Today I sat with 25 young adults who have chosen to take a gap year between high school and post-secondary. They joined the Discover Year program which helps the students with a structured gap year ensuring immersive learning through travel and work.
Their most pressing questions was, “How am I supposed to find my passion?”
The youth are bright, empathetic and interested in doing what is best for their life. They have been consistently told – with good intent – that they must follow their passion. However, unable to identify their passion, the youth feel stuck and cannot make a decision.
As children, we grow up asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Another of the favourites is the dreaded “What is your passion?” These common questions are usually asked when we’re feeling indecisive about what to do with our careers.
What if instead, we started asking a different question.
What problem would you like to help solve?
Changing the question shifts us into thinking as problem solvers. We begin to see careers as tools on our journey to helping solve problems – and not as identities.
Job markets are quickly changing, and training students for specific jobs in an
The fictional stories we read, watch and talk about in society reflect the values we seek. We grew up reading the comic books of Batman and watching Superman on TV. Some of us even dressed up as one of them for Halloween.
While we recognize that Superman would destroy Batman in a fist fight, our hearts connect with Batman’s struggle.
Superman is ‘super’ human. He’s the ultimate creation of all human values and muscle. He is humble, caring, kind, selfless and his only fault is his human emotion of love for the beautiful Lois Lane. As much as we love Superman, we idealism him. We see him as superior to humans, and just far enough from reach that we can admire him without any personal expectations.
Batman, however, is human. He’s an adult with childhood trauma that he’s still trying to overcome — a billionaire that is still searching for happiness. Batman is not as caring or kind; he’s rough around the edges, he has a tough-love mentality. Batman’s authenticity is what draws a generation of fans towards his character.
We see his faults in us and have hope that we too can rise to the challenge. We relate to his childhood traumas with our difficulties and forgive his imperfect values.
More and more people are pulled to leaders that resemble Batman, that demonstrate their authenticity as a leader.
Or as my students would put it “you’re just so REAL with us.” Most people don’t want to be led by Superman, a superhuman who doesn’t fatigue and doesn’t fault in judgement.
Be vulnerable as a leader. Be open and honest about your mistakes with your team. This creates a safe environment, where they see the human in you and will help you rise to the challenge when the going gets tough.
Authenticity builds trust.
We’ve all heard this idea of “your true self.” This idea that deep down in the core of who you are, in your soul there is ‘true self’ waiting to emerge. An indestructible truth, or code that of who you are, and whom you are meant to be. The origin of the word ‘individual’ stems from the idea of having an ‘indivisible’ self.
Out of this belief, a great deal of advice has been given to young people. Search ‘deep within’ yourself to find who you are. To ‘just be yourself’ and to ‘stay true to who you are.’ That you are born with an innate truth and we must spend life discovering it, and through this truth, you’ll discover your life purpose.
What if I told you there is no ‘true self.’
There is no indestructible core.
There is no code of who you ‘really’ are.
That searching deep within yourself won’t uncover innate truths.
Your identity was given to you at birth by society, and you’ve spent those last decades trying to fit those constructed beliefs while at the same time, trying to find ‘your true self.’
That’s right because while there is no true indivisible self, we do have the opportunity to self-create.
We have the opportunity to decide what our true self is.
We don’t need to search deep within ourselves to find what’s important to us. We need to decide for ourselves the essential truths, values and principals we want to live by.
The issue with being ‘yourself’ is that many of us grew up with several “I am – identity limiting beliefs.” ‘I am’ thinking assumes we cannot change. Whether I think ‘I am intelligent’ or ‘I am not intelligent,’ ‘I am athletic’ or ‘I am not athletic’ either belief may stop us from seeking to develop. ‘I am’ creates a sort of immovable self.
Nothing that has happened in your past determines who you will be in the next five years. There is no indivisible self that guides what you’re going to become.
No more trying to find your true self.
You get to create the person you want to be.
You get to create your life purpose.
You can decide to begin that process anytime you want, but the start of a new year gives us the nudge to start fresh.
It’s that time of year again. A new year, a new you, right? Lol.
We all know the jokes made about setting goals and new year resolutions. We all know that most don’t last, and everyone’s motivation is a load of bullshit.
Or have we merely accepted that story to be true?
Since everyone fails every year, we’ve come to shrug our shoulders and say, “why bother?” But have you ever actually read an official study on new years resolutions and people not sticking to them? I’ve never filled out any of these surveys, have you? Are the people filling out these surveys the ones that get paid $100 a week to do surveys, and sit at home moping about life?
If someone is out there striving, pushing, building, do you think they’re filling out these surveys? haha.
Who are these people that can’t stick to a goal for a month, or at least rebound when they fail? After all its about the bounce-back.
The fact that no one sticks to their new year’s resolution goals is a lie we’ve told ourselves as an excuse to quit on our own goals. Everyone else stops, so what makes us any different?
I don’t know about you, but I have 15 friends and family who set goals and achieved them this year. Maybe it’s time you look at whom you surround yourself with if everyone you know quit on their goals.
Let’s bust another myth while we’re at it. It does not take 21 days to build a habit, that’s unrealistic. Whoever made that claim was never addicted to alcohol because, after 21 days of not drinking, the 22nd day is still extremely difficult.
Here’s the truth you don’t want to hear. It takes effort and work every day to be extraordinary. I’ve gone to the gym/played sports 228 times this past year, and I still have to push my ass to get up in the morning. Continuously fight myself to do cardio, and not miss a workout.
Sticking to your goal is not hard because you’re weak, or you can’t, or you’re not meant to do it. It’s hard because it takes work and effort.
