"I noticed a pattern. All of the people I went to highschool with had no idea what they wanted to do. They moved day by day through their courses
hoping for a career epiphany. When graduation finally arrived they were forced to choose a university program. This would decide what their future would look like, even though they had no idea what the world offered. No one was solving this problem. So I created Sokanu.”
—Spencer Thompson-CEO, Sokanu
What do you want to do?
It doesn’t seem like that big of a question. Perhaps you already know the answer. You may already know what you like to do. Maybe you have a bucket list of all the things you would like to achieve in your lifetime. Another question may be: What do you want to do with your life?
This is the question most of us knew was coming when we were children spending our time on playgrounds making new friends with schoolmates. Some people know inherently what they are meant to be. From the time they know their interests and identify what they want to do, they figure out how to get there. Not everyone knows.
I always thought finding my perfect career would just “click” one day. I would discover what it was I needed to do and the adult version of myself would figure it out. The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?’’ came from my parents, grandparents, and my teachers. Not long into Grade 10, I was sitting in a career office with my classmates and sheets of paper before me. We were told to check off boxes that would begin to forge the path to our careers. The classes I chose would decide which direction I would go. That direction would decide what university programs I would take and those university programs would decide which jobs I would apply for. What I thought could be put off until I was an “adult” was suddenly laid out in front of me, requiring a signature that said, “Yes! This is what I am meant to do.” I didn’t even know what options existed out there, just that I had to decide on something.
As I moved through high school, I still had no clearer picture of what it was I was meant to do in my life. And what confused me more were the mixed messages from the adults in my life. “You have to pick a direction to take!” all the way to “You have lots of time to decide.” Who was right? The more I listened to everyone else the less I could hear myself and the more confused I became.
How should a person decide what they are meant to do? This is a huge problem that needs to be solved—so where does one begin? It starts with understanding who you are.
As you grow, so will your experiences, which in turn begin to shape you as a person. You learn what you like and dislike, things you might like to pursue, and you cultivate new relationships with people you want to have in your life. Somewhere during all these experiences your character starts to develop and you start to have an understanding of yourself and who you are. This is when you begin to discover the pathways that may lead you to what you are meant to do.
Sokanu exists because we want to help you understand who you are as a person. We’ll hold the mirror up for you so you can see with greater clarity who is looking back at you. And while we’re holding the mirror for you, you will be freed up to go after those things you need to pursue.
We believe there is something inside you that intrinsically knows what you need to give to this world. Not because you need to prepare for your financial future, or learn a set of skills; all of these things are important. On a more meaningful level, there is a part of you that needs to give of itself to this world for the sake of giving. We are all meant to contribute something. We want to help you discover what that is.
Mike Rowe, widely-known from the hit TV show “Dirty Jobs” and a series of Ford commercials, appeared on The Glenn Beck Program Wednesday to discuss his efforts with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation in challenging “the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.” “We’re lending…
“If you give yourself one complete minute of focused presence, to simply stop; even to listen to your heart beating, it will take you out of your head and introduce you to the moment… which is complete in itself. It is not on the way to another moment. It is not a bridge to another opportunity. It is the timeless perfection… So stop…and sink into this timeless moment.”—Mooji (via shaktilover)
“Practise for the day: Take a mental sit-down. When things are physically or mentally rushing—traffic, deadlines, meetings, assignments, errands—take a sit-down in your mind before one thought tries to jump to the next. In that gentle moment, give yourself permission to ask if it’s worth hopping to the next thought, to stay with the previous, or take an extra moment at your mind-bench. The view is quite nice.”—
I love the story of the 90-year-old lady who, when asked if she could play the piano, responded that she didn’t know. “What do you mean, you don’t know?” she was asked. The lady smilingly replied, “I’ve never tried.” Good answer that I hope will open some eyes, ears and thinking. Many of us have talents we’ve never benefitted from because we have never “tried” to do a specific thing.
Nearly everybody recognizes the name of Nat “King” Cole. He was universally admired for his beautiful, silky-smooth voice. He could sing ballads as few have ever done. What many people do not realize is that he started his career as a piano player. One night in a West Coast club, the featured singer was ill and the owner demanded to know where he was. When Cole responded that he was sick, the club owner said, “If we don’t have a singer there’ll be no check.” That night Nat “King” Cole became a singer. The rest is history.
