Transcriber: Yulia KallistratovaReviewer: Denise RQ On the last eveningof my 25th college reunion, there was a party in a tent with dancing, and music, and noise.
So much noise that a lot of usstarted to drift out of the tent so we could hear each other talkand catch up with classmates that we had not seenin more than 2 decades.
As I talked with my friendsI made an astounding discovery: 80% of them were unhappy with their lives.
“I feel as though I've wasted my life, and I'm half way through it, ” they said.
“I don't know what my life is all about.
” I was privileged to go to Yale, and we were standing on a summer eveningin the middle of Yale's old campus, and the people that I was speaking withwere privileged, and highly educated, and financially well off, and in positions of power.
And they had the first house, and the second house, and they had the first spouse, and the second spouse.
(Laughter) And 80% of themwere unhappy with their lives.
Who was happy, the 20%? Well, we had studied literatureand Renaissance rhetoric, and we were the theater people, and the history geeks.
We had studied classesfor the joy of learning, not because we thought they were goingto put direct us to a specific job.
We still got jobs, we were living our lives expansively, with life's ups and downs, and we did not feelthat we had wasted a single minute.
And as I spokewith the 20%, the happier 20%, I discovered that each of them knew something about their life purpose because they knew five things: who they were, what they did, who they did it for, what those people wanted or needed, and what they got out of it, how they changed as a result.
Does that sound hard? It's not, it's actually really simple.
In fact it's so simple, that you can learnyour life purpose now.
You're going to know your lifepurpose now, in the next five minutes.
Would you like to know your life purposein the next five minutes? (Audience) Yes.
Can you be a little bit louder? Because they are makinga lot of noise in the tent, and there is just a silly little microphonenext to my cheek to hear you.
Would you like to know your life purposein the next five minutes? (Audience) Yes! Thank you.
Actually, it's noteven going to take five minutes.
So, can I share something else with you? If you're like a lot of us, you have wondered and worriedabout your life purpose for a long time, and there are books, and magazines, and workshops, and seminars about it.
In fact, Amazon lists 151, 928 books that refer to how you can learnyour life purpose.
(Laughter) Well, I know some peoplewho have spent their entire lives trying to learn their life purpose.
Look, we can all agree thatthe unexamined life is not worth living, but if all you're doingis examining, you're not living.
(Laughter) So, let's figure outthe life purpose right now together: who you are, what you do, who you do it for, what those people want and need, and how they change as a result.
Shall we do it?(Audience) Yes.
Everybody, on the count of five, shout out your first name.
One, two, three, four, five: (Audience shouts) Fabulous.
That was the first one, only four to go.
That's who you are.
(Laughter) Now, what do you do? What do you love to do? Do you love to write, cook, design, create iOS apps, write code, crunch numbers, talk, teach? What do you love to do? And if there is a lot of thingsthat come up for you focus it down by askingyourselves this one question: what is the one thing that right now you feel supremely qualifiedto teach other people? Think about that in one word.
Don't release it yet.
On the count of five.
What do you do? One, two, three, four, five: (Audience shouts) Great.
That's what you do.
Now, think about who you do it for, picture them in your mind, be ready to say it on the count of five.
Hold it, don't release it yet.
One, two, three, four, five: (Audience murmurs) OK, who do you do it for, let's see it one more time.
A little bit louder, please, over the people in the tent.
Who do you do it for? Together: (Audience shouts) Thank you.
That is the spiritthat we need.
What do all those people want or need? What do they want or need that you have, that they've come to youso you can give them this thing.
What do they want or need?In just one or two words.
Hold it, don't release it yet.
And on the count of five:one, two, three, four, five.
(Audience shouts) Fantastic.
Now, this is the best one.
How do they change? How do they change or transformas a result of what you give them? On the count of five, how do they change or transformas a result of what you give them? One, two, three, four, five: (Audience shouts) Terrific.
Now we're going to put thisall together kind of in a sentence, OK? Everyone together, louder than the people in the tent: who are you? (Audience responds) What do you do? (Audience responds) Who do you do it for? (Audience responds) What do they want or need? (Audience responds) How do they change as a result? (Audience responds) Fantastic.
You have all just done something that people who went to Yalecould not figure out for 25 years.
Give yourselvesa hand.
(Applause) Now, why is that formulation so powerful? Because of all of those five thingsthat you need to know to know what your life purpose is, only two are about yourself.
The other three of themare about other people: who they are, what they want or need, and how they change as a result.
That formulation forces youto be outward facing.
And all the happier peoplethat I met outside the tent on that warm New Haven night they were outward facing, they were not inward facing.
They knew very clearly whom they served, what those people needed, and how those people changed as a result.
And you may have intuited this already that the most successful peoplein any field always focus most on the people that they servethan on how they are served themselves.
Happier people make it a pointto make other people happy, and do things that make themfeel well taken care of and secure.
If you make other people happy, life teaches us, we will be taken care of, too.
So since you all did so well, we have timefor just a little bit of extra credit.
(Laughter) One of the most difficult things that happens when you meetpeople for the first time is they ask you this question, “So, what do you do?” And, if you're like some of us, that's a reallychallenging question sometimes.
Particularly, if you're in these momentswhere you're between things, or you're feeling vulnerable, or it isn't defined.
Or, what you seem to doisn't what you really do, or what you paid to doisn't how you define yourself.
So, when people ask youthis question, “So, what do you do?” and also, you've gotthis mental monologue going on, “Why is he asking me?So, what do I do? Is it because.
” It's that transactional thingwhere it's like: “He wants to know if he should reallyspend time talking to me?” (Laughter) Or, it's that other thing, so he can tell me what he does because he's sure it's, “Oh, really, so much better than what I do?” (Laughter) Right? So, when somebody asks youthat question, here's what you do: you just say the very last thingyou called out, how what you do changesthe people you do it for.
So, for example, you might say, “I give kids awesome dreams.
” If your life purpose is:”I write books for children, so they can fall asleep at night, so they can have awesome dreams.
” Or you might say: “I help peoplelook and feel their best, ” if your life purpose is: “I design apparel for men and womenwho need affordable choices, so they can look and feel their best.
” Or you might say: “I help peopleget great work into the world, ” if your life purpose is: “I train entrepreneurs and creative peopleto take decisive actions, so they can gettheir greatest work into the world.
” And then, that little snippet that you just said becomes your personal elevator pitch.
And it will always start a conversation because the personthat you were just talking to has to ask you a question, “How do you give kids great dreams?” “How do you help peoplelook and feel their best?” “Can people really gettheir greatest work into the world?” And then you get to tell them, and you get to share your life purpose.
And you get to sharehow they may come to learn theirs, too.