Earl Valencia: Finding Your Passion is Not Enough, Finding Your True Self is The Goal
Earl Valencia's insightful journey focuses on finding our 'True Self' to realize full potential.
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In October 2016, in the eve of the World Economic Forum Young Leader Summit in Japan, I had a chance to meet one of the attendees who happened to be a Japanese monk named Shoukei Matsumoto. Thinking that maybe I can extract some “zen” wisdom or some profound quote that I can blast out to Twitter, he mentioned one sentence that seemed so simple, but only after close to 2 years of thinking what it means in a conference in Italy called A-fest, it finally clicked last month. He mentioned to me, “Earl, You are You”, so I had to clarify asking what he meant by this. He then responded, “enlightenment is discovering the true you not what society wants you to be."
Just like many of us, myself included, we feel that we need to go to an island, reflect, look deep within and set something that potentially will guide our lives forward, in essence, a life goal. This is similar to what we are always trained, is that maybe if we focus on a destination, we can help ourselves point our actions towards the goal. For myself, when I was 16, I had a goal on what I wanted to achieve before I reach 30, which included a number of academic, personal and professional achievements such as taking graduate school, getting married, or traveling the world.
Chugging along the 15 years between 16 and 30 years old, I never asked the masterful question, the one that we all are seeking – WHY? Why these goals? What prompted this list? Is this the right list for me? Is this list really part of the plan? Does this list incorporate my passion?
Looking at this now, I realize what my friend, the monk is saying. Finding your passion or perhaps your purpose in life is only step 1 in the process. Passion is defined as a “strong unbearable emotion” which translate perhaps to a problem or a state that you feel so strongly about to focus your life on helping solve that issue or problem. And we all believe that that if we all live our life with passion, then everyday doesn’t feel like a sluggish time because you are doing something that you believe in. This is now where you try to think not just what society wants for yourself, but what you actually feel is most important to you regardless of what other people think.
The next question that we wish to resolve is related to passion – and that’s purpose. Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” This answers the age old question, “what am on Earth for.” To be honest with you, this is when things get a bit less logical and a bit metaphysical. There are many factors that relate to this question, but a lot of it has to do with both nature and nurture, the inherent skills that we are born with and experiences that we collect through life give us a unique advantage and perspective to potentially make a contribution into society that serves hopefully something we are passionate about.
This is where the concept of knowing yourself or what I call the “YOU” comes in. There are several areas that I want to categorize the elements of the total YOU that must be considered for you to understand the complete picture.
1. The physical, mental and emotional composition of you.
In the most basic state, our entire body is made out of atoms, with protons, electrons, and others, which then brings us to a unique combination that each of us has which is our DNA. In the basic science of it, all of us are different and unique, which then brings unique strengths, weaknesses and physical attributes that other people might not have. It is important to know who you are, what you might be good at, and be honest on the areas you are not good at. Look for what areas that you just easily get and other areas that you don’t then broadcast that to the world and triple down on this.
Do you think Michael Jordan or Lebron James will be as good in baseball than other people? Maybe, but knowing that they have a special skill in a certain area because of how they were built gave them a huge advantage over other people. Do you know yourself enough to know what types of opportunities makes sense for you to pursue?
2. The plan for YOU.
Someone told me before that if there is one thing that you cant control is the potential environment that you will be born in. In the moment of birth, all of us have unique circumstances on the geography, the family, and conditions that you are in. There is a strange and honestly weird way to believe that maybe that there is a plan for each of us and that circumstances happen to us when we are most ready to take the next step forward. People always say that opportunity comes when preparation meets luck, and I completely agree with this, where we only control half of the equation – preparation, but luck we can’t control. I myself am still figuring out what the master plan is, but unexplainable events have happened to me over my life to think that maybe there is something bigger. For example, I got into Stanford business school without taking the infamous bschool test called the GMAT because they wanted to do an experiment the year I applied to take other tests. Another example is being in the Philippines for my wedding the exact time Smart Communications was having an Innovation festival that I spoke in, which led me to staying in the Philippines for 4 years. The goal is that there is a plan, but be ready when luck knocks on the door. The question – are you prepared if a lucky opportunity suddenly comes in front of you right now?
3. The environment for YOU.
This is a new one for me but probably the most profound realization I had in the past 10 years. My biggest insight is that there is a specific place and the type of people that surrounds us at a specific time for us to thrive and achieve our maximum potential. Have you gone to a place, met the local people, and say to yourself, “this feels like a place I can live in” even if you are not from that culture. Or casually say when arriving in a new place, “I like the vibe here.” As much I don’t really believe in this concept of energy, I believe that in order to fulfill your purpose and passion, you need to be in the right place that will not impede your progress. For example, I met a lot of digital nomads that wanted to stay in Bali because it got them the right spiritual atmosphere with a hyper concentration of people that believe in this. Or a direct example, is Silicon Valley, where there is just a vibe of ideas, creativity and opportunity all throughout the geography that you just feel when you get immersed in the ecosystem. The challenge – are you in the right environment for you to thrive right now?
These types of lessons or realizations took me decades to understand, and honestly I am still resisting some of these lessons as I put my mind over my emotions and my spirit, but more and more, it seems that we all have to understand our real YOU in order to thrive in this world, and if only all of us gets to know ourselves and channeling that burning passion to fulfill our true purpose, maybe this world will be a lot better than what it is before our time is up on Earth.