I really envy those people in the marketing ads.
The ones that are super passionate about everything, the ones that seem to have found their purpose, and the ones that appear to be on fire for what they want to do with their lives.
They are committed to changing the world, focused on making a change in an area they care about, and seem to know what it is they want out of life and what they can offer others in life with a clarity the is almost blinding.
I’m not one of those people. I never have been. I change my mind about what I want to do and who I want to be more than I change underwear. I struggle with the question of purpose on a weekly basis, and I sometimes wonder aloud what the heck it is a I can offer as a professional.
As someone who often calls himself a coach, and charges people to help them figure out these same struggles, I find the feelings both contradictory and hypocritical.
How can I tell other people to focus on their passion and purpose when I can’t seem to focus on my own for more than five minutes? How can I speak about change to other people, help entire companies shift behaviors and mindsets that make up culture when I find it a challenge to change my own routines monthly?
If you’re hoping for some grand epiphany answer to this question, it’s not coming. There isn’t some dramatic realization that happened that makes me clear and focused about the future I want to create, the impact I want to have, or what I am or am not best at.
In fact, when I look back at lots of the career choices I made, they come down to choosing the one that sucks the least. As a public speaker, I don’t generally get stage fright, I know how to move an audience, and it simply takes me a lot less time to have a lot more impact than other people.
I wasn’t born to be a speaker any more than someone else was born to dig ditches or work in a cubicle.
As a coach, I’ve simply practiced the art of motivational interviewing, utilizing questions, and sifting through bullshit to get to the heart of what people are trying to say my whole life. Growing up it was a way of dealing with adults that had no business being around children, in my first job it was a way of getting kids in juvenile corrections to get where they wanted to go quicker, and as a consultant it was simply just more efficient than trying to give someone an answer only to have them argue with you for an hour.
I’m not a gifted coach with some laser like focus on where I want to make a difference who is living out his life’s purpose. If anything, I’m still the lazy high school kid trying to find the best way to do the least amount of work without anyone noticing while still getting the grades I need to graduate.
I help people focus on their passions and purpose because it will suck less for them and it’s something that comes easy for me as a practice, so it also sucks less for me. I get on stage as a speaker because sending the message of “how to find the easiest way to do the same thing” (which we’ll fancy up for the marketing of the event) to 100 people is much more efficient than trying to talk to them all individually…I’d probably lose focus after about the 5th discussion.
So, if you are struggling to find what you were “born to do,” feeling guilty about not knowing your passion or purpose, thinking that everyone has it figured out but you, or wondering when you will have the grand epiphany that will allow you to finally be on your magical path to your destiny, know that those things might never happen.
But that’s ok. In fact it’s likely more normal than what we see on those marketing adds. And you don’t have to spend your life wondering if it will ever come.
Some things just come easier to us. And, if we can focus a little more on this, things seem to suck less.
It might not be inspiring. But it’s certainly helped me.