Fulfillment is following your primal inclinations

I find that when I fail to work on the things that truly matter to me, I get grumpy. Some sort of internal audit takes place and I get pissed off with myself when I fail to attend to important things.

This TED Talk from Robert Greene from 2013 provides an insightful way of thinking about following our true calling – that is it essential to our well being and our ability to make a meaningful contribution.

Primal Inclinations

The argument follows …

  • When we were young we were drawn to particular subjects and activities (words, music, aspects of the world around us, social dynamics)
  • This was the result of how we are (uniquely) put together
  • We can’t really explain why we had them but they are typically beaten out of us with concerns for getting on with life, earning a living and all that shit
  • We must take the time to get it back and enjoy the journey

Many authors talk about finding clues to our true calling in life in our childhood. What I like about Greene in this video is that he provides a process for reclaiming and then moving forward.

Your life’s task is to return to those inclinations and to that uniqueness that marked each and everyone of you at birth.

At whatever age you find yourself, you must reflect back on those earliest inclinations.

You must look at those subjects in the present that continue to spark that childlike intense curiosity in you

And you must look at those subjects and activities that you’ve been forced to do over the past few years that that repel you, that have no emotional resonance.

Robert Greene

Based on these reflections you determine a direction you must take

  • writing; or
  • music; or
  • particular branch of science; or
  • a form of business; or
  • public service; or

You now have a loose overall framework within you that you must explore and fins those angles and positions that suit you best

You listen closely to yourself – to your internal radar

Some parts of that framework [] do not feel right and so you move on slowly narrowing your path all the while accumulating skills

Most people want simple direct straight line paths to the perfect position and to success but instead you must welcome wrong turns and mistakes.

  • They make you aware of your flaws
  • They widen your experiences
  • They toughen you up

If you come to this process at a later age, you must cultivate a new set of skills that suit this change in direction you’ll be taking and find a way to blend with your previous skills.

Two ideas to unpack here

  1. This notion of combining skills makes me think of James Altucher’s notion of ‘Idea Sex’
  2. The need to work on new skills resonates with something Tom Bilyeu said about having used up what we have getting to this point and so gaining new capabilities is the only way to move forward.

Nothing is ever wasted in this process

In any event, the goal that you are after is learning and the acquisition of skills – not a fat paycheck.

Now, look at what happens to you as you adopt this very different, internally driven mindset.

Because you are headed in a direction that resonates with you personally and emotionally the hours of practice and study do not seem so burdensome.

c/ref Flow

You can sustain your attention and your interest for much longer periods of time.

What excites you is the learning process itself. Overcoming obstacles, increasing your skill level

You are immersed in the present instead of constantly obsessing over the future and so you pay greater attention to the work itself and to the people around you – developing patience and social intelligence

Without forcing the issue a point is reached in which you are thoroughly prepared from within.

The slightest opportunity that comes you way, you will now exploit.

In fact, you will draw opportunities to you because people will sense that you are ready.

Greene says that “the way to transform yourself is through your work”

I’m not so sure about this part but our work is certainly the place to start because of the time and focus it demands and the opportunities provided by the exposure to people.

Through our work we can actually connect to who we are instead of running away.

By entering that slow, organic process, we can actually change ourselves from the inside out that is very real and very lasting.

This process involves a journey of self-discovery

And at the end of this process we contribute something unique and meaningful to our culture through our work

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