[FTMM] Identifying Marketing and Branding Problems and Landing Your Niche

This is the second installment of a mini-series we are calling Finding the Meaning Movement.  This mini series will show in your feed with the letters FTMM in brackets.  

In this series, Dan welcomes Raj Lulla of Fruitful Design & Strategy as a cohost for some “Build in Public” style conversations about The Meaning Movement, the current state of Dan’s work with the Meaning Movement, and personal/ business / marketing problems that he’s seeking to solve for himself and on behalf of all of us.

It’s not necessary that you listen to the past conversation to benefit from this one, but it could help add some color to the conversation Im about to share.

With that, let’s jump in.

This is the Meaning Movement Podcast….


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Software Generated Transcription:

Dan: Raj, we’re back for another episode of what we’re calling, finding the meaning movement. How are you doing today?

Raj: Great. Thanks for having me.

Dan: What, what I feel funny, I feel like inauthentic saying, how are you doing today? Cuz we literally just wrapped up the recording of the other episode.

But for the optics, it feels like that was the right thing to say. And now I feel bad about it, but um, but I’m

Raj: we’re building it in public here.

Dan: Yeah, yeah. Building in public, which is kind of where we, we, we left off and um, I don’t know, maybe just turn it over to you to give you the reigns to keep the conversation going.

Raj: yeah. So in the last episode we talked. You know, admitting burnout and, and finding kind of this moment of crisis. Really. We didn’t use that word in the last episode, but, but that’s, that’s kind of what burnout is, is you’re working and you’re working and you’re working and you don’t feel satisfied by it.

And certainly we could. I connect the word, meaning and satisfaction. So obviously there’s, there’s something off there. It doesn’t feel right to us. And, uh, of course we’re in the right place for that. The meaning movement to, to kind of rediscovering. That’s why this is finding the meaning movement again, or maybe even finding the meaning in the meaning movement, but that’s a little cumbersome.

So we went with finding the meaning movement. Um, and so. You know, uh, we, we talked a little bit, my, my job is brand strategy. This is what I do for a living and, and brand strategy is so much more than just, uh, you know, what, what logo should we have and what colors and fonts and all that kind of stuff.

It’s really about identifying what this is for who this is for. And so I think that’s where we start today is, is we let’s just talk about this. Uh, you know, you’ve been working on this for 10 years. Who is the meaning movement for

Dan: It’s a, a great question and really kind of a, I think it’s to the heart of, I don’t know what I feel like is the problem. And I think this is where, you know, I think I’ve voiced this to you as we’ve kind of begun into this. This work is like, I don’t know if like brand strategy is I wanna say a big enough tool.

Like, like I feel like I I’ve, I’ve I’ve wondered, like, are we just kind of, you know, Putting a, putting a new paint job on the same, the same vehicle when we really need to just be like replacing the engine or something. Um, but I trust you and I trust the process and I think that’s such a, such an important question that I think will have probably bigger effects than I, than I realize the meaning movement, how I would’ve answered that.

Before, before our, our work together, is anyone looking for more, meaning, more purpose, more fulfillment. And I still think that that’s true to some, to some degree. Um, I think that where you and I have, you know, maybe focused some more of our attention recently is for, um, is really kind of thinking about it in terms of people who.

Outwardly successful in, in some way, but inwardly don’t feel that they are successful or have some question, some, some doubts, um, about that. Um, and I think that’s kind of the direction that we’re, we feel like things are, things are headed.

Raj: Yeah. And so you know, because we’re building this in public, let’s talk about this for a second. Um, yes. The meaning movement is definitely a place for anybody who wants to find more meaning, but, uh, if, especially if you lead a business or have any kind of product out in the world, what you need to realize is that narrowing down to the people who will be most successful here.

Um, it, it really, it, you know, Dan Dan said, you know, is brand strategy, strategy and sharp enough tool. Is it a big enough tool to, uh, to do all this? The way I think of it is that. And marketing, they’re the tail that wags the dog, because when we talk about how do we talk about this, then we start asking the questions of, okay, but what are we really talking about?

