There is an age-old question kids get asked , ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ For most people I know, this is still one question that is still very difficult to answer. With the demands on us to make something of our lives, to ‘become successful’, make a lot of money and not look like losers in our 20th year high school reunion.
Thinking about this recently,I realized I prefer the question, ‘who do you want to be?’ rather than ‘What do you want to be?’. What you want to be can be anything. Who you want to be is more important because it speaks to the core of who you are and what you want to contribute to the world. What you want to be is about goals while who you want to be is about purpose.
Entrepreneur Oki Matsumoto makes a distinction by advising organizations to ‘aim for the North Star, not the North Pole.”
Matsumoto’s point is that the North Star represents an organisation’s vision: a guiding force that continuously aligns everyone’s efforts. In contrast, the North Pole represents a goal that must be achieved or reached .Once that occurs, replaced again and again with a new destination.
Stephen Shapiro applies similar thinking to individuals in his book Goal-Free Living. Shapiro encourages readers to ‘use a compass, not a map,’ and to ‘meander with purpose.’ The idea is to maintain a sense of direction rather than strive for a specific destination, to gather new information as you move forward, and based on that information, either confirm that your direction is true or course-correct.