Have you ever asked yourself these questions? If someone asked you these questions, what would you say? What comes to mind when I pose these question to you?
“Who Am I?” is an age old question that may seem simple on the surface. When I was first asked to ponder this question, I was working with a shamanic healer to get through a dark period in my life. He asked me to keep asking it over and over. He said to think of it as a meditation. The results were very interesting.
At first, the answers were what you might expect. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a data scientist. I’m a spiritual seeker. And on and on.
Eventually, my mind started to get really curious. I began to wonder about who I am on a soul level. What is my purpose? Why was I born? Do I cease to exist when I die? Am I here for a reason? What if I fail to do what I came here to do? I started feeling anxious, like I was supposed to know something and I didn’t have a clue.
I sought the help of a shaman because I was struggling in my work and life. I had no self-confidence. I was uncovering deep abandonment issues. I was struggling to trust myself.
During this time of deep reflection and healing, I was in my early 50s. I had a successful career as a data scientist. I enjoyed the work and I was very successful. But I never liked the cutthroat corporate culture. Many of the leaders seemed to prioritize profits over people. For that reason, I felt very out of place. And the impact of my work never inspired me.
I found myself reflecting on how I gave up my desire to pursue a professional career that helped people. But as many of us did, I took the practical route so I could make enough money to help support my growing family.
As I sat with “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”, I realized that there was so much I didn’t know about myself. I became curious and started looking for signs.
One day during my meditation, I asked this question, “Why am I stuck in the corporate world? I really hate the culture. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
The answer both surprised and confused me. I heard “This is where you need to be to learn the skills to do your real work.” I had no idea what my real work was.
A few years later, I decided to leave the corporate environment and become an independent consultant. I realized that it was hard to describe the value of my work. So I decided to write a book on something I knew really well –predictive modeling.
In 2001, Wiley published my first book, Data Mining Cookbook. It quickly became a global best-seller. Suddenly, I was launched onto the global stage as a data science expert.
As you might expect, my consulting practice grew quickly. Many of my clients were large corporations. As I consulted for different companies, I became fascinated with differences in cultures. It became very clear to me that companies with a people-oriented culture (caring and compassion) were much more successful. Or at least that was my perception.
As the demand for my expertise grew, I got on the short list to speak at all the major data conferences. This gave me a rare opportunity to expand my message. So in addition to delivering a keynote on predictive modeling, I offered talks and workshops on more people-centric topics like the value of effective communication, fueling creativity, and managing change. As I delivered these talks and workshops, I felt so much more inspired. Perhaps it was a clue to my real work.
After several years, I started feeling a yearning for something more. I retreated out of the limelight to write a second book, Business Intelligence Success Factors (Wiley 2009). It was an academic look at how important people skills are for success in our fast-paced, high-tech global economy. I felt very inspired to write this book. Could it be another clue to my real work?
Over the next few years, I focused on consulting while I continued to search for the answer to those nagging questions, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”. In 2012, my intuition guided me to write more about soft skills. But now my guidance was telling me to use the word “Love” in connection to business success. I felt a lot of resistance. It seemed risky to talk about love in the context of business. I was afraid of being criticized for being too soft or out of touch. But the nagging to write about this persisted. I finally gave in. I made the decision to write about the power of caring and compassion, i.e. “love” in business.
I spent 3 years trying to figure out what to write. Early in 2018, my outline finally came together. I was excited to find data which strongly suggests that a culture of love really does increase profits. The result, [email protected] (2018, Quantum Love Press), offers extensive proof and evolutionary models to support why love is good for business. I remember thinking that this might be my real work.
Today, I’m 100% focused on bringing love into business. I offer training and consulting to businesses on a variety of soft skills designed to inspire a culture of caring and compassion. I finally feel like I am doing my “real work.”
What do you dream of doing? What passions did you put aside many years ago? What gifts and wisdom would you like to share with the world?
It’s an exciting time to be alive. Things might look dire at the moment. But with all the upheaval, we have an opportunity to create the world we want – a world where all of our gifts and wisdom are appreciated and we each can contribute to the greater good.
I invite you to meditate on these deep questions. “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Please let me know in the comments! I offer several free ebooks on finding your purpose. Click the Freebies link.