Who are we really talking to? Who’s gonna be most successful here. And so I do think it’s a big enough tool, but it’s because it leads us to these other deeper questions that, you know, that make us really wrestle. um, am I even really offering the right product? uh, even the podcast, even the email list, all of those things are we, are we really connecting with the people who need this the most, who will find, who find the most success here?

so going to your answer there of people who have some semblance of outward success, but don’t feel it internally. Let’s unpack that a little bit because. It’s counterintuitive. Right? um, if I’m successful, um, why don’t I, why don’t I feel successful? And so one of the things that, that you and I identified in that was that it’s because a lot of us have a lot of different roles and.

So, can you, can you talk about that a little bit? Like how, how could I maybe feel financially successful, but not feel successful in another role in my life or maybe the other way around feel good as another role, but not, you know, may maybe the money’s not following. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Dan: Yeah. I love it. I love it. Well, I think it all kind of comes down to like competing priorities that at any given moment we have, you know, people are dynamic and complicated, entities , um, beings. Um, and as we think about. Success and how we, how we think about, you know, define, defined success.

It’s you have to ask that question of two to whom, um, like, is it success according to your bank account? Is it success according to your manager? Is it success according to your spouse or partner or kids or parents or culture or, religion. and you could go, you know, on, on and on, and the, the challenges.

often each one of those, uh, those names, those entities might have different Def definitions. And sometimes those definitions might very much be in opposition to each other, let alone yourself. I didn’t even include that. Like, do, do you feel successful, but like maybe what feels like success to you is.

What’s called successful to your family. And I think for, you know, many folks who, especially if you come from a family with a lot of expectation, as far as, you know, caring of being responsible or caring the family name, or, or, you know, whatever, whatever might be like. I think they, there are some, some folks who can feel that just extremely palpably just to illustrate that even.

In my own life. Like I went to school, I went to a ministry school to be a youth pastor because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. And so, and it’s it fit well with, you know, with my faith, it fit well with, um, the subculture that I had. Grown up in it fit well with my parents and, and you know, what the, what they, they, you know, they volunteer a lot of their time at ministries and things like that.

And so like it, it checked off a lot of boxes, but then when I got into that job, it was just a, really, a really poor fit for me in many ways. And so from outside, like that would be a great, very successful, you know, role for me to be in. But, but inwardly, um, there was a, a definite misalignment of, of who I was with, um, with the job.

And so. To go back to that. The, I think the bigger question of how do you define success? The first, I think the, the, the, that is like the, in essence, the very, the very question of, of how do you define success and who do you allow? which voices do you allow into that conversation? I think is a really important part of it because you can’t be successful to everybody.

Raj: Yeah. And, and I think a really easy example of this would be that first Christmas, when you get married you know, because. To, be a good husband or wife, in that situation and be a good son or daughter. 

and also possibly even being a good employee, uh, you know, I, our. Christmas. We were in Southern California.

my family is based in Nebraska and so wanting to fly back, I would’ve had to take vacation time that I didn’t have. So I, I had to decide if, you know, if I was gonna do that, which does that make me look good or bad to my job? does my wife want to go to freezing cold Nebraska to celebrate Christmas with us?

my parents definitely do. And so just in that one, just in that one small example, there’s at least three identities. And like you said, that’s not even to consider what do I want? I like a white Christmas, but I also like not getting fired for my job and you know, sometimes it’s even difficult just to identify what do I want our Christmases to look like?

What do I want our traditions? And this. Pivotal moment for us to start those things. and so I think that that’s a great, a great example of man. It’s difficult to even define success because I wear so many hats. I, I have so many roles in my life. And now as a dad, it’s, you know, that’s yet another role and I own a business now.

