This One Question Could Challenge Everything You Believe

Yesterday I uploaded my latest video to YouTube and in it I ask one question (see below). The purpose of this question is not to be answered but for the viewer to realize that no answer exists. To send your mind for such a loop that it gives up. That in it’s inability to find a concrete answer it finally goes quiet.

It is in this place of stillness that peace is found. It is the indescribable beauty of the present moment. Here is a blog post of mine on a series of other beautiful quotes that can also take you there.

The most enlightened spiritual gurus on the planet spend most of their lives in this place but for the rest of us we can’t expect more than a glimpse every now and then. But it is such a rich place to be that even just a few moments can teach us so much about how to live our lives.

This is where it fits in to The Passionate Why. There is no quicker way to finding out who you really are, and what you should be doing, than quieting the mind.

Please check out my video and let me know if it has an impact on you. I will be back tomorrow with my Wednesday blog post!

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Your Performance is not the Problem

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It was late summer back in 1998 and I was finishing off the final work term of my Industrial Engineering degree at Dal. And as everyone is aware, with every single job that you will ever have there is some kind of performance review process to go through.

Judgement day was here and it was time for mine.

Ahead of this meeting I was given a multiple choice questionnaire to fill out that basically described how I thought I did. I filled it out and brought it to the review meeting with my boss. We went through it question by question and he gave his selections for my performance level. Most of his answers were lower than mine, none were higher.

In the discussion following the questionnaire my boss went on to say “When I think of the people that I can count on in this department, your name doesn’t come to mind.” Further he said something to the effect “You don’t really fit in to this environment, and maybe a Government job would be more up your alley.”

Now, I am not going to say I did a great job during that work term, or that I was terribly engaged with the work I was doing. Because I didn’t, and I wasn’t. But there was a serious lack of depth to his analysis of what was going on, and the commentary of what my life direction should be was completely out of line. As well, having just found out I was going to have to write a supplementary exam for one of my courses, he caught me at a particularly vulnerable time.

I had two other work terms for which I had good reviews, but it’s funny how it is always the shitty stuff that sticks with us. That single meeting had an impact on many life choices I made over the next several years. A huge part of my issue with performance reviews is exactly what I described above. The amplified impact of negative feedback.

When you spend the majority of your waking hours at your workplace a poor annual review can haunt you for months. Your self worth takes a hit, your bank account, your mood, it can trigger anxiety and depression. All for what? It seems that many of the side effects of negative feedback can sabotage your ability to improve future performance.

An often overlooked fact is that a person’s performance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What you are doing and why you are doing it are VITAL components to how well you do it. Are you accessing your Natural Skillset? Do you have a clear purpose?

This is why finding your passion is so important. When you are chasing your passion, performance management almost becomes irrelevant. Where you need to improve a skill you find a way to teach yourself how to do it. When your tools aren’t good enough, you save up and invest in new ones. When you have no time, you simply get up earlier, stay up later, or stop binging on Game of Thrones. When people criticize you, you tell them to go f**k themselves and you keep moving forward. You are on a mission and nothing else matters.

True performance management is a one person activity.

Yes, there are probably dozens of people that can help you do what you do more effectively. But your actual performance, the level at which you work with what you have in the immediate now, can not be improved by someone else.

But everyone wants feedback. Most of the time I believe people just want to make sure they don’t have the terribly awkward and painful conversation at the end of the year.

What I’ve discovered since launching ‘The Passionate Why‘ is the incredible value of real time feedback.

  • Facebook provides instant info for every post telling me how many people have seen it and how it compares to every other one. It tells me when my viewers are most likely online and even breaks it down by gender.
  • On Twitter a sudden jump (or dip) in followers or re-tweets lets me know immediately when I have done something with an impact.
  • On WordPress I know how many people have read my post, which country they live in, and the search terms that were used. I know the best day to post, and the best time of day.
  • And on YouTube I can track the amount of money that is generated from each video. Very minuscule at this point, but the impact is still powerful and even addictive.

