One of my favourite things, when I meet someone, is to find out what they do for a living. Mainly because I’m intrigued by discovering people who are passionate about what they do. As you might imagine, the quantity who are is far smaller than those who are just doing a job, for whatever reason. Some of the responses are, “it pays the bills”, “I don’t have a choice”, “yeah, its okay”, or one of my favourites, ‘it could be worse.’ This passion for purpose has been with me for over 20 years and comes from a memory of dreading the idea of going back to school after the weekend. That foreboding feeling in your chest pulls in a dark grey cloud over where you are. At age 8, I was thinking about this and realising that perhaps something can be different.
School as mentioned earlier was not one of the most pleasant experiences and I kinda just scrapped my way through. My dad had ambitions for me to do Law or something that got me into Trinity College. I was more interested in doing something that I liked and media or journalism was top of my list. After repeating my Leaving Certificate, on my dad’s wishes, I finally convinced him to let me do what I wanted, which was Media Production and Communications at Liberties College. I adored it, pretty much from day one. It was so different than school and I was being treated like an equal. The course was fantastic, the teachers were epic and it was hands-on. I loved my 3 years there and the results showed after being a pretty mediocre school student, I was in the top results in my college class. Interesting!
I had passion and dreams to go into documentary making and finally become a Film Director. In 1995, Dublin saw the opening of Ireland’s first internet cafe, the Internet Exchange, and I was in my 3rd year in college and it intrigued me. I got a job there while studying and within months I found a new passion for teaching. I was terrified those first few times, standing in front of the AIB internet team who all seemed like grown adults, they were probably only in their 40s 🙈 , and I was a kid. Nevertheless, this became one of my deepest passions and still is to this day. As the expression goes, ‘it makes me come alive inside.’ This is one of the most powerful and meaningful things you can have. Now, it’s not always so wonderful, because it depends on the situation and I know well which ones, make me feel the brightest.
Over the last 25 years, I have pushed myself and have been very fortunate to find roles that spark my interest. I think I know myself pretty well at this stage, so one thing I’m very aware of is, variety is a big attraction personally for me, to keep me on my game. And I have had a lot of variety in my career, clients, industries, and specialties. The other enormous factor is my mindset. Most people who know me will say I’m positive. I find the silver lining in most things. Not everything! And this has been a really major bonus in my life. Your mindset can set you free.
You will not always find something you love to do. It’s kind of impractical to think that from day one you will do a job you love until the day you turn to dust. Stop being silly. So, what are you going to do about that? It’s simple. Find the love in what you do. This can be harder than you think or a lot easier, depending on how you look at it. Loving what you do and doing what you love is not that dissimilar bizarrely. When you do something you love, I personally find that I get pretty close to the state, called, ‘flow’. This is a sweet spot where time becomes timeless and you can kind of get lost in the moment. Another way of calling it, for me, is you become so present you become super focused or in the zone. And here is the key. You can back-engineer this. Want to love what you do? Stop giving out about how annoying or terrible it is. Stop watching that clock ticking, waiting for the finishing time. Chose to find the zone. Become present in whatever menial task you have to do. Convince yourself that this task is getting you where you need to go right now until you find the exit. Maybe it’s a really repetitive task and you feel there is no challenge and your brain is hurting from the lack of motivation. Find the reason in it. Create either a real challenge or one in your head so that it becomes more playful. It does work. I used to cut the grass in a lot of gardens when I was a teenager. What I did then was I used to change it by creating patterns, changing my pace, changing my route, by making it feel different. I think by the end I kind of loved it.
Nevertheless, remember to keep following that dream. And more importantly, think about investigating your ‘Ikigai’. Your reason for being. The other major project I work on is at the Academy of Purpose, where we run courses and coach people to help them to discover this sweet spot so that they can have a life that is meaningful and get paid for it.