April 18, 2013
News & Opinion: What You're Really Meant to Do
As I prepare to write a baccalaureate speech for a local high school, I've been thinking a lot about how to communicate an inspiring message to a large group of individuals. After all, everyone is different, and at a ceremony like this, everyone is about to start their own path in a big way. How can I cover what each person needs in a way that will speak to them personally? The speech has also made me think about times where other paths appear - job changes, moving to different cities, or simply dissatisfaction and the need for change. Robert Steven Kaplan's new book, What You're Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap For Reaching Your Unique Potential addresses the issues one might face in any of these scenarios. Finding purpose isn't just for the young. We can all analyze what we're doing, its effectiveness, and level of fulfillment at any point in our lives. Kaplan describes one scenario:
After a great many of these discussions, I began to wonder why many highly capable people were dissatisfied, felt as if they were underachieving, or were unfulfilled in their professional careers and in their lives. I empathized with them, because, at times, I had experienced some of the same feelings. I had also been raised to believe that monetary rewards and professional accomplishments made people happier. Yet many of the people I was speaking with were describing a feeling of emptiness despite some level of material success and impressive professional credentials.Depending on one's age, this can be an incredibly difficult realization to have, which Kaplan says can range from confusion and uncertainty, to worse, bitterness and anger. So, similar to the situation I'm in with the speech, Kaplan has written a book, which will be read by a wide range of individuals, each with their own situation, path, and feelings about how right that path is. How does he approach it? Like many Harvard Business Review Press books, there's a strategy behind it. Kaplan discusses systems to identify your strengths and weaknesses, discovering what tasks align with your passion, understanding who you are as a person, how to maximize opportunities, and how to build a road map, no matter what step in the process you find yourself at. This is a book for anyone, even those who think they have it all figured out. And even if they do, the book provides great insight and tips for improving the process of achieving one's purpose. By preparing now, you can avoid many decisions and situations that might end up having a disastrous effect on your life and career. Don't put this off.