I will take this live, ongoing, unbiased, impersonal, continuous feedback any day over an uncomfortable annual performance review.

Image courtesy of:LeoWolfert/Shutterstock.com

 

Do You Want To Be The Greatest Of All Time? #GOAT

This is another quick post to inform all of my readers that I have uploaded a new video on YouTube. It is a new ‘Passion Hack’ about wanting to be the best in the world at something.

In the video I suggest that the viewer make a list of the first 16 things that come to mind if they can’t decide exactly the means through which they would express their world domination 🙂

Sooooo, I thought it would be fun if I shared MY list. I am sure it would have been a little different had I done this a year ago but I do feel more self aware now than I was then so this is as accurate as it gets for me. See below:

top-16

If you are having trouble with your own list of 16 maybe that will give you some ideas. Also, here is the link to this morning’s video. Enjoy and Subscribe/Follow if you want to see more!

Finding Your Passion, THEN Doing VS Finding Your Passion BY Doing

I would have to say that I have tried both roads.

First of, I have spent much of the last 7 years trying to figure out exactly who I was. To say it began as an intense spiritual journey may be understating it a little. My first introduction to spirituality happened when I pulled ‘The Power of Now’ off of my wife’s bookshelf in 2009.

I then proceeded to read it and reread it about 5 times. It was like a bible to me. It seemed that whatever I was going through I could simply turn to a random page and after a few short minutes of reading it would relax me.

I then discovered other spiritual teachers like Mooji, Alan Watts, Marianne Williamson, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Wayne Dyer, and so on. At first I was drawn to them for healing, but then it turned to a more contemplative tone. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?

As I had mentioned in a recent post I spent several years contemplating these ideas everyday during my lunch break at a nearby park bench. I wanted to know exactly who I was because I felt I couldn’t live my life authentically until I did.

I essentially put everything on hold. Nothing was more important than figuring it all out. Once I did, and only then, would I be able to live the life of my dreams.

Eventually I came to a point where my dissatisfaction with life needed a more immediate solution. The very nature of spirituality doesn’t allow for actionable answers. And I soon began to understand the arrogance in thinking there is concrete path to spiritual enlightenment. Even to think that I understood what enlightenment was, was foolhardy.

Gradually I began to take a new approach, and this is when I discovered Simon Sinek. He opened my eyes to a whole new take on discovering your purpose. His TED talk inspired me at work, and his ‘Why University‘ course online offered up a new path to discover who I was. From there I discovered a few others like Jim Collins, Daniel Pink, and Marcus Buckingham.

But soon I realized that this was just more of the same. When was I actually going to start DOING SOMETHING??

I have this saying I wrote down a few years ago that makes a lot sense to me but I never followed my own advice. it goes like this:

“It’s hard to go with the flow when you’re standing on the dock.”

I have been standing on the dock this whole time, staring at the water, waiting for the perfect time to jump in the river. I have been over thinking, and over strategizing, and overlooking the most important part of finding out who you are. And that is to fully and completely participate in life!

Life has this incredible feedback loop of informing you about what you are doing. When you are trying new things with an open mind you learn exponentially faster about where your alignment is. About where exactly your place in the world is. When you jump in the river and start kicking and flailing about you learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t. When you are standing on the dock it is all theory.

That is what this whole experience is about for me. ‘The Passionate Why‘ is about me jumping in, applying the experience and knowledge I have gained along the way, and adjusting my course as I go. Even now I am constantly adjusting what I think this social media endeavor should be. Here is a brief summary of my path of doing so far:

