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What Do You Do?: A Tool for Understanding Yourself Better and Finding Your Unique Path in Life

Andrew Petty is Dying

Release Date: 06/13/2022

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“What do you do?”

We’re all familiar with that question. It comes up naturally when we meet someone for the first time in a social setting. Its usual purpose is to learn what someone does for a living to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. 

In this episode, however, we’ll REpurpose this old question in a new way to help you know yourself better and discern even more clearly the paths in life for which you’re uniquely made. It will become a new tool in your ongoing quest to live YOUR life with guts, gusto, and abandon. 

 

My Answer to “What do you do?”

“I seek to understand how we should conduct ourselves in this world to produce the best results with our lives.” That’s my most current answer to the repurposed version of the familiar question, “What do you do?” that I’m sharing with you today. It’s a description of what I’ve ALWAYS done, regardless of my age or stage of life or job. It’s a description of what I can’t NOT do, of what I’ve always felt compelled to do, of what always calls to me in the midst of whatever else I’m actually doing. 

It’s not a carefully-crafted mission statement or a statement of intention. It’s not aspirational. It’s a statement of what IS. It’s a statement of who I am and what I do in the world on a fundamental level. I can no more change myself on that fundamental level than I can alter the course of the stars in the sky. 

That’s the level of insight that we’re after with our newly-repurposed version of “what do you do?”

My desire for understanding has been evident from an early age–as have been whatever impulses guide you on a fundamental level. One day, when I was a little boy, for example, I paused to examine the dirt, and then asked my mom “what’s the dirt doing?” (There may or may not have also been another episode at about the same age where I paused to pray for a caterpillar, then sent it to caterpillar heaven with a decisive stomp of my foot. My mom still hasn’t gotten over the shock. She thought I was praying for its welfare, but apparently I was administering its last rites. But I digress…)

 

What’s the Big Deal About Answering “What Do You Do?” for Ourselves?

The big benefit of knowing what we do on a fundamental level with this kind of clarity is that it strengthens our sense of who we are and what we’re here for. Enlightened and strengthened in these ways, we can then pursue personal and professional paths that align with what we do on a fundamental level. What we do for a living to keep food on the table and a roof over our head can be a natural extension of what we’ve always done and will always seek to do on the deepest levels of our being. 

I’m grateful that what I do for a living IS a natural extension of what I do on the most fundamental level. I’ve discovered that that marriage between both levels of doing is a self-perpetuating engine of growth, both fed by and feeding the very processes that drive it.   

Life is hard enough without the added hardship of persisting in personal and professional paths that don’t align with who we really are and what we really do. And the world needs all of us as fully engaged in our unique purposes as we can possibly be.

How confident are you in your current answer to “what do you do?”

 

How to Answer “What Do You Do” for Yourself

I’ve arrived at my current answer to this question through ongoing observation of myself as I move through the world. But that observation has occurred in the grit and grime of real life, not from behind glass with lab coats and clipboards. My conclusions at this point are based upon real-world trial and error, successes and failures. They are the result of countless implementations of my formula for human growth, Insight + Action = Transformation. 

My answer is also based upon others’ feedback about what they observe in me. I’ve proactively sought that feedback from family, friends, and professional acquaintances. I’ve also enlisted resources like coaching and therapy to create the kinds of insights that those kinds of partnerships are especially good at creating. 

My answer will continue to evolve, too, as long as I stay engaged in the question and summon the courage to act upon what I learn. 

What are one or two observations have you made about yourself so far in life that help you better understand what you do on a fundamental level? 

 

Draft Your First Answer to “What Do You Do?” Today

“What do you do?” is a familiar question that you can repurpose in a new way to help you know yourself better and discern even more clearly the paths in life for which you’re uniquely made. It takes time and awareness to wield this tool, and all of us are capable of wielding it well if we choose. It takes courage to act upon the insights we gain, forsaking paths that aren’t ours in favor of ones that are.  

Live YOUR life with guts, gusto, and abandon. 

Take a new step in that direction today. Draft your first answer to “what do you do?” Don’t white knuckle it, and don’t censor or judge yourself. Then, update your answer whenever observations made in the real world generate new depths of insight into what you do. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

Remember: You ARE going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

 

I Can Help You Discover What You Do in the World

Connect with me Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, visit my website, or email me. Go here to learn more about the Graveyard Group, where you get invaluable insight and feedback from your own confidential board of advisors. 

One final note before I sign off today: I’ll release one more episode in June before I take a creative break for the month of July to rest and retool. I look forward to returning refreshed in August.

I’m so glad you tuned in today. Don’t forget to follow this show, and I’ll see you next time on Andrew Petty is Dying.

 

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