This past month, I've been working with some very dedicated individuals who are in search of a plan to help them get whatever the hell they want. When we start out together, the first thing we talk about is 'Why?' What's the purpose that drives us?
For as long as I can remember, I've been curious about why I exist. I'm serious. I grew up in an insanely religious family - my father was (and still is) a Jehovah's Witness -- so I found myself searching endlessly for the meaning of life. Why in the hell was I here? What was my purpose?
I know, this is deep, but if you told me it wasn't a question you asked yourself from time to time, I'm not sure I'd believe you.
My assumption is that most of us ask ourselves this question, and I think it makes sense to wonder why we are here, what we are supposed do while we are here, and to question, always, what the best use of our time and talent looks like. It's a question that goes hand in hand with our very existence, and one that deserves to be talked about more.
But it is a difficult question to answer. Even if I take a stab at answering it, how do I know I'm right? What if I pick one thing, only to find out later it's actually another?
Well, maybe that's ok. I think it is anyway. I have embraced being a queen of reinvention. I've spent a lifetime reinventing myself because I believe who we are and the purpose we fulfill can change as we grow.
Bottom line -- I love the freedom we have, if we choose it, to reinvent who we are, what we stand for, and why we are here. After all, we grow up and change. Think about it. Your purpose as a five year old is light years from your purpose as a twenty five year old. The six year old version of me told everyone I'd either be an actress or an architect. That could be because they were the first professions I found in the book titled, "The Alphabet of Professional Choices". If only it still seemed so easy!
The Story of My Favorite Chameleon
One of my favorite, modern-day artists is Justin Timberlake. Not only is he overflowing with talent, but he is constantly reinventing himself. Even though he started his career in entertainment at a young age -- I know at least one of you reading this blog has seen his audition on Star Search -- he grew to expand his talents and his reach beyond music.
After years as a boy band sensation, Justin Timberlake later went on to launch a career as a solo artist. He then venture into the highly competitive world of fashion, with the release of his William Rast brand. For those of you who have followed both his career and the career of this brand, you know how both redefined new levels of great success.
But he didn't stop there.
Justin Timberlake expanded his talent into the areas of film and television, and is now celebrated as one of the best, all-time comedy talents to appear on the Saturday Night Live stage. In addition to success as a sketch comedian, Timberlake even brought home a Grammy from his contributions to SNL.
And he didn't stop there, either.
Timberlake has since worked to bring new life into social media giant, MySpace, launched a tequila brand and partnered with a number of other projects and non-profit organizations. Not all of these ventures landed him front page coverage, but all of them landed a space in my mind as one of the most high-profile, prolific individuals of our modern-day. Like him or not, Justin Timberlake has mastered the art of reinvention. And you know what? Good for him.
In a world of analysis paralysis, it's refreshing to see someone take the leap, over and over and over and over and over again. Where most people are afraid of to publish the wrong post on social media, with the fear of "putting themselves out there", it's exciting to me that there are people out there who truly don't give a sh** what you think. Like them or not, they're going for it, because they, unlike those sitting on the sidelines and stands, understand that in order to play the game of life successfully, you need to get your ass on the court.
A week ago, I spoke at a conference where I had the great fortune of sitting in on a noteworthy speaker, Dr. Vivienne Ming. Google her (after reading this post, of course). Dr. Ming, in addition to changing her identity in a very public way, acquired two separate PhDs -- one in Theoretical Neuroscience and the other in Psychology. She's also accumulated a library of entrepreneurial success, celebrated as one of Inc. Magazine's Top 10 Women To Watch in Tech, a space not often occupied women, not to mention women "at the top".
Who does that?
A person who gives zero f**** what you think, that's who.
A person who understands that life presents non-stop opportunities, if you're willing to listen.
A person who is open, remains open and understands that your success is inversely related to your ability to remain flexible.
I'm not often struck by speakers, but Dr. Ming captured me from the first few words that escaped her. For the next ninety minutes I sat in awe of the knowledge, experience and advice that was freely given by her. One thing, in particular, struck me as not only life changing, but life affirming. She advised all of us to not fear being born again, allowing a version of ourselves to "die" in order to birth the next iteration. In fact, she encouraged this. She suggested that in the average person's lifetime, one could be "born again" at least ten to eleven times, based on the idea that one could start something new and master it within a five to seven year span.
And Dr. Ming is a person who realizes that purpose isn't something we're magically born with -- purpose is a question we've got to be willing to ask, and open to hearing different answers.
I think it's incredibly important to consider: What questions are we asking ourselves? Are we truly listening? Do we give more f**** about living our own dreams or living by the opinions of others?
For each and every one of us, our purpose is out there. It's just waiting for us to ask the questions that will reveal it. #goDo and #goGet it.