Last September, when I was at HubSpot’s INBOUND14 Conference, I had the chance to briefly hear from Amy Jo Martin (among many, many other inspiring people). Her talk was under ten minutes, and in that short time, she’s given me hours and hours of things to reflect on and think about. Since leaving the conference, there have been countless times when Amy Jo’s words of wisdom have popped in my head – at work, at home, at Target – seriously, everywhere.
Ok, before I jump into what Amy Jo Martin said, or how she inspired me and really got me thinking about my purpose, passion, and skills… let me back up a bit.
Who is this Amy Jo Martin Lady?
…was the exact thought I had when she was introduced at the conference. Truth be told, before INBOUND14, I had never heard of her (sorry, Amy Jo). Naturally, I hopped on Twitter and sought her out as she took the stage. #Impressed, to say the least.
To give you a little background, Amy Jo Martin founded Digital Royalty in 2008 to assist professional athletes and teams, celebrities, and companies in measuring and building their “digital universe”. No big deal – she just taught Shaq how to tweet (seriously), and travels the world (literally) to talk about social media. She doesn’t just talk the talk, Amy Jo educates individuals, brands, and companies on methods in which they can use social media in a monetary way. You can read more about Amy Jo’s path on her site, and more about Digital Royalty here.
Long story short, she’s made a name for herself (and what she does), and has done it in a successful, positive, graceful way.
During her presentation, Amy Jo Martin (whom I’ll refer to as “AJM” from here on out, because we’re best friends. Ok, it’s actually because it’s easier) talked about a recent trip to Ethiopia. Among learning about many things while traveling (including a campaign called Charity: Water), AJM talks about discovering her “purpose problem”.
What is a purpose problem? Well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like; a problem with finding, identifying, focusing on, and pursuing your purpose – personally and/or professionally. AJM further explains discovering her purpose problem in a blog post…
“The day I asked myself ‘why’ was the day I was diagnosed with a purpose problem. The universe was basically sending me flashing signals that said, ‘U-turn, U-turn. Something is not right here’ … I needed a reason. A reason why I was doing what I was doing. And by the way, it turns out that if you don't address a purpose problem, it manifests…”
So in the midst of discussing her amazing experiences in Ethiopia and thinking over her own ‘purpose problem’, AJM came to a conclusion: “Where passion, purpose, and skill collide, true bliss resides.” Whoa. It really hits you – doesn’t it? Well, it basically slapped me upside the head.
My Own Purpose Problem
What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Am I passionate about it? Is what I do where my “true bliss” lives? Big questions. Really big questions. Scary questions. Overwhelming questions. Especially when it comes to my job, my career. These were questions I never asked myself before. Well, I was asking them now.
If you would have told me to answer these four questions (about my work) 2 years ago, I probably would have said something sassy about minding your own business, because I didn’t know what a purpose problem was, or that I had one. But, alas my answers would have been:
Marketing and Social Media “Stuff”
Because it’s my job, and I know how to do at it. I think I’m good at it.
Yea, I think it’s important.
Uh, I don’t know.
Ok, so I liked my job and I felt that what I was doing was something that was important - and most of the time I thought I did a good job. Did my passion, purpose, and skill collide here? Sort of. But did I give it the time of day? Definitely not. If you would have asked me these four questions 1 year ago (again, still never heard of a ‘purpose problem’ at this point), my answers would’ve been:
Writing, and stuff
Because it’s a job, I’m learning, and I wanted to try something new.
What I’m doing? Sure. The industry I’m doing it for? Not really.
Probably not, because it doesn’t feel “blissful” to me.
Yes, looking back, I realize I went backwards. I had a job, switched jobs, and then ran into a serious purpose problem – without even knowing it. I moved closer to my family (points to my happiness bucket), but I was not passionate about my job. To be honest, I wasn’t excited to go to work and I was crabby when I got home. Very quickly, my professional ‘purpose problem’ overflowed to a personal purpose problem. I was a hot mess. Whoever I was, it wasn’t the Bridget I used to or wanted to be.
Was it my employers’ fault? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I worked for wonderful companies. I had great bosses who cared about me. My purpose problem was my fault. Mine. All mine. Did I know it at the time? No. I just ignored the "flashing signals."
True Bliss, At Last
I believe that everything happens for a reason. And on one particular evening when my purpose problem was more evident than ever (there were tears), my phone rang. It was some random number, and that (like everything at the time) annoyed me. I answered it anyway (#YOLO) – and I’m glad I did.
It was Dan and Simone. They asked if I was interested in making a change, and without trying to sound too desperate, I said yes. But I was scared. At the time I had graduated from college and was on my 2nd job in about 20 months. Was I ready to add a third to that list so quickly?
As AJM explains in another post (Ok, so I sort of stalk her, don’t judge me), she explains that “There isn’t a white flash or “ah ha” moment. It is more of a series of events, experiences, and lessons that consistently point toward a path.” But you see, I like white flashes. Sometimes I need a gentle nudge (or forceful shove) in the right direction. Well, after talking with my family (I’m not great with big decisions), some prayers, and thinking long and hard about what I wanted to do with my life, I took the leap. In May 2014, I joined Leighton Interactive.
If it wasn’t clear to me soon after joining this crazy (in a good way) team, it certainly clicked after I heard from AJM, some 4 months after coming to Leighton Interactive. Ask me those questions now. Go ahead, ask me.
What am I doing?
I’m an Inbound Marketer and love all the work that it entails. I’m always writing, creating, brainstorming, conversing, editing, reading, and learning. I get to practice a whole bunch of my skills at one place, in one job (except singing, I don’t serenade a whole lot of clients. Or coworkers.).
Why am I doing it?
Working in a family-owned, transparent, and innovative agency gives me purpose. I help businesses and brands every. single. day. Did I mention I get to be creative and think outside the box? (AND GET PAID FOR IT!)
Am I passionate about it?
I get excited to go to work. I get excited about my work. I want to do work. And then I want to do more work. I feel good about my work and the people I do it with. I have fun with the people I work with. I laugh with (and at) those same people. I enjoy continually learning and developing.
Is what I do where my “true bliss” lives?
Things feel right here. I’m supported, encouraged, and pushed. Yea, I live a few hours away from my family, but they know I’m happy and they support that. I’m lucky, aren’t I?
Hello there, bliss. Nice to see you.
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