In the epic Back to the future trilogy, the witty teenager gets to travel in time thanks to a ground-breaking invention by the mad scientist. This invention, the “flux capacitator”, is built into the equally epic DeLorean beautiful coupé.
Flux tech allows witty teenager Marty McFly to go back in time, altering the past and thus the future. By doing so, he is also altering himself by adapting his skills to an environment that is changing at atom-level around him. This concept is cool ‘cause it is also the key for the rest of us to stay relevant & future-proof.
In these days with so many of us being aware of so many things, while also feeling like being stuck in time and space, forced to repeat the same loop, we are seeing more and more people questioning their work-life balance and their purpose in life. Why are 85% of global workforce not engaged at work? Why do so many of us feel like being stuck? And why does paid work so many times have to be so empty of (engaging) purpose?
Being stuck in a loop is a concept currently being explored in another futuristic vision: The Westworld HBO series. In this violent, cynic vision, humans are no more alive and have no more free will than the replicant machines. They are just more sadistic, more frustrated, and also less determined, less purpose-driven than their engineered versions.
So what can we learn from Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) and Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins)? I think for one thing we need to acknowledge our different ambitions in life and align them in a way that is unique to each one of us. There is no one solution for all of us. In fact it’s funny how every job description is based only on the needs of the employer, not you as a person.
No wonder it is so hard for most of us to find a paid job that is also our passion, our mission in life. Add the constant flow of success stories in social media (everyone seems happy but me so I must be a failure) and the pressure from society to strive, to consume, to earn more money so we can buy more and travel more. After all, that’s what real success looks like, right?
The concept of being stuck in a loop is one concept that is in stark contrast to another concept as described by Kevin Kelly in The Inevitable, reminding us in a way of Christopher Lloyd’s mad scientist and how we may change our past & future: being in constant flux.
We all know things are not static: even mountains crumble and even immortals like Morgan Freeman will pass away at some moment (and we will cry). But because of our tendency to get stuck in a loop, in a fixed routine of eat, sleep, play and work, we sometimes miss that things around us are always in change. We believe we are destined to follow along the same line as before.
Luckily, the future has not yet happened and so we may in fact choose whatever path we want for our future selves. We just need to make a conscious choice. This is where another, increasingly popular concept comes into the picture: Ikigai or your personal point of convergence.
I have yet to realize my true Ikigai. I may be close, but seems I am circling around the center like being in orbit. As an entrepreneur, I have often felt a clear mission and and a sense of meaning, at the expense of cash flow. Or I might have enjoyed good money and a decent challenge, but felt uncertain at the risk of being exposed (the impostor syndrome). Most employed people tend to be in the lower circle, having decent income and a well-defined job but feeling empty.
But. As the Ikigai tool might be very useful in determining your sweet spot, it is not enough just doing so and then be done with it. You need to do this over and over again, since you and the world around you is constantly evolving. We should choose to see the Ikigai as a fluid diagram to be revised, and updated, as often as needed. Could be once a week, or at least once a year. I know I will look at my Ikigai as often as needed until I can see it changing in front of me.
As for Morgan Freeman, I am sure he found his Ikigai a long time ago and has kept it alive and kicking. In fact, one key part of Ikigai is never to retire, to stay active. May we all live long happy after and may Morgan live to make many more great movie characters for us to enjoy as we continue along our Path.
BTW: Anthony Hopkins is the same age and he too is a living legend like Morgan.