I conduct workshops on working from the inside out. The first exercise is “What do you already do?” The course materials explain it this way:
“You find important clues about your Passion just by looking at how you arrange your life already. There are some things you do that go beyond the categories of work vs. leisure, personal vs. family or business, etc. You do them just because you want to, because you like doing them or you’re good at them (probably both).
“Think about how you already spend yourself. What do you like to think about, read about, talk about, learn about? What headlines do you click on? What do your activities and projects at work or away from it gravitate toward? What role do you usually play at work, with family, in social settings? What are your hobbies and favorite pastimes? What shows do you watch, what magazines and articles do you read? What do you like to talk about? You get the idea. Write about it.”
People wrestle with the notion of finding their “Passion” with a capital P. A lot of people don’t seem to have just one Passion, and can’t find it anyway. The exercise uses that term on purpose, then invites the workshop participants to move past the intimidation and stuckness it brings up.
What we’re after is something simpler, more accessible, and ultimately more powerful. We’re looking for what you do and probably have done all your life — not just the activities and interests you keep going back to, but how you go about doing them. Chances are, there are patterns that keep showing up, that display your signature way of thinking and acting and being in the world.
And here’s the key:
You don’t have to get motivated to do these things or act this way.
You do it because… well, that’s just who you are.
If you can tap into that, you don’t need motivation. You’re onto something far more compelling, something that will last — something I’ve come to call “personal ethos.” I define it this way:
Ethos is our characteristic spirit, as manifested in our beliefs and aspirations.
Our beliefs and aspirations come from inside, from the core of our being. They’re what make each of us uniquely who we are, so that we can recognize each other even if we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We’re after what lies underneath them, their source. That’s what I mean by personal ethos. Ethos is the unique fingerprint of our soul — something so primal, so embedded in us, that we don’t even know it’s on the agenda. But…
When it comes to how we’re going to go about achieving our goals
and getting what we want out of life,
ethos isn’t ON the agenda, it IS the agenda.
Motivation practiced the usual carrot and stick way, the stressful way, the cortisol-laced way, the brain damaging way… doesn’t trust what we’re good at and love doing. Instead, it rewards and punishes us into doing something else. If instead we can get in touch with our ethos, we don’t need to buy that approach anymore. Tap personal ethos, and we don’t have to get motivated to do things that matter to us, we just do them, from deep inside. Ethos fuels us from deep down at our roots.
Ethos is the sustained motivational wellspring we’ve been looking for.
More about personal ethos next time.
If you’re interested in exploring personal ethos for yourself, I wrote two books about it. Both are available as FREE downloads. For more, click the book covers.
One reader said this: “Running For My Life is a unique and thought provoking read. On the surface it is a story about a man with primary progressive MS reshaping his life through a+ strict diet and extreme exercise regimen. However, if you take the time to explore the pages, you will find that it is really a story about Kevin and about yourself. This book invites you to take a look inwards at your own limitations, and then holds your hand as you figure out how to push past them together.”
Ethos is a stand-alone version of Book Three of Running For My Life. It is a Personal Ethos Credo — the things I believe about it, and how I practice it.