For the first seven years of his career, Will Rogers performed rope tricks. He was a genuine cowboy and very much a “man’s man.” He held the attention of the audience with the rope tricks he performed. One night someone in the audience asked him a question. His candid response brought a considerable amount of laughter. Then someone else asked a question and Rogers’ response again was humorous. That night his career as a full-scale humorist was launched. But he was far more than a humorist. He had the home-spun wisdom that not only encouraged and entertained, but also gave people information and inspiration they could use in their everyday lives.
Message: You might not be able to carry a tune, do rope tricks or give humorous, home spun advice but you do have a song to sing and ability that needs to be developed and used.
The next time someone asks if you can do something you’ve never done before, don’t automatically respond “no.” Think about it. Maybe you should give it a try. Who knows? Maybe you have talents you’ve never recognized. Give it a shot and I’ll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
There are few things more stressful for a 20-something than making it out of college and into the Real World, only to realize the career you’ve been pursuing isn’t for you. After all, we spend 4 years prepping for what we think we want to do for the rest of our lives – we chose majors and take classes, we get internships or part-time jobs; we metaphorically handcuff ourselves to our ambitions and once we graduate, we throw away the key. We feel locked in.
As someone who recently did some soul-searching and concluded I’d been on the “wrong path” for the last few years (the path leading toward law school, in my case), I can attest to the extreme levels of anxiety and resentment this kind of discovery promotes. It makes you fantasize about a do-over, makes you long for a trip back to the past when you were a kid and could be anything you wanted to be. In elementary school, you can have a new aspiration every week and never worry about it, a luxury I took full advantage of when I was young.
Upon receiving my first plastic stethoscope, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. After an accidental viewing of one of those excruciatingly gory surgeries on the Discovery channel, I tossed that aside and announced I wanted to be a scientist. When my parents informed me that most scientists don’t actually work in secret laboratories hidden behind bookshelves in their room (thanks for the unrealistic expectations, Dexter!), I shook it off. I’d be an astronaut instead. I believe it was this yearning for the capriciousness of childhood that prompted me to toss maturity aside and call my mom to whine very dramatically about the misfortune of my now-uncertain career path.
“Mom, help! I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and newsflash: I’M GROWN UP!”
“Well,” she said, jokingly. “You could always go be a rainforest-dwelling assassin.”
“Huh?” I had no idea what she meant and was starting to worry about finding a suitable old person’s home for my mother on top of finding a new job, when the childhood memory suddenly flooded back and I immediately started laughing. She was right; I did want to be an assassin when I was little! I better explain:
When I was in 4th grade, we did a unit on the rainforest and endangered species. I chose to do my report on the Sumatran Tiger and ended up becoming pretty attached to the animal. So attached, that when we watched a documentary about poaching, I bawled in the middle of class. It was embarrassing, but what can I say? Seeing the footage of dead animals hanging upside down, ready to be skinned, really struck a nerve. So, that day when my mom picked me up after school, I told her I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: an assassin.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Do you even know what an assassin is, sweetheart?”
“Yes, it’s someone who kills people.” (I’d recently learned the word from an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.)
I can only imagine what must have been going through my mother’s head after her 9-year-old made this declaration. Raising an aspiring-killer has to be deemed failure as a parent in some regard. I could tell she was concerned, so I provided more details:
“Don’t worry Mom, I’m only going to kill poachers! They hunt defenseless animals, so I’m going to hunt them first! I’ll live in a tree house in the rainforest, and when I see them down below, I’ll shoot them before they can shoot any animals! I’m going to be their protector! And, nobody will ever know I killed them, because I’ll feed them to the tigers afterward!”
My mother, bless her heart, tried to explain that if I wanted to help animals, there were other things I could do besides shooting poachers. She mentioned charities, government positions, and something called international organizations, things I could allegedly join in order to protect the environment without murdering anyone. I nodded my head, pretending to listen, but my mind was made up. I’d already spent 2 hours after lunch making this elaborate life plan; decided what weapons I would use and what my camouflaged outfit would look like. As far as I was concerned, the matter was settled.
I’m not sure what eventually convinced me that “Poacher Assassin” wasn’t the most feasible career choice. Perhaps it was after my mother pointed out that living in the rainforest meant going without cable television? Regardless, I was so happy she brought this memory back into the present during our conversation last week. For one, this recollection reminds me that I have been convinced of a specific career path before, planned it all out and resolved to ignore any proposed alternatives. I see how childish that was of me then (as I was, in fact, a child), and I see how childish it is of me now to suppose that just because I made a career decision at 18 years old, I can’t change and improve upon it now.
