Living A Meaningful Life
Leading with structure is not the answer to living a meaningful life. There is a whole school out there instructing us to be positive and happy all the time. Imagine, for a moment, if instead of being told how to be and what to do, we simply allowed ourselves and each other to be human.
We are in this mess in the world right now because we have been taught to lead with structure and we’ve been mostly obedient boys and girls up to now; whether it is:
- How we are supposed to act a certain age (what clothes are appropriate and inappropriate).
- Perform on an online meeting before or when the pandemic hit to make sure we appear perfect.
- Play the role of the best parent, child, sibling, student, teacher or any other role we take on.
- Project an image to the outside world whether it’s a brand, a way of life or success.
- Get promoted and move up the ladder. Be responsible and make a living.
- Retire at 65 (finally do what we want to do) and die peacefully.
So if one of our biggest problems is that leading with structure creates suffering and misery that leads to burnout, anxiety and stress (because we are measuring ourselves to a metric outside ourselves), what is our opportunity?
A Meaningful Life is Available to Each of Us
So, what would our world look like when we choose to live a meaningful life?
This is where listening to our heart comes in when we become aware that no one outside ourselves has our answers. They don’t have a clue what living a meaningful life means to you. They too have been told stories and are playing out certain roles and personas. When we can understand what’s calling us, we start shifting toward impact. And when we start thinking of impact and caring deeply, we only then can connect with others and explore what’s possible.
Imagine for a moment this scenario:
- We allowed ourselves to be who we truly are at any age.
- We understood why we were meeting and cared deeply about the exchange, connection and impact of our time together; and less on the medium (structure).
- Did the best we could as a parent, child, sibling, student, teacher and any other role we have and allowed ourselves to let go of success metrics that hurt us.
- Show up as who we are; constantly growing, evolving, learning and being with all of its messiness. Drawing outside the lines of conformity.
- Lived in harmony with Nature and her changing cycles.
- Had a fulfilling life, where work was just part of it. How we made a living didn’t define us and how we choose to truly live brought us joy.
- Never retired and lived fully enjoying every experience as best we could and grieving when we needed to because we understood that life and death are part of our natural cycle.
That’s the world I want to live in and I am doing my best to see the opportunity and understand the restrictions of leading with structure. Before jumping onto a framework or a methodology, ask why and question everything. The structure is always secondary when we let go and allow ourselves to see what’s possible.
Is it Time to Poke the Bear?
We can continue to believe that this is how things are done (from education to business to marketing and life), or we can poke the bear and see what living a meaningful life means to us. Both are equally crazy but what is insanity but doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes?
The philosopher Confucius, in The Analects, depicts the cycle of life as a journey that takes you closer to your own heart and the Divine. “At 15 I set my heart on learning. At 30 I took my stand. At 40 I came to be free from doubts. At 50 I understood the decree of heaven. At 60 my ear was attuned. At 70 I followed my heart’s desire without overstepping the line.” Can you follow your heart, at any age, and dance in possibilities?
It takes a lot of unlearning to lead with our heart, and let the structures we need support us.