I heard this great question recently from John Varvaeke*, a philosopher and cognitive scientist who studies meaning:
What would you like to exist when you are no longer here?
Answering this question is one way to help you identify what is meaningful to you. There is a presumption of course, that once you answer the question, you will also be willing to put your attention on it and apply yourself to creating that which you find meaningful.
Once you know your answer, it can help you shape your career, your vocation, avocation or hobbies. Shaping these activities around something meaningful can bring you a real sense of purpose and direction.
Having something meaningful to focus on harnesses the brain’s energy towards that topic and filters out other things that may be distracting. On top of that focus, there’s a bonus: accomplishing any task can generate dopamine and will feel good, but accomplishing tasks that are in line with what’s most meaningful to you will create an even stronger feel-good factor.
Check it out for yourself. What would you like to exist after you are gone? How could you make that happen? How could this path be a guiding light for you?
Posing this question to a leader in your company could help them understand their purpose for being there and give them a little more incentive to make a difference – and perhaps have the whole company feel more purpose-led.
Pose this question to your teammates or to a team you coach and you will open a conversation that will help the team align around a purpose or mission.
Or use it as a coaching question to help your individual clients find their own meaning, purpose or direction in life.
Experiment with it and enjoy the conversations!
* ) John Varvaeke is a Canadian philosopher, professor of Cognitive Science and author of the book, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis among others.
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