Updated: Dec 16, 2020
What is your purpose?
These four words can provoke fear into some of the most successful executives I've met because this seemingly innocuous question awakens within them the possibility that all this work and all this 'success' might actually have no lasting purpose at all.
It was this question amidst a confluence of circumstance that led me to quit my last corporate career just when I was about to be promoted to a Vice President position in the company I worked for. Many people would see this as some sort of crowning achievement - like you finally made it. I saw it as a long march towards the slow death of my soul because I'd worked out that the impact I wanted to make was more personal, more intimate and far more transformative than could be achieved in the cut and thrust of a multinational management consultancy.
Working in the personal development industry, the question of purpose arises often - mainly because it's at the point at which people are exploring purpose, reason and change in their lives that they look around for support from people like me - and like me, they've reached the point where leading a life or meaning is what matters more than the trappings of the 'corporate life'.
Don't get me wrong - I still work in and for organisations; and I love being part of a community. The choice I made was to completely switch gears so that when I work in and for organisations now, the work that I do is aligned to my purpose as much as theirs. I no longer feel like a cog in the wheel working for my daily bread; and I feel far more comfortable walking away if and when the alignment between joint purposes ceases to exist - in large part because my path of heart is far more important.
Everyone has a unique expression of divine gifts that are your dharma – your unique contribution to the world. Your divine gifts are what you do BEST – and what comes effortlessly to you.
Your Ayurvedic Prakruti can be a great starting point for understanding how you show up in the world; and through that lens you can also discover more about your personal dharma - particularly if you consider these questions in your explorations.
What really excites you?
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
What are you constantly drawn to + spend time with?
If money was no object, what would you spend your life doing?
If you could leave one piece of wisdom to your children, what would it be?
I explained in the last article my Prakruti is Pitta/Kapha; but right now I am experiencing excess Vata. This isn't new for me and I have experienced excess Vata for many years due to the nature of the work I was involved with for so long.
Diving into my Pakruti opens up a wealth of insights about how I show up in relation to my dharma. Yoga Veda Institute shares that 'Pitta is in charge of balancing and managing Vata and Kapha, and P people are born experts in managing and using efficiently energies of all sorts. Pitta’s effect is hot, oily and irritable because Pitta must maintain a high level of reactivity in order to manipulate energy effectively.'
Since I'm also influenced by Kapha and it's propensity store energy, it's no surprise that I am able to accumulate a lot of knowledge, and have a lot of energy to call upon for the execution of my interests; but that I can also get too deep into things to the point of finding myself stuck.
P people are methodical and efficient at planning and implementing new ideas and they love to engineer ideas into practical uses. Although Pitta people have little interest in the day to day, my K influence means that I'm able to balance this by creating the systems and organisation that makes things run smoothly.
I can see this play out in the careers that I've had which have been strongly linked to creating systems and processes in new environments; and largely losing interest thereafter - except that I've doggedly stuck it out by creating new projects to work on or shifting my focus so that I don't become too comfortable with the status quo (a very K trait!).
Although P people can be a bit ruthless in moving from one thing to the next depending on the potential benefit, K people are cautious to commit, but once in, they usually see it stubbornly through. I can see the influence of my PK personality here in that I used to move from one thing to the next - and have learned to sustain things and see them through. It almost feels that my K is very strongly balancing my P desire to move on and the circumstances of covid have helped to moderate my P by keeping me in one place and focused on one theme, even if I manage to find a dozen or more sub-themes.
In my relationships, I definitely have the K trait of making friends slowly, after deliberation, and having lasting friendship; which helps me see my path in building a strong community where the bonds between people are strong because I'm cautious about who I let in.
P people crave excitement and movement whereas K people prefer things more relaxed and serene - and here I find myself wavering between the two. K's need to be motivated and P's need to be challenged. I feel this deeply as I will flog myself for not getting enough done which is my P looking for challenge while my K wants to take it easy and have a rest!
When I reflect on the PK traits, I can see how they have played out in my life in largely unconscious ways up until the last two years at least. Stepping out of the corporate frame forced me to look much more deeply into purpose and although I thought I'd found it, it wasn't until covid19 locked us all in our homes that stepping into service helped me to connect more deeply to my raison d'être.
In Central Park last May, in a very spacey, Vata period I wrote that I'm on a mission to change the world by helping people connect back to love and authenticity. That much is true but my pragmatic Pitta needs this to be tangible and real. What my real gift is; is using all my accumulated knowledge and wisdom (K) to empower people with the tools they need to create change (P) in their life so that they can reach their goals. I do this by harnessing my use of words through teaching and coaching (PK) and in using my determination (P), I've started to build a strong community (K) around breathwork. I coach leaders in Fortune 100 companies (P) on how to navigate change; and I work as Head of Performance in a start up helping them to create sustainable systems and process for the future (P).
My work will always be very earthy, pragmatic and nature connected and my true dharma is to bridge the worlds of spirit and science, wellness and work, and the internal shifts that create the external results. My over-active V helps me as much as it gets in the way; but my underlying PK energy supports me in living my mission each day.
7 More Questions To Help You Find Your Dharma (your unique contribution to the world):
Do you have any idea what your Dharma is?
Have you found it yet?
Where have you looked?
How would you live differently if you knew your days were numbered?
Which people do you admire most and why?
What are your fondest memories?
What were you doing when you recall having the most fun?
If you'd like to work with to find your dharma, let's connect at firstname.lastname@example.org