Live Entrepreneurially: 5 Questions to Help You Find Purpose

Rockefeller Centre - Pursuit of Happiness

My Twitter profile states, “Live entrepreneurially”, and I thought I’d provide some insight into what that means to me. This is part 1 of 2 in the “Live Entrepreneurially” series, but I’m thinking of making this an ongoing, weekly Monday series. So, I welcome your feedback.

“Live entrepreneurially” is my mantra. It means to create purpose driven luck.

When I was thinking about leaving the movie business and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, a friend who received his Acton MBA in Entrepreneurship showed me this video of his professor Steven Tomlinson describing living a life of meaning. If you have 15 minutes, this video is well worth your time. It started me on a journey of defining my purpose.

Defining Purpose

Purpose is the sum of your intrinsic motivations. Brad Feld, a prominent VC, describes his intrinsic motivation and how he uses that as the lens through which he lives his life here. I would venture to say that his motivations are actually narrower than just learning, but rather learning specifically about technology and entrepreneurship. And, this has led him to become a VC, a blogger, the Co-Founder of accelerator, TechStars, and the author of two entrepreneurship books, “Do More Faster” and “Venture Deals”.  All of these activities give Brad an opportunity to teach. And, if “the best way to learn is to teach”, then Brad is learning an awful lot about technology and entrepreneurship.

Philosophical anthropology and improving the human experience are my motivations (perhaps that’s why I named my blog ReciprocityTheory after the concept of reciprocity in social psychology). Everything I’ve ever had an intrinsic motivation to learn about or do – the reason I began screenwriting and pursued a career in film, the reason I jump at the opportunity to speak with students, the reason I “coach and mentor” as a management philosophy and the reason I work in social media – simply comes down to better understanding human behavior in order to improve people’s lives in some capacity.

Identifying Your Purpose

If you are unsatisfied with your career, or just beginning your career, and wondering what you want to do with your life, I urge you to think about those things you truly, intrinsically enjoy. Here are 5 questions to help guide your thinking:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  2. What activities do you pursue even if you aren’t getting paid for them?
  3. What aspects of your previous jobs have you liked? disliked?
  4. What are you good at? (answer honestly!)
  5. Who has a career that you find interesting and would like to emulate?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

Be Prepared

Having defined your purpose, you can now prepare, or, as I like to say, “self-educate”. Read: the The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, blogs or join Twitter and follow people discussing topics involving your purpose. Find books on Amazon that can educate you on topics related to your purpose. Watch: online videos, documentaries, educational TV related to your purpose. Listen: to podcasts that discuss elements of your purpose. Be resourceful. In the Web 3.0 world, there’s no reason you can’t educate yourself on topics, industries, skill sets, etc. And, if what you’re reading, watching or listening to truly fits within the lens of your purpose, then you’ll actually enjoy the process.

In part two, I’ll discuss using purpose and preparation to creative opportunity and luck.

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