The Origin of Things
Have you ever come across an obstacle so big that you had to stop everything that you were doing? What did you do to get out of the rut?
How did you get stuck? What were your pain points growing up? What are your innate traits?
What kind of parents or family did you have? How would you describe the generation that you are born into? What does that tell you about your place in the times that you are living in?
And finally, what do you want to leave behind?
These are special times where you need something extra and are forced to re-evaluate your life.
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When your life is in a dead end, it helps to go back to the basics in order to find your way out and gain back the confidence you need to move forward. The basics are the foundations that made you who you are.
When I got stuck big time, I had to live off long term disability insurance payments for 2 years. I had many questions in my mind, one of which was: Will I be able to work again and be healthy enough to be an economically contributing member of society? Will I be able to go back to the field of finance?
Then I found an oasis in a very lonely desert: receiving $3000 worth of therapeutic massages for a month. One day, the therapist hit a muscle on my back that I guess was never really activated for a very long time. I did not know that our bodies stored emotions inside. She released something that was buried deep within, for some reason, that made me cry.
Like untying a knot in the muscle, I started to find my way back by asking myself: Who am I born to be? What was I like in my childhood when I was the raw me, before society started molding me? What do I like and why do I like it? Where am I headed?
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- Notice Your Innate Traits
I looked at the choices I have made over the past decade. I realized that I have a strong tendency towards protecting my own originality in ideas and thoughts. I wanted to live a life that was my own, and was willing to take financial responsibility for any such attempt to live a creative life. I would not deny myself of my youth, I would not cheat myself out of my life, and I wanted to actively lead my life by giving my best at all times.
I also liked providing support towards the community I was building and I liked caring for my clients and customers as long as I had ownership over them, that they were my people. Hence I worked in a client serving role in finance for most of my career and felt joy out of it. Not everyone likes building communities nor servicing clientele!
Put together, these made a strong case to start my own company. After launching my website and writing the first few blog articles, I was surprised to find that I felt liberated! Out of so many emotions, liberated is what I felt?
Even if I were to die today, at least I had now told some of the stories that were inside me, and my products were out. I was hopeful at least one person would love the product and hopefully feel encouraged from my stories to the extent that they would go and take the territory they were born to take courageously and with such might. Living for something that would go beyond my life was truly freeing as an individual and at the same time weaved me ever more tightly into mankind.
You know those indoor playgrounds with a ball pool, and kids play in the ball pit with so many balls in them? The balls are all different colors, and the playground is the closest thing to a paradise for kids? I imagined myself as one of those little balls being picked up from outside the ball pool and being thrown back into the playground in joy.
“Weeee I am being thrown back!! Weeeee”
And now humanity is playing in this giant indoor playground made up of myself and others that are the balls in the pit. We are red, blue, green and yellow, and we need ourselves to be all of these different colors, to make the playground truly what it is! Every kid’s dream.
How much of a difference would it make as you find more activities that are aligned with how your life is supposed to go?
- Look at Your Own Family History
At a time when you need everything in you to get yourself out of the rut, you can also look at your own family history to see what edge you might have inherited as a trait. Then you can identify what assignment you are born with for your generation. From what I know about my grandparents, my family has a history of entrepreneurship, a culture that appreciates sports and academic achievement, and the reality of knowing the importance of asset management.
My maternal grandpa retired as a successful CEO and founder of the company he built up from scratch, a medium sized enterprise with around 100 employees. He had a factory in Incheon, South Korea, and he produced parts for the shipping industry, which was an important industry to the exporting nation.
Prior to starting a business, my grandpa was a business head at a conglomerate and had been a former boss to his clients. He was a brilliant, meticulous, capable, detail-oriented man with a lot of charisma and a sense of humor, very well respected by those around him. He built his business to be strong enough for a rainy day, not taking on any debt and flourished on having robust cashflows. Does entrepreneurship run in my blood? Yes indeed.
Nassim Taleb writes in his book, Skin in the Game:
"Finally, when young people who “want to help mankind” come to me, asking: “What should I do? I want to reduce poverty, save the world” and similar noble aspirations at the macro-level. My suggestion is:
1) never engage in virtue signaling; 2) never engage in rent seeking; 3) you must start a business. Take risks, start a business." (Emphasis added by myself)
I cannot agree more with #3!
