Sometimes we know more about what we don’t want, than what we do want.
This was certainly the case for me.
In fact, I had been clear on this for years.
Although on the outside you could think that I had a very successful career, interesting roles, progressive promotions and increased financial benefits. Yet deep down, I was far from being happy.
You see while I was achieving things as though they were some sort of checklist (warning to you bucket list advocates), what this was not, was fulfilment.
Possibly because I had known no other way, after all this was my conditioning – get a good education, then get a good job, work hard, be loyal and fit in.
Yet for me, as I got older, I could see patterns…
Like in the education that you invested in your early 20’s, does not cut it today.
Promotions are not necessarily always based on performance, as other factors that you may miss, are always in play.
Diversity is key, but you still must fit in and conform.
Job security is not guaranteed, even in the most profitable companies, no matter how good you may be.
And Machiavelli is alive and well in large companies.
At the same time, I could also see things changing.
Huge global changes in how we work – in what we call today as the New Economy.
Of course, the financial crisis was a significant impact almost ten years ago, but I could also see how technology and a global market place could open up opportunities, even for the smallest of players and how you could “punch above your own weight” and become a disruptor.
Sure, I am no Elon Musk, who I have enormous respect for, but I started to see a crack in my own world that enticed me to rewire my thinking and take a different path.
But the epiphany did not happen straight away, it had to sit idle for a few more years until the day I was travelling in a long boat down the Mekong River in Cambodia…
It was a hot steamy mid-afternoon just north of Krong Stung Treng. The noise from the outboard seemed to settle into the background from what I was seeing, as we passed by local Cambodians doing what they have always done, living on the great Mekong River. Every now and again, I had glances of men, woman, children look across from the river bank to me, but mostly they were engrossed in going about their daily activities.
I thought about what I had been doing up until then, ticking off the list, but not really living.
So at that moment, I asked myself for the very first time…
“what is it that I want?”
I then reached for my diary and wrote down ten words which ultimately changed the course of where I was heading…
“to live and contribute anywhere in the world, at anytime”
Now, these words may not mean anything to you. But for me, they imply that I have the choices and options and my focus is not about work, but that of contribution – and this is vastly different to how I had thought in the past.
But of course, how do I make this big dream a reality?
So, I changed my initial question and asked…
“what must be true, for me to live and contribute anywhere in the world, at anytime?”
It was this subtle change which then led to more specific ideas and subsequent actions. Some of these I must say were complete disasters financially, but experience nevertheless. Others however, have led to the creation of a profitable and growing global business.
Now some of my academic colleagues might call this the start to a Blue Ocean Strategy.
Well it is to some extent, though I like to refer it to as being part of The Three Forces Of New Economy Businesses™ (Rewire, Disrupt and Engage) but I can even simplify it further as this…
“if you do not like what you have, then bloody well do something about it” strategy, because that’s what it was for me at that time!
So, if you are sitting there, right now, focusing on what you do not want, sure that will provide some fuel for the burn.
But if you want to become unstoppable, start focusing on what you really want, something that grabs you emotionally with passion, where your beliefs and values are aligned, your congruent, where you can honestly say it’s your calling – because that will be the difference to where you are now, to where you want to be.