Act I, scene iii of Hamlet, Polonius speaks to this son Laertes as he prepares for a trip away from home. His instruction: “To thine own self be true.”
More recently, someone at a Madison Avenue advertising firm wrote: “Choosy mothers choose Jiff.”
So what does Shakespeare have in common with peanut butter?
Where exactly does the intersection of this timeless prose and crass American commercialism occur?
In a word, discernment - that being the ability to accurately identify what is and is not right for your life, your family, or your business.
How do we as leaders become discerning in our choices and decisions?
I believe it begins when we are honest with ourselves about what are and are not our natural gifts and passions. While most of us become pretty good at adapting to the world around us in this regard, we are nevertheless equipped from birth with certain skill sets and loves; which if nourished, will take us down the road of excellence and fulfillment.
Here are some ways to identify and amplify these natural attributes:
Take a “Passion Inventory” – list on a sheet of paper all of the kinds of projects you would do for free – just for the fun and learning involved, if you did not have to make a living from them
Take a “Present State Inventory” – on another sheet of paper, list the kinds of work, hobbies and interests you are presently engaging in
Compare notes – make a third list of similarities between your passions and your present state. Note the differences – these are the areas you will need to realign and become more selective about in order to reach your passions and better invest your time in the future
Make a plan – Using these lists, look out over the next one, three, and five years and start finding ways to move in the direction of your passions. If this is done consistently, you may find that your view of future retirement does not include leaving the workforce. Rather it may simply mean moving into work that you find more meaningful and significant. Work that you select to fuel your passions.