I loved Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. It felt like he had explained how the world should work. His basic premise is that that we can inspire others by putting the Why (the purpose) before the How (the process), or the What (the product) because it builds an emotional connection. Apple are a great example of a company that do this very well. They have customers who adore them and wait all night in the rain to be the first to use a new product.
I have a strong “bullshit radar” and it is triggered by inauthentic people and organisations. At times it gets so loud, it interferes with my ability to think and function well. I have found myself at odds with people and employers because I find their lack of integral harmony deeply disturbing.
Thats not to say I expect everything to be totally aligned all the time. I also have a huge amount of sympathy for people and businesses that are trying to navigate in imperfect circumstances and have to compartmentalise parts of themselves in order to appear to be sane. A degree of incongruence is a fact of life and we need to be very understanding about that. It’s just when the dirt they have been sweeping under the carpet gets to be bigger than they are, its definitely time to acknowledge it and see what needs to be done.
Usually, people or businesses that trigger my authenticity radar simply do not have a true reason for being. They are normally caught up in the pursuit of a very narrow focusses success (money or fame) rather than being driven by a true mission or vision. This leads to them saying or doing whatever it takes to get them towards their goals. We’ve all met a few of them or seen them on reality TV programs. Some of the extremely “successful” ones have been able to take public office.
Simon Senek’s book is terrific at explaining the benefits of finding your true purpose, but less good on the how. His second book, Find Your Why, aimed to help us all find our purpose, has turned out to be less helpful. You are reliant on having a very astute and insightful friend to point it out to you. Sadly, I and others lack such friends.
Another approach is using Héctor García and Francesc Miralles approach in Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”. The Japanese letters used to denote, ikigai represent “life” and “to be worthwhile.” Everyones’ Ikigai will be different and some seem more ambitious than others, but having a sense of meaning can contribute to a longer life and improved well being. The Japanese believe we all are born with an ikigai, we just have to find it.
The process is simple, you need to find:
And the intersection of all of those things is your ikigai, your reason for being.
Finding your purpose is very liberating. It becomes the compass that guides your life. Suddenly, it’s a lot easier to make decisions because you know what to focus on and what is ok to let go. I recommend you try it. You’ll need to spend time looking back over your past, at what you have enjoyed doing over the course of your life and see if you can recognise any patterns or themes.
When I did it, I noticed a thread that runs through my life which is about making life easier for people. My original degree was in design. I wanted to mass produce things that would add joy and simplify peoples lives. When I “fell” into the digital world, I quickly found a home in user experience design, again driven by a desire to create experiences that was shaped by the customers wants and needs, not asking them to contort themselves to the shape of the business. And now, as a coach, my driving ambition is to help people find a way to navigate their lives towards what brings them joy and fulfilment rather than being pushed around by false beliefs that have accidentally acquired from childhood onwards.
Finding your life purpose on your own isn’t always easy. I've made a cheat sheet to help you do it. If you need some help, give me a shout.
25 years experience in helping teams build user centred products and services, now helping digital colleagues find their happy path at work