How I’m Honing in on What I’m Looking for in Life

Selfish-less-ness, getting lost, and an ear for the three components of a calling are helping find what I'm looking for in life.


Long Story Short:

  • Getting lost over and over has helped me hone in on what I’m looking for in life.
  • I’ve discovered I need to find a path that is both selfish and selfless, a.k.a., “selfishless.”
  • My calling must energize myself and others, and that energy needs to be contagious.

Not all those who are lost wander aimlessly.

– R.R.J. Tolkein

Am I Related to Tony Soprano?

Normally, I don’t remember jokes. But this zinger from a Sopranos episode I watched 22 years ago has stuck in me like a bad tattoo or an untreated tapeworm:

YouTube video

Tony Soprano is filling his plate at the buffet of a Native American-owned casino and says to his capos, “Whenever I’m in one of these places, I remember that my grandmother was part Fugawi. Maybe I should do something about it.”

“Bullsh*t,” responds his slick sidekick, Silvio.

“’Oh no, it’s true,” retorts Tony. “They were a nomadic tribe. They wander around, they get lost, and they go ‘We’re the Fugawi’ [pronounced ‘where the fug are we’].

Why did this not-so-funny and possibly-un-PC joke stay with me for nearly a quarter century?

The answer only dawned on me last week:

Because the joke is about me.  

I am part Fugawi. 

Proud of it, too! Better to be a Fugawi than a Noetall or a Staynputti. Laugh at us all you want for wandering around and getting lost. But that’s the inevitable consequence of exploring. Exploring is good. Necessary. It helps us hone in on what we’re looking for. 

Don’t mistake being lost with being directionless.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.

– Yogi Berra

Sniff Around

We Fugawi aren’t born knowing what we’re looking for. We hone in on it.

When I pretired in 2013, I screwed around for a year hanging out, traveling, reading books, watching TV. It was a year-long sampling of what it’s like to be retired. Then I stopped in my tracks, looked around, sniffed the air, and said to myself:

“Hey Chris. We’re the Fugawi.” 

On an easy path, but not an exciting or rewarding one. “No good.”

So I veered off in search of a challenging path that would reward me with many millions of dollars. For years, I scrambled and bushwhacked through nasty terrain. I crossed paths with many exhausted people. Then I stopped again.

“Hey Chris. We’re the Fugawi.” 

On an endless path of unpleasantness. “This way stinks.” 

So I abandoned that route. I decided to trust my instincts. Take challenging paths that feel exciting. And stop regularly to pluck the delicous raisins of unsuccess, regroup, and reassess:

“Hey Chris. We’re the Fugawi.”

Where am I, now?

Still lost. Not sure where I’m headed, either. But I’m continuing to hone in on a better sense of where I want to go. 

Pure Selfish-less-ness

Selfishly I’m looking to get on a “perpetually perfect” path that fills my days with enjoyable challenges in all areas of life (socially, physically, mentally, and spiritually). That way, I make constant progress without getting bored or exhausted. 

But progress for purely personal pleasure is hollow. Fulfillment comes from being useful

Selflessly, then, I’m looking to contribute in my own way. As the authors of The Good Life and directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development have conclusively found, usefulness starts and ends with relationships. 

So, I have to be selfish and selfless. What’s the confluence of these two paths? 

Selfishlessness. Wandering through life looking for challenging activities that reward me and others.  

The one snag I’ve hit this approach? My parents, friends, and kids don’t pay me enough to hang out with them. And my nest egg isn’t thick enough to insulate my family and friends from potential hardship forever. So I need to find a path that expands my usefulness beyond my inner circle.

We Fugawi call it a calling. 

The Three Chords of a Calling

When I wrote to you a few months ago about finding your career fit, I mentioned a renowned calling finder named Jack Skeen. I’d heard fantastic accounts about his abilities. So, since we Fugawi don’t mind asking for directions when we’re lost, I reached out to him. 

Jack was generous enough to chat with me and exchange emails. One paragraph was such an “Aha!” for me that I’ve left it in my otherwise tidy inbox to read over and over:

“When you figure out how to be effective with a few people in a way that works for them and for you, you can begin expanding your work. The most important piece of that is it has to make a big enough difference in the lives of people that they are excited, want to share what happened to them, and want more of that from you. You need to figure that out first. When that is clear to you, things should start falling into place.”

Therein lie the three chords for hitting the harmony that is your calling:

  1. It energizes you.
  2. It energizes others.
  3. That energy is contagious.

That’s it. Strike those three together to spark a nuclear chain reaction of energy. 

Easier said than done, of course. You can’t copy someone else. You’ve got to afford yourself the patience to systematically tune into your core.

Once you hit the right resonance, people will follow like kids to the Pied Piper. Or adults to Taylor Swift. And they’ll open their wallets. As Starbucks’ market cap or Red Bull’s raging success show us, people fork over fortunes for energy. 

So if you can find your own infectious way to reliably charge yourself and others, you’ll be unstoppable. 

That’s where I’m looking to go. Now that I have a better sense of it than ever, I can really hone in. And to keep on track, I’ll remember to stop every now and again, sniff around, and say,

“Hey Chris. We’re the Fugawi.”

"Feedback givers are architects of ideas and catalysts for change."

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👋 I'm Chris. Everything you read on is my fault. This site is like a gym for your comfort zone, full of challenges to make your status quo sexier. Join my 'Consider This' newsletter for a fun new challenge every 10 days. Try it!

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