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Getting to know the real you

By Folasade Akinola Published 28 days ago 6 min read
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

The final evening of my 25th college reunion was marked by a tent party that featured music, dancing, and a noisy atmosphere. Due to the excessive commotion, many of us began to emerge from the tent in order to engage in conversation with our classmates, whom we had not seen in over two decades.

I made an astonishing discovery while conversing with my friends:

80% of them were dissatisfied with their circumstances.

"I feel as though I've wasted my life, and I'm half way through it,"

"I don't know what my life is all about."

I had the privilege of attending Yale, and we were standing in the center of the old campus on a summer evening. The individuals with whom I was conversing were privileged, highly educated, financially well-off, and in positions of authority. They owned their first and second homes and spouses.

Additionally, eighty percent of them were dissatisfied with their lifestyles.

Who was content, the twenty percent?

We were theater and history enthusiasts, and we had studied literature and Renaissance rhetoric. We studied classes for the joy of learning, not because we thought they would direct us to a specific job. We still obtained jobs; we were living our lives expansively, with life's ups and downs, and we did not feel that we had wasted a single minute. And as I spoke with the 20%, the happier 20%, I discovered that each of them knew something about their life purpose because they knew five things:

who they were,

what they did,

who they did it for,

what those people wanted or needed,

what they got out of it, and how they changed as a consequence.

Does that sound hard?

It's not;

It's actually really straightforward.

In fact, it's so simple that you can learn your life's purpose now. You're going to know your life purpose now, in the next five minutes.

Would you like to know your life purpose in the next five minutes?


Can you be a little bit louder?

Would you like to know your life purpose in the next five minutes?


Thank you.

Actually, it's not even going to take five minutes. So, can I share something else with you?

If you're like a lot of us, you have pondered and worried about your life purpose for a long time, and there are books, magazines, workshops, and seminars about it.

In fact, Amazon lists 151,928 books that refer to how you can learn your life purpose. Well, I know some people who have spent their entire lives attempting to learn their life purpose.

Look, we can all agree that an unexamined existence is not worth living; however, if all you're doing is examining, you're not living.

So, let's figure out your life purpose right now together:

who you are,

what you do,

who you do it for,

what those people want and need,

and how they change as a result.

Shall we do it?


Everybody, on the count of five, should call out your first name.






That was the first one, only four to go.

That's who you are.


What do you do?

What do you enjoy doing?

Do you love to write, cook, design, create iOS apps, write code, crunch numbers, speak, and teach?

What do you enjoy doing?

And if there are a lot of things that come up for you, concentrate them down by asking yourselves this one question:

What is the one thing that right now you feel supremely qualified to teach other people?

Think about that in one term.

Hold it.

Don't disclose it yet.

On the count of five,

What do you do?







That's what you do.

Now, think about who you do it for, envision them in your mind, and be ready to say it on the count of five.

Hold it; don't unleash it yet.







Who do you do it for?

Let's see it one more time.

Who do you do it for?

That is the mindset that we need.

OK, now.

What do all those individuals want or need?

What do they want or need that you have, that they've come to you for, so you can give them this item?

What do they want or need?

In just one or two sentences. Hold it; don't unleash it yet. And on the count of five: one,





Now, this is the finest one.

How do they change?

How do they alter or transform as a result of what you give them?

On the count of five,

how do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?






Now we're going to place this all together, kind of in a sentence, OK?

Who are you?

What do you do?"

Who do you do it for?

What do they want or need?

How do they alter as a result? (

Now, why is that formulation so powerful?

Because of all of those five things that you need to know to know what your life purpose is, only two are about yourself.

The remaining three are about other people:

who they are,

what they want or need,

and how they change as a result of it.

That formulation forces you to be external-facing. And all the happier individuals that I met outside the tent on that warm New Haven night were outward-facing; they were not inward-facing. They knew very clearly whom they served, what those people needed, and they changed as a result.

And you may have already intuited that the most successful people in any discipline always focus more on the people that they serve than on how they are served themselves.

Happier people make it a point to make other people joyful and do things that make them feel well taken care of and secure.

If you make other people happy, as life teaches us, we will be taken care of, too.

One of the most difficult things that happens when you meet people for the first time is that they ask you this question:

"So, what do you do?"

And, if you're like some of us, that's a really challenging question sometimes.

Particularly if you're in these instances where you're between things, or you're feeling vulnerable, or it isn't defined, Or, what you seem to do isn't what you really do, or what you paid to do isn't how you define yourself. So, when people ask you this question

"So, what do you do?"

and also, you've got this mental monologue going on,

"Why is he asking me?

So, what do I do?

Is it because of that transactional thing that says, "He wants to know if he should really spend time talking to me?"


Or, it's that other thing, so he can tell me what he does because he's confident it's,

"Oh, really, so much better than what I do?"

So, when somebody asks you that question, here's what you do: you just say the very last thing you called out: how what you do alters the people you do it for.

So, for example, you might say,

"I give kids awesome dreams."

If your life purpose is: "I write books for children, so they can fall asleep at night, so they can have awesome dreams,"

Or you might say,

"I help people look and feel their best,"

if your life purpose is:

"I design apparel for men and women who need affordable choices, so they can look and feel their best."

Or you might say,

"I help people get great work into the world,"

if your life purpose is,

"I train entrepreneurs and creative people to take decisive actions, so they can get their greatest work into the world."

And then that little snippet that you just said becomes your personal elevator speech. And it will always initiate a conversation because the person that you were just talking to has to ask you a question,

"How do you give kids great dreams?"

"How do you help people look and feel their best?"

"Can people really get their greatest work into the world?" And then you get to tell them, and you get to share your life purpose.

And you get to share how they may come to learn theirs, too.

written by: AUSTIN RACHAEL

healthhow to

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Folasade Akinola

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