And so that’s, that’s yet another rule. So, that’s what the meaning movement is for. It’s you. We, we can be successful. you know, I would say right now my work life is successful, but it also takes a lot of sacrifice to run a business. And so I question every day, if I’m successful as a husband and father, you know, and, and even that’s relative, right?

Uh, because my, my wife grew up in a family where her father was not present. And so to her, my involvement in our family is incredibly successful. Uh, it’s maybe not up to my own standard for myself or my family of origin and, you know, and then there’s also other things in my life that I care about.

And, and am I, am I connecting with all of those things? Am I fulfilling all of those things? that’s hard. , it’s,

Dan: so hard. It was

Raj: it’s, it’s gotten to a place in life where it’s like on any given day. I, I don’t personally know how to define success for my life, but, I’m gonna put you in a difficult position. And I’m gonna say for you personally, Dan,

what does success look like for you right now?

Dan: Yeah. Mm.

Raj: Do you even know?

Dan: Yeah. Um, I, I know some things and I think that’s a really, it’s a really good question. Success for me. I mean, at its, if, if I to, to strip it all the way back to like the, at its core, it’s about my family and providing for my family and creating a, a life that, helps my kids become, wholehearted, full human beings that I think that they they’re, that they’re made to be like helps them become.

to have the freedom, to explore the safety, to, branch out and take risks and a, a safe net to fall back on. you know, all of, all of those things. And I think that’s, you know, that’s what success at its core looks like. I think to get, you know, from there I can get into other areas of life. And I think I, I would like to answer it specifically to the meaning movement.

Because that’s, you know, that’s where we are here today. Like, what does success look like for the meeting movement? For me, it’s, helping people. I mean, could I even just start stop there? but helping people, find a deeper connection to who they are in their work to answer these kinds of questions and to do it in a way that allows me to.

Create the kind of life that I was just talking about for, for my family. And so I think that’s how I currently define success is, is doing both of those things, helping people and, um, you know, being a financially sustainable, effort for me personally,

Raj: Yeah, 

Dan: I’m sure there’s more I could say, but that’s, you know, off the, off the cuff, that’s where I’m at.

Raj: Yeah. So that, that was really interesting for a few reasons. The first is if I, if I had stopped you halfway through that and it, and it was about providing opportunity for your children, uh, you know, providing for your family, that’s all kind of code for financial secur stability and. So, part of the reason I find that interesting is because you also have this other drive, the, the, the meaning movement drive to the, the helping people drive, that is in some ways in competition with that, like we, like we just talked about, we have these different roles in these different identities, because honestly your life would be a little bit.

If you didn’t care about that other stuff, like if you had the luxury of not caring about other people 

Dan: Yes 

Raj: yeah, a lot of our lives would be easier for that, but we’d also probably all end up in jail. So,

 you know, like I said, if we’d stop that sentence halfway through and say, oh, it’s just about provision.

So all we have to do is find Dan a job that’s lucrative enough and a house that’s cheap enough and he’s fine. he’ll set his children up. Well, But then there’s that pesky other piece about purpose, about meaning in our work and gosh, some days it feels like it’d be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about that.

If we didn’t feel the need to scratch that itch. but that is what the meaning movement is for is to help people find the connection between the two. And sometimes it’s about sometimes it’s about finding a different. Other times it’s about, having the job that’s successful having and, and building the life either around it or building the, the passion within that, to feel that sense of meaning, to feel that sense of purpose.

that could be tough. I wanna dig into a second or for a second here. you’ve talked a lot in this episode, in the previous episode. Providing for your family for, you know, financial security again, it’s kind of, kind of the code words for, for that. can you tell me, we’re gonna go deep, fast here and I’m not really gonna apologize for it.

Cause that’s what we’re here for. what was your family like growing up? Like, did you have that sense of financial security and you need, and you feel the need to continue it or did you grow. Maybe a little more scarce and you don’t wanna go back to that. Like what, what causes this kind of drive for you to this sense of financial security?

