Recently I was asking myself some questions related to decisions I want to take in my working life. Moreover, I was looking for some inspiration to get a different look at the questions I asked myself.
And then … a nice book came across my path: The Why Café. Reading it gave me some important insights which help me further on my personal journey. I like to share these with you and offer you a free tool as well to potentially help you on your own journey.
The Why Café
Originally published in 2003 by John Strelecky, the booklet is still spot on. It is a story, an allegory, around the real important question that pops up every now and then: Why am I on earth? What is the Purpose of (my) Existence (PoE)? Some people really know the answer to these questions already early in life. Other people spend their entire life searching for the answer. Others don’t care and seem to be perfectly ok with the way things are. So, the need to get an answer to these questions seems to be very personal.
John’s story is addressing three questions: Why are you here? Do you fear death? and Are you fulfilled? One can ignore these questions and live a happy life. But be warned: if you really start to think about the first question, you might find yourself in a position that you more and more want to have the answer! Searching for the answer becomes part of your life.
And although hard to accept, you will never know whether you have the “right” answer. You are the only person who can judge whether that is the case. A bit frustrating, but nevertheless very true.
Lesson of the green sea turtle
In the story John uses an allegory to make a very clear point. A green sea turtle always swims with the flow of the waves in the direction the animal wants to go. When the waves surge in the opposite direction, the turtle just uses some energy to prevent going into the wrong direction waiting for the waves to go forward again. Swimming with the current when it goes into the direction you want consumes far less energy. The turtle can do this for a very long time without losing too much energy. This animal teaches us that we should use the flow to get where we want to and focus our energy on things that are aligned with our PoE. Swimming against the current can be seen as losing our energy on issues that others expect from us and are not in line with our PoE.
Translating this to dealing with activities that you are actually not interested in and that are not important for your PoE, results in a shocking insight. Suppose that you do this for only 20 minutes each day during 40 years in your working life. This adds up to more than a work year wasted. So you better use the flow!
Lesson of the fisherman
Another allegory in the book is about a fisherman. He is really happy doing basically the same things over and over again. He starts the day with breakfast with his wife and kids. When his kids go to school, he goes to sea to catch fish. After a couple of hours he has enough fish for the day and goes back home. After lunch he walks with his wife along the coastline while his kids are swimming in the sea. A passing business man asks him why he is not fishing the entire day. He could earn more money and buy more boats to catch even more fish, and make more and more money. Then, he could retire early and enjoy life then. The answer of the fisherman is simple:
Why should I do all that if I already do exactly what I enjoy now?
For me the lesson here is that you should be clear about what you really want and enjoy that instead of losing energy trying to get what we don’t really need! Moreover, don’t postpone things that you really want to do until your retirement!
Take time to realign
For me this part was again another reminder that we regularly get caught up in our hectic lives. We are very busy trying to keep 20 balls in the air at the same time. This can result in a situation where there is a big difference between who we are and who we want to be. To get clarity on this, it is helpful to realign the daily routine with our PoE every now and then.
This booklet can help doing that.
And if you then want to take it a step further, we in con-TACT have developed a self-directed e-module that can help you finding your PoE. This module is part of our virtual leadership development programme. At the moment we offer free access to it!
Get free access
If you are interested in this module, please register through the link below to receive the access code to our campus for this module. You can also contact me direct for a detailed and more personal discussion.
We explore this and other business relevant subjects in our Virtual Leaders Lounge. This is an informal online meeting of maximum 10 business leaders where we discuss challenges in virtual teams and organisations and share best practices. No PowerPoint is used no prep work required!