I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.
Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?
Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.
Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?
One of my early business mentors told me “you have to be half the price or triple the value for someone to switch from their current provider”. People don’t switch from Sears to Amazon for a couple of pennies… the new had to be much better than the old.
If you were competing with yourself, or competing with your business – how would you attack? Where is that weakness? Fix that. Don’t wait for the customers to discover that someone else does it for half the price or triple the value… because it will be very hard to get them back.
The 9 minute video shares a tip for how to move forward from each of these 5 states. I share my story of 2009, of coming back from bankruptcy and loss of family and how I moved out of stage 5 (starting at minute 5:24 in the video).
You know your goal and you’re going after it: Enjoy it. (Find someone you can help.)
You know your goal and you’re stuck and can’t find your way there: Find a Mentor. Ask someone who has already had success about how they overcame this obstacle.
You know your goal and you are letting distractions win: Use the Pomodoro Method.
You don’t know your goal and you’re miserable: Ask a few friends (not the cynical ones) what they think you are good at and what they think you should work on
You’ve given up on your goals and you’re miserable: Move your body: Go for a walk. Set one tiny goal to help one other person.
PS if you can’t decide which state you are it, you in state 4.
Find a goal. Aim at it.
Let me know a) which place you are at and b) the goal you choose in the comments below 😉
Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. Our big difference is the cortex, the upper layer of the brain. The cortex is the home of imagination.
Imagination gives us the choice to live intentionally. We can make a choice: lead a life that is not just response to stimuli, but building towards a vision: an imagined future.
Why is imagination so important?
A leader sees a future that is not yet here. This requires imagination. The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others.
Imagination is what makes us human. 2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?” Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do. A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose. A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose. The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind, to imagine.
How can you develop your imagination? The video below shares a tool that Jim Collins uses to develop his power of Imagination.
My friends live their lives in one of two contrasting ways:
Guided by a Long term Vision for their Lives
Take Opportunities as they come
In the short term, the opportunists made great early progress. I have one friend who changed job every 1-2 years in the investment banking industry. Each job change achieved an increase of 30-50% in salary. Problem: he is now stuck and has no serious chances of moving up to the really senior ranks.
Another friend in investment banking has stuck it out in the same bank for 14 years. He didn’t take each opportunistic head-hunter call looking to get him to switch jobs. His salary languished behind our opportunistic friend. Today he is moving into the senior ranks of the bank and has enormous political support to take job choices that improve his work-life balance.
It was a hard choice when I was young. I worked for Accenture for 9 years. Every year I watched peers leave to join competitors for 30-50% increases in salary. I had offers and I thought about leaving. In the end, I valued flexibility over salary and used my network in Accenture to live in London, Chicago and Sydney.
Kissinger’s Major Criticism of US Foreign Policy: 100% Opportunist
Kissinger’s criticisms of the Kennedy and LBJ presidencies was that they were pragmatic opportunists, but there was no overall vision of what they stood for. The Soviet Union (at the time) stood for fairness, and the US argument was that its economic policies would make citizens wealthier.
It was a lost argument.
People were not inspired to fight in order to improve their economic situation. This was not a psychologically motivating appeal.
Kissinger identified freedom as the value that the US most espoused. He felt that the foreign policy decisions should be taken in the framework of whether the individual decisions improved individual freedom – not on a case by case basis.
Opportunism leads to a Dead End
Those who know why they are fighting will win over those who don’t.
The Vietnam war was militarily un-winnable, and Ho Chi Minh was always a step ahead of what the US were interested in negotiating. He understood that the US would always be short term and opportunistic. He was fighting for a cause, the US had got themselves into Vietnam bit by bit by bit and then found themselves stuck fighting for a cause that didn’t exist.
I’m no history or politics expert, but I would suggest that the US role in the world from the end of the Vietnam war up until 2000 was largely positive. The recent decade has seen the US fall back into an Opportunistic foreign policy – George Bush’s photo opportunity driven foreign policy was the start of a collapse in Visionary and values driven US foreign policy. Trump is here because the political consensus had gradually become what is politically easy, not what is right. The increasing polarization of the US political system makes it hard to establish a long term vision.
Only a life led towards a vision based on your own set of values can lead to work you love in the second half of your career. A life led entirely on the basis of opportunism will inevitably take you towards a dead end (or Trump).
How do you Establish a Framework for your Life?
Kissinger began by identifying the most important value that he believed represented the US culture: Freedom.
What is your single most important value?
Is your life showing this? Is the majority of your time going to your most important value? Are you spending your money on your most important value? Are you building friendships and mentors that support your most important value?
You need a coach or a mentor to help you work out your vision, framework and how to take the tough decisions to orient your life around this vision. I have never seen someone do it alone.
Michael Gerber, in his book The E-Myth asks this question: What are your primary aims?
Imagine walking into a room. You pause at the entrance. In the room, seated, are all your friends and family. You enter the room. You walk up the middle of the room. At the front of the room there is a box. You approach the box. As you come closer you realise it is you in the box, and this is your funeral.
You hear people talking about your life.
What do you want them to be saying?
You have to decide.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” Viktor E. Frankl
If you want to live an incredible life and achieve amazing things, you have to decide. Nobody ever stood on the summit of Everest and said “oh wow, this is a surprise.” It was a vision years before it became a reality.
Living an incredible life is no accident. I have to start knowing what I want to achieve. I need to be clear on who I need to become in order to achieve what I want. And then I need repeatedly to take action, even when I am plagued by doubt.
“A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.” Viktor E. Frankl, from his book Man’s Search for Meaning
Do you know what you want?
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