Two Brilliant Hacks for Finding Your Calling
1. Say "yes" to everything you're inclined to say "no" to. 2. Find people willing to listen to what you have to say.
Jim Gilliam is the founder and CEO of NationBuilder, and author of the recently published book, The Internet Is My Religion. Previously, he co-founded Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films, building a non-profit grassroots media powerhouse of a million members. In the late 90's, he launched Business.com as its Chief Technology Officer, and worked at Lycos, one of the first internet search engines. His speech at the Personal Democracy Forum in June 2011 has been viewed over 500,000 times and called "the best video on the internet."
Jim Gilliam: So how do you find what you were meant to create and that’s extremely hard. I talked to a lot of folks who feel lost in understanding what that might be. There’s two things that I found for me that were really helpful. The first is to say yes to all the things that you would normally say no to. And the more uncomfortable it makes you feel, the more you should do it. So when I was struggling with this, I guess it was almost 15 years ago I said, "Okay, I’m just going to do anything ridiculous I could possibly do." So as you could imagine I’m an Internet geek so I don’t go outside all that much. So I’m like, "Okay, I’m going to go to Alaska and I’m going to camping and I’m going to do it with a bunch of strangers." I could not think of anything sort of more terrifying than being around a bunch of people that I don’t know in the middle of the freezing cold with nothing around. So I did that and it was amazing. It was so awesome. It was so great. I went dumpster diving with a bunch of anarchists. That was really awesome. Yeah, I might have gotten sick, but it was totally fine. I modeled for like an entire week and that was horrifyingly awful. I learned very quickly that I hated that. But so that’s one way.
The other way is not obvious at all. I found that in sharing your story with somebody else, someone who doesn’t necessarily have to know you very well or they can — it doesn’t really matter. But if you reflect back with someone else the story of your life — and it can go on for hours and hours and hours they can start to tell you the themes that emerge that you would never sort of see yourself. One of the things that’s challenging when you’re extremely talented at something is that it’s really easy for you. And so you generally don’t value it as much as that thing that’s really hard. And so somebody else can see that in you frequently much better than you can. And what I found is just sharing your story with each other, reflecting back. Oh like in my life community and connection and the Internet and how all that connects together was a really big part of my life and that helped me understand who I was and what I was uniquely meant to create here. So finding one other person to share that with — a good listener — is another great way to find it.
NationBuilder founder and CEO Jim Gilliam offers some advice to people who haven't yet unlocked their own potential. First, try new things by saying "yes" to things you're initially inclined to say "no" to. Only by stepping outside your comfort zone can you determine whether said comfort zone actually exists. Second, just as with raising a child, unlocking one's personal potential requires a village. Find good listeners who are willing to hear your story. Reflect on your life with the aid of another's ears and you'll be on your way to introspection and self-realization.
Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.
- As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
- The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
- How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.
- The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
- The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
- Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
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