Inside every person is a blueprint.
This blueprint was handed down to you at birth through your mom and dad. This blueprint contains important information like your eye color, your hair color, how tall you’re going to be, etc.
This blueprint is also unique to you. No one else has your blueprint. No one else ever will have your blueprint. You’re a once-in-a-lifetime creation. Your blueprint not only carries your physical characteristics – it also carries one other important aspect:
Your primal inclinations.
These primal inclinations play a back and forth game of tennis with another important aspect of your life – your “why”.
The Pressing Question
In Start With Why, Simon Sinek argues that the question “why?” separates superior companies from everyone else.
Take Apple. You like their products? If you do, its because they’ve made the “why” a central part of their focus. Companies that don’t do this become extinct very quickly.
This extends to the individual as well. Your “why” must become your guiding force in life. It’s the core from what everything else will emanate. Think of it as a personal mission statement.
Without this personal mission statement, you’ll tend to “drift”. You don’t know what you really want. A car driving around without a destination will break down or run out of gas very quickly.
Your “why” is the gas. Your primal inclinations are the destination.
Get primal (inclinations)
In Mastery, Robert Greene wxamies why some people become “masters”. This was his conclusion:
Many of the greatest Masters in history have confessed to experiencing some kind of force or voice or sense of destiny that has guided them forward. For Napoleon Bonaparte it was his “star” that he always felt in ascendance when he made the right move. For Socrates, it was his daemon, a voice that he heard, perhaps from the gods, which inevitably spoke to him in the negative–telling him what to avoid. For Goethe, he also called it a daemon–a kind of spirit that dwelled within him and compelled him to fulfill his destiny. In more modern times, Albert Einstein talked of a kind of inner voice that shaped the direction of his speculations. All of these are variations on what Leonardo da Vinci experienced with his own sense of fate.
Summed up, he said the people who become masters in a field are those that remain true to themselves. This is very hard to pull off in a world that wants you to be like everyone else.
As a child, you were drawn towards certain activities. Without any prior urging, you threw yourself full force into that activity. Those were your primal inclinations expressing itself through you.
Unfortunately, these strong urgings can be lost over time. Most of us are told to live a certain way or do a certain thing that squashes that urging and makes us feel like delusional morons for ever even having them.
What happens when you don’t follow these urgings?
Pretty easy to figure out. Restlessness. Anger directed at others and yourself. Unhappiness. Insert bad thing here.
The little boy who says he’s gonna become a fireman when he grows up doesn’t expect to become a junkie 30 years down the line. But it happens because that fire slowly dies.
But when you have something that excites you…something that you’ll want to work towards day and night…how could you not eventually become awesome at it?
Goethe said it best as quoted in Mastery:
The misery that oppresses you lies not in your profession but in yourself! What man in the world would not find his situation intolerable if he chooses a craft, an art, indeed any form of life, without experiencing an inner calling? Whoever is born with a talent, or to a talent, must surely find in that the most pleasing of occupations! Everything on this earth has its difficult sides! Only some inner drive–pleasure, love–can help us overcome obstacles, prepare a path, and lift us out of the narrow circle in which others tread out their anguished, miserable existences! –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
So now, you have a good reason to follow your urgings toward mastery.
Now you’ll have absolutely no reason to go after what’s yours!
You’ll get a sense of discipline and a sense of exhilaration from following this primal inclination strategy that I’m about to show you.
But first… I want to let you know something:
You’re probably a genius.
Just want to let you know. You’re very intelligent. You may not be smart in the area of math and verbal skills (two very limited definitions of intelligence) but you possess it in other areas. There are 9 different types of intelligences and you’re highly skilled at one of them.
Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences brings this idea to the surface. Here’s the 9 different types:
- Visual-Spatial – Good with spatial reasoning. Architects, sculptors, and others who manipulate form in a 3D space fall into this category.
- Naturalistic – Has supreme sensitivity to natural phenomena. Gardeners and zoologists have high levels of intelligence in the area.
- Musical – Can discern between different pitches, rhythms, and tones. Musicians, producers, and vocalists often pick up sounds that others miss.
- Existential – Often ponders questions about the origins of life and the future. Seen very heavily in philosophers and spiritual leaders.
- Logical-Mathematical – Uses sequential reasoning skills and abstractions to solve problems. People with this high level of intelligence often enjoys jigsaw puzzles or games involving numbers.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic – Is often good at physical activity and possesses a high degree of physical fitness. Knows how to use the mind and the body together very effectively. Serena Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Brady are people who have a high level of intelligence in this area.
- Interpersonal – Finds getting along with people very easy. Can be characterized as a “social butterfly”. Social workers, teachers, and politicians often have high degrees of this intelligence.
- Linguistic – Uses words and language to express complexity. This is the most widely revered type of intelligence, also known as being “book smart”. Poets, novelists, and anthropologists have high levels of this intelligence.
- Intrapersonal – The ability to understand one’s self and their own motives, resulting in being very self-motivated. Philosophers and psychologists are people with high levels of intrapersonal intelligence.
Your primal inclinations lies in one or many of these areas. Your job is to figure out which one(s).
These intelligences can be developed but you will have some sort of “baseline” for each of these. For example, you probably you had a flair for connecting with others but you were god awful at Math.
That means you’d do well as some type of community organizer or a role similar to that.
People like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were considered stupid by their teachers but they weren’t “book smart” people. Einstein had high mathematical intelligence and Edison had high visual-spacial + intrapersonal intelligence.
If you didn’t do that well in school, you were probably told the same countless times. That doesn’t mean you aren’t intelligent. You definitely are. It’s just in a different space.
The Rediscovery Process
If you find yourself a bit far off the track of doing what fulfills you, you may think it’s already too late. It’s not. Here’s how to do some digging:
- Think back to a time when you were very young. What did you enjoy doing?
- What brings you the most joy even though you are not getting a tangible reward (like money) out of it?
- What do you choose to do with your spare time? What are your hobbies?
- What are some possessions of significance that you have? What do they symbolize?
Experiment and see what happens
A big part that goes into the creation of a fulfilling and happy life is the willingness to experiment, take risks, and end up at some dead ends. This goes into figuring out where your skills best fit as well.
Think of it like trying to bake a particular kind of cake. You’ve never baked this cake before so you try different ingredients and different mixes to come out with a good cake. After a while, through trial and error, you refine the cake to how you want it to taste.
Your career will be the same as well. Early on, you start out in a field that may or may not interest you. Over time, you start to see aspects of your particular job that you want to explore further and you start to go down that path. This interest will correspond to your primal inclinations.
As I said before, your primal inclinations and your “why” are like two people playing a stalemated game of tennis. They bounce back and forth off of each other. Without one, you can’t get to the source of the other.
This is the source of the power of the men and women we think of as legendary. This is how they were able to push through endless obstacles to finally achieve their hearts desires.
Just know that it takes time…It takes time to figure these things out. But once you do, you get a brutally effective formula for living the life you want to live. You’re like a heat seeking missile.
You’ll be unstoppable.
So..what are you waiting for? Clock’s ticking and life is too short to squander.