  • My first idea was to blog about home budgeting and build a tool that can help my readers. BORING, so I dropped it.
  • Next, from what I had learned about purpose I wanted to make a video blog where I talk about how corporations can find their purpose with my own unique approach. It’s been done by people with much more experience than me.
  • The next iteration of that idea was to discuss, review and compare purpose driven organizations to inform customers so they could spend their money on organizations that best reflected their values. This turned out to be very intensive for the time I had available.
  • I then took a deeper look at what I truly wanted and I created the process for discovering your natural skillset. This confirmed my desire for a YouTube channel, but what should it be about?
  • My first approach was that the channel would be a combination of documenting my journey towards finding my passion and providing tools and tricks to help my viewers.
  • I soon realized that my specialty would be shorter videos on little tips and have very recently started to focus on these so called hacks.
  • My latest adjustment is that while I have a few of these hacks, I may not have enough content to keep me producing past 6 months. If I really want to help people perhaps the best approach is to create a community where everyone who is on the same journey as myself can contribute or benefit from it. Thus I have just created this Google+ community.
  • I am still contemplating whether a similar community would be a good fit on LinkedIn.

As you can see it is a very iterative process. I don’t know where this will take me next. Maybe the Google+ community will crash and burn. But then that will just pave the way for my next move.

It certainly is a scary process as my mistakes and missteps are there for everyone to see. But I am more sure than ever that this process will lead me to where I really want to be. And it is definitely better than still being that guy standing on the dock planning the perfect way to dive in.

Self-Awareness Hacks

Did you ever notice how we have this reflex of being ashamed of what we love? It’s because it’s a point of vulnerability. Yes I love this, and now that you know you can hurt me by taking it away, or saying I suck at it, or saying nobody cares.

This is why we hide, because it scares us to show who we are, because then we can be truly defeated.

Who gives a shit if our fake selves get the crap beat out of them? Or if someone says that we suck at what we do. We don’t care because we hate what we do! The minute we expose our true selves to the world then it is game on. Then we are ready to fight because there are real stakes at play.

This is your first act of true courage, to be your true self.

And a lot of the time we get so good at hiding it, we forget who we are! This happens to so many people. We play it safe. We play by the rules. And then all of sudden we start to believe that person is the real me. Then you have got a battle on your hands. Then you have got to dig through all of the bullshit layers of your life and hit the reset button.

And that’s what this site is supposed to be all about, hitting that reset button. And I’m starting to understand a lot better exactly where I fit in to this equation. Yes, I want to help people find their passion but my role is much more precise than that. Because it can be such a long and difficult process I want to be a source of what I call self awareness hacks.

It’s actually what I’ve been doing the last few years. Looking for short-cuts in this incredibly difficult and exhausting journey. These are hacks that quickly show us what are physical self is all about, and other hacks that reveal what our spiritual self is all about. I have a library of these that I’ve created over the years that I can’t wait to share with you guys. And not every one of them will work for you, but the ones that do will be incredibly valuable.

And most importantly I want to hear about your self awareness hacks. What tricks have you learned over the years that provided incredible insight into who you are, and what you should be doing?

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – StandOut by Marcus Buckingham

The very first self assessment book that I ever bought was StandOut. It was for a talent development project and was recommended to our team by my General Manager. Each book comes with a code for an online quiz plus a website address.

Marcus calls StandOut an “Innovation Delivery System” and begins the book by talking through several interesting case studies of innovation. It’s meant to highlight that innovation is often not something that can be made a best practice. It is situational, and very personal.

The next chapter is simply an overview of the approach and ends with instructions to log onto your computer to go do the assessment.

The assessment itself present a number of potential real life situations with several possible answers. None of which are wrong or right but each provides insight into the type of person you are. There is a limited amount of time to do each question so as to prevent you from thinking too much about it.

My biggest problem when I do these types of situational assessments is that I catch myself thinking of how I SHOULD react, and not listening to how I really WANT to react.

At the end of the quiz it tells you what your top 2 strength roles were. There are 9 potential roles and they are: Advisor; Connector; Creator; Equalizer; Influencer; Pioneer; Provider; Stimulator; Teacher. My top 2 were Pioneer/Provider.

The quote it attributed to me was “When you lead the charge, nobody gets left behind.” While that sounds nice it doesn’t feel like it entirely rings true to me. I can very easily identify with being a provider, but pioneer doesn’t feel right. One of the downsides to this assessment is that you can’t redo it under the same code. You would have to buy another book, or find an unused code with google.

