So, What is the Meaning of Life?
The game of being here seems to be there is no meaning to life except the meaning each and every one of us applies to our lives. This is why so many of us have our first existential crisis when we encounter mortality.
In early 1990, everything in my life seemed to come together. I ran a staffing business in Los Angeles and made good money. My career planning was focused on making enough money to live in Malibu until I got what I really wanted – a recording contract. I was playing in the best clubs and working with some of the best musicians. One day, the call came in that changed everything. A notable jazz producer had just inherited a fortune. He was opening a new label to be distributed by Warner Brothers. They wanted me to be their first artist. You could see the skid marks out of my office! Six weeks later, my friend and producer, 37 years old, dropped dead of a heart attack. His sudden passing brought home the sobering moment where I realized I was always putting happiness off into the future. In fact, I knew nothing of value in how to happy in the here and now. Suddenly, what I was doing with my life was no longer enough.
What had I learned from my 12-year-stint in staffing? I learned that most of us were conditioned to settle for work that gave us predictability and survival. Predictability and survival were the standards religiously handed down through a three-hundred-year event called the industrial revolution. I realized that for most of us, developing a profoundly successful relationship towards our work was one of the most important keys to happiness. At the time, I was surrounded by financially successful people but only a handful were making good livings doing work that mattered – to them. I also knew quite a few people who loved what they were doing but they were failing miserably on a practical level. In building a great relationships towards work it became clear that a person would have to be doing something they loved and making a good living from it. It became clear that the contraints of the industrial revolution would have to be cast aside and that people would need to define meaning on their own terms. I realized that if anyone was to become fully successfully at anything they were born to do, they would have to embrace a toolkit of skills that were not and are not being taught in our schools.
My producer’s passing gave me a new life. Today, I live with a body of work that includes over 42,000 graduates from our programs. The vast majority of them know only they can define what they want to do with their lives. They realize life is a moment-to-moment adventure and what they get out of their lives is up to them. All of them know the skills that help them pull it all together, can be learned today. The meaning that drives my life pushes me to get through any crisis brought on by technology change, economic circumstances, or my own shadow.
We don’t have to wait for mortality to help us realize we can develop deep and personal meaning in each of our lives. Thus far, all of us seem to have the same exit plan and while some of my readers might find that morbid, how many of us are treating our time like eating junk food?
Years ago, I rebelled against meaningless work. I threw up my hands and made a commitment to happiness, no matter where it would take me. What have I learned? Each and every one of us has a place, a purpose, and career dna unlike any other. No one will tell you to do it or how to do it. Some of you have already claimed that prize. Others claim it doesn’t exist. And even more will find a circumstance that shines the light upon that gift.
Every single one of you have that internal destination where life simply falls into place.
Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.
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