Why do you do what you do? What drives you? Are you living out your dream or someone else’s?
We once had a client we were grooming for his big moment in Nashville. He was an aspiring country singer with a voice that immediately captured the hearts of anyone who heard him. As a result, we’d managed to secure a meeting for a potential record deal for him. This was going to be the start of an amazing path forward—a career that he had previously described as being one of his primary goals in life.
As the day of the big meeting approached, however, we noticed that he was less than excited. Some careful questioning revealed that, truth be told, he didn’t actually want to be a singer! That had been his father’s dream—a dream his dad had never been able to accomplish.
Not willing to give upon his own hopes, our client's father had started to impose his dream onto his son. It took getting close to that moment of truth for our client to consciously realize a music career was not his dream at all. In spite of the fact that he had a phenomenal voice, he simply didn’t want that life and all that went with it.
What he did want was to be a painter. Of houses, not canvasses.
So, with some encouraging support, he abruptly changed direction and developed a house painting business. And, guess what? He became incredibly happy doing that. This was what he really wanted . . . and it was very different than what he thought he wanted, or what his father wanted for him.
Our client had been living, as we describe in our book Thriving in Business and Life, “borrowed values.” He tried to assume a passion for something that lit someone else up. When any of us do this, we typically feel a sense of dissatisfaction even when we’re in the midst of “succeeding.”
So, how can we tell the difference between a borrowed value and one that’s authentic for us?
Often, it’s how we feel as we approach a success or are in the midst of the thing, we thought was our dream. It may also be in moments of hesitation. Sometimes we hesitate because we’re afraid to take a risk. But sometimes there’s a valid reason. We may fail to commit, not because we are timid but because we are honoring a deeper wisdom.
Here’s a question that might help.
In the midst of a “should I, or shouldn’t I?” quandary, take a step back to review the path you are on and ask:
“If I wasn’t doing this already, would I choose to do it now?”
Or presented another way, the question we may ask ourselves is:
“If I wasn’t already my dream this way, would I choose to pursue my goal this way now?”
Answering those types of questions honestly can stimulate quite a wake up, because it’s so easy to get trapped in the day-to-day; to get swept along in our familiar ruts, never questioning if we are living our own best life or trying to fulfill a dream that belongs to someone else.
Your Thriving Breakthrough opportunity for the week:
Consider some situation where you have hesitated to act
or where you feel a lack of passion even in the midst of "success".
Distance yourself from the details for a perspective view and ask the question:
“If I wasn’t doing this already, would I choose to?”
Or "If I wasn't already do it this way, would I continue would I continue the same way.
This could lead you to a moment in the future when you may have an opportunity
to do something quite novel . . . actually live out your own dream
And, if you’d like a Free Pass to explore our online module about how you can identify and infuse your own authentic values into everything you do, click here.
Will Wilkinson and Christopher Harding