The report generated by the assessment is very detailed. It includes things like a ranking of all your strengths from 1 to 9, a list of ways you are at your most powerful, phrases that best describe you, your ideal career, how to make an immediate impact, how to take your performance to the next level, what to watch out for, and more!

My number 3 strength was creator and THAT I can relate with. Unfortunately I can’t get the report for someone who was Provider/Creator.

Ultimately I believe this assessment was very useful. The double edged sword with any of these tests is that we take them because we are looking for self awareness, but a certain amount of self awareness is required to get the most out of it. The people on my team who did the exercise with me enjoyed it very much and felt that it did provide useful insight into who they are.

I give this book a solid B+

 

How To Discover Your Natural Skillset

One of the biggest breakthroughs I had during this entire journey of finding my passion happened when I decided to take a very specific look at my own history. In the interest of finding out exactly WHAT I should be doing, and HOW I should be doing it, I decided to make a list of all of those skills, or areas of interest, that I had completely taught myself with very little outside help.

These could be things that you did on your own time and never have told a single person about. Or it may be well known that these skills are your specialty. Be sure to leave out any skills that came natural to you without practice. While these provide a certain insight they lack an element of choice which is key in this approach.

For the purpose of this exercise I suggest that you now make a list of at least 10 skills, or areas of expertise, that were self-taught. This may take some time. I would expect anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes as you think back over your childhood, your teen years, early adulthood and so forth. To assist you in developing your own list I have included my list below. It will help provide an idea of what you should be looking for.

  1. Play the guitar
  2. Write a choose your own adventure story
  3. Video editing
  4. Become a ball hockey goalie
  5. Started writing a blog
  6. Maintaining a detailed home budget
  7. Taught myself about Spirituality
  8. Creating Presentations
  9. Beating Mortal Kombat on one quarter
  10. Hip Hop dancing – at least the early 90’s style 🙂
  11. Performing lacrosse type floor hockey dangles
  12. Designing fun trivia questions

Now that you have your list I want you to go through each item on your list and come up with 3 or 4 reasons of WHY you decided to learn that particular skill or area of expertise. Again, to assist you I will provide my list with the reasons for each item.

  1. Play the guitar
    • Coolness factor, Could replicate the work of musicians I admired and the songs I loved, play songs at parties
  2. Write a choose your own adventure story
    • Loved reading them, Fun to Share, Liked creating stories
  3. Hip Hop dancing – at least early 90’s style 🙂
    • To have fun, to impress, create a show, do what others couldn’t
  4. Video editing
    • Simply Loved it, Enjoyment, Coolness factor, To impress and entertain
  5. Become a ball hockey goalie
    • Enjoyed it, Influence the result, Was good at it, Independance
  6. Started writing a blog
    • Enjoyed expressing myself, Liked to write short articles, Integrating with other social media, Liked the immediate feedback
  7. Maintaining a detailed home budget
    • Necessity, Enabled me to relax about finances, Could plan big expenditures
  8. Taught myself about Spirituality
    • Soothed the intensity of my depression, Was very profound, Offered explanations for the deepest questions
  9. Creating Presentations
    • Showmanship, to impress, to be interesting, to be profound
  10. Performing lacrosse type floor hockey dangles
    • Coolness factor, the challenge, Recorded on video to create a show, wanted to impress

Don’t continue to read past this point until you have finished your why’s for each item. The next portion is what provides the most insight and I don’t want to influence your why responses based on how it impacts what happens next.

Now that you have completed all of your why’s we need to look deeper. Which of the items now seems to stand out from the rest. Of all the why’s you have given, which ones resonate most deeply with who you are. The method I used for doing this was that I looked for the word “Love”. If one of these skills could evoke such a powerful emotion than I needed to pay close attention to them. You could use this approach as well, or try something else if you don’t toss around love in this context like me. Look for words that indicate that something deeply visceral is happening here. Maybe the word ‘joy’, or ‘happy’.

