If you’ve not read my first article on the Pursuit of Greatness I’d recommend you have a read of that first because it will add context to what i’m sharing here.
I meet many people who don’t know how to decide which path to take and part of what I offer is support to help them decide. There are many ways to find this answer and before I share one I want you to deeply appreciate that there really isn’t such a thing as a ‘right answer’, only the answer that’s right for you. What we’re aiming for is fulfilment and there are as many ways to be fulfilled as there are people on the planet.
Whatever you decide, it needs to be connected to your value system if it’s going to sustain you long-term.
It’s also helpful to shake off the notion that if you choose to focus on something, it means that you don’t care about the other things. You have a finite amount of energy and to be truly great, this energy must be focussed, rather than distributed across a vast multitude of goals thinly.
This is one of the exercises I do with my clients to begin bringing their path into clear view. Its blends a few ideas such as the Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being."
Step 1 -Take a moment to remember the last time you truly felt alive. Let the images come to mind, hone in on these images to increase clarity and let your thoughts play out a while. Where are you? What are you doing? What sounds can you hear and who are you with? As you remember all the things you can from this event ask yourself, what are the themes? What is the purpose of this moment, what is it specifically that you feel and what does it mean to you?
Write this down.
Step 2 -We all know the feeling and state of being in ‘flow’ the ‘zone’ where time seems to all but disappear - the quality that comes from deep engagement. Recall now the last few times you remember being in flow (other than when you were in a driving trance). What do you remember about the event, what are you doing, what’s the ‘topic’?
Write this down.
Step 3 -Nobody is good at everything, but everyone is good at something. What is it you do best? On what skill have you had most positive feedback or results? Don’t think about its usefulness right now, just write down the 3 or 4 things that come to mind.
Step 4 – You have been gifted a single wish to change something in the world - this is your opportunity. Take as long as you need to think about what that might be. Know that whatever you change will have a ripple effect on everything else. There might be negative consequences as well as positive ones. What would you change? When you have this, ask yourself what the purpose of this change is, what does it bring or remove and for whom? Then answer this question - why do you care? The aim is getting to the core of this – don’t say ‘just because I do’ - get in touch with the reason and perhaps the reason behind that one too.
Step 5 – This is an iterative process and it can take time but stick with it. If it was easy, everyone would have done it already. Your path lies at the meeting points of the four questions above. You might already have a sense of what that is, but if you don’t, try this…
Take your four lists / statements and I want you to craft an ‘identity based’ statement that includes something for each of the four questions.
This is a structure you could follow:
I’m passionate about (intersection of 1 and 3) and I’ve made it my mission to (intersection of 1 and 4). I do this by (intersection of 2 and 3).
Example: I’m passionate about people and what they can achieve. I’ve made it my mission to help people live better lives by coaching those that will help others so that over time everyone benefits.
What did you come up with?
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’d like to share them in the comments below or you can get in touch directly at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org