More importantly, however, I’m reminded of the kind of passion we have when we’re kids. Nobody thought to pick their profession based on how long the commute was or what kind of health insurance they’d get. We chose jobs because we thought they were important and interesting and that we’d be great at them. We aspired to change the world! I don’t know what happens to us between the ages of 10 and 20, but I can’t help but feel something beats the creativity and passion out of us and we resolve to put our dreams aside in favor of something we’re told will be “more practical” – and this needs to change.
When faced with the daunting prospect of retracing a career path, I think the only thing that will keep us from breaking down and crying in public is pursuing something we love with the unrelenting enthusiasm of a child. It’s like Confucius said: choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. And if Confucius turns out to be wrong, I guess I can still pack up my bow and arrow and go protect those tigers.
Picture it: you see photos of what someone else is doing on Facebook and think your life isn’t exciting enough. You see someone else who has a cool job and think you’re not doing that great in your career. You see someone with a hotter body, and feel bad about yours. You see someone who has created an awesome business, and think you’re not doing enough. You read about people who are traveling the world, learning languages, going to exotic resorts and restaurants, and wonder why you’re not.
Of course, you’re comparing your reality to an ideal, a fantasy.
It’s not a comparison that makes sense. You can’t compare apples to apples when you compare yourself to anyone else. Which means it’s a dumb comparison — why would you compare how tangy an orange is compared to a beach? They’re not similar things.
If I was quizzed throughout my day about the reason why I do certain things I would pause, mid-bite in the middle of some buttery food, and ask myself why I was eating it…and have absolutely no idea. Because I want to? True. But more often than not, I am punished for it later. If I really thought about the reason behind eating something that was not-so-good-for-me, would I choose something better? Probably. How about with all the other decisions we make in our lives?
‘Who’, ‘what’, ‘where,’ and ‘how’ are the bones of every decision we make. They are the structure of the action that brings our purpose to fruition. The ‘why’, the most important question, is the lifeblood of every purposeful action we take. Living with purpose is understanding the motive, the drive, and reason for doing the things we do every day.
The Why feels, before it knows. The key is feeling farther into the future. Seeing what we will feel in the future, rather than what we want now. It’s taking into consideration your future-self. This is the reason I make my bed every morning. It’s a very small detail in my day, but I do it so that when my future-self walks through the door at the end of the day, there is an organized calm in my bedroom. The bed is ready for me when I feel like falling into it. The further you look, the better.
To find your purposeful Why is to find the feelings you desire. What’s beneath the bones that hold you up, the muscles that propel you forward, and the skin that keeps you from falling to pieces?
Give yourself an extra moment to think about why you are doing something. Start with one a day. Why am I eating this food? Why am I staying up late? Why am I putting this assignment off? Sense the change in your language as you think about the purpose. I used to eat food because it tasted good and gave me comfort. My deep purpose for eating is to nourish my body and give my cells energy. When I’m choosing lunch for the day I am more prepared to make the healthy choices that align with the latter voice.
Think about your Why. Really focus on the deep purpose of why you make the decisions you do. Will your future-self feel good about your choice? If yes, go for it! Do it with passion. And if no, hang back for a minute - perhaps it’s not right. What would the consequences be?
The reward of choosing right is always worth it. We know this. But the child-voice in our minds, demanding that he or she gets what it wants now is the voice to be ignored, and definitely not coddled. Find your authentic voice - the one that belongs to your future-self. The voice will tell you its deep purpose. Let that be your guide.
I knew the line was from “The Princess Bride.” What I didn’t know was why so many people were using it, along with lots of others. (“You mock my pain!” was the clear favorite.)
Turns out every month the founder of the company I visited (due to a NDA he must remain anonymous) rents a meeting room at the local public library for a movie night for employees and their significant others. It’s a great way to get people together and have a little fun, and it creates a shared experience that has legs, since employees enjoy dropping quotes from the movies into their day-to-day conversations.
That’s cool for two reasons: One, recognizable quotes are like verbal shorthand, getting across in one or two sentences what normally takes much longer to explain, and two, it’s an implicit reminder of a fun non-work experience they all shared.
Two bonding moments for the price of one!
Don’t think something like that can work for your business? Here are, not by accident, 10 (not all SFW) lines from “This is Spinal Tap” that could work in almost any business: Read on…
Here’s a puzzle: Even though people talk about leadership all the time, and roughly eight kajillion leadership books have been published, we’re still plagued with fair to poor leaders in many, perhaps most, organizations.
