For the past year, after exiting this wonderful company (Conscious Company Media), I found myself asking questions like: “What do you want to do for the rest of your life? How are you going to create positive impact for the world? Ultimately: what’s your purpose, Aaron?!” I also found much solace in asking my friends in conscious circles the same questions. Here are three big perspective shifts that helped me realize what role true purpose plays in my conscious leadership and my life.
1. Being a better person vs. being a better leader
For many years I identified as a “leader” and “serial entrepreneur.” Titles like CEO became my calling card, both for the external world who asked for some bucket to place me in, but more poignantly, for my own self. I would read books and attend events and retreats that taught me how to be a better leader, reinforcing the notion that who I was was, in fact, a leader.
What suffering that created for me and those around me. Simply put: I am a person who has taken on leadership roles to achieve a shared outcome, but creating that leadership persona for decades only kept me disconnected from my most true self as well as from my family, friends, and community. Showing up as “the leader” just doesn’t work for most people in my life. They wanted the whole of me, not just Aaron the Leader. That’s where I found my center: a consistent way to show up as a whole human being.
Asking “What’s my purpose as a leader?” got in the way of the broader question, “What is the purpose of my life?” Ultimately leading to the core question, “What is the purpose of life itself? And how I am allowing that to come through me?” The shift in that sense of identity was incredible humbling and more authentic than any other journey of self-awareness. In short: just drop the leader act.
2. “For the rest of my life” vs. “What’s next?”
Trying to figure out what I want do for the rest of my life was a doozy. It involved hours of journaling, long meditations, and circuitous mind traps; I could have stayed in that question all my life.
A coach whom I deeply respect for his spiritual depth once asked me, “How about we just figure out what feels good for what is next in your life?” Saying yes to that question made it so much easier and reinforced the values that I hold so dear of non-attachment and impermanence. Ah, there it was coming now… showing itself. My values started to enter the equation.
What are my values and how do I plan to live them intentionally?
3. Digging deeper vs. looking beyond myself
For a long time, I used my inner-capacity skills to dig deep. I meditated and went on long walks in nature. I read more books on spiritual guidance and recognized all that I am grateful and have grown from. But the focus of all this depth didn’t bear the answer to the question, “What’s my purpose?” It was like digging for gold, going deeper and deeper in the same spot when the gold I was seeking was one foot to the left.
I needed to change the question to, “What is the Universe asking of me?” Here I began to do more listening and open-hearted exploring. I needed to surrender to a place where all things were possible and there was no attachment to any outcome, especially financial. And when I look back, I notice, that it was this total openness and surrender that brought my last joyous voyage here at Conscious Company
Pulling all the lessons together
Like a beautiful tapestry when viewed at a distance, the mosaic of what was occurring in my quest for purpose became a simple, inspiring view. The lessons I learned sounded something like this:
“Aaron, my dear soul, if you are looking for ease, contentment, grace, and connection in your life, let us not limit that to what you do. Rather, ask yourself how you want to be in this world and explore the very human needs you have. If you come back to the question, “What is the purpose of life itself?” then allow yourself to identify your values and beliefs that might surface in your answer. Might happiness lie there?”
For me the answer was connection–a more true connection to self, one that is open-hearted, love-centered and shedding the ego-centric need for accomplishment, identity, or acquiring of any sort. More importantly, I wanted connection to others. I have found so clearly that when I am immersed in true, heartfelt connection, it feels so good, so right. That can mean just one good friend to share everything with, but, as I searched, it didn’t stop there. I really wanted a place to belong and to connect to a greater community. For many years, I relied on the workplace for it. And as we all know, that need goes so much deeper.
I found this connection in my own new work around “Conscious Circles”, a place where we create a safe space to let the soul be fully witnessed, a place that creates trust and connection. My own work is now helping me answer my life-purpose question. Gotta love it.
Aaron Kahlow has built five companies over two decades and is now putting his entrepreneurial skills to work for the greater consciousness movement. His teachings, advising, and the space he creates is paving the way toward a more accessible, modern mindfulness approach to life, one that leads to our greatest human need: a connection that grounds our being, aligns our energy, and gives a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
In his role at ConsciousCircles.org, Kahlow is creating “conscious circles” around the world for leaders, entrepreneurs, and others trying to find their way through life’s big transitions. His circles focus on getting clarity of true self by cultivating a trusted space for our souls to be revealed and human wholeness to be found.
Many know Kahlow for his leadership roles at Conscious Company Media, the Conscious Company Leaders Forum, the Conscious Business World Summit, the Mindful Order of Being, and the Conscious Directory Project. He is also a syndicated columnist, passionate motivator, and globally renowned speaker. In addition to his articles published by Conscious Company, you can find more interviews and thought leadership pieces here.