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If You Met Faust at The Crossroads of Your Life...? ”

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Legacy’s Enduring Questions Part 7 - "If You Met Faust...?"

Decisions, decisions and more decisions. Most are so small we never think twice. They are a part of habits we have or are just part of the normal run of life. “What will I eat for breakfast?” “What shirt or dress should I wear today?” “Who will I make my first call of the day to?” Nothing major just simple decisions.

Every decision is a trade-off. We choose one thing over another. What I eat for breakfast; cereal or eggs. The blue or the red dress. Call Joe first not Sandy. Not all choices are that simple and inconsequential to life. Some have the power to change the entire course of our lives.

What is the biggest trade-off you have ever made? You chose one thing of importance in exchange for another. It was an either/or choice. Obviously life is not always so drastic but there are defining choices we are confronted with. They require we choose and face significant consequences, good or bad.

I have entitled this series of blogs, “Legacy’s Enduring Questions”. They are questions I have had clients ask many during my 30 years of personal advising. I have personally struggled with many of them to make the right or best decisions for the long view.

I started writing about these questions after my father died last December. During the last weeks of his life, he reflected deeply and often very sweetly on his 89 years of life. I believe he tried to pass on some of his experience and reflect on questions he saw as being vital to life and legacy.

Each of these question should be savored. Considered deeply. Be allowed to invade our minds, hearts and emotions at their core. Let them marinate. If you choose to give them a quick once over, that will cheapen your life and legacy.

The question(s) I ask today is mind-shaking. It is soul-piercing. It can be viewed as hypothetical. In some ways it is too big to ask or even answer. Let’s try. Will you work with me and give it at least an honest time of reflection to see how it may reframe or radically challenge your life?

The question is asked in two parts. The first is macro; it’s broad but not specific to you. It asks a hypothetical. It’s open for anyone and everyone to consider. The second is micro and laser focused; it’s pointed directly at me and asks me to answer.

“What would it profit someone if they were to gain everything they desired in this life but lost their soul?” - Jesus

“What would you give in exchange for your soul?” Jesus

The picture these questions conjure up, are the Devil propositioning someone in a Faustian bargain. Goethe’s story of Faust is of a highly successful man who is terribly dissatisfied and disillusioned with his life. Faust meets the Devil at a crossroads. A discussion ensues and a pact is made. Faust exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.

Faustian bargains are by their very essence powerfully seductive and tragic. They ultimately destroy the bargainer’s life. In the final chapter of life, the person who makes the choice ultimately is surrendering something far more valuable than what is promised or temporarily gained.

It is making a choice for something now, in the immediate, in exchange for something you most likely will never get back. I sacrifice the enduring on the altar of the immediate!

The concept of the word “soul” is multi-faceted. In the direct context of the quoted question, Jesus was talking about the after-life, eternity and heaven. That is a vital question we all should consider deeply.

I want to go beyond that. I ask you to explore your innermost core. I need you, you need you, to have clarity and a deep conviction about what you believe happens after you take your last breath. That matters more than all else. Will it outlast me? What will my legacy be?

Come with me as we move beyond and explore further. I want you to ask this question from a practical, decision-making and action point of view. The concept of the “Soul” can also mean:

  • character/reputation

  • moral choice

  • emotional sanity”

  • human essence”

  • eternal self

I am going to ask some questions and give a number of possible scenarios to help you answer this question. Choose one or more of the words or concepts listed above to personalize these questions. These questions initially take a shotgun approach in the hope one or two may ring true and bring a change to the direction of your life and legacy.

The next questions are focused on you, your world and experience. They are harder to answer with honesty and transparency.

Apply the question, “What would you give in exchange for your…”

  • What is your price?

  • What would you exchange for your soul?

  • How uneasy does this question make you feel?

  • Do you think you will you regret your choice in 5, 10, 30 years down the line?

  • Do you believe you have a line you will not cross at any cost?

  • How does your bottom line guide your other life choices?

  • When you look back over your life, will your choice be one you have a deep certainty was the right one?

  • How obvious is your choice to your family, work associates, friends and community?

The following questions are asked in the extreme, but many people have thought and dreamed about them. Our choices are paired down to the everyday but try these out.

  1. What would you give to have the wealth of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Bill Gates?

  2. What would you give to be as wealthy as the wealthiest person you actually know?

  3. What would you exchange to have the celebrity of Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Lionel Messi, Taylor Swift, Virat Kohli or Kylie Jenner?

  4. What would you be willing to give to be the person who is a star in your company, on your athletic team, academic arena or profession?

  5. What would you sacrifice to have the power of a president, CEO of a Fortune 100 company or a military leader?

  6. Who would you be willing to undermine to gain a position you have set as your ultimate goal?

  7. What would you do to have been Hugh Hefner, Madonna or basketball legend Wilt Chamberlin who claimed to have had sex with over 20,000 women?

  8. Who would you choose to let go from your life or lie to, to experience all the sexual pleasure you wish you had?

Remembering or telling fun stories of our youth are attempts to identify what we often long for deeply. A genie appears from a lamp and promises the finder three wishes. Anything you want will be granted.

Think carefully about your life each day. Your relationships. Your business and career. How much of our souls do we exchange every day?

  • What do we trade to satisfy a need for more of what we have determined is vital to our life or wellbeing?

  • We satiate our senses with inanimate objects but lessen the quality of our relationships?

  • We make decisions which are in our sole interest but devalue our reputations?

  • We trade for something that chips slowly away at our lives until we find ourselves with external extravagance and internal destitution.

  • We choose physical pleasure that temporarily explodes our senses but sucks the breath from our deepest humanity.

  • We make decisions that increase our power over others but drop by drop empties our empathy for others.

Maybe the opposite is true. Possibly you have considered this question and have determined that your life will be exchanged for deeper and more meaningful relationships. You set your soul by a moral and spiritual compass and point your life in that direction.

If you met Faust at the crossroads of your life, what would you tell him? What could he tell you? Would you tell him you stood firm when the attempted bargain was made? Faust lived with deep regret and immense pain because he took the bargain. The struggle to find redemption from his choice was long and hard.

The power of who we are and what we have made a choice to be foundational to our lives, dims the noise of his allure.

Here are the last questions for thought.

  • Is there a line you won’t cross to have a bigger financial portfolio than your wealthiest friend?

  • Is there anything you consider more valuable than your own pleasure?

  • Is there anything you consider more valuable than your own power?

  • Is there anything you consider more valuable than your own position or status?

If you believe this life is all you get, it is reasonable to make choices that are in your own interest alone. Why give your limited days to someone else or some cause in exchange for what you want most deeply desire?

The “eat, drink and be happy, because you might die tomorrow” philosophy makes a lot of sense. King Solomon, who himself was given a Faustian like choice, knew what he was talking about. Taking as much power as you can, so you can make choices that serve your best interests, is a high virtue.

The answer to this question is seen in each choice you make. Day in and day out, you chose a direction. You make decisions that reflect what you value.

I hope these question push your thinking and make you reflect on the most important questions of your life. I hope this bring a richer life to you now and lasting legacy for those you love.

“What would it profit someone if they were to gain everything they desired in this life but lost their soul?” - Jesus

“What would you give in exchange for your soul?” Jesus

Mark R Demos


The Legacy Forum helps you answer life's most important questions today. We bring clarity to your present and certainty for your future. Walking confidently forward in your life with less anxiety, less hesitancy and more certainty is priceless.

If you are ready to confront a life that is out of control, find a greater unity and joy in your family, make substantive career decisions or live a passion-infused life, then you are ready to reach out

Call or text me today at (425) 492-4300 and we can begin moving forward.

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