Or in my case, I started wondering about the quality of my life by the questions Umair Haque asked me.
Early 2013, I read his HBR piece “How to have a year that matters”. In which he posed the following question, among a number of other relevant comments:
“… let me humbly ask: do you want to have a year that matters — or do you want to spend another year starring-slash-wallowing in the lowest-common-denominator reality show-slash-whiny soap opera of your own inescapable mediocrity-slash-self-imposed tragedy?”
OK, maybe that does not speak to you the way it did to me.
But he also asked: “Why are you here? I don’t mean to induce a full blown heart palpitation accompanied panic attack filled existential crisis in you (or maybe I do) — so let’s keep it simple. This coming year: why are you (really) here?”
Which did induce a full blown heart palpitation with panic attack and existential crisis. Why am I here? What am I doing here? Does this matter, what I do? Why do I really want to be here?
And then he asked: “What do you want? Here are some perfectly valid answers, if tedious mediocrity is the limit of your horizon this year: money, sex, power, fame, keeping up with the Kardashians.”
None of those mattered that much now, even if they did before – OK, well the sex one I still dig that, it’s our life’s purpose to procreate, but seriously, Kardashians… who the ^%*& cares? If you do care about them, don’t read this piece – it is not the right timing for you.
So, he says “What’s it going to take? […] You need to “use” not just your whole mind, but to learn to employ your whole being: mind, heart, soul, and body.”
I sensed that the only piece of myself that I was using at work was my brain, leading me to my next question: “Actually, where ís the rest of me…?” So I spent four years gathering the pieces. And deciding that in order to become a whole being the above list should also specify our gut. As in: gut feeling, as in: intuition, as in: EQ. Gives you so much additional information about the people and the world around you.
Last question for today “Who’s on your side? […] Who’s at your back, manning your sails, crewing your boat? Here’s a hint: if you look around and your boat’s empty, learn to lead. Challenge, provoke, inspire, connect — and then, harder still, evoke the best in people.”
I picked up the glove on this one and while inspiring my team and helping them to grow, I realized that manning the boats is the true calling, the true north of my life. So, there I go. Four years later including three years of post-graduate in psychology, I am starting a year that matters – and hopefully many years to come still. Let me help you with your crew. Thank you, Umair.