Some people live in the moment. Some people live in the past. But what is most exciting is when what we do today, at this moment, is planting seeds to create a beautiful botanical garden…when each brick we’re laying is to build something that could potentially become Rome. To me, this is what makes life worth living for.
When you’re up in life, your friends get to know who you are. When you’re down in life, you get to know who your friends are.
Fred Wilson: 10 Ways to Be Your Own Boss
The Startup Route
Sometimes it’s hard to get to know ourselves because we are clouded by our own judgement and our perception of the world. Therefore, our reality is pretty much based on who we are.
To understand ourselves better, sometimes we ask our friends and family about us. Sometimes we take personality tests. Sometimes we get help from life coaches. Sometimes we go into solitude and ask ourselves questions in order to find those deep answers.
I believe one of the keys to happiness is doing what we’re naturally good at and being surrounded by people whose personalities are compatible with ours.
Several months ago I discovered Good.co where you can take a test to discover more about yourself that sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint and put into words. Your friends and colleagues can also take this test. All of these become a testament to compatibility matching and finding.
So my results are pretty accurate. To put into words I am defined as;
Take a test to discover more about yourself now
Everyone has an idea. But it’s really about executing the idea and attracting other poeple to help you work on the idea.
There are two paths in life: Should and Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And each time, we get to choose.
Over the past year I’ve chosen Must again and again. And it was petrifying. And at times it was dark. But I would never, ever, trade this past year for anything. This essay is my three biggest takeaways from the experience. It’s for anyone who is thinking of making the jump from Should to Must. Anyone looking to follow the energy deep within their chest but aren’t quite sure how.
Should is how others want us to show up in the world — how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small.
Must is different—there aren’t options and we don’t have a choice.
Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listening to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.
Must is why Van Gogh painted his entire life without ever receiving public recognition. Must is why Mozart performed Don Giovani and Coltrane played his new sound, even as the critics called it ugly.Must is why that lawyer in his thirties spent three years writing his first novel only to be rejected by three dozen publishers. He honored his calling, eventually received a “yes,” and that is why John Grisham is a household name today. Must isn’t exclusively for writers and painters and composers, though. Must is why, in the early days, Airbnb sold boxes of cereal to make ends meet because no one would give them money and every conceivable metric said they should quit.
He spoke about their differences, and I began to wonder which one I had. At the same time, I was also reading a biography about Picasso. In it, Arianna Huffington describes the joy she felt learning about how Picasso chose to live his life:
The more I discovered about his life and the more I delved into his art, the more the two converged. “It’s not what an artist does that counts, but what he is,” Picasso said. But his art was so thoroughly autobiographical that what he did was what he was.
Picasso’s life blended seamlessly with his work. It was all one huge swirling mix of bullfights and beaches and booze. And we could tell. Because to look at one of Picasso’s canvases is quite literally to look into his soul. And this is exactly what happens when our life, our essence, is one and the same with our work. It’s when job descriptions and titles no longer make sense because we don’t go to work— we are the work.
And this lead me to a big hypothesis. What if…
What if who we are and what we do become one and the same? What if our work is so thoroughly autobiographical that we can’t parse the product from the person? What if our jobs are our careers and our callings?
And this was about the time that my head exploded.
Choosing Must sounds fantastic, right? To step into the fullness of our gifts and offer them up to the world in the form of our work.
Well, it turns out that choosing Must is scary, hard, and a lot like jumping off a terrifyingly high cliff where you can’t see anything down below.
It was one year ago that I jumped off the first of many cliffs, leaving a dream job at Mailbox to make art.
1. CHOOSING “MUST” CREATES THE KIND OF WORK THAT PUTS RIPPLES THROUGH THE UNIVERSE
But it starts as a whisper, a call from somewhere far away.
“Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before,” modern philosopher Joseph Campbell wrote.
But recently, someone asked me a question, “But what if I don’t hear the call?” he asked. “What if I want to hear it but I can’t? What do I do then?”
And two ideas came to mind.
Most of us do this kind of big scary dreaming with our products, or our companies, but very few of us do it with our lives.
