We grow up and we are taught to be something, to be someone, to achieve to our greatest potential. We are also taught to use those achievements to acquire things, to consume more stuff and that will bring happiness. Over the past 25 years I’ve been on this journey to achieve success, to come to a place where I have everything that I need in the priority order that society has told me to achieve them. The only problem, I didn’t find happiness at the end of that rainbow. It took a trip to Africa in 2012 to truly wake me up. I had been slowly awakening over the past 25 years, but spending time in rural villages in Eastern and Northern Uganda exposed me to something I’ve never experienced in my life. I experience people living life first.
I believe in the developed (I use that term lightly) world we see work as our purpose. We are taught to do the work that we are naturally gifted to do, yet no one really helps us find what that is. We ask our kids to go to school, to sit in rooms with other kids all asked to learn the same materials, at the same pace, with the same instructors all for the pursuit of what? Being in the middle of raising two teenagers, watching them go through the process of school and finding themselves, it is just amazing to see how broken the system really is. It doesn’t cater to anyone. The educational system seems to be designed to be just good enough to not get everyone pissed. It doesn’t really focus on anyone other than those who have strong wrote learning skills, the ones that can sit quietly and learn what someone else says to them and regurgitate it back. Where’s the creativity, where’s the passion, where’s the joy, where’s the attention to helping each kid find themselves?
I ask this question about our kids, but what about all the adults that are buying into the same system? Are we just focused on work and achieving what we are motivated to by commercials and every other stimulant out there? Are we asking ourselves what our true passion is and what makes us sing with joy? I titled this post LIFE . PURPOSE . WORK because I believe that’s the order we should be looking at things. The only problem is I feel like we’re taught the exact opposite. Figure out what work you should do, maybe you’ll find your purpose (whatever that is) and then you can live your life. I’m pretty certain we’ve got it backwards.
So the question becomes, how can we shift the awareness of those around us? How can we stop focusing on our work, whether that work is what provides us our income or just helping others around us for free, and start to focus on life? How do we start to define what life really means and how we then find our purpose. It shouldn’t be until those two things are identified that we start to figure out what our work is. How can we dedicate ourselves to work when we don’t even know who we are? I’m pretty certain that’s why so many people can’t wait for retirement. They never loved what they did in the first place. If we do what we love, if we focus our careers on the reason that we are here on this planet how different might our lives be?
I’d love your thoughts on this topic as we start to launch our new purpose based peer group initiative her in San Diego. The brand we’re going to use is 4-Purpose and the tagline I’m considering is LIFE . PURPOSE . WORK. I believe that is the order that we need to see things from. What do you think?
To a life well lived!