A few years ago a couple of friends and I were hanging out on a warm Saturday afternoon marveling at just how amazing life can be. One of us, from among the group, was riding a huge wave of celebrity in the music scene. She was at the top of her musical game and at the time the top feted artiste on the continent . Accolades were pouring in from everywhere, global contracts were calling and she was on the cover of a number of dailies.
She'd proven to herself (and a number of naysayers) that talent can indeed trump a traditional career path. It was a MASSIVE deal at the time and for friends, like us - we could take some pride in seeing someone we know finally have her hard work and skills paying off in a beautiful way. Call it celebrity by association, but whatever it was - to our youthful minds it sure felt good!
So our group would keep in touch as usual but over time family, career and life in general rendered our hang outs redundant. It was during that time, a year or so after that warm Saturday afternoon that I bumped into my friend again and she had a confession to make about her new life since, ‘The awards do not pay. I cannot survive on my passion. I am not sure of my purpose at this moment actually. So to get by I am now doing another thing I think I may actually be good at: selling beauty products.’
This got me confused. On the surface I thought aren't in talent, skill and deep borne human gifts where purpose and happiness are found? I also felt saddened that a need to provide for self or family could potentially take one off their intended path in life.
I wasn't looking down on the beauty products business, there are a number of people who actually make a very good fortune from it. I was not even judging my friend's decision or predicament, as it were. Rather, I was introspecting on the pursuit of happiness (a subject matter I am passionate about and have written on before), where someone may finally find that happiness and how open we have to be in straddling that line between living and being alive, if you catch my drift. I think we have all been here before: the place where the inner child with all the dreams dies and we have to pay the bills instead. Instead.
For me it is less about choosing one thing ( natural passion and purpose) over another ( academic or learned competence) and more about what makes us, as a human organism actually happy. What is that thing? What are we searching for that money, food, health, friends, family and even Netflix cannot satisfy?
This guy may have some answers:
So what exactly are those desires, Mr. Russel ??
Looking at the quote, it is safe to say that hard wired in the DNA of every known human being is a driving, insatiable, consistent and gnawing need to progress. This is in part, why we have survived for as long as we have despite being arguably the weakest (biologically anyway) animal species. The need to progress has centred our entire existence, purpose and passion around these dominant desires:
Let us ignore the top 4 parts of the pyramid for now and instead turn our focus to that bottom part: MASTERY.
You see, if what we supposed is true holds, that we as human beings have an insatiable desire to progress and that, cannot even be satisfied in paradise - then mastery is the cure. Mastery of what? Mastery of a skill which you can connect to your self worth and the needs of others. That is why it is important to tie in the monetization aspect to your passion and natural gift, otherwise you end up doing what you like but not love, to pay the bills.
Is this pursuit going to be easy? Of course not! Nothing good and worthwhile ever was!
Will it require sacrifice? Most definitely! Why do you think so very few people actualize their dreams?
So, let us back up a bit before we get overwhelmed by the pessimism of truth. That pyramid or triangle up there? Let us call it a progress diagram. If progress was an animal and we cut it up, its body parts would be comprised of those things (let us call them desires) listed in the pyramid. Now, although progress is one key to happiness it has but one flaw: an intense desire for it can lead to a frustrated life. So, intensely pursuing your purpose can be counter productive too. Confused, yet? Stay with me.
As human beings we learn in 3 main steps: 1. we orient ( hmmm, this looks interesting), then we 2.explore ( I wonder what this button does?) and then 3. we master ( let me focus on this skill to become that person...).
That last number 3...Mastery? is a much better than focusing on YOUR progress alone. Now, there are rules to mastery and I will cover those in a bit so worry not. Just know that when you commit to consistently mastering a specific skill so as to become the leader in that space, you tap into a part of your psyche that actually grows in challenging or rough times. You move from an area of motivation to an area of action.
'When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable' Myles Munroe
NUTS and BOLTS
Here are 4 things to appreciate when you seek to embrace MASTERY and stick to your passion
1. You will get BORED
When you start on your Mastery journey, you will begin with a lot of passion but around week three or so, you will get bored. This is normal for any new pursuit. Accept it and do not think anything is wrong with you. Allow yourself to get bored. Boredom does not kill you. In fact a lot of creative ideas come in the oasis of boredom.
2. You will feel FAKE at the beginning
Impostor syndrome is a normal feeling when you seek to follow your dreams, passion or purpose. Self doubt will be your friend and you may be embarrassed about your posts, videos, podcasts or training courses you are taking up. This is normal. Do not succumb to it. It is a common human reaction and you are not alone in feeling it.
3. Accept you are average and grow from there
It is much easier to gain mastery and grow and evolve and reinvent yourself if you focus on becoming BETTER vs focusing on becoming the BEST. Take your progress one day at a time and focus on being a better you. It makes the journey more enjoyable and less stressful. Who knows? In the process you may just become....the BEST.
4. Avoid regression to the mean
Remember the boredom we talked about earlier? The mind is an interesting beast. It tends to find pleasure and comfort in what it is used to rather than what you know is good for you. It learns this from repetitive tasks.
When seeking to master a skill, do it consistently. The mind will come around and accept it. When we do not take repetitive action and give in to boredom, we regress back to our old lifestyle and do not experience the evolution we seek. We give up on our dreams after going so far and that creates a feed back loop of lower self worth.
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