How can you find a “noble cause”…one that serves you AND serves other people?
That’s a question that I recently received from a reader.
I think that question resonates with most of us.
Few of us are so selfish that we want to only do things that are good for us, without thinking about other people.
Likewise, few of us are so self-sacrificing that we only want to serve other people, and not take care of our own needs.
So how do you find that balance, how do you find that sweeet spot where you’re able to BOTH serve other people and meet your own needs?
My first answer is this: I don’t know.
If I did know, I’d probably be the richest person in the world (believe me, I’m not!).
That doesn’t mean that I can’t give you some tips, some ideas, some things to think about.
But I can’t give you “AN answer” or “THE answer”.
So I echo the words of David Richo, who in his most recent book writes:
“I am not a “know-it-all” as I present you with this book, only a “guess-this-much.” So I won’t be leading our challenging expedition, only shyly accompanying you.”
I am likewise only a “guess-this-much”.
That being said, here are my thoughts on how to approach this issue:
6 Ways To Find Your Noble Cause
1) Pay attention to your life:
We live in a world where our energy is drawn in a thousand different directions.
There are distractions everywhere.
And they grab our attention so easily.
And so we lose touch with ourselves.
So try to slow down.
Take long, walks in nature.
Watch a sunset.
Write down your thoughts.
Write down your dreams and daydreams.
Write down what stirs your heart, what angers you, what makes you cry, what makes you laugh.
See where your energy is drawn, look for themes and patterns, and see what emerges as you pay attention to your life.
2) Talk to people:
We often think that we can solve “problems of living” by doing internal work.
And that is part of the process.
But in doing that, we shut off a wonderful source of wisdom: other people.
So talk to them.
Ask people you trust what they think you should do with your life, what they think you’d be good at. (just be careful of people who might have hidden agendas for you…make sure you talk to people who can be objective).
Talk to a coach or a counselor or someone similar.
Find people who have answered the question that you’re trying to answer.
Ask them how they got to where they are today.
Ask them how they “figured things out”.
3) Take action:
Nothing happens without action.
You can’t ever really know if a path is a fit for you unless you give it a try.
This is what stops many people.
They want 100% certainty before they take action.
But life doesn’t work that way.
So try some things out.
Dip your toe in the water and see what resonates with you.
Take action over and over and over again until you find an something that works for you.
4) Be patient:
We know that life is short.
And so we often want ansswers RIGHT NOW.
But sometimes the best thing to do is be patient.
Being patient isn’t about giving up.
It’s about accepting that the difficult questions in life take time to answer.
What matters is your commitment to answering the question.
Sometimes that means attacking the question hard, putting as much energy as you can into answering it.
Other times that means backing off, letting the question sit there, and being okay with uncertainty.
5) Be open to serendipity:
There’s a story, a true story, of a corporate manager in Portland, Oregon, who lost his job.
He looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find anything.
And then one day a friend told him about a furniture dealer who was looking to unload a semi-truck of mattresses.
He and his friend went in together, bought the mattresses, and then sold them out of a parking lot.
The man took his share of the profits, rented a storeroom, and opened a matress store.
He’s carved out a niche in Portland – selling inexpensive mattresses, using low/no-pressure sales tactics, and offering delivery via bicycle.
Michael Hanna didn’t set out to become a mattress salesman.
He didn’t have any retail experience.
He didn’t go through any long, drawn out process to figure out what he should do with his life.
He was simply open to serendipity.
An opportunity came up, he seized it, and the rest is history.
Oh, he also reports that he’s never been happier in his life.
6) Accept that there is no ultimate answer:
Sometimes there is no ultimate answer.
See, we sometimes want THE answer that will remain THE answer for the rest of our lives.
And so we reject answers that appear to be temporary.
But what if there wasn’t one ultimate answer?
What if, instead, there was s series of temporary answers throughout your life?
And you simply moved from one temporary answer to the next throughout your life.
How might that change your answer to the question: “How can I find a “noble cause”…one that serves myself AND serves other people?”
So those are my thoughts, my “guesses’ at how to answer this question.
Or at least how to approach it.
What do YOU think?
Do any of my guesses help you?
Do you have any thoughts on how someone can answer this question, something that I didn’t mention?