I went to Berlin, Germany for a few days on a business trip recently. Although it wasn’t my first time in Germany, something was different about this trip than the dozens of other trips I had taken to Germany in years past.
For some reason, I felt really good. I mean REALLY good. I didn’t eat in fancy restaurants. I didn’t stay at an awesome hotel. I didn’t even visit the typical tourist sites, with the exception of the Brandenburg Gate, which was a few blocks from my modest hotel. But it felt like I had left the troubles of uncertainty and unpredictability of my life behind at Newark airport.
I felt like a kid going on his first outing out of the country even though I’ve worked internationally for 15 years and have been to almost every country multiple times!
Something was different. I found myself doing things I would not normally do. I took the local metro to go to the office, where I usually would have taken a taxi. I ate in a local hole in the wall (hard to really find a hole in the wall in Berlin though). I walked around in the evening and did a little bit of shopping for my girls, when normally I would have been in the hotel room logging on to the laptop and doing countless emails. I was embracing the chaos to the fullest extent. I was living in the moment. I was engaged. I was content. I wasn’t sleeping much…but I was really energized!
I couldn’t put my finger on identifying that elixir that allowed me to embrace the chaos on my seemingly ordinary business trip to Berlin. But as I traveled again yesterday to D.C. on the way back home last night, I had this profound realization why I felt so energized that week.
I realized that it was because I had a singular and deep purpose that I was putting to work. I was in the zone! I had gone to Berlin to visit and work with a very important customer that I have known for sometime. It was fairly ordinary but I had a very specific reason…a goal that I needed to achieve. And I think I achieved it. It wasn’t so monumental as it might sound but I was getting my hands dirty, working hard in the trenches trying to get something deep inside me to come out and be utilized. I wanted to be relevant.
And I think having that very specific purpose for that week, helped boost my ability to embrace the chaos of life and to leave behind all the worry and the stress. For that short week, I didn’t care about the uncertainty in the economy or the unpredictability of a career. I paid no attention to the sound of all the bad news I heard on CNN. I was too busy working hard and loving it. It was a mini-purpose project. I was having fun working really hard…I can’t believe I said that:)
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As I learn to live with uncertainty, complexity and unpredictability of life, I realize that Putting Purpose to Work does wonders to help me beat stress and tone down the worries of chaos in my life. Having a reason to get up in the morning helps me to embrace the chaos. And you know what? It doesn’t have to be such a grandiose vision of what I want to do for the rest of my life!!!
I have heard lots of people refer to “Purpose” as the holy grail of happiness. And I think there’s some truth to that. But what I realized from my experience is that deep purpose doesn’t have to be life long…good if you can get it. It IS awesome if you know exactly what you were meant to do on this planet and you do it! You can’t beat that. But if you don’t know what that is, it shouldn’t stop you from moving forward on doing something meaningful tomorrow morning!!!!!
I believe that a part of learning how to embrace the chaos is learning WHY to get up in the morning. And putting an ‘every morning’ purpose to work each day can be as simple a thing as teaching your kids to play a sport. It can be taking lessons on learning how to play a musical instrument or learning a new language. It can be a 3 month project to lose weight or to be more fit. Or it can be digging down on your craft, your job or your home life and doing something meaningful that consumes your focused energy so much that you really feel alive and in the moment ready to handle whatever chaos life throws at your way.
Rule #5: Put Purpose to Work | Embrace the Chaos! | Bob Miglani