Every day I face the sound of the dilemma around my life’s purpose, and I hear it beat louder as time passes.
I sit at my desk surrounded by corporate, legal, and technical documents. I read all the art, photography, and travel blogs from my RSS feed. I sift through all the “how to succeed” and “how to start a business” articles on LinkedIn. I read blogs on design concepts and music. I write restaurant reviews. I take notes on different forms of exercise and how to eat healthy. My Facebook feed is literally a running news source of what is happening in my local dance community. I bookmark poetry websites.
Which leads me to what they call the #1 biggest career mistake that “capable” people make. In The Pursuit of Less, Greg explores the concept of the “highest point of contribution.” I frequently explore the theme of being a “jack of all trades.” I have written in my journal about various ideas I have to incorporate all of my passions. How do I find the intersection?
I can take two different looks at different parts of my life:
1) Career- I definitely tripped over the “biggest mistake.” I started off with a HUGE pool of opportunities, and I got ping ponged back and forth between projects in different industries. Instead of standing firm in my vision for what I wanted to, I allowed myself to be pigeonholed into an industry that is stable but one that I have very little passion for. Am I bad at what I do? No. Would I work harder if I did work that I was passionate about? Absolutely, 100%.
2) Dance- This is where I let my passion dictate my path. I dabbled in everything, from hip hop to salsa to ballet to modern to country western dancing. My fascination with Argentine tango was immediate, and I stuck with it. It was incredibly difficult and different from anything I had ever done. Five years later, it is still the only dance that I can participate in every night without feeling restless.
From the article: “If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the ‘undisciplined pursuit of more,’ then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones.”
A note from a different article:
“Your schedule makes you dumber. Force yourself outside of your daily schedule. Be curious and take time to learn about worlds outside of the one you live in. Watch the news, read the paper, educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to call people you don’t know, start a conversation, and ask for things you need. At the very least, you’ll be more interesting. At the most, you’ll take your business in new and bigger directions.”
The best thing about not knowing what I will actually do is that I spend every day immersed in relationships. I spend every day learning and dreaming about other worlds so that I can incorporate parts of them into my own. I have learned that it’s true- it’s the people you know. The relationships you make will give you more paths to what you want to do, and even help discover what that is. I ask questions, I offer my time and skills for free, I listen, I show up. I practice showing up. I practice being present with whoever I am talking to. I practice being present to hearing what it is that excites others.
Perhaps my way is unconventional, or! too conventional. but from all of these avenues I try to soak in the lessons that will be applicable when I finally find my “highest point of contribution.”