By: Kurt Archer
I recently participated in a process called a “LifeJam” through the meaningful work project. A good friend of mine was exploring a deeper quest for a career of meaning, and wanted input on how to take the plunge and build a business that fits with his vision, values and skills.
The session was very enlightening for all of us, not just the participant. I wanted to share some of the closing points as I believe they will serve as a reminder to all of us on this journey of life. This wisdom came from the collective group in the room, everyone had something profoundly insightful to share with my friend as he is beginning his journey. None of them were sages, scholars or mystics, they were people who have learned a thing or two about life and were able to share that with others. A reminder to look at ourselves and our peers and give ourselves credit for how much we really do know.
1. Create “ME” time. It is far too easy to lose track of time in our busy lives, but if we just set aside even 2 hours a week to focus on the bigger question of what makes a life meaningful and how to have a career that follows those values, then slowly we are moving in that direction, and before we know it, we are living that vision.
2. Be centered, not grounded. If one is unbalanced in life or career it will create all sorts of disharmony in your life. The same goes for those who just stay on the ground and don’t dare peek above the clouds to envision a life they could be leading. By being centered, we are creating that balance in our lives
3. Lose the idea, instead follow your passion. The crazy guys over at the foundation seem to think that you don’t need an idea to start a business. I would agree with them. If we were just to follow our passions, then the ideas would emerge, and best of all, those ideas would be perfectly in line with your vision for a meaningful life. It sounds absurd, but the idea of losing the idea of an idea is actually a good idea.
4. When in a Canoe, if you focus your attention on the rocks, you will hit them. This reinforces the previous point about where we are putting our vision. Are we focused on the financial issues that we want to over come? Are we focused on the fear of rejection or ridicule? Are we focused on how others will perceive you, or are you focused on what you are passionate about? What ever you focus on, will grow. If you follow your passions, the other aspects of the business or project will happen naturally.
5. Be Vulnerable. To be comfortable in a safe place where you can feel vulnerable is an important step. In fact this is more important than listening, because “if your cup is full, you have no more room to learn anything.” Being vulnerable is allowing your cup to empty, so then you can truly listen to others’ thoughts and ideas.
6. Every step is a step in the right direction. Lao Tzu said, a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. Taking the first step is the hardest part, but then realizing that a step in any direction is the right direction, for now. Failure is a learning experience. When we are young and learning to walk for the first time, we fall a few times. Imagine if your parents told you that if you fell, you could never walk in your life again. That idea is as absurd as the idea that failure is a bad thing in life, business or love. Embrace the failure as it’s true nature – a learning experience.
I realized something else, all of us are honestly trying to do our best no matter what we do in life. No one wakes up and sets out to fail. It seems to be a human trait to do our best given the circumstance. Often, the biggest obstacle we face is not realizing this, and then find ourselves arguing with someone else about something that, if you dig deep enough, is the same.
There is an old Sufi story where 4 people stumble across a small bag of gold, and they all want to buy something with it, yet these 4 people are from different cultures and so they don’t understand one another. Then a Sufi comes by and hears them arguing over what they want to buy with the money they found, and he stops them and says “you are all arguing about buying the same thing, you all want grapes, but you call it something different in each of your languages. ” Same lesson goes for ideology.
The session certainly was a strong reminder to myself that I haven’t spent enough time on what truly brings meaning to my life. I hope this small piece reminds you of what brings meaning to you life. Please share your thoughts in the comments.