The Lucky One
August 14, 2012
"There's more to getting to where you're going then just knowing there's a road."
-Joan Lowery Nixon
One of the reasons I started this journey was to uncover, or possibly re-discover, my true purpose.
I had always felt like the lucky one. When I was just 14 years old, mine had seemed to just come to me. I declared one day to friends that we would start a company to use music and entertainment to help others feel good, have companionship, escape the daily grind, and celebrate a moment. Of course, I wasn't that articulate in my teen years, but you get the idea.
I started a mobile DJ business, and with the help of my friend and mentor Rocky Gray, it took off quickly. At 16 years old, I began my first radio job, and by 18, I was working on 98.7 KISS FM, which I had only imagined would be possible after spending many years in the business. It was my dream job. But here I was accomplishing my first goals and reaching the first mileposts after only a few years.
It would seem that having a clear purpose, dedicating myself fully, taking massive action, and staying focused on the goal of making it or else had aligned the universe in my favor, exactly as many say it will, and doors were opening again and again.
It was a big advantage compared to my friends who were just starting college with no idea of what they wanted to do with their life. Here I was already firmly planted in a business that I loved and I was driven to use that passion to have a fresh start and never look back on my old life again.
Now, there were some incredibly tough and challenging days on the road to success in the radio business, but through all of it my aim never wavered and that focus, discipline and execution is what made the difference for me to rise from the little streets of Graham, NC to the top of the Empire State Building in New York (and even beyond).
But then something happened.
About 10 years ago, it seemed that the fire for the business I adored started to burn less intense and suddenly my energy was being spent on making decisions based on the circumstances or pressures of the moment.
I was in motion without meaning for the first time in my life; I was trying to do everything to uncover what was lost. I was digging and digging for an answer and suddenly, stress, worry and conflict started to replace the confidence, coolness and joy that put a spring in my step each day.
I started to see my life as a failure and guess what started showing up? It seemed I was disconnected, off-track and as I have mentioned to so many people, "the bull's eye just didn't seem to be aligned perfectly any longer."
I chased the materialism and got caught up fully in only maintaining the status vs. reaping the rewards as a by-product of hard work, passion and a commitment to something larger than myself.
I was no longer challenged in the same way, I got bored easily, and my aimless distraction became more focused on activity more than productivity. I was lost, and as a friend once described so perfectly, walking around in a box from corner to corner looking for a way out.
Now people outgrow things all the time -- jobs, relationships and so on. A part of the challenge and the opportunity is to continue the evolution constantly and re-invent in a way that spurs growth so you don't rest on your laurels or worse, just stop.
Which opens up a larger question that I believe is key to really finding a purpose, whether it's in business or in your life.
You see, I don't think radio was the bull's eye, even though I was convinced otherwise for so long. I believe it was simply the absolute right medium to amplify my real purpose to ignite passion in others, and be a spark for creativity.
I work, and speak, with so many people who have a misguided purpose so often. They confuse the format or the medium as the end result and miss the real depth to go from good ... to great ... to extraordinary.
Look at some of the best right now.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: "To help the world be more open and to share."
Twitter: "To instantly connect people everywhere to what's most important to them."
Dyson: "We solve the small problems most people ignore."
Each has great depth, is not "me" focused but "we," driven to accomplish something bigger than itself, and it provides a simple and consistent meaning so everyone can get it instantly. It's not simply, "the Country station."
A depth in purpose can benefit you, too, and focus your time, energy and resources on what's really important.
It will make the evaluation easier of which strategy and goals are essential.
It will give your activities direction.
It will define what you do and don't do.
It will allow you to see your life, your business, your campaign, and everything in a way that shapes your outcomes to make a real social impact.
It will result in a clear aim for you and others that produce passion and the motivation to share, co-create, collaborate and interact.
It will change your relationship with life to feel like the lucky one.
Photo by Jeff Kubina