What’s the meaning of life?
That is certainly a question I have asked myself from time to time, and as a result have spent a lot of time reading on the topic. It has been many a dinner party debate – existential analysis. There are no right or wrong answers; it is about individual perspective.
I have now got to the point where personally, I think the question is not, “What is the meaning of life?”, but rather, “How does one live a purposeful or meaningful life?” Certainly that is a question or conversation that sits more comfortably with me.
I have been influenced in my thinking by many books, and one in particular has resonated: Dr Vicktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”. Dr Frankl was an Austrian Jewish Doctor of Neurology and Psychiatry. In 1942, along with his compatriots, parents, wife and brother, Dr Frankl was arrested and taken to a concentration camp in Bohemia. He remained incarcerated until the end of WWII, during which time all of his loved ones perished.
Regardless of his personal tragedies, Dr Frankl continued to seek answers to fundamental existential questions. After WWII he returned to his work and developed Logotherapy (Logos in Greek denotes ‘meaning’). According to Logotherapy, man could experience meaning in three ways:
- The Meaning of Life – having clear roles, goals and ambitions.
- The Meaning of Love – having loving and healthy relationships.
- The Meaning of Suffering – having a redemptive understanding towards life’s challenges and suffering.
So, what does all this mean in the context of small business or entrepreneurial success?
For me the key is PASSION! To live with meaning and purpose, we have to live passionately.
If we are not passionate about the work we do, finding meaning in it, then we will never achieve the level of success we are seeking in our work.
As entrepreneurs, like it or not, we are leaders
If we are not clear on our purpose in life or the meaningfulness of our own lives beyond our businesses, and the congruence with that life purpose in our businesses, then in my opinion and experience our teams, customers and other stakeholders in our businesses will not ‘buy into’ or connect with us; they will sense the mis-alignment, and our businesses will struggle.
You see, people, whether they be staff, customers or suppliers, want to build authentic and trusting relationships with others. I know that the word authentic is an overused word at present, but it means ‘real and genuine’. We want authenticity in our lives and the people we interact with socially and in business are a part of that authenticity. Do you feel authentic in your relationships? Are you living with purpose and passion?
Have you created a plan for your life? Ironically, many of us would not start a business without a business plan, but most of us do not have life plans; a map and set of goals that we aspire to and are working towards achieving. Many people wander through life and business, and feel unfilled. Do you want to feel that way?
I invite you to take a step back and think about the meaningfulness and purpose of your life and what drives you at a personal level. Perhaps you might like to consider the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What matters to you in your life?
- What are your personal values?
- What do you want to do?
- What do you want to share with the world?
- Why do you want to share it with the world?
It is time to DREAM….
are you thinking “oh not that ‘airy fairy’ stuff?” It isn’t at all! For me DREAM means: Destiny Represented Evocatively, Actively and Magnetically. If there were no barriers to what you could achieve in your life, both personally and professionally, what would you want to do and achieve?
Find your passion in life; identify the things that will make your life feel meaningful. Once this has been done, create a life plan with goals (and perhaps a vision board), and start mapping out your pathway towards achieving that life plan. Set weekly, monthly and yearly goals, and review them periodically. It is affirming when another milestone in life is ticked off.
Then think about how your life plan merges with your business plan. Are they congruent? Are your goals and values in life congruent with what is occurring within your business and the way in which you manage your business and interact with all your stakeholders?
Are you running your business in a way that supports you to achieve your life goals? For instance, if one of your life goals is to have a one month overseas holiday with your family each year, can your business sustain that? Who will manage your business in your absence? Is your business viable without you working in it, or are you the ‘key person’ and if you are gone for one month, nothing will happen, no work will get done?
If your business framework is not allowing you to achieve what is important to you in life, then you will feel frustrated and that will be felt by all.
What needs to change in your business for you to achieve your personal life plan?
I truly believe that when there is congruence between our life plan and business plan, we are happier entrepreneurs and that happiness and purposefulness will be felt in all our relationships – personal and professional. Plus, we achieve more – again both in life and in business.
VIVA Leadership™ – Vision Internalised is Vision Actualised™
Internal clarity and ownership of our personal vision, and congruence with our business world creates purpose, momentum and achievement…. with lots of happiness and contentment along the way…. as well as the usual challenges of running and growing a business. But hey, at least when the tougher times in life and business occur we know we can even find meaning in those times too. We just need to push through, and the achievement of our life’s purpose will be a step or two nearer. Personally, I like the thought of that.