Which superstar were you born to be?
At her Bangkok concert a few months ago, Lady Gaga's first message to her 60,000 "little monsters" was "let go of your fears, your insecurities, (reach for) your hopes, your dreams, your potential, your future!" A mantra she is really serious about, as her life-experience demonstrates its very possibility: within five years, she moved from playing in nondescript underground bars in New-York, to being one of the most successful artists of all time, at just 25 years of age.
Asked on Google-talk "how it feels to become a superstar so quickly", she answered: "My ultimate goal was never about fame. I am genuinely a musician, to my core, (striving to) make the future of music … I am here to be a musician, not a superstar."
Questioned further about finding one's purpose, Lady Gaga advised: "I really encourage people to look into places they don't normally look into, to find uniqueness and specialness, because that is where the diamonds are hiding. … Don't obsess about the things you did not do, or you may not have done to your best, don't perpetuate negativity in your life. Obsess about the future, think endlessly about how you can pull that inner gueen or king out of yourself, and let that superstar shine. Always look into yourself for the answers and be the best human being you can be in the future."
Byrne said, "The purpose of life is a life of purpose", and indeed, finding and achieving one's life-purpose can yield the most significant rewards. It unleashes superior energy in us. How can you discover it? Here are several ways you may like to try-out:
First, remove - temporarily - the barriers to your self-fulfilment imposed by family, teachers and society.
Then look for those moments when you felt most "alive" - as when in love - those activities you did in a "state of flow", and investigate their significance to your life.
Remember your early childhood dreams of achievements, and question their underlying purpose.
Reflect about what you want to be remembered for, and the achievements you are proud to look back at, then find out what they mean to you.
Make sure you are not trapped at Maslow's "basic human needs" level (security, wealth, ego, relationships, etc); your purpose lays well beyond, at "significance level". It is about making a difference with your life. As examples, it could be about helping others, bringing more justice or harmony.
Expect that reaching out for your purpose will not win you "approval" from everyone. Which is one of the reasons why most people choose a mediocre life well tolerated by those around, rather than daring to go for significance at the risk of being disliked by some. And it is possibly why Lady Gaga said the best piece of advice she ever received was: "If you don't have any shadow, you are not standing in the light."
Once you hold your purpose, I recommend you complete a safety check:
Will it be compatible with your work-life balance and your family life?
Will it continue to increase your "value" as a professional?
Will it open-up future possibilities?
In a further column, we shall reflect about what mindset and attitude will best help you "free that superstar out of you". For now, let's conclude with Irving, who said "great minds have purposes, others have wishes". The choice is yours.
Jean-Francois Cousin is a Global Executive Coach (www.1-2-win.net) and the former managing director of a Fortune-500 company in Thailand.