I remember the first time I got off the Tokyo train station. I got lost like I was in the woods. Instead of trees though, there were these tall gigantic buildings around me.
I looked to the front. Buildings. Right. Buildings. Left. Buildings. Back. Yes, you guessed it, buildings. Buildings everywhere.
This was in a pre-smartphone age. There were no Google Maps to rely on. I was lost and having a hard time finding my way.
This was one of my very first experiences in Tokyo. Now I'd like to share another experience with you. A more positive one.
Like a good tourist, I visited the Tokyo Tower on my first trip to Japan. The Tokyo Tower is about 40 stories high. You take an elevator up and when the elevator doors slide open, you are presented with a panorama view of Tokyo. You get to see Mount Fuji. Along with weird-shaped buildings. You see the bay area, which is home to a Ferris wheel and a bay bridge, which lights up in rainbow colors at night. I remember myself standing there and marveling the inspiring view.
A simple truth
When I reflect on my experience at the Tokyo train station and the one at the top of Tokyo Tower, I discovered a simple, obvious, but profound truth: That when you are elevated, you see more. You have a better view.
And I ask myself.
Is there a way for me to elevate myself so that I can see more? So that I can see all the possibilities with what I can do in life.
It turns out there is a way. If I can understand what fills me with joy. (Some call this passion. Some call this purpose. I personally prefer the word joy.) And use it as a pair of glasses to see through, I can elevate myself and get a better and more inspiring view.
Losing my way
I've been a strategy consultant for more than 20 years. There was this point in my career where I felt trapped in a concrete jungle. All I saw was buildings in my mind. It was hard to find a path forward.
The problem was that I only saw myself as a strategy consultant. And by doing so, I put a boundary around myself. A boundary that said my work was just about designing strategy.
During that time I walked by the Tokyo Tower from a distance. As I gazed at the red tall isosceles triangle, I recalled the first time I went up the tower.
Then it hit me.
I realized that I've lost sight of the joy. I was on the ground level. I needed to find the joy. I needed to reconnect with the joy.
For me it meant taking apart my work. It means Marie-Kondo-ing the parts of my work to find out which sparks joy. The question then becomes how do I shape my work into one filled with joy.
I've learned that I get joy when I help people see things in a different way so they can move forward. This perspective shift meant the work I do isn't just about designing strategies, but also writing, teaching, and helping others connect the dots.
So what I'm trying to say here is this: don't be bounded by what you do. Find what lights you up. Find what creates sparks. Find the joy.
Because joy can elevate you. And, in turn, give you a better and more inspiring view.