Dan: this is why you should have these conversations with other people. Cuz like that’s not a question I really ever, like it’s just an assumption. but the fact that you’re like questioning where that assumption comes from. I, I love it.

I think like there were times definitely when things were thin, but mostly, you know, it was mostly comfortable. Right. But you know, at one point my dad’s company made some major cutbacks and he was out of work for a while. And, My mom who had been, you know, at home with us then went back to work.

and so like there’s some, some things like that, but like overall, like we had our needs, our needs met and, and yet, and I think that I don’t know totally where this comes from, but it’s true. I just have one brother and it’s true of him as well. Like we both like have a very strong sense of. Like the family budget is spend as little as possible.

It’s like, like that’s like the default, the default mode and like scrappy frugal, like all of those things very much describe me. So I definitely have this sense of like kind of scarcity that I’m working to overcome. Um, but I’m not a hundred percent sure. You know, like it’s not like we grew up poor and that’s where it came from.

And so I’m not, I’m not even a hundred percent sure. I mean, I know my grandmother, was a war bride from, from France. My grandfather, was a, his parents immigrated, you know, to the us he’s Italian. And I, I feel like some of, I know that they very much lived in that kind of, uh, very much like pinch pension, um, and save as, as you go.

And I feel like that might be a part of it that kind of just has been a part of the family culture. For generations.

Raj: Yeah. And you know, it’s interesting. Uh, I, I hadn’t asked you that question before. Um, I was like asking a, a tough question for the first time while we’re recording, but, it’s interesting how similar our stories are in that way. I grew up, you know, middle class, but my dad’s an immigrant and his family definitely experienced some leaner times.

They’re from India, but from the part that is now Pakistan and they, their family was massively disrupted by the partition. And, uh, so the there’s still some kind of, almost like depression, era mindset. To my dad of, you know, just like wanting to save everything, spend as little as possible. And he pro he provided for our family.

Well, because of that, but there were, there were moments where it was, it was leaner. there were times we couldn’t wear the clothes that we wanted to school and those types of things. And I I’m similar. Like I I’ve, I’ve struggled against the scarcity mindset. I graduated college into a recession and,

you know, and so I have that same mentality at times.

one of the things that I want to ask you though, is if you were to not provide for your family and not be able to provide for your family, how would that make you feel? Like what, what thoughts would run through your mind? Just kind of imagine with me, if you were. you know, if you were unable to provide for your family, you were working, uh, or maybe either injured, unable to work and maybe your wife had to, had to, take a job or whatever.

Like what kind of narratives would exist for you of about yourself in not being able to provide for your family?

Dan: mm-hmm I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is first I’m like, well, that would, that would never happen RA, like it’s not on the menu. Um,

Raj: I would drag myself out of my sick bed all the way

Dan: Exactly. Exactly. I mean that, but that’s, that’s how deep it goes.

but I think, I mean, I think it would be a big, a big struggle for me. Um, I’m not totally sure what story I would tell myself about it.

Raj: What, what part of your identity does it, does that offend the most? Is it like, is it husband? Is it man? Is it, you know, person of faith? Like what part of your identity goes? Oh, I can’t do that.

Dan: yeah, I think it’s like the, the father piece. Like, I feel like that’s where it would feel that feels most palpable is with my, with my kids. but like, even, even with that, like I think it, I’m very holistic in the way that I think about it in like, well, if, you know, if my wife if we had a different, different recipe for how we’re applying our, you know, utilizing our time and it made sense for her to be, to be the, the main income, Then that’s then that’s fine.

And then my role shifts to like, you know, running, running the house, you know, uh, more than, than I do than I do currently. And so I feel like I’d be somewhat adaptable in that, in that regard. but yeah, I feel like that’s the piece where like, okay, like if I envision our, like my family getting to a place where like, yeah, we have to sell our home and we have to, you know, you know, I don’t know. move in with family or like something like, like things like that, like we’re not able to pay the mortgage.

Like that’s where it feels like it would feel like failure. It would feel very, very bad.

