A close colleague of mine was discussing the future of an unemployed at-risk youth we had just met, "We can not just dress up these young men and teach them how to get jobs at fast food restaurants. We must help them understand their place in the realm of their world. Their role in society. Then and only then will they help themselves and their communities."
Realm: Noun. Meaning: domain, activity, sphere, knowledge, interest
Aren't we all "at-risk" of not knowing our role, our realm?
Each of us has a "realm". A place which inspires us. An environment that brings out the best in us. Work that is meaningful to us. Our realm nurtures our sense of duty and commitment to what we do.
What is your realm? Your realm of possibility and responsibility?
I am often in debates and discussions about being a king or a kingmaker. But why aren't we talking about the kingdom and its needs. The kingdom is the community--your realm.
If our realm is only about ourselves, tis a small and selfish realm indeed.
Becoming a better person, a more educated person, a more mature person, a more successful person--always starts with the realm---How that person contributes to things beyond themselves. So a realm is unique and specific idea, cause, skillset, space that you embrace, protect, invest in and stand for.
We now face the danger, which in the past has been the most destructive to the humans: Success, plenty, comfort and ever-increasing leisure. No dynamic people has ever survived these dangers. John Steinbeck 1962
Our own comfort and happiness can limit our realm. Jim Collins, business guru, called it the "undisciplined pursuit of more". More for what? Most of us need little, we want a lot! Yet we know others who need what we have.
It is human nature to start with oneself but where is the humanity in this?
What should I be? vs How can I be useful?
Who I am vs What I do?
I am good vs Good I do
People tell me everday they want to be entreprenuers, or start non-profits, they rarely say what they want to do for the world and how they will change it. I never hear "I want to cure cancer", or "Mentor at risk youth" or "Increase the quality of STEM education" or "Alleviate the suffering of the homeless"
I hear selfish, often innocuous and mostly meaningless general thoughts about their futures.
- "I want to make a difference." Huh?
- "I want to do something I believe in." What?
- "I want to make money." Become a counterfeiter!
- "I am going to retire soon to rest." Another act of procrastination.
- "I don't want to make other people rich." Yikes!
- "I want to help people." OMG!
- "I want to grow." Who doesn't?!
Remember the emperor with no clothes? That's what we sound and look like when we say these things. When we care more about what others think and have no realm. If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything! Or wear anything! Or say or do anything or nothing at all.
Without a realm it is near impossible to network and be mentored.
But John I have no realm, but want one. What do I do?
- Self awareness is the first step and now your eyes are open
- Listen to your heart and take notes.
- Explore what seriously interests you and drives you. Use your network.
- Your realm is not just your job. You can have multiple realms. Start small and grow.
- Do not wait. This is the best time to start.
#1 myth in Greg McKeown's terrific 12 myths that lead to a busy and unfulfilling life:
"I'm too busy living to think about life." This is a huge blamethrower. It's not my fault everyone else expects so much of me.
I always wanted to be somebody, but I realized I should have been more specific. Lily Tomlin
Been mentoring a young man for years. Tried to get him to focus on life instead of his ambition. His goal was a title not a mission. He talked of promotions not deeds. Tried to engage him in the work vs his own welfare. He is just emerging from that super selfish time that I have blogged about between 24-30 years old. Finally he has emerged from the fog of self absorption and saw his realm. I had to wait this one out. Not entirely his fault he was a Me Myself and I kinda guy. Recently the fog cleared and he can see past his own shoes and the path has emerged from the darkness. He thinks I made the fog disappear. He doesn't realize that when you are looking at yourself you can't see anything or anyone else. And he is now pursuing his usefulness in his realm.
Refine your sense of how you will do something about what you care about, what angers you, what vision you have for your communty what gives you joy and how you can help others. Before you refine your resume and interview skills!
A focus on just building yourself without context is a form of naricissim that can lead to a life of disappointment and unfulfilled potential. This is the leading cause of a life of regret.
Call it maturity. Call it fate. Call it career development. Self awareness leads to enlightenment if you let it.
Your realm is waiting. You are the king or queen but how is your kingdom doing? We are at risk of being too busy to think about life. So find your realm.
GOT realm? For the good of your realm!
Thanks for reading. John