Why is this? Part of the problem is that most of us, deep down, don’t really think it’s possible for an okay leader to become a great leader. We believe leadership ability is inborn. Either you have it or you don’t. Unfortunately, thinking something is impossible makes it very difficult to accomplish.
The other difficulty is that most adults aren’t very good learners. In order to become the best leader (or, actually, the best anything) you’re capable of being, you have to become a great learner. Here are the three things most required to be that kind of powerful learner: keep reading…
Don’t settle for a relationship that won’t let you be yourself. – Oprah Winfrey
When it comes to change, people are more apt to do it for others than for themselves. It was no different for me when I morphed myself to be the “right” kind of friend, the “cool” girlfriend, or the “most dependable” employee. In each of those instances other people really liked me, but I didn’t like me very much…(read the rest)
Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. In his talk, he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work. (Filmed at TEDxMidWest.)
eating whole foods (instead of junk foods) became normal
meditating every morning became normal
having less stuff and a simpler home became my new normal
reducing and eventually (mostly) eliminating sugar became normal
and so on: no car, walk and ride mass transit, do less, becoming content with myself, working for myself, etc.
In fact, you could say the last 8 years of my life has been a constant adjusting of what’s normal. Adjusting normal is my normal now.
However, for most people, changing is tough because there’s some pain in changing. When you have a problem, there is the pain it causes in your life, but there’s also a pain of trying to change it. When the payoff of trying to change is outweighed by the pay off of continuing the old way, people stick with what they’re comfortable with.
How do we overcome this problem of the pain of change? It’s the mantra of this site: Start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easier. You want to make changing the path of least resistance, because change usually isn’t for most people.
If you make a drastic change, it feels really hard and really different, and not something you can stick to for very long.
But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it’s much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time.
Let’s take an example: I used to drink coffee with lots of added sugar. I used to think there was nothing wrong with that, but eventually I realized I was making an excuse for putting crap in my body. So I started by putting half a teaspoon less in my coffee. At first, it was slightly less good. But after a few days, it taste exactly like normal, like what I was used to. And then I took out another half a teaspoon, and it was slightly less good for a while, and then after a while it was exactly what I was used to.
Our minds tend to adjust over time. That’s my change process — I gradually adjust what’s normal to me. Eventually I didn’t need any sugar in my coffee, and it was just as good for me, I didn’t have all that crap, and I enjoyed it the same.
You can do this with anything — exercise, meditation, procrastination. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you.
Here’s the process:
Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge.
Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going.
Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.
This is the process of creating a new normal. It’s beautiful and simple.
"After a couple of years of self-doubt and continuing to work for other people, I realized that if I put my efforts into building my own business, I could be just as successful as I was making others.”
For a long time, I thought I had to choose one thing and just focus on that. I also fell into the trap of believing that I should get a "good job" and the rest of my life would fall into place. During my twenties, I worked as a Retail Store Manager and a Financial Adviser. I was good at my jobs but I wasn’t passionate about them. Although everyone considered me a top performer, deep down I knew I wasn’t putting in nearly enough effort.
When I became pregnant with my son, I took about a year and a half off to focus on mommyhood. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be a stay at home mom because I missed being involved in business decisions. However, I didn’t want my son to spend the majority of his day in daycare. I was consulting on the side and began thinking seriously about doing it full time to become a work at home mom. After a couple of years of self-doubt and continuing to work for other people, I realized that if I put my efforts into building my own business, I could be just as successful as I was making others.
My other business ventures - writing, hosting and ministering - fit into my belief that you can have it all: personal, professional and spiritual development. Many women have been led to believe that they have to choose. You can’t be a sexy minister or you can’t be a ‘good’ working mom. I believe that it’s possible to be all the things you want to be if you figure out what is most important to you.
Finding your passion and/or being successful is no longer about society’s definition of those things but about what really makes you happy. At one point, people thought having a lot of money would solve all of their problems so the focus was on acquiring external things. I believe a shift is happening in our society where people are starting to refocus on internal fulfillment.
Why do you like it?
I love having control over my life. I love baking cupcakes for my son’s first grade class. I love sitting down and writing for hours. I love meeting new people and introducing them to the thousands of people in my network. I really love that I am in a place where I am being the person that I want to be. I may not have a lot of stuff or money but I have peace, joy, happiness and love. I have all of the things that money can’t buy.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Although I graduated with a BA in Political Science from Vanderbilt University; I realized that I didn’t like reading as much as I loved to write. I do still enjoy a good debate, especially about politics ;)