Raj: Yeah. Yeah. So for you as a father, beyond being present in their development, in your children’s development in, you know, their emotional wellbeing, their physical safety, there, there’s a connection between. The identity of father and economic production, which is interesting, right? Like at, at the very least it’s something to just kind of drag out into the daylight and, and kind of interrogate.

Is there a version of myself that I could see still being a good father, even if I’m. Not, you know, economically capable of producing

Dan: totally.

Raj: and I think academically we would go well. Yeah, of course. You know, but, but it doesn’t make it any easier. You know, when looking ourselves and considering situations like that, you know, to, to feel that truth, to, to feel like, oh yeah, it’d be fine.

If I lost my job, it’d be fine. If I be fine. If we had to move in with it’s like, no, I would feel like a massive failure. and, and I’m not putting that on anybody who’s listening because, who who’s experienced those things, you shouldn’t be feeling that way. That’s part of what, what we’re saying is that like, There are things that happen in the economy.

There are things that happen to our health. There are things that, we just have no control whatsoever. That put us in those positions and to have that suddenly crumble our entire identity as the father of our children, when there’s a lot more that we could provide for them. Like, like I said, in, in emotional, uh, spiritual, intellectual development in their physical safety, all of those things that you’re still a father, you know, even if you, if you aren’t the breadwinner of the house.

So there’s, there’s some belief in there. Some. Um, that connects those two things for you, and it might just be American society. It might just be, it might be your, your family of origin. It could be any of those things, but they are connected for you maybe in a way that’s slightly oversized or maybe even massively oversized.

Dan: I really appreciate you saying that. And it’s not something I’ve I’ve thought about as, yeah. very much, but it is very much true. Like when I look at my, my parents and then my, my grandparents it’s very much like that’s the family, that’s the, the role of the man and the family. Like, as much as I’m like, would never wish that upon anyone else.

And I would actively say that, like that, you know, I’m very resistant to, to traditional gender roles and like those kinds of things, but like at the same time, like as you’re pointing out, it’s like, yeah, I’m pretty much kind of just living into that. Being as aware of it. And so, yeah, that’s really, that’s a really interesting,

Raj: I, I resist those rules, but I’ve also completely swallowed them.

Dan: yeah, exactly.

Exactly. Yeah. I would never consciously choose them, but I’m totally yeah. Living it out.

Raj: Yeah. And, and I think that that’s part of what makes. Success. So difficult as an adult, you know, it especially kind of in this middle stage of adulthood where, you know, we’ve got children and, and wives and families, all that kinda stuff, where, you know, something like the meaning movement and, and again, kind of building this in public and, and ex examining this in public.

Something like the meaning movement that you care so much about also comes with all of these other. Strings attached that say yes, but I can only be successful in it if I can also, still be a father who financially provides for the family. And, and so it puts a lot of pressure on that and, also makes us sometimes unwilling to, take the risks necessary to make that possible.

Cause they go, well, like you said, in the last episodes, like it’s always produced income and so messing with. Seems dangerous cuz like it, yeah, it’s not good enough yet, but it is, it is still doing something. And so how, you know, how do we, how do we do that? Dance of not messing with it so much that it, uh, you know, that it falls apart or, you know, but then it also makes it so that we can’t necessarily make it sustainable.

Um, and so a lot of that doesn’t even come down to the meaning movement itself. It comes to. Narratives and identities that we bring into the meaning movement. And it’s not just about the meaning movement as you know, anybody who’s listening. Those, this is their job, their work as well of, you know, and, and it can go the opposite direction too, right.

Where you could be a working mom or working dad and feel like you’re a failure because you, because you were working.

it, so it’s not just about the economic piece of it or traditional gender roles. It can feel like whatever narrative plays in our head. you know, that I should be home or I should be doing something else or I should be doing better.

those priorities compete with us and make it really hard. It’s so easy to just get locked up and, and not feel like we can make, uh, any changes because otherwise the whole house of cards will kind of fall

Dan: Yes. Well, I, I, I think that you’re, you’re exactly right. And I think that it’s just so, so much of a parallel to, to listeners, to everyone has been in these situations where like you have something that’s working. Okay. And are you willing to Give up that good thing or whatever goodness is coming from that for the sake of the hope that something better could emerge from it.

