We were mentoring a young guy in Azerbeijan. It wasn’t easy. He was desperate to get his act together, but he struggled to get up in the morning and to stop smoking the shisha pipe and drinking alcohol. Our calls were often around midday his time and it was usually obvious he’d only just got up. It wasn’t pretty.
But he was trying, trying to improve his English, his skills, his self-discipline. And this hairy, shambolic, hopelessly disorganised human being was a computer programmer who earned good money working from project to project with international clients.
However that wasn’t the thing. This was the thing he said:
‘But, that is just work. It is not what I want to do with my life. I want to do my soul work.’
We heard it again later from another programmer, this time working for a big bank in Moscow. Same two words.
Have Passion - No
‘Find You Passion’. That’s it, that’s all you need to do. Apparently. Be passionate, throw yourself, heart, body and soul, into what this thing is that you want to create/do/sell. That’s the path to happiness, fulfilment and a superyacht. Or…not.
Have you seen a Segway, those two-wheel balancing platforms you can stand on and ride around on? Back at the beginning of the century they were going to take the world by storm. The creators were evangelical, full of passion and certainty that they’d invented something the human race would really crave.
Turns out they didn’t. As the absolutely perfect metaphor for the company, it was bought by Englishman Jimi Heselden. And he died on his Segway, literally falling off a cliff while riding it in the country by the sea. All that passion.
Passion tends to mean you ignore criticism and only listen to what you want to hear. You’re right, everyone else is wrong and you’re going to show them. Tunnel-vision. And what is that speeding towards us down the tunnel?
No, instead have purpose.
Have Purpose - Yes
If you had purpose, what would you be? How about a monk, helping others less well off? How about a serial entrepreneur and keynote conference speaker who inspires others? Now, imagine for a moment if you put those two things together. What you’d get is Jay Shetty.
Jay actually is a practicing monk and also an entrepreneur and influencer. Just on Instagram he has over 10m followers – last time we looked, he’d added about 300,000 in the previous month. Facebook – over a billion video views. Not bad for a man who meditates every day and spends part of the year helping the poor in India.
So what is his advice? You need to follow your Dharma. Well, what’s that then?
According to Jay, Dharma is your purpose, your calling. He put it this way:
‘Dharma says you can’t be anything you want but you can be everything you are.’
Be the best version of yourself you can be. That person will do the best work they are capable of, for the best reasons. They’ll do their soul work.