Roz Savage, a management consultant in London living “the big life” was 33 when she sat down and wrote two versions of her obituary:
The first was the life that I wanted to have. I thought of the obituaries that I enjoyed reading, the people that I admired… the people [who] really knew how to live,” she says. “The second version was the obituary that I was heading for — a conventional, ordinary, pleasant life. The difference between the two was startling. Clearly something was going to have to change… I felt I was getting a few things figured out. But I was like a carpenter with a brand new set of tools and no wood to work on. I needed a project. And so I decided to rowthe Atlantic.
2. CHOOSING “MUST” OFTEN REQUIRES A LEAP OF FAITH
Choosing Must raises questions that are scary, big, and often, without an easy answer in sight. Here are three of the biggest fears I’ve heard, and what to do about them.
Money can be a bridge to the freedom of exploring Musts. And it often doesn’t require much. But it does require determination. Money can be used to buy you a day, a week, month of time to work on a Must, which may amount to nothing. Or it can be used to buy a sweater, a suit, a car — the value of which is obvious and low risk.
Of course, the best way to make money is to figure out what you love and then give yourself to it. Because the people who consistently choose Must over Should find a way to make it work, and, once they take the leap, they find it’s easier to make money doing what they love than they ever imagined.
Finding our calling doesn’t mean we need to quit our jobs. And it also doesn’t mean we need to book a one-way ticket to a faraway magical land where there’s no cell service. As someone who did both of those things, I know first hand that it’s easy to pack a small bag, wave goodbye, and push the eject button for a while. But the return, the re-entry phase, can be absolutely brutal.
The harder road, trickier, and more sustainable, is to make shifts every day within our existing reality. To integrate, not obliterate. For Sheryl Sandberg,Lean In was a tiny yet growing piece of her heart for years until it exploded into the world — all the while she was still running one of the world’s biggest companies and raising two children. Weaving our Must into our existing reality is about co-designing small opportunities with our teams. It’s about setting aside quiet time to be alone with our thoughts, and then actually following through. It’s about doing one small thing, anything, to honor our personal truth — today.
But while money and schedules are the reasons cited most often for not making the leap, I believe the real reason is something deeper and far scarier.
While Must comes from somewhere deep inside of us, a beautiful truth that calls to us from within, Should comes from somewhere external, a place that’s equally important and powerful. Should comes from the place we call home, the people we love, the world we’ve created—the people, places, and things that define us.
It is here, standing at the cliff’s edge, peering down below, hearing the siren’s call, that we feel the terrifying prospect of abandonment, failure, and humiliation. And this is the exact moment when people decide against taking the leap — to avoid that great unknown, that transformative place where nothing is written, nothing is guaranteed, and everything is possible.
Grab a piece of paper and write the numbers one through ten on the left side of the page. At the top, title it “What am I so afraid of?” This is your Worst Case Scenario list. This is your list of things that make you think “They’re all going to laugh at me.” These are your largest fears, and you’ve got ten minutes to write them down.
Line by line, walk yourself through each one. Would they really laugh at you? They would? How do you feel about that? Line by line, have a conversation about all of your fears. Would you really be homeless? Would you really be alone? Do you really need that much money? This is a list of your tradeoffs. And they are the biggest things standing in your way.
We human have this weird mechanism, an unconscious mechanism that clouds our judgement and distort our emotions.
It’s natural for us to always look out for our best interest and to seek excuses to justify our actions so we maintain our level of self-esteem as we feel that we weren’t wrong, weird, or woeful.
We all automatically get into that when things go wrong.
Then when things calm down,
we step back a little,
pause for a moment,
and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
How would I have felt if someone did the same thing to me?
How would I have reacted to the situation?
Would I have been angry?
Would I have been upset?
Would I have been annoyed?
Or would I have been fine?
And then suddenly we realized we were wrong.
We wouldn’t have been fine.
We would have been upset, if not angry.
It takes a kind heart to be able to step back and put one’s self into another person’s shoes.
It takes courage to sabotage our self-esteem and say that we’re wrong.
It takes intelligence to comprehend the logics of our emotion-driven actions.
It takes love to be able to say sorry.
And sometimes, that’s all the other person needs to hear.
It’s not about the amount of wealth you can accumulate, it’s about the impact and change you can create.
There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.
Suffering comes in two different forms: Craving something you can’t have, or avoiding something you don’t want. What do these both have in common? We create them in our own minds by judging how we expect life to be. The more you are able to remove your judgments and accept whatever type of chaos life throws at you, the more internal peace you will find.