And I feel like that’s a question that like often, like, I mean, that’s why people stay, you know, stay in the same job for too long is because they have that job and they can’t imagine something. Better enough, what’s the right word enough, better, better enough, uh, to, to be worth the risk of, of sacrificing of losing what they have.

Right. Whereas, you know, if you’re willing to, you know, to blow it up and let something else emerge, like you, you know, if you can have the, the hope that that’s possible. Then you can, you know, then the only, only then are you willing to make change? And I think that’s, what’s brought me here with, with the meeting movement is, is I, you know, I think I articulated last in the last episode was like that.

I’m at the point where it’s like, it’s gotta go one way or another. It either needs to burn down or emerges something new, but it’s not until like, it’s, I’ve, I’ve felt that pain of, being where it is long enough. And that is palpable enough that I’m willing to, to take that risk. And I hope for listeners that.

You can apply that to your own life of whatever risk that might be on your horizon. Like what, could push you over the edge one way or the other either to say, yeah, I’m never gonna change it’s just not worth it. Cuz this is too good. Or to say yes, there’s actually more that’s possible and it’s worth risking the present in order to build that, that future.

Raj: Yeah. Be honest with me here. and I think I know the answer to this question, but if you were to put all of your effort, Into the meaning movement and it just crashes and fails. Like we, it just, it doesn’t ever find an audience and it doesn’t work. Would that feel better or worse to you than had you not tried enough to know if it was either, like you said, either gonna burn or, you know, burn down or, or take off, which one would feel worse to you not trying enough or trying your hardest and watching it?

Dan: Just the, the, the latter, like watching it, trying, trying my hardest and watching it feel that would, it would hurt. It would not feel good. I would have a lot of emotional work to do, but I would also feel so free knowing that like, I did, I, I gave it my all, I, I left it all in the field and there wasn’t anything more.

That I could do. I ran a, um, I ran a 5k a couple, a couple months ago and, I had this goal it’s it was. I knew going in that it was, felt like a long shot I wanted to be, I wanted to, to be within less, less than 19 minutes for the, for the 5k. my previous best attempt, which was by myself on a track was like 19 minutes and 43 seconds or something like that.

and according to my times in training, I figured I would probably, it would be a long shot for me to make it all the way sub 19 It was the first time I’d ever run a race with, at least in the last, like 15 years with other people. And so there’s like many variables and on a, on a course that I wasn’t familiar with, I ended up at 19 minutes and like 46 seconds.

So not only was I far off my goal, but I didn’t even beat my, my PR from LA the time before which I was really confident that I would, I was really discouraged. When I, you know, like crossed that line, saw the time and just was like, like panting, like, like I, I worked hard, but like, was so frustrated about it.

And then I, I posted it, my, my run on Strava, which is like a sports app, like social, it’s like a social network for runners and bike and cyclists and sports. And so, and you can see you choose how much data to share, but I just put everything there at the pace and everything. And I said a few words about it.

And then a friend of mine was like, I could tell by your heart rate that you left it all out there.

 and I was like, I hadn’t even looked at my heart rate. and then another friend commented on something similar, like, wow, like, holy cow, that’s, that’s like a all out effort. And like, I kind of get emotional, like thinking about this, like, and then I like looked at it and I was like, you know, like basically like redlining, like that whole time.

And like, to be able to say like, it totally like reframed the whole thing for me. I gave that, like, there wasn’t anything that my body could do differently in that race to produce a better, a better outcome. Like it was a hundred percent maximum effort for 19 minutes and 46 seconds or, you know, whatever it was.

and like that I, I performed to the best of the best that my body could in that current training state, which isn’t to say that I, I couldn’t train better and, and do better next time. But like, It’s like such. It is just so fascinating to me how different the framing of, of the outcome is based on, based on that result.

