Although I’m not named Alfie, it is a song, a great movie, and name I have become familiar with for the last 4 decades. The movie itself, is set in postwar London, “Alfie” features Michael Caine, as a chauffeur bent on promiscuity. After impregnating his girlfriend he takes off on vacation. He continues his life of womanizing, but he can’t hide forever. A misfortune strikes and Alfie is forced to face the product of his ways.
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie
Songwriters: Burt Bacharach / Hal David
Alfie lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Why do I reference this you may ask?
Because, throughout my many, many years I have been with friends, family, and general acquaintances that have often asked one another:
“What’s it all about?”
Typically, referring to life, as we venture on our journeys, trying to make sense of everything and most importantly, where we fit in, in this giant work/life cogwheel.
Throughout the years, I have often taken a moment to myself and asked this question, yet still to this day, questioning the whole essence of WHAT and WHY and is there any real meaning to it anyway!
Having spend the best part (maybe not the best), of my working career, always being at the “beck and call” of, typically bad bosses (but that’s another story). I have felt that I have squandered my very existence, with a lot of mumbo jumbo and really pointless jobs that are far from meaningful and the least bit fulfilling. So much so, if I was to drop dead, I would be quickly replaced by another “clockwork robot”, to ensure the continuity is maintained within the company and they can still reach their annual target and keep the shareholders happy.
The obsession with money, being the number one goal, with little, to no care for the wellbeing or quality of life for the trusted and loyal workforce.
My variety and numerous jobs have enabled me to travel extensively throughout Europe, which was great, but looking back, at what cost?
It was a great playing field to gain experience, great to meet a lot of interesting people, stay in some of the best hotels and eat the best meals, all at the expense of doing international business.
Being young and naive when I started, enabled a huge learning curve and a great way to explore some fantastic countries. Although, looking back, were any of these jobs my true desire and passion in life? Absolutely not! And behind all that glamour of the nice meals, best hotels and beautiful countries, there was a darker less pleasant side.
A lot of traveling, 60–80% spent in taxis, trains, planes, automobiles, airport lounges and queuing. Constant queuing, for everything and dreading a busy airport and the serious lack of baggage checking staff and the older more antiquated manual checks. I became an expert at passing through these checks, but could only move as fast as the slow people in front, and from experience, lane switching doesn’t get you there faster.
I developed more knowledge about airports than the airport architect, and could have created much better and more traveler-friendly ones, that actually help the traveler navigate around, whether this was shopping, finding the transfer terminals or the business lounges. Like most international frequent travelers, we could most likely design the best and most user-friendly airports, although no one ever asks us before they design them!
Back to “The darker side”
Leaving home earlier than the milkman and getting home (if you are lucky), on the very last public transport, in readiness to follow up the next day with 101 action points and a full report to justify your trip that you convinced the boss was worth going. Most of the time-traveling alone and eating alone, usually room service in the hotel (dinner for one!). The city tour is from the back seat of a taxi, whilst trying not to throw up, as the driver thinks he is a rally driver and will take any route (legal or otherwise) to get you to your meeting destination as fast as possible. All whilst trying to decipher the street address and communicate in a combination sign language and frustration, before smartphones arrived on the scene to help with the translation and Google maps. Actually, many times just closing your eyes and with a wish and a prayer, getting there.
Basically, there was very little glamor about being an international salesman, however, you dress up your title.
Which brings me back to my original question, “what’s it all about?”.
Actually, I had no idea, I was just doing the job for money sake, so I could pay my way in life and not have to ask for handouts. But was this my “calling” and was this as good as it gets? I didn’t think so, so what was it then?
It was a mystery to me, like the song from Toyah Willcox, if you go back that far! Great lyrics by the way.
For sure, it was a mystery to me and I desperately wanted to find my PURPOSE and why I’m here and what are my next steps on my life journey.
To spare you the details and not bore you any longer, it wasn’t until I reached 50 years old that I started to discover who I am. If I had the chance again, I would have welcomed the opportunity to know earlier, actually, much earlier.
Basically, in my youth, when I had a sense of what I loved and what I was naturally good at, so I could harness this and use it wisely to start to build a foundation of something solid, that was me.
Having this foundation, would then enable me to build up this and incorporate other learnings, knowledge, and valued attributes that make me, me.
Having a sense of purpose, leveraging on my passions, my desires, the things I’m good at and what I can offer the world is where I am now. Although, as I said, only a few years ago I was continuing to take the blue pill and staying in the Matrix.
The red pill, together with its opposite, the blue pill, is a popular cultural meme, a metaphor representing a choice between the “red pill”, representing a life of harsh knowledge, desperate freedom, and the brutal truths of reality, and the “blue pill”, representing a life of luxurious security, tranquil happiness, and the blissful ignorance of the harsh realities of life, basking in an (essentially dishonest) illusion. The terms, popularized in science fiction culture, are directly derived from a scene in the 1999 film The Matrix.
So why is PURPOSE so important?
Because it gives you the chance to change your reality, become who you really are, with the mind freedom to make more choices that will help you gain clarity and focus on what is more meaningful and rewarding in your life.
It will differentiate you from others, actually over 90% of the population, as they have no idea who they are. You will start to live, rather than exist, as you have something to get out of the bed in the morning for. You will not only empower yourself, through this journey of rediscovery, but those around you and those you serve.
Individual purpose is very powerful, so image that in the workplace!
You can ask your friends, your neighbours, strangers, and family, if they are really, honestly doing a job they love, that they have a real sense of purpose doing and it is contributing to their vision of life. The typical response is no, but it pays the bills, enables holidays, a home, a car, food, etc..
Which is very true, but is this the meaning of life?
For many, this is hard to achieve and would love, for others, they really don’t care or give it a second thought. Although, for some, there is a nagging desire to want to know.
Which one are you?
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