- Identify Pain Points
After my grandpa retired, he left all his equity within the company in the hopes that my uncle would take the business to the next level. My mom suggested that my grandpa sell some of his equity to buy commercial buildings, but I believe my grandpa wanted to support my uncle to the best of his abilities and did not diversify.
Under the new management, the business unfortunately did not go the way my grandpa had hoped. My mom was a working mom, and my family lived with my grandparents from time to time throughout my childhood.
One day, I came home from school to find my grandparents in an exacerbation and our home in chaos! My uncle had declared bankruptcy and fled to the Philippines that day without having notified them in advance. The business partners had stormed into my grandparents’ place that day.
My grandpa saw the fall of the business he built up all his life after my uncle inherited it, and in just 2 years. My grandpa served in the navy before venturing out in the private sector, so he was financially stable regardless with his military pension and the apartment he lived in. My parents’ standard of living did not change either; however, my grandpa's physical and mental health deteriorated rapidly.
Several years later, my grandpa was in and out of ICUs (Intensive Care Unit) while suffering from depression and eventually committed suicide. My uncle could not come back to Korea before my grandpa’s death and never saw him again. Naturally, my mom emphasized the importance of asset management ever since I was a child. This pretty much sums up the reason I studied finance.
As you look back on your life and try to find your way out, you may be finding solutions not just for yourself but for a few generations; the generation before you and the generation after you. The previous generation unlocked the code on some of these other important things. Now it’s up to you to make progress on it! The code they unlocked is ingrained into you. It won’t be taken away from you, because you lived it and you know it or at least know of it. And the new things you must now overcome are part of your life’s assignment.
- Find Your Superpower
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By evaluating and thinking about what you were like in your childhood, you will be able to trace the origin of some of the running themes in your life. Theses are things that you have always done with ease, but you have since realized that not everyone is made the way you are.
If you are really good at something, it may not be so obvious to you initially that you are exceptional at it. Take a sheet of paper and write down the things that you have always been doing. Don’t worry about capitalizing on it yet, but freely brainstorm. Gather all the data you can about yourself.
Chances are, these superpower traits will be so second nature to you that you may think everyone is born this way. You might have been doing it like you breathe, ever since you were a child. However, once you realize what you have is truly authentic and not everyone has what you have, you might have just found your superpower. Now you just need to be healthy mentally and physically to stand firm behind your craft and own it!
Having the mental and physical stamina to own who you are is important, because the rarer the qualities that you have are, the more challenges you may face with regards to getting direction for those qualities. Simply, not too many people will be able to give you guidance. You might even be the first person if you are after finding the cure for cancer. You can build upon what other people have studied, but if you have something truly original, you may feel very lonely for a while.
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That’s because people will want to size you up to see if you really own who you are and your ideas. While that could be challenging, it is this moment of inquisitive reflection that will clarify and solidify who you are. When you come to be at peace with yourself, that peace can transcend into others and put them at ease when they are in your presence.
Conclusion: Origin(ality) Leads to Continuity
If you feel like you are tangled up, continuity will be important to you, because it is hard to go on when you have hit a wall. Have you have been running your life on emergency electricity? Are you now running lower than low without a sustainable way to continue? Then it is time to connect the dots by looking into your origin.
You don’t need to throw away anything that has already happened. You were attracted to those experiences to begin with, because they have a definite place in your life. Are you regretting doing certain things? Perhaps dig deeper into it and get a seven fold return out of those experiences!
1) Combining the traits that are demonstrated in your family history, 2) identifying the pain points that you need to overcome in your generation as your life assignment, and 3) noticing your innate traits and 4) superpower are a few ways you can start to put yourself back into the playground and regain hope for your life.
You were never meant to hang out alone! Throw yourself into the ball pool. Watch the joy in the kids up close! That is where you belong.
You will feel more human than ever, and at the same time, you will meta-human than ever. Yes, it is possible to be so connected and to be so free, when you throw yourself in, not out! Where you come from and how you started might just be the missing key to connection and freedom.
Dig treasures from your origin and meet us back on the playground!
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