Episode 176 – Alan Cahn – Living a Purpose Driven Life

“When you’re living true to your purpose, you disappear inside of your purpose. Life becomes an opportunity to get better and better, more reliable for staying true. So the game I’m playing with my life is to be reliable for living true to my purpose 24-7, even in my dreams.” – Alan Cahn

  • Back by popular demand, you won’t want to miss Alan Cahn’s fifth visit to the TEDM podcast! Alan and Patrick revisit and expand their conversation about purpose, and mindfully connect it to values alignment and integrity. Always a thought-provoking conversation, with a lot of levity, Alan and Patrick use that foundation to discuss health and wellness, relationships, the work place, hard business decisions, upgrading our operating systems, and living a life of contribution and appreciation. Alan offers listeners more than a few golden nuggets of wisdom along with a couple of pro-tips for more effective action! It has been a few years in between, but definitely worth the wait.
  • Show Notes
  • [0:42] Patrick introduces his next, back by popular demand, first five-time TEDM guest, Alan Cahn.
  • [02:10] Alan and Patrick re-connect for their fifth TEDM conversation. It’s been a while so how does Alan explain what he does these days? Status Quo Disruptor and Evolutionary Accelerator!
  • [03:50] Breaking the status quo. Alan offers the example of health to describe what that looks like. Energy and environment are critical to support changing our actions to achieve our desired result.
  • [05:32] In his work with clients, Alan, a self-described contrarian, explains his approach to help people take the action needed for their desired outcome. Up and forward! The priority shifts when we work from why we desire to do something vs. why we haven’t done it so far. Check out the pro-tip from Alan for shifting the language in our calendars!
  • [09:30] Fitness vs. wellness: Alan and Patrick each discuss what that means to them. Alan shares four things that impact health that we need to take care of: immune system; rest; aerobic activity; positive mindset.
  • [15:09] Although their language is somewhat different Alan and Patrick each describe WHY those of us committed to be of service to our purpose must make our own well-being a top priority.
  • [18:27] Alan shares where he starts the “Purpose” conversation with people, with a definition of what a purpose is: the impact you’re going to make. Alan shares what his purpose is for being invited to the humanity party.
  • [20:38] Patrick takes the angle of a stressed out 40-year old in today’s world – how the heck do they get beyond survival to even consider a bigger purpose? After all, survival is our default. Alan offers a great and simplified explanation of how to get to that purpose with an initial conversation.
  • [23:20] Alan discusses why life is the opportunity to become more and more reliable to staying true to our purpose, 24-7, even in our dreams. In each interaction we can ask ourselves if we’re being true to our purpose and if not, what can we do to true it up. Purpose is not about you. It’s about the contribution.
  • [26:55] The purpose conversation is happening at every level, and both Alan and Patrick agree – this is the conversation that should be happening in elementary school!
  • [28:45] What gets in the way of people discovering, then maintaining commitment to, their purpose? Anything that reactivates our ego, that we see as a threat, that’s in our shadow. We are hard wired to have our lives be about us. If we all realized that our innate survival mode is what gets in the way of us living with purpose, we may experience a much different world.
  • [31:25] Our O/S, our ego, is the patterned way we interact with the world. It can be boastful, secretive, self-important, and protective and that stimulus gets in our way of living a life of purpose. A life of purpose is a creative life, not an automatic, patterned life.
  • [33:15] Alan reassures that we can live a life of contribution AND be successful! He uses an example of Zappos Shoes founder Tony Hsieh who’s only purpose for the first three years was not selling shoes; it was extraordinary customer service. Though he lost money to start with, profits eventually came out of their ears. The bottom line is the scoreboard, not the goal.
  • [35:30] Patrick and Alan each share a story to illustrate how an aligned, purpose-driven team can make all the difference toward business success.
  • [38:42] Ah the door to the integrity conversation has opened! Alan offers his perspective of what integrity is and is not. Patrick offers another perspective to take it a step further. Naturally the conversation also leads to identifying values as the foundation for understanding if we are living in integrity – living in alignment with our values.
  • [45:57] Alan and Patrick talk about values and integrity in the workforce, helping people to create an experience of living true to themselves in work and if there are misalignments, the conversations that need to happen to true it up. It serves nobody for us to simply “grind it out” for something better, later.
  • [47:48] For business owners, Alan offers clear guidance on what to do when all people, systems, values and vision are aligned, and your star team member decides to dance a different dance.
  • [51:48] Exercising self-awareness and self-assessment is often not an innate quality. It comes with a desire to open up and educate ourselves toward more growth and development, which not everyone is willing or wanting to do. Alan explains how it can take a “crucible moment”, an experience, a challenge to elicit the statement “what got me here won’t get me to where I want to go” before many will turn toward self-awareness.
  • [55:53] At times, the intoxication of success can take us off track from staying true to our purpose and self-development. Growth and development don’t have a ceiling. It’s an ever evolving and continual choice. “He not busy being born, is busy dying” – Bob Dylan
  • [57:40] Contribution and significance. Ultimately, it comes down to the desire for appreciation and validation for the contribution we make. Creating that environment as business owners and leaders of our lives, produces a benchmark for personal success.
  • [61:32] The world of relationship. Alan and Patrick discuss keys to longevity, tools for re-takes, living in perpetual discovery, and a weekend exercise that puts your significant other in the priority one position for how you can be of contribution to them at any given time. Bonus tip from Alan, about scheduling appreciation.
  • [69:44] Coming full circle with the conversation, having a purpose and committing to our values demands that we upgrade our O/S. Mission statements, vision, values we espouse without changing our behaviour, are simply slogans. Alan offers 3 distinctions between us and other mammals: we have imaginations; we can commit; we can tell stories and make up a narrative about what’s going on. We have the choice to live into an empowering narrative.
  • [75:54] Final words from Alan: a Woody Allen quote (correction: Yogi Berra is attributed to this quote) “when you come to a fork in the road… take it” plus some appreciation for Patrick.
  • [77:32] Alan’s gratitude.

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