So let’s change the story we tell ourselves this year.
Setting new years resolutions is healthy. Having goals and ambition is part of growth. Growth is directly linked to happiness. And believe it or not, happiness leads us to success. Our friends and family achieve
This year’s theme is: Create The Extraordinary.
Be Bold. Stop listening to impractical societal studies and myths used to justify our sub-average performance.
As Tony Robbins says, “Create the motherfucker you want to be.”
My blog will also be posted on my new Facebook page. I’ll be tweeting about it. I’ll be making Instagram graphics that capture each post.
Also, what I’m most excited to announce is that I’ll be creating one video each week on my new Youtube Channel.
Your support so far has been what’s continued to push me to believe, grow and put my thoughts out there. As I’ve always had a little voice in my head that said… “who am I to be writing about, leadership, entrepreneurship and personal growth.”
The question we should all ask instead
“Who are we, not to share our thoughts to the world.”
It is a sort of truism to state that leaders must always be learning. In all walks of life, constant learning is foundational to growth.
Greek philosopher Plato is recorded in discussion with his teacher Socrates. He debated that there are not three stages in life, but only two; growth and decay. Stability does not exist, for the moment you cease to grow, you begin to decay.
Companies that fail to learn and adapt don’t just stop growing, they fail.
“Some 40% of Fortune 500 companies in 2000 no longer existed by 2010” – Babson College MBA.
We understand the importance of learning. And many have spent a lifetime in formal education, but do we know how we learn?
There are Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill. A theory developed at Gordon Training International.
We begin with Unconscious Incompetence.
Where you don’t even know, what you don’t know. You are unaware of the fact that you don’t understand said skills. These are your unknown, unknowns. You are unconscious of your own incompetence.
Secondary stage is Conscious Incompetence.
Exiting stage one and into two is usually attributed to an “aha” moment. Where you’re struck with awareness of your lack of understanding and skill. You are now conscious of your incompetence.
The third stage is Conscious Competence.
This is when you’re making a deliberate effort to improve, learn and work on this new skill. It doesn’t come naturally, and you’re continually forgetting. But you persist in putting in the effort to remember and engage with this new skill. You are now consciously working on your competence.
The last stage is Unconscious Competence.
This is the level of mastery. You’re actively using this skill, and it comes with little mental effort. It is on autopilot, and your muscle memory kicks in. Its when the skill comes as second nature. You are unconscious of your impeccable competence.
What stage are you in with that particular new skillset that you’ve been trying to learn?
The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind or think of nothing. The goal of meditation is not about reaching a higher mental state.
The goal is in the process.
So how does one meditate? There are many styles and forms. Here’s a simplified viewpoint.
- Choose something to FOCUS on: breath, mantras, a visible location.
- HOLD this focus for as long as you can.
- You will naturally and eventually lose focus – CATCH yourself having lost focus.
- Upon catching yourself, REFOCUS.
The magic actually happens between steps 2 and 3. When you’ve lost focus, but have not regained awareness of your lost focus. A few bliss moments of “nothingness” are experienced, and the mind calms itself.
Here’s the part most people don’t realize:
You have to lose focus to enter blissfulness.
We often set goals in life. Lose weight. Make money. Read More. Develop new habits. And we often lose focus on our goals.
Once we catch ourselves having lost focus, how do we respond?
We get upset at ourselves. We take part in negative self-talk. We tell ourselves goals don’t work. And we throw the goal away because we couldn’t do it for 90 days straight and it’s toohard to stick to goals anyway.
We didn’t realize that the process was the actual goal.
And the success ensues between steps 2 and 3 when we FOCUS, HOLD, CATCH ourselves and REFOCUS.
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.” – Vicktor E. Frankl
Do the Ends justify the Means?
In modernity, our society and economic model has taken the stance that the ‘ends’ do in fact justify the ‘means.’
Growth is the factor we measure.
GDP percentages and per capita production viewed as progress in the name of wealth, prosperity and hope for a better future. Because we measure the quality of life by GDP. If population growth is at 2%, then our GDP growth must at least be 2% to ensure production keeps up with demand.
We have put GDP growth, ahead of ecological destruction. The UN Kyoto Protocol signed in December of 1997 set out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 15 years following, saw an increase in greenhouse gas emission. Not even stagnation. An increase.
And this isn’t changing any time soon.
Is this what happens when our national leaders measure success by GDP?
And what happens when company leaders measure success by quarterly earnings?
Should we measure a man or woman by the amount of money they earn?
When we measure an aspect such as money, that was intended as a ‘means,’ we thus make it an ‘end’ in itself.
Let’s change how we measure progress. Let’s measure progress using the 4 Ps.
Leaders look to scalably and sustainably solve human problems. This happens when we measure the 4 Ps.
I’ve always found enjoyment in reading biographies. Learning the stories of the great men and women who lived, accomplished, led and changed the world. I was still so impressed by how accomplished these individuals were. That someone would write their biography. An author would take the time to write the details of their triumphs and failures. And the world would read it.
I’d always wished, “one day, someone will write my biography….”
Until the day a mentor of mine flipped the script on me.
“We write our own stories.”
Every day we write a new page, and every season a new chapter. Every emotion we choose to feel. Every thought we decide to let linger. Every decision we make, and every obstacle we face, are the pen strokes in our biography.
Now it’s your turn to choose –
Complain. Be a victim. Watch others create. Talk about talking action – turn to page 105
Act now. Be bold. Create the path you want. Live – turn to page 65