Regardless, I took the three items with the word ‘love’ and exclusively focused on them. They are:

  1. Play the guitar
    • Coolness factor, Could replicate the work of musicians I admired and the songs I loved, play songs at parties
  2. Write a choose your own adventure story
    • Loved reading them, Fun to Share, Liked creating stories
  3. Video editing
    • Simply Loved it, Enjoyment, Coolness factor, To impress and entertain

The next thing I did was look at all of the other why’s I gave for these skills. I saw things like Coolness, playing at parties, sharing, creating stories, enjoyment, entertaining.

It didn’t take long for the idea of starting a YouTube channel to come to the forefront of my mind. I would definitely enjoy making cool & entertaining videos and sharing them with others online!

This approach definitely seemed to work out well for me. I am patient zero though. If anyone reading this decides to give this a try I would absolutely love to hear how it went. Please tell me whether or not it provided any insight into what you should be doing with your life. At the very least it should help create a deeper sense of self awareness and act as another big step down this road towards passion.

The next step is about content. In a future post I will tell you how I decided what my YouTube channel should be about.

 

The Brilliance of Simon Sinek

In early 2015 while binge-watching TED talks I came across Simon Sinek who had one of THE most watched talks of all time. It was called ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.

With over 28 million views I was a little surprised that for the first 5 minutes of the video the audio was pretty terrible. However it is the power of the message that resonated so well with the viewers.

He basically said that the world’s greatest corporations, or movements, or inventions, occurred because the individuals driving them were focused on their ‘Why’. They weren’t about becoming rich or famous. They were serving a particular cause.

Most companies today are profit driven, and try to dabble in the visceral side of the business as sort of an after thought. You can see it everywhere on YouTube where companies put out these emotionally captivating videos in an attempt to connect emotionally to their customers.

In order for that approach to work it must be obvious to the customer that your viral video is perfectly aligned with the purpose of your company. My two favorite examples of this are Dove and Always. See their videos below.

When you combine an emotionally touching viral video with an articulated corporate purpose, you get yourself a movement.

This new way of thinking about business gave me tremendous hope. I used to see the corporate world as this big bad entity who are going to simply use up all the resources around them in an effort to make more and more money. However, the success of Starting With Why, as Simon puts it, made me realize the real change is possible.

But as brilliant as Simon was in the discussion around corporate purpose, I didn’t find it translated as well into individual purpose.

A corporation was created by people as a thought or an idea that filled a need. It exists to make lives better. If it doesn’t make peoples lives better than why does it exist.

A person was created through billions of years of evolution. Do I really need to come up with some kind of well articulated purpose to justify my existence? I am here and that is enough.

But then you have things like depression, illness, hunger, and all other forms of suffering that make us clamor for some kind of deeper meaning.

“Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.” – Henry Miller

I really prefer the word alignment, rather than the words ‘meaning’ or ‘fulfillment’. When you look for meaning, or look for fulfillment, you are looking outside of the present moment. When you are not in the now, you are in your mind, which can be a very unreliable place to be!

Alignment is when you can get blissfully lost in whatever it is you may be doing in that exact moment. For me it is when I am editing videos with wonderful content at my finger tips. I often say alignment is at the cross section of your natural skillset with the story of your life experience.

In a future blog post I am going to walk through exactly how I determined my natural skill set. Then I will talk about combining that with your life experience and making your specific world a better place.  This is the approach that finally got me heading down this wonderful road.

Below I have provided a link to Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. If ‘The Passionate Why’ should ever turn into a money making project I will definitely reference it for invaluable guidance.

My Quick Tips Episodes

Along with ‘My Morning Drive’ episodes I will also be doing these other videos I call ‘Quick Tips’. These are going to be much shorter clips that focus on one simple idea. With these videos I am hoping to provide little tricks and pieces of advice that I have learned over the last few years so that they may trigger some progress in the pursuit of your passion.

Sometimes I will plan these episodes and other times they will probably just pop into my head and that moment.

Below I have included my first two Quick Tips videos. Please have a look and I hope that you will enjoy them, and perhaps even find them useful.

Have a great day!