About John

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I help people experience more meaningful and satisfying lives and careers, through offering:

  1. Content (Books, Blogs, and Resources)
  2. Executive or Life Coaching
  3. Activism and Justice Tools

You can read this post for some quick tips on how to use this website and benefit from it. But since you’re here and your time is valuable, I’ll cut to the chase with a timeless, relevant question: What do you truly want?

Meaning

What’s your end goal, or desired outcome, of all of this hard work, learning, stressing, succeeding, stumbling, loving, hating, celebrating, and growing weary, all in the ubiquitous shadow of certain death? Why all of this?

The “why” question is as old as sentient thought, as cross-cultural and cross-generational as any inquiry has ever been. Progress, advancement of civilization, and the ongoing flowering of human genius have yet to sufficiently address this inquiry. Wars, poverty, prejudice, and even genocide have laughed with cynicism at such progress, reminding us that any answers we concoct will be quickly swallowed up by contradiction, irony, enigma…and more questions.

I ponder the “why” with increasing frequency here in my middle age, which may or may not be the “middle” of anything measurable in particular. The volume of my inquiry inches higher year over year, and it’s certainly louder than ever as I type these words on the final day of 2020, a year that has brought uncertainty and anxiety to more human beings en masse than any era in living memory.

While any answer to “why” will never prove fully satisfactory, some semblance of an answer, be it iterative and even rife with contradictions, is necessary for mental health and motivation, for functioning. If we don’t have some sense of purpose, even one we consider rather superficial, it’s difficult to simply get out of bed and kick-start the whole daily routine all over again.

My working “answer” is meaning. Deep down, I want my  life to have meaning, purpose, and significance, with an ongoing undercurrent of peace and gratitude.

And if you’ll permit yourself to grow quiet and still long enough, I suspect you’ll also begin to see this deeper yearning for meaning, or whatever word or phrase you use to describe it for yourself, rising to the surface of your awareness, demanding its moment, clawing for your fleeting attention. Beneath all the daily activity and the constant churning of the mind, we are thirsty for what might overflow our cups with meaning and purpose. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, outlived the war and his imprisonment by clinging to a “why” that enabled him to endure any “how.”

Humor me for just a little longer. Okay, the point of all of this daily grind amid certain death is meaning. What kinds of ongoing experiences make life meaningful?

Mindfulness, Learning, and Storytelling

Mindfulness is the practice of giving full attention to what’s happening within and around you, without judging yourself or others. It’s both a key component of Buddhist teaching and a unifying thread throughout Buddhism itself, and helps foster concentration, focus, and objective thinking. On a deeper level, extensive mindfulness practice culminates in a gradual awakening to one’s true nature of pure awareness and happiness, and with this the liberation from suffering known as “nirvana.”

As I’ve continued to grow and learn, as I’ve thrived and stumbled through various experiences and seasons of life, I’ve noticed that mindfulness is foundational for two other core practices: Learning (both for the sake of learning and the growth of new thinking and execution skills, including the development of “learning agility”) and Storytelling (both for the sake of experiencing powerful stories and learning to tell them in multiple formats to various audiences).

When combined in deliberate, ongoing application, these three practices of mindfulness, learning, and storytelling are the most powerful, transformative, and relevant muscles to develop for a meaningful life and career. I’ve noticed that when I’m neglecting even just one of these, I feel “off-kilter” and insecure, and the things I normally enjoy appear more pointless and unfulfilling.

Next Steps

Contemplating, let alone striving to obtain “meaning” through one’s ongoing experiences, is dismissed as naïve foolishness by persons drowning in cynicism, nihilism, or outright despair. But if life has taught us anything, it’s revealed that nothing is permanent or inevitable. There are still choices to be made. While there’s much we cannot control as individuals, each of us does have some measure of latent ability to strive for our own experience of meaning—and achieve it, providing that we’re willing to make an effort. To practice.

I embed mindfulness, learning, and storytelling within my three services of content, coaching, and activism tools. My work is empowered by extensive cross-industry experience, education, and certifications–and infused with gratitude for the privileges I’ve enjoyed, and the countless persons who’ve made my success possible.

To inquire about my background and services, sign up for a free exploratory coaching session, or subscribe to free monthly content, please contact me here. You can also visit my LinkedIn profile and check out this post on my career journey.