by Richard Jacobs
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 56.
I ran a session for a group of 14-16 year olds recently. Many of them had just finished their
GCSE’s and were in that limbo period between finishing their exams and getting their results, surrounded by adults asking them “what are you going to do next? Where do you want to go to Uni? What do you want to do when you graduate etc? – The same question adults have asked young people for a thousand years… “what do you want to do when you grow up?”
I asked them “how many of the teachers you had would you say were inspired?” Very few had had a single inspired teacher. “How many would say that their parents were living a life that they were passionate about?” Again… none. “How about parents, friends, peers, relations, people in the media?” Despite the fact that they came from different educational backgrounds and social strata their answers were the same.
If we could measure life on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being “I love life, it’s a rollercoaster, rock and roll” and 1 being “I’ve got a pulse”, most felt that the people they had met lived life somewhere between a 4 and a 7. If the people we meet and who give us advice are rarely if ever above a 7, how can we make 8, 9, 10 out of 10 choices about our education, our careers, our partners? How long does it take until we just accept a compromised malaise as ‘the norm’ and settle for that?
How many of us have made the same choices without realising it?
We can settle into a routine of making ‘safe’, socially acceptable, 6 out of 10 choices and then try to compensate for feelings of lack and emptiness or we could live Purpose-fully and have a compelling relationship to life which imbues adventure, creativity and service as its ethos – a life where we are here to evolve the status quo by living and giving our 8, 9, 10 instead of defaulting to a 5, 6, 7. Nobody else knows our 8, 9, 10 because most of them only know a 7 at best. We have to make the choice. We have to dive in.
Each of the 7 Questions to find your Purpose (which are in my book), act as a search engine for your 8, 9, 10 self. They work through the creative mind to bypass inherited limitations and give us a path we can follow.
Many years ago I went to the stunning Ryoanji Temple in Japan and walked in its Zen garden. There were large stones, each cultivated with moss, which look like islands of tranquillity surrounded by serene, raked, white gravel. There are 15 of these stones in the garden and yet wherever you walk you can only ever see 14. In Zen, this is teaching us that there is always something more beyond our physical vision, accessible only through knowing and exploration.
Living a Purposeful life is like that…. we can see the islands of tranquillity before us and know beyond any doubt that a 15th exists around the next corner. Purpose sits at the heart of any spiritual discipline, religion or effectiveness teaching. It is the meeting point of our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and intuitive selves and is the place in this life where our destiny is not revealed but created.
The world needs more Purposeful people of all ages. Please… be one of them.
Meet the author: RICHARD JACOBS is the founder and CEO of YES, an award-winning change consultancy. The company provides in-house training and development media for major organizations, including Coca-Cola, Google, Sainsbury’s, Unilever, and the European Union.