Another of those self-help articles, but with a radical twist
There are countless books, articles, blogs, podcasts, and even documentaries about finding meaning in our day-to-day activities and in our lives. As a result, we spend hours pondering the big question, “What is my purpose in life?”
We think about it, we talk about it and we write about it in our personal journals.
Yet, nothing happens and life goes on. Unless you experience a sudden awakening or a dramatic event, your daily life is likely to stay pretty much the same - leaving this essential question unanswered.
After a while, some people become philosophers and rationalize the emptiness and void they feel in their daily grind. They’re the lucky ones. The rest will start numbing their feelings with food, alcohol or binge-watching Netflix series.
At AcornOak, we talk to business owners all the time who are passionate about their new ventures and business. Branding and marketing require a deep knowledge of customers’ desires, so we source the founding team or leaders for their true motivation to bring authenticity into the mix. Somewhere in our strategic planning sessions or brainstorming workshops, we turn the conversation to meaning: Why do you do what you do?
Why Do You Do What You Do?
When we ask the question, we often get wide-eyed stares and expressionless faces, like we’ve been impolite by asking an intimate and too personal question.
That’s when it gets interesting.
The essence of our motivations is often too deep to extract. After all, we are creatures of habit. A big part of what we do comes from our own preferences and our adopted habits, also called conditioned habits. We gravitate toward familiar activities.
Perhaps, you are a lawyer or a mechanic because your parents were lawyers or mechanics. If it provided them with a good income and a consistent life, you do it because you want the same.
Some habits might be so ingrained that they become rituals. A ritual is nothing more than a behavior to which you’ve applied meaning. Our recent podcast explores how we ritualize our lives with unconscious habits.
In rare cases, the answer could also be that you have a value-based purpose behind your behavior, something you truly believe in such as sustaining your family business and legacy.
The Harsh Reality
In our humble opinion, listening to many entrepreneurs and business owners, there is often NO purpose at all. The reality and truth is that we don’t really know why we do what we do.
In fact, we might never really know why we do what we do or what we’re meant to do. We rationalize our past by connecting random events to tell a story that creates meaning for us and gives us purpose. Those who claim they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing with their lives are limiting themselves to one particular narrative, which is likely to feel small over time.
So How Do You Find a Purpose?
There’s a well kept secret. One that no one wants to admit. The best way to uncover a purpose, if it exists at all, is to DO. That’s it.
In other words, our purpose is to create something we love. When we do something we love that is an expression of our purpose. Love guides us and finding your purpose starts by DOING.
You will never find what you enjoy doing, if you keep thinking about it, pondering, preparing, evaluating, and talking about it.
Do you have a business idea? Do it.
Are you thinking about starting something new? Do it.
Are you imagining something? Do it.
Until you get outside of your comfort zone and actually do what is tickling your curiosity and creativity, you will never discover your purpose. And as your first step, you have to ignore the loud voice inside your head that wants to protect you and keep you safe. This voice will anxiously try to solve every single detail before you even begin, which is why you need to get out of your own way.
We can help you with that. So we want to hear from you. Helping you is what we love to do - and that just might be our purpose!
If you’re in New York City, let’s have a coffee. If not, let’s hop on a zoom video call to explore what keeps you up at night.
From Virginie Glaenzer, Founder of AcornOak
I’ve always disliked hearing people telling others what to do and nowadays on social media, at every turn you’ll read quotes and directives on all topics “Do this”, “Do that”, “Don’t do this”, “Don’t do that.”
So, as a testimonial to the above collaborative post, I would like to provide a backstory to connect these words to truly living it. I’ve never been satisfied by my education and my upbringing’s outlined paths, which made me search for my own purpose for the last 20 years.
Today, I can say I found it - and it’s actually a multiple purpose:
I love bringing people together
So I’ve built communities. In 2014, I launched a Customer Experience community with 100 leaders for my employer of the time. In 2016, I launched SoHo Places, a start-up converting vacant retail stores into a thriving community of freelancers and solo-entrepreneurs. Today, on the verge of 2020 I’m finding myself again building a community by bringing women of experience together.
I love disrupting the status quo
So I found myself moving to the U.S. in 1999 from France with four suitcases and a head full of dreams to co-found two tech starts-up in Silicon Valley. Today, I’m finding myself rethinking the marketing practice and working on the 5Rs of Relationing by applying conscious leadership and various disciplines such as psychology, wisdom traditions, awareness and mindfulness practices to make business human again.
I love asking questions
So in 2012, while working for a social media service company, my challenging questions drove the CEO to assess his organization's business model and he decided to shift to become a tech company by launching a Saas product. More recently my constant questioning in a personal attempt to revisit my beliefs gave birth to a new form of podcasting called Pass the Mic.
All those years while looking for my purpose, I was expressing it through what I love to do. Without really knowing the reason, I felt every time a creative impulse and took action. The challenging part was not to listen to my over-protective mind that just wanted me to stay put.
So ‘Cheers’ to your own and unique doing in 2020 and Happy New Year!