You are a Kōan.

A kōan is a statement that seems like a riddle.
One the reasoning mind can’t solve.
So Zen Buddhists use them to blow people’s minds.
And open up a crack to intuitive enlightenment.
A sudden, greater truth about life.
“What‘s the sound of one hand clapping?”
People think that’s a kōan.
But I knew a guy in high school who solved it.
He raised one hand.
Relaxed his wrist and long fingers.
And then whipped the hell out of it.
Causing his flapping fingers to slap against his palm.
One hand clapping!
It was hilarious.
But that’s not the actual kōan.
Instead, Hakuin Ekaku Zenji said:
“We all know that when we bring our two hands together sharply, they create a loud sound.  What is the sound of one hand?”
With all due respect to Zen orthodoxy, it really doesn’t matter how it’s phrased.
What matters is the spirit the kōan evokes.
And so the guy with the limber wrist?
He didn’t know it, but he was enlightened.
He let his unique spirit emerge.
And everyone around him lightened up.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know.
You are a kōan.
You sit and question who you are and what “it” is all about.
And your reasoning mind struggles.
Because it’s an insoluble puzzle.
It’s like pausing a movie before the end.
And trying to figure out what the protagonist is all about.
Who is this Dorothy Gale, really?
A lost, timid girl from Kansas?
What’s she all about?
You can’t tell.
Not until the end.
So what really matters is her spirit.
What she evokes!
In herself and in others she encounters.
Kierkegaard wrote, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
There you have it!
Life is a kōan.
And so are you.
So stop trying to solve it.
Crack open your hardened mind.
And let your unique spirit shine through.

Your purpose.

Purpose is the new black in business.
Everyone is busy reframing what they do.
From what to why.
And once discovered, they turn on the storytelling machine.
And wait for attention to blossom and business to bear fruit.
But this contemporary approach is misguided.
Because purpose isn’t discovered.
It’s created.
It isn’t a carefully considered and crafted image.
It’s a bold statement.
A way of believing and behaving that grows and evolves and enhances people’s lives.
Purpose isn’t something we pull out of our organizations (or out of ourselves).
It’s something we passionately build in.
Out of our experiences and values.
It’s not something that we uncover.
It’s an essence that we reveal through our choices and sacrifices.
Purpose means progress.
It’s movement towards a more ethical and meaningful way of being.
Purpose creates a new world.
One that compensates for the one we typically experience.
A new world of truth, compassion and excitement.
Purpose is an aspiration.
It’s a direction that drives us.
It informs our minds and engages our hearts.
Emerson wrote, “The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate.
To have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
The same is true of business and our work.
Is your business helpful?
Is it enjoyable?
Does it improve people’s lives ?
Are you honest, straightforward and trustworthy?
And if you think compassion is a wishy-washy concept, think again.
Compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of another.
Coupled with the desire to relieve it.
And that’s the key to innovation.
To meaning, renewal and growth.
This is not rocket science.
Simply show people that you care.
Get off of your wheel.
And actually give a shit.
The future is not some place that you are going.
It’s a reality that you are creating.
Right here, right now!
THAT is your real purpose.
And it’s your business to create it.
For your co-workers.
For your community.
For your children.
And for your own soul.