Before You Begin — Why Are You Here?
Endeavor shares concepts and a process for finding meaning through work that makes a difference. Work done with and for others. The assertion being made here is that your life is enhanced through the act of enhancing the lives of others.
This isn’t a self-help book. It’s a help others book.
It seems impossible to me that anyone can identify meaningful work without first giving some thought to life’s big questions.
Before diving into what an endeavor is, why you need one, and how to find your “what’s next,” I’d like you to consider the three questions on the following pages.
Write your answers in this book if you like. Or jot them down in the companion workbook for this title. Or respond in a journal, digital or leatherbound. Or record yourself talking them over with friends and family. It’s less important how you do it than it is that you do it!
These are questions that human beings have asked for millennia and we’re still trying to answer them. Clearly, there are no absolutely ”right” answers, just “alright” answers for right now.
So, don’t get hung up on this opening exercise and don’t return this book for a refund. At least not yet. Give these questions a try. Your next endeavor depends on it.
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to be happy?
3. How can I be more of both?
At this point, you may well be asking yourself yet another question….
“What the Hell Have I Gotten Myself Into?”
Right now, you may feel doubtful, anxious, querulous, or just plain confused. If you want to return this book for a refund right now, I don’t blame you. Go ahead.
But, my intent isn’t to fuel your anger or angst. It’s to inspire your curiosity and engage your courage. I’m hoping these questions got a little bit under your skin. I’m hoping that they made you lean in a bit and wonder, “Where is this all heading?”
I’m hoping that together we can look up, reach beyond, and fly higher. That you’ll step into your “what’s next” with greater intention and integrity than ever before.
Why I Think You And I Are Here
That’s right, I’m going to answer the same questions I asked you. Not because I have the answers. I most certainly do not. But I do have some answers and I assert* that, although not definitive, they are good enough to get you started.
At the very least, I hope they’ll inspire you to develop and share your answers to the three questions: “What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be happy? And how can I be more of both?”
There are three things we can say about what it means to be human that I think we can all agree on. We are inherently social creatures. We are born with the capacity for reason. And, we all possess a creative impulse.**
And by employing these instincts through meaningful endeavors, you can become more human and happy. You most enhance your life through work that enhances the lives of others.
*Assertions are a way of sharing big ideas that invite discussion and even disagreement without attachment to outcomes or self-serving agendas. More on assertions later in this book.
**Those of you familiar with my first book, The Stoic Creative, may recognize the first two characteristics are drawn from my appreciation and study of Stoic philosophy.
We Are Inherently Social Creatures
Sure, there are plenty of examples of people leading solitary and self-sustaining lives. But at some point, they employ a tool, or idea, or resource that is not their own. We are born to live with and serve others.
Our social instinct comes from an evolutionary imperative. When we first appeared on the scene, we were neither the fastest nor the strongest animal in the food chain. Alone, you’d likely end up as some other animal’s lunch, but in a group you could flip the tables on those that preyed upon you.
Fear and danger drove us to become social creatures. And becoming social creatures made us develop our capacity for reason.
We Are Born With the Capacity for Reason
Yes, I know. It’s easy to second guess our capacity for reason by pointing out the innumerable examples of our failure to employ it. Obviously, human beings possess impulses other than rational thinking that lead to irrational and unreasonable behavior. Possessing the capacity for reason is one thing. Cultivating it and using it is quite another.
But there’s no denying that our social nature informed our intellect and consciousness. Collaboration and cooperation require communication, and communication requires developing brain power. Becoming social creatures gave us a chance for survival in a hostile world. Developing our capacity for reason provided the opportunity to dominate it.
And the combination of our social instinct and capacity for reason informs and inspires our creative impulse.
We All Possess a Creative Impulse
Creativity is simply the act of bringing something forth that did not previously exist. Every time you make a meal, make a mess or make amends you employ your creative inclination.
Every meaningful undertaking you’ve ever engaged in employs your creative powers. Learning to walk, speak, write, and learning to perform any task draws on your creative abilities.
And your creative capacity is developed and amplified by learning from and doing work with others. Which brings us right back to our social disposition and closes the virtuous cycle of what is required to be human and happy.
Creativity also informs the path to becoming more of both.
Back to the Question of “Why Are You Here?”
You may have picked this book up because it looked like a book about personal development. What we now call “life design.” Or you might think it’s about career design. Regardless, you likely found it in the Self-Help section of the bookstore, virtual or otherwise, that you bought it from.
But this is not really a self-help book. It’s a help others book.
Because the only way you can truly enhance your life is by enhancing the lives of others.
Yes, that’s an assertion. It can, and should be, investigated, questioned, and argued. But until you can make an overwhelmingly compelling argument to the contrary, I’m sticking with this idea.
Your life is only enhanced when you are engaged in enhancing the lives of others.
Additional sneak peeks and updates of Endeavor are available at EndeavorBook. com.