Identity, Traction and Renewal: A Quick Glance at the Stages of a Productive Life

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What is the meaning of your life? Have you figured it out or have you given up, convinced that there is no answer and your role is random? Or maybe you've gotten lucky and discovered the special reason you are alive, what?

As songstress Peggy Lee said back in the early sixties, "Is this all there is?"

No, there is much more. If you have truly discovered your identity - your early conditioning, your strengths and weaknesses, your insecurities, your habits, your guilt, your over-compensating tendencies, your ability to forgive yourself - you have also stumbled into something that is so deeply embedded in your identity that it cannot be extracted: your purpose.

It takes most of us decades to figure out who we really are. Sometimes, we have revelations at a funeral or when we see a baby being born. If we're lucky, we realize that we are actually much more than our body, more than our five senses. Our intuition tells us we are much larger, that a part of us exists at a higher, invisible level.

Yes, you are "quantum." Your identity and your purpose are inextricably woven together, much like soul and spirit.

We feel this subtle reality in those rare moments when we are "in flow," in a non-thinking, super-aware state of awareness. Scientists call it an "autotelic" state. Ego, insecurity, all falls away when we enter our own zone. We excel without trying. We don't react in a knee-jerk fashion to anything, but we do respond to everything. Along the way, we hear a voice that never leaves us:

"This is what you were meant to do. This is what you are...deep down. Now you know. Have faith that if you continue, you will end up where you are meant to be. Embrace it, be the best you can be at it, sacrifice for it, go forward, keep moving, never stop."

It may be the very first thing you've ever been truly certain about.


With the certainty of who you are and what you should be doing, it's time to experiment. Plunge into the world or arena where people with similar aspirations hang out. Try this, try that. Read incessantly about it. Study the masters, the leaders, the sages of that world, that profession. Consider investing 10,000 hours of personal work, study, analysis and deliberate practice. Form an internal reality that is built around your own unique sense of progress and traction.

Are you moving forward? Are you manifesting aspects of your identity and your role in life? You create the metrics, not the people who hand out financial bonuses or conduct 360 performance appraisals. You decide what you must learn next and then what comes after that. You cross the stream by reaching down and touching the rocks just beneath the surface of the fast moving water. The deeper the water, the more you realize there is so much more to learn.

Very humbling. You keep going, searching for traction, sifting through the sand for tiny specks of gold. Are you getting better? Are things improving? Do you need to double-back and work on your emotional intelligence or your ability to listen or craft an inspiring vision?

The answer is inside you. You set the benchmark. You define greatness. Analyze the best that ever was; then look closely at your output, your reports, your tangible and intangible markers. You can't expect much traction until you understand the process, the cycles, the order of things.

You're starting to get some traction. It's a feeling before it takes form. Some days, self-doubt wins. But most days, you are establishing an arc, a trajectory. When you're at your best, you're not just a person, you're a concept.

Project by project, you creep forward. Each successful step radiates your unique perspective and style. You feel good about yourself. You're starting to see your sweet spot emerge in front of you. Momentum becomes tangible. Self doubt ebbs away.

At this point, traction is transformed into momentum. You become a giant tractor tire gripping, spinning and gunning through moist, dark topsoil, veering from here to there whenever a good idea comes to mind. Mastery is your fuel. Reputation is your octane. Everything fits. There is movement. The stars converge around you. You don't just connect the dots, you create the dots. Your higher self is walking one half step ahead of you and people feel the energy. You have personal leverage....magnetism.

Then something happens.

Envy, competition, distraction, confusion, distortion, ego. Achievement becomes more important than meaning, originality and compassion. The backdrop called "culture" moves past you and you suddenly appear to be a shadow of your former self. Your creativity caves. Relationships feel dry. Phone calls go unanswered.

Your arc is in decline. Essence succumbs to personality.

This is when character and creativity count. This is a time for renewal.

The key now is to avoid leaning on the past where memory stands, beckoning. The key now is to climb up on top of the rainbow and peer forward to emergent possibilities. Whatever you see, flip it around and look at it from behind. Leverage your hard won perspective, your moxie, your "forward probabilities," the obscure ideas you threw to the floor back when you didn't really need them. They were mere scraps then; tomorrow they could be cobbled together into a new fabric, a new rope that you - only you - could throw over the wall of inertia and indifference.

This is how you reinvent and renew yourself, fearlessly moving beyond best practices to core beliefs. This is when you go beyond performance to play and discovery. This is when every casual glance and pink ray of sun around 5 o'clock means something precious.

This is when you are inspired by everything and nothing in particular and everyone wants a small piece of your wisdom. This is when you renew yourself and you are not just a concept, you have become a benchmark. You're pure heart. You no longer worry about traction. Instead, you stand in the glow and receive.

In the past, you were a symphony with many musicians inside of you, dozens of sub-personalities, each striving to solo, each insisting that his or her interpretation of the song called "My Life" was best. Each performer inside of you played to a different rhythm. As a result, there was chaos onstage. But now, you have found your conductor. Your response to life is a melodic chorus with consistency and resonance.

Your new performance is called Renewal.

You found your identity and purpose. Next, you worked hard to get traction, to strive, study and create momentum. You became hot and cold, hot and cold. Today, you are beyond that, beyond duality and egoic comparision. You no longer worry about "doing something" or "having something." Now it's all about being something - something only you can define and redefine as many times as you want.

As long as it matters to you - really, truly matters.

Author Lynn Hinderaker is a speaker and meta-coach. Call on him for consulting/coaching engagements with key executives: 402-208-5519

#maturity #reflection

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