So to know, to, again now, just to bring all the way back here, to what we’re doing here with, with the meaning movement, to know that, like I put it all out there, I gave it my best shot and I didn’t make it. Like, it just feels the word that comes to my is just, it feels clean. Like it feels like I can walk away and say, Like I, I have no regrets. I, yeah, sure. I spent a lot of time. I spent a lot of money. I, you know, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But like personally, emotionally, it would feel like a very, I would feel released, I think is really what it comes down to. And I wouldn’t feel that otherwise

Raj: Yeah. You know, one of the things that, that drew me to the meaning movement to start with was, when I signed up for it, I was at a job that, I finally got to do the things that I I’d always sort of done as the side of my other jobs. as Dan mentioned, he, you know, he started in ministry and it wasn’t a good fit for him.

That was also the case for me. and so, you know, welcome to former pastors anonymous, I guess. Um, but. my last job working for somebody else was I was communications director at a small private college and it was so great because I finally was like, oh my gosh, building websites and writing things and doing photography, all sorts of gifts that I talented I had had, you know, kind of stewarded on the side over the years was my whole job.

And. And it felt that part of it felt really good, but I also had, two kids, at that time who were babies, uh they’re you know, both under two. And I knew that I wasn’t making enough money to provide for the family. And so I felt this struggle between I like the work that I do, and I liked that it was still kind of, it was still kind of in the Christian world and.

And I like those things, but I, but I struggled with, I’ve got this other role, I’ve got this other identity and I can’t make all of these things match. and that’s, that’s the struggle, right? That that’s why. You know, we, we look for other people and, and say, okay, can you help me find the way through this?

Can you help me maintain my sense of meaning? and at the same time, you know, provide for whatever other roles or whatever other things in our lives that, that we’re, that we need to, 

Dan: Hmm.

Raj: I think as we , as we kind of wrap up this time together, something, I would just challenge the people who are listening to.

I know Dan that you’re doing work like this similar in your own life is just write down the roles that you find yourself in your life. Um, sometimes it just, just categorizing those things. Um, you know, at different times of my life that’s include. You know, uh, father and husband and, and worker and volunteer at church at person of faith son.

you know, but sometimes you’ll, you’ll find yourself in. It’s like, oh yeah, I forgot about tee-ball coach. I forgot about this. Uh, you know,

you know, for me, musician is one of those things. Photographer is one of those things and, and when you, when you actually categorize them in that way, then you go, oh my gosh, There’s no way that I could be fully proficient at all of these things.

You know, like if I were to follow music music, as far as my gifting would take me, it would mean making massive sacrifices on my family that I’m just not willing to do. And there is sort of a freedom in that, like you said, where I can decide, okay. Maybe, maybe there was a point in my life where I, if I had stewarded my talent in a D different way and studied harder in music theory, you know, or, or other things that, that maybe I could’ve been a professional musician, but now it would, it would mean disrupting my life so much in ways that I’m not willing to do for good reason.

Dan: Yeah.

Raj: That I cannot follow that, but I can enjoy it as a hobby. And so it kind of has right sized music for me. I bought a mini Taylor guitar last year to play on the couch with my kids and teach them songs that I love and that’s enough right now. you know, and, and even for the rest of my life, that would probably be fine.

It’s the right size for that thing of my life. So again, it would just challenge everybody to, to write. Those roles that you play and try to think of as many as possible and the things that you have identified yourself as over the years. you know, weirdly for me, one, you know, it’s like I’m a writer and somehow in the middle of owning a business, having three kids in 37 months, you know, going through a global pandemic, all those things I’m I managed to write a book.

I’m still not sure if that was a great idea, but I did it. And, you, and, and part of it was that sense of, of feeling like I need to steward this gift. I need to, I, I need to do this. and, but now I’m also having finished the first one. I’m also kind of in a place of, I really I’ve got three other works in progress started, but, but I’m not devoting the same kind of time to them at this moment, uh, because I need to deal.

