By Pavel Rehak
Every second counts
What is the inspiring moment, book, person in my life? Is there somebody or something that I could call the defining element of who I am today? What made me be the way I am today or who I have been yesterday? Is there a single clear answer to that?
Though there are moments that I remember more than other, for me it is not a single moment, book or a person that would define me as a man. It is more of a mosaic that is being enriched with every single encounter in my life, no matter whether positive or negative.
Certainly, there are moments that you remember more, usually those that somehow reflect key features of your thinking, values and internal fights. Similarly, there are books that you remember and that you feel have formed your view and thinking about work, life, world around us. But would they be as defining if your lived them or read them in a different order? What if there is a book or experience that you just barely remember but which had laid the base for the huge effective impact of the book that you do remember?
I believe that as all things and events in the world are somehow connected so are the individual pieces of our personal experience and thus none of them can be highlighted as the defining one. Without the context of other pieces of experience it could very easily be just another adventure or actually could have not happened at all.
Therefore, I cannot pick a single moment that I could call the defining one nor can I pick a single person that would mold me into what I am. It is rather a mosaic which gets richer and more colorful with every encounter, every experience. All of it is part of life that I have enjoyed and that I have had the privilege to live so far. One experience allows me to enjoy the following one, one book helps me build understanding to be astonished by the next one. That is why every single moment, every person you meet, every piece of experience that we live every day is as important as the milestone events that we remember.
You never know what is coming with the very next moment but it is very important to live every moment as a very precious one that adds to your personal mosaic another piece. You can decide whether it is going to be a colorful piece that will make the mosaic richer and more colorful or whether it is going to be a grey meaningless filler, that will just takes up space in your life‘s picture. And you decide about it every second, every minute, every hour, and every day of your life.
I believe that our experience, people that we meet, books that we read, all our life is a result of passion, values, energy and purpose that lead our actions. Our experience is more of a result of those inner engines.
Purpose is unstoppable
Still, there was one moment or rather time period that influenced my view on life significantly. It was the time when I realized how strong anybody can be if he/she has a clear sense of purpose. How unstoppable can a person be if he has the answer to the most powerful question I have ever heard? It’s a question that, if asked thoroughly enough, leads you to the very purpose of anybody’s existence. It’s a question that has to have an answer. It doesn’t have to be the right one but it has to be true and an authentic one to that person. A person who doesn’t have the answer does not live but rather exists. A question so simple and yet so powerful that can get nations move, individuals achieve the impossible and very often change the world. The question WHY?
WHY? How often in corporations either as a consultant or as an executive have I met people who didn’t know the answer. More importantly, they didn’t even ask the question. Why am I going to work today, what is the purpose of me spending 10-12 hours in the office? Why do I do this project? Why have I decided to start this activity? Have I actually decided or is it more of a spontaneous result without my conscious decision? Would I still do it if I had to consciously decide? Why would I decide to do it?
Everybody’s answer can be and is different. But the beauty of asking the question and going through the very personal process of trying to find the answer was at least to me a great experience and limitless source of energy and awe. Furthermore, what was my surprise to find out how big difference there was between people who have the answer and those who don’t or even don’t ask the question. Asking the question is the first step to happiness. Otherwise, without looking for the answer and then trying to fulfill it, life turns into mere existence. WHY helps you find your purpose, your inner engine that cannot be stopped if the answer is clear in your mind. Nobody can take that away from you. As long as you know why you do things, you know you will be doing them. It is your life, it is your purpose, it becomes the answer to WHY do I go to work and spend 1/3 of my own life doing what I do.
Alignment of purpose with others multiplies the power
And there is even more beauty to the question WHY. Not that I would have the clearest answer myself, but once you start asking yourself and trying to get the answer it is even more surprising how great it is to start understanding the answers of others. My life in corporations changed rapidly when I started thinking about WHY of the other people around me.
Once I understood the answers and inner drive of people around me, it was significantly easier to have an honest and open discussion about cooperation, mutual support and benefits. Aligning goals of the organization with goals of the individual and making work an integral part of fulfilling the answer to the person‘s question WHY made that person unstoppable and powerful driver of overall team’s success.
So what have I learned? What are the key things that the defining moments left in my head? It is quite simple:
1. Find your purpose - Know WHY you do things or at least try to find the answer
2. Don’t wait for the big moments as every second counts and everything is linked. Live every second with respect and consciously decide whether that given moment is going to be a colorful piece in your mosaic or just grey filler.
3. Align goals of the team with the personal answer to WHY of a given person to make him an engine of the team.
Author: Pavel Rehak, Founder of VIGO Investments, and former CEO of Ceska pojistovna