In the Indian language of Tamil, there is an ancient adage that translates to: “When you find yourself questioning the purpose of what you are doing, work harder at it. The purpose should reveal itself (if it does exist).”
This is a rough translation, and it was told to me by a friend and client as he was discussing his acting career.
In India, R. Madhavan is considered an “A-list” actor, but I know him as Maddy. Unlike what many might assume, he never aspired to be an actor. He had zero interest in it, and it wasn’t until he was cast on an Indian soap opera when he was 30 years old that he even remotely considered acting at all. He's 43 years old and has been acting for 13 years. By all measures, it has been an extremely successful endeavor. As he describes it though, it was never something that he wanted to do. So after finding himself a few years into his career, he described the process of questioning whether or not he was “meant” for it.
It was at this point that he told me the adage above. He resolved that while he didn’t know if there was a deeper “purpose” to him acting, he would zealously pursue it in hopes that it would reveal itself. Said simply, he worked at it, and when he had doubts, he worked some more. And that is a lesson universal to all things.
Action > Everything Else
I'm a young man, soon to be 27 years old. I was born in the millennial generation, and I've written before about the trick of “passion” that my generation was led to believe. As I've said before, passion is built, not found. But the only way to build it is to work toward it. Relative to reality, what does that mean?
- It means that you don’t have to love a job; you just have to do the job.
- It means that working at something is better than working at nothing.
- It means that being uncomfortable in the short term and the mid-term might be what's required in the long term.
I could go on, but the point should be clear. If you aren't taking action toward something, the desire and want for it means nothing at all. Action is the decider, and inaction is its own choice.
An Empty Fridge Is a Good Sign
My girlfriend came to visit me recently in Florida. I've been working as the director of training education at Relentless Performance Gym, and clients and business have been phenomenal.
Upon arriving at my house, she inspected the place, so to speak, and said, "Baby, there’s nothing in the fridge.”
"It doesn’t matter. Work is going amazing well," I replied.
My own response puzzled me when I thought about it because what does having no food in the house have to do with work? Everything and nothing. On the one hand, my eating has been inconsistent at times because I'm focused constantly on the job at hand. On the other, yeah, I need to make a run to the grocery store. Regardless, there wasn't any doubt as to what the primary priority was with my time.
I share this not to brag that I “work so hard” but as an example that when you have a priority, everything else may need to come second. Work-life balance is a nice dream, but the only way to find the balance is to unbalance first. Otherwise, you don't have any objective way to consider what your “middle” is. Truthfully, existing at the edge may be where you are most yourself (although that’s something of a different subject).
Discovery Requires You to Dig
And it is labor intensive. I know many passionate people. My team members at elitefts™ are second to none. I would like to believe that we are people who live purpose-driven lives.
We didn't arrive this way by considering, thinking and mulling over our thoughts. Someone like Clint Darden is who he is because he never stops moving and never backs down, regardless of his state of health. Clint has the heart of a lion and his continuous drive to move forward is something that I always look up to.
The opposite of work is to be static and there is no forward momentum to be found in doing nothing. Passion, purpose and meaning are all nice sounding concepts, but they only enter your life if you are working for them to be there. Otherwise, they are nothing without action. To do nothing requires nothing, but it also doesn’t mean anything either. Go with action and do work.