My mental health and the burnout from last year and all that stuff instead. And so it’s okay for me to kind of push pause on that identity at the moment, because, uh, because it’s the right thing to do for the other priorities that I have. So again, just, just categorizing those things, just writing ’em down, and then if you wanna go farther than that.

Just writing one sentence, sentence. Like I asked Dan to do earlier, just like, what does success look like in each of those things? that’s a huge start on trying to make sense of, Why you could maybe feel successful in one or two areas of your life and then feel, uh, either like you’re failing or even just middling in all these other areas of, of your life.

Part of what I think you’ll find again is that, that when you look at all of those things that, that you attach to your identity, you’re gonna realize that. 24 hours in a day is not enough time, especially when you have to spend eight of those sleeping. , you know, there’s so many times where I was like, gosh, if I just didn’t have to sleep, maybe I could get all this done.

It’s probably not true. But, uh, but I feel like it, it frequently,

Dan: I love that. Well, I think I just wanna add onto that. Cause I think it’s a super helpful exercise and I really appreciate you. You, um, your challenging people with that, I would even think maybe you can add on like a couple more questions. Like I’m picturing this like a spreadsheet, right? You put down all, all of your, your roles in, in rows, across the spreadsheet.

Then the first column you put, like, what is. Look like, but I think what I wanna invite people to, to think about is like, what does success look like to specific the specific stakeholders in, in that role? And so it might be, you know, to use like you, as you, as a father, me as a father, like, what does success look like for, to my kids, for me in that role to my wife, for me in that role.

And then to me, for me in that role, Because what, what will emerge? What does emerge is often like the more we put words to these things, the more we have agency over them control over them. And, and like, I think it actually, what will emerge is like a lot of freedom that like success for me as a, as a dad is even though that’s where we started this whole episode of talking about what does that look like and know provide me for my family, all those things do my kids actually.

Like I don’t, I think they just wanna play a board game, you know, and they want me to, to, you know, pretend to be a cat. That’s like what? My daughter, my four year old, more than is she she’s the princess and I’m her cat. That’s her favorite game. That’s what success looks like. And so like, just to break it down even further, I think, and the more we put words to it, the more freedom we have to then choose, like, okay, now let’s revisit what success looks like for, for you in each of these roles once you’ve considered, like what it actually, how.

The other stakeholders in that, um, you know, in that role would, would, you know, how they would view it. And I think it’d be the same with like, you know, if you’re an overachiever at work, like, does your boss really need you to work that hard or, or, you know, whatever, whatever it might be, you know, to really kind of drill down.

I think you can find a lot of freedom in, in, and can help you then kind of revisit that question of what does success actually look like? What does the definition, what is the definition that I want to use for success?

Raj: And, and even if you don’t find that freedom immediately, it at least lets you know where to start looking.

Dan: Yes. Hundred

Raj: It’s like, if I feel like I’m failing in any of these areas, then, you know, talking that over with your significant other or with your counselor or friends or whoever and saying like, Hey, I’ve got all these demands on who I am at this stage in my life.

I don’t feel like I’m as good of a dad as I want to be, or I don’t feel like I, I am getting ahead at work the way that I want to want to, what should I do here? like, I love that you talked about you just kind of drag it out into the light, like get it out of your head, the worst place for your fears and anxiety to be is just in your head.

If you, once you get ’em on paper, like you said, you get agency over ’em, you have the chance to deal with them. And, and they’re often not nearly as big as, as you think they are.

Dan: Mm. Well said. I love it. I love it. Well, should we call to wrap there? Raj? Is that a it’s good. Good, good place to put the push, the stop, the pause button for today.

Raj: Yep.

Dan: I love it. I love it. Thanks so much, Raj. We’ll catch you in the next episode.Raj: Thanks Dan.

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