If you’ve watched or heard about the movie and book called “Eat, Pray, Love“, you would have recognized that the protagonist in the story goes on a worldwide adventure. I stumbled across the book while channel surfing on Indian TV, where Oprah was interviewing the author.
The “Pray” of the book’s title refers to the main characters trip to India where she goes to find herself and get in tune with her soul.
Soul Searching for Social Entrepreneurs: A Necessity?
Why should you care about having a soul, let alone, actually searching for your own? Should social entrepreneurs, business people and leaders of organizations even think about or talk about their own souls?
While there are a number of spiritual meanings to “having a soul”, in this article I want to focus more on your soul as the intangible foundations inside of you. Your soul could include your values, your integrity, your conscience, what you’re passionate about and your life mission and purpose.
Rediscovering Yourself and the Purpose of Your Work
Although social entrepreneurship and life and work in general, consist of alot of rational and logical activities, I would suggest that you should also engage in understanding and getting to know who you are as a person. Figuring yourself out.
I’m here in Varkala Beach, India, and I’m doing alot of soul searching myself. After working 2 years of my life in Bangladesh, I now want to get even more attuned with my values, identity and what I want out of life, who I want to become, and what I want to share with the world.
Here are some ways to encourage you to do a little more soul searching yourself, so that you get more out of your life and work.
1) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Travel. I believe that as humans, we need to go on physical journeys in order to build character and make progress within. Travelling also allows you to get out of your comfort zone. You remove yourself from the regular confines and routines of your life and work. Travel allows you to escape, even for a while – to get away from it all. It is in the moments that you get away that you can be able to put yourself in unique situations to fully understand your true self.
Being in India at the moment, after finishing a two year job, I’m able to reassess everything about my life and contribution from the past, present and future.
2) Go to a Quiet Place
While travelling can be a great start, be sure that you also have time during your travel schedule to actually be calm and still and reflect. Admittedly, India does have its share of chaotic situations, including some of the hectic streets in the cities. There are also many instances of poverty and hardship especially at the slum villages. Witnessing this can be an eye-opener, as well as a wake up call particularly for social entrepreneurs.
Nevertheless, I do suggest time out at a quiet location, such as a beach, mountain, river or retreat. These places are more conducive to allowing you to mentally and emotionally process everything.
3) Meditate & Reflect
Some people like to sit alone or go for a walk, and through these activities, they are able to mentally reflect on their life and work. Others like to debrief with a friend about their ideas and experiences. Others like to write out their thoughts in a journal.
I personally like to do all of these things. I’m passionate about walking along the sea side. I enjoy debriefing my ups and downs with my best friend, P. I also like to write down many of my thoughts and experiences, as shown through this very blog.
How Soul Searching Can Help You?
Life is definitely short. I believe that each of us have an important mission in this life. Unfortunately, all the background noise in the world cannot truly give you the answers you are searching for. A job or a degree should not define who you are for life. I think that while external factors can influence you, it’s your soul within that can be your guiding force.
I believe that leaders, including yourself, should take some time out of the “busy”-ness in your life in order to figure out what your life is truly all about.
Too many people go through life as sleepwalkers. Steadily trodding along, following the whims and requests of their boss, their jobs, peer pressures or what they “think” society tells them to do.
Ever read the book “Walden“? It’s interesting how the messages in the writings are still relevant today.
Too many people live lives of “quiet desperation.”
Personal Development for Leadership Development 101
I personally believe that your life is too valuable for you to be unhappy and in conflict with your soul (your values, conscience, identity and life passion). I also believe that the more that you give to yourself through self reflection, the more that you can give to others.
Life, and social entrepreneurship, in my opinion, require not only physical action but also internal reflection, especially for the social entrepreneurs – the leaders – who are to transform internal values into a living reality.