Do you have two to three words to describe your purpose? I do today but I did not for most of my life. Recently I wrote about how I’ve become more social, but something else has also been brewing. I’ve also been finding more purpose and direction in my personal and professional life.
During my foray into a more engaged and social lifestyle these were some of the steps that I took that led me to become more inspired:
- Formed a business support group.
- Supported more groups making a difference.
- Encouraged connections between people.
- Opened my mind to inspiration and learning.
Business Support Group
With a number of my clients, friends and my own business facing big challenges in 2008 and 2009 I decided to do something to try to make a difference. The precursor was writing an article for my business website “Success in 2009 from your IT Guy’s Perspective”. Shortly after that was published I decided to form a group with the intention of providing support and encouraging interaction between the members. Eventually this group met and became what I would call a business support group called 1Degree. The One Degree was the number of degrees of separation between the members. Every member has a direct connection with one or more other members. The group provides a supportive structure for people to share ideas and encouragement. I’ve received a number of compliments from members how the support and positivity meant a lot to them during their most challenging time. Many of those challenges persist today but we’re still working together to move forward. This experience gave me more confidence in myself and my ability to make a positive difference in a challenging time. Recognizing that action was especially important when the cards were down.
Support for Groups making a difference
A few years ago I joined the Danville/Sycamore Valley Rotary Club out of desire to give back. It was during a time of unprecedented prosperity in my business. Through this involvement I have kindled a deep passion for helping others. I also met a number of amazing people who work very hard to make a difference in this world and I have aimed to provide them with support in those endeavors. Some of my favorite causes include Asante Africa, The Wheelchair Foundation, Hayward Youth Academy, LN-4, and Trust in Education. I have made an effort to support these groups through Blog Talk Radio interviews, articles, sharing technical expertise and working strategically through Rotary to support their causes. It is incredibly satisfying for me to look back at what has been accomplished and to realize all the great things we can still do.
Encouraging Connections between People
Helping people and solving problems goes hand in hand. I often notice patterns that represent opportunities and try to provide the spark to have that opportunity ignite. This could be as simple as suggesting a website or article to someone but more importantly involves connecting people. This is something I realize in hindsight that I have watched and read about people doing over the years. It is incredibly satisfying to get a report back from two or more people that are benefiting from an introduction that I made. Helping people feels good, this is just another way to help.
Open Mind to Inspiration and Learning
Closing ourselves off is a defense mechanism. Traditionally this is something I quickly would do in a number of situations. For instance if a sales person called me on the phone, I would be annoyed that they were “wasting my time”. It is easy to watch the news and think that people in general are bad. It is hard to have conversations with a lot of people and not think people are good. It can be a challenge to keep an open mind but it is very important because it allows us to learn. Awareness is a powerful tool, being aware of our defense mechanisms allow us to consider new possibilities. One of the best examples I have of this is when a hip hop artist reached out to me on Facebook. He had seen something that I posted and thought it was interesting. He suggested I check out videos on YouTube that he had done. Most of them were not really my thing but one of his videos really connected with me. It involved the loss of someone he really cared about that had a lot of impact in the direct of his life. I experienced something similar in my past when I lost my mother to cancer. This story has repeated frequently since, strange connections leading to enlightenment and personal growth.
Guy Kawasaki and Chris Major
I have to thank Guy Kawasaki and Chris Major for their part in the forming of my personal mantra. Chris for noticing what I was doing and coming up with the actual words and Guy for planting the seed that a 2-3 word statement is much more powerful and important than big long winded business plans, manifesto’s and the like.
A Mantra Recipe
So the simplified version of my recipe, will this work for you?
- Start with some confidence and leadership building.
- Add several handfuls of causes bigger than yourself.
- Blend in some meaningful interpersonal connections.
- Add some inspiration and learning.
- Infuse the value of simplicity in a message.
- Introduce 2 simple words spoken at the right moment.
- Simmer for 2-3 days and serve.
My mantra is “Building Bridges”
My personal mantra was first spoken by Chris Major during a conversation at Leadership San Ramon Valley class of 2010 Education day in February 2010. We were having a conversation during one of the breaks from the session. Chris had recently been on my Blog Talk Radio show talking about Hayward Youth Academy. After the interview wheels were spinning for Chris. He recognized that what I do, what matters most to me is building bridges. Whether it is providing support for causes locally or around the world, connecting with unlikely new friends, teaching my son, or using technology to fill gaps in businesses – Chris was right, I am in the bridge building business. It had to simmer for a few days, but once it had it was ready for consumption.
I hope this helps you find inspiration, ideas or in some way live a better life.
I will close with the original You Tube video by Guy Kawasaki that talks about the importance of a Mantra vs a Business plan. I’ve in turn adapted this to the difference between a manifesto and a mantra in your personal life.