You know the names: Oprah, Jobs, Blake Mycoskie (TOMS Founder), Branson, Martha Stewart, Carolina Herrera, Sara Blakely.
So what does that mean for people who have not discovered their purpose yet or who don't know whether their purpose in life is to be great?
First of all, let me tell you this loud and clear: WE ARE ALL MEANT TO BE GREAT
Does that mean that your own greatness will be at the level of Oprah? Maybe not. But if you want any chance at making a great impact on this world and live a life you believe is according to your purpose, you have to shift your mindset and look at the pursuit of your purpose as an obsession.
Hobby vs Obsession
One thing most psychologists all agree on is that when you give people too many choices, it creates a paralysis in their ability to make a decision. This is especially true in our current environment where any and all information is at the touch of a few keystrokes on our iPhone and Googling it.
Whatever happened to a world where people would spend their lifetimes perfecting a single, worthy vocation, goal or charity work that was their life's passion?
Whatever happened to people who focused so intensely on a goal that some people called them mad but they ended up being the history makers that thrust humanity forward (think Einstein, Michelangelo, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman)?
What has happened to our ability to focus without that negative self-talk telling us that if we don't do a whole bunch of things, we're going to "miss out" on something important?
What happened to children focusing on an afterschool activity or play whereas you could see their gifting and it would make you cry?
Here's the difference: A hobby is something you enjoy where you explore, venture and stay open to discovery. You can get really good at a hobby and even be highlight complimented on it but when it comes to getting great at something...that's rooted in obsession.
An obsession is when you make a choice about what "pulls" you toward a vision that has yet to be created...what's even better is when that vision will help and equip humanity. (Note: an obsession can start from a hobby but as Geoff Calvin writes in "Talent is Overrated", you will know when a hobby becomes an obsession because you will make a conscientious choice to do "deliberate practice" to be great at it.)
Why We Don't Obsess
I really believe the main reason we don't choose our life's obsession is because of the following:
- Information Overload: as I mentioned, psychologists have done many studies that has helped them conclude that information overload leads to your brain not being able to choose it's preference. For example, one study was conducted in a grocery store where they were giving sample of ten different new jams and asked shoppers to select their favorites to purchase. Due to so many choices, the shoppers couldn't decide. They then gave out three new jam samples and in nine out of 10 scenarios, the shoppers made a selection and ended up purchasing the jam of their choice.
- Lesson Learned: Forcibly limit the information you follow, read and view and stick with it. For example, if you know that Tony Robbins is your preferred choice of motivational speakers because you have had repeated positive results following his programs, then don't then go and listen in on 10 other motivational speakers operating in that genre. Choose and block out all other influences!
- Fear: this might strike you as a surprise but fear is really at the root of why we don't have an obsession towards something that is meaningful to us. Why? Because our minds tell us that by choosing, we could be missing out on something really important to us. And guess what, you are correct. Yep, by choosing, you have the potential to be missing out something else. That's where your friends and network can come in though. We all have varied interests and so the best way to balance out the fear of missing out is to network, have dinner with and befriend someone who is obsessed about the choice you didn't make.
- Lesson Learned: you are not meant to do it all by yourself. Let your support system balance out the areas where you can't dedicate time and energies to and see that activity and world through their eyes! It's fun that way!
- Busy-ness vs Effectiveness: our current world convinces us that the more busy we are, the more we're getting things done. I disagree. People use buys-ness almost like a badge of honor when in fact, I have seen people live quiet lives of desperation because they feel pressure to "do it all". You can live your whole life being busy but not really making your greatest impact because you haven't disciplined yourself to focus on what's the MOST important to you.
- Lesson Learned: disciplining yourself to focus on areas that can maximize your greatest potential is the best way I know to live a life of satisfaction, love, joy and with peace. That doesn't mean that you will busy but it will lead to a greater level of effectiveness in what you do decide to focus and commit to.
Let me know...
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