sounds like horse shit to me. I’m not a baby and I’m not an acorn. Ambition is what has brought forth miracles and modernization of society. Ambition is what pushes us forward to our next level. That is our gift of humanity. Ambition saves your life. One could also argue that the baby is nothing but ambition to grow and survive.
The acorn is nothing but ambition to take root and to grow. Ambition isn’t a dirty word. I get that. It gets a bad rap, especially for women or others who some believe should tamper their ambition. And the reason they think you should tamper your ambition is because it threatens their own status.
Ambition is the decision that you are no longer satisfied with the way things. And the willingness to take the action required for change. Demand more of yourself. Think bigger, give more love. Larger. We wouldn’t have the world we have today without the ambition of those who came before us, and the legacy we leave will depend on our ambition for a better future.
There is no thriving. We’ve had a greater sense of. And so today, will you declare with me that conscious decision to be your best self un harnessed of guilt and your circumstances and any setbacks in your past? You’re gonna be your best self. Will you give yourself permission to live fully as the person that you have worked so hard to become?
Will you strive to become better than you were yesterday? Will you lift up those around you so that together we experience our promise and our. Will you raise your ambition for a better life for you, for the people you care about, and for the people who will come after you? Will you commit to approach each day with this intent?
Call me Ishmael, which I believe means. Call me to a journey in this life worth taking. Call me to do the things that need done. Call me to say the things that need said. Call me to write the things that need written, Call me to my higher purpose. Call me to my better self. Call me closer to the universe.
Call me to my greatness. I wish for you joy and peace and happiness. I wish for you good health and wellbeing. I wish for you a life of ease and prosperity. I wish for you the courage to seek what you want out of this life and the clarity and the imagination to know what.