Claiming My Dharma

Inspired by Kyle Cease – Your Authenticity is Worth Millions


I was listening to Kyle Cease and he said something I’ve heard a couple of other people say before. Which is, “This is my dharma”. Meaning something like purpose. I was like, “Ooh, I want to be able to say that”. I looked it up, and the definition that immediately grabbed me was, “My life’s purpose that also makes the world better”. Wow. I love that.

It’s one of those things that maybe when I was a teenager and I’d see older kids carrying car keys into the King Soopers, I want to be able to just own, “This is my dharma”. That idea alone delighted me. But I thought, really, my medium is design. In the same way that a sculptor may work primarily in bronze. Or someone, they’re an artist but their medium is paint or film. I think my medium is design.

I think that design can pull out of someone’s heart … Not in a creepy way. Not a bloody handful of heart. But their heart’s desire. Which is, when any of us have a dream to have some kind of a product, I think it’s coming from our heart. What makes it amazing is the idea that it’s going to connect with someone else’s heart. I think that that is completely possible. Completely doable.

I think that where we get into trouble is that, in the same way that Kyle talked about the second thought being the communal wisdom of society. Of, “You can’t do that”. Your first thought might be, “You know, I’d really love to have a seminar that helps real estate agents match people in a more heartfelt mindful way”. That excitement that you feel can be trampled on immediately by the thoughts that are like, “Oh. How would I sell it? How many people would be interested? What would they say if I say something about mindful real estate agents? I’d better water that down”.

When we lose that connection, when we start to water it down, we lose the spark that made it an inspiration to us. I think it gets confusing at that point. It gets hard to make choices, because we’re no longer making choices with the concept that lives so beautifully in our heart. We’re trying to make choices that will make this communal perceived imaginary everyone happy. We lose the spark for ourselves. But also it becomes so watered down that the person who we thought we were creating it for wouldn’t even recognize it.

I’m pretty sure, actually I’m completely sure, that this is what my dharma is. Maybe it’s just my dharma for now. Can you have a temporary dharma? A five year dharma? This is kind of what I’m thinking I’m doing.

Immediately the question comes to me that someone’s going to say, “Well, but I need to make money. Are you sure that this is the way to make money?”. Boy, that is one of those comments that can really just scare me back into my shell. But here are a couple of answers. One, I worry about that too. I think we all do. That’s a good start. We all worry about it. We all want to have some kind of a plan that makes us feel like that is handled.

Secondly, I don’t think there is incontrovertible evidence that watering down your concept to make everyone happy actually works. I think that we probably could find a lot of circumstances when it doesn’t work. I know in my own personal life, when I had the dream of selling my own products, I killed that and killed my own dreams by trying to make it something for everyone and not sticking to my very specific vision, and I lost a fair amount of money doing it too. I don’t think there’s evidence that it always works just nose to the grindstone either.

I think we can also say, a lot of smart people are trending this direction. Seth Godin. Kyle Cease, Marie Forlio. A lot of people are saying, “You’re not really going to make money by chasing the money”. I would like to dive more into what they say as evidence. But I think that maybe my last point is that the search for evidence is also probably going to kill your brilliant concept. I think that that happens a lot for me. That I’ll have some brilliant inspiration, and I try to shine the light of rational critical thought on it. It’s kind of like a skitterish little animal in the woods that is just, it just runs away. The more that I try to pin it down with my rational thoughts, the quicker it just evaporates.

I want to stop doing that, and I maybe want to help other people stop doing that as well. Because I can immediately feel how it kills the joy in my project, and replaces it either with fear, or just some kind of numbness. Then that’s when watching TV, eating carbs, having a glass of wine, all those things seem like a really good idea.

I think that maybe accepting that the rational critical thought process shone on our brilliant ideas is, it’s the wrong question. It’s not a valid question, and that’s a hard thing to stand up and say when you’re thinking about talking to everyone. That’s what’s important. You’re not talking to everyone. You’re talking from your heart to the heart of the people who need you.