Find Your Quest
If you’re looking to get to your next chapter, here’s some unsolicited advice:
Forget about looking for your passion.
It likely won’t get you there.
Don’t believe anyone who says:
“Find your passion then everything else will follow.”
“Find your passion then you’ll find the life/job you want.”
“Find your passion and the money will follow”.
Life doesn’t work through your passion.
Getting your life to a new chapter is an unpredictable, unknowable, gully riddled quest journey.
And what is my definition of a quest journey?
A journey that expands one physically, emotionally and mentally. A journey that taps into everything you know and makes you aware of everything you don’t.
I often harken back to the elements of a quest story when I talk to someone looking to make a radical change in their life. Knowing the steps in a quest journey story can help them be more mindful and better prepared for the ziggy-zaggy, pothole riddled road they are traveling.
Five Basic Steps in a Quest Story
Here are the 5 basic steps in a quest journey story you will likely come upon as you move toward your next chapter:
The hero (You): Get’s knocked off her feet. Sometimes it’s a gentle nudge (like you’re just feeling a little unhappy) other times you get knocked on your ass (like you lose a job, have a health scare, get dumped by a partner, someone meaningful dies). Most of us don’t do a damn thing about changing our lives until something happens to us that shakes our world.
The hero (You): Goes searching for a new path, a new way. I know you’re doing that because you’re reading this website.
The hero (You): Goes looking or stumbles upon some like-minded comrades. That’s why you read and you’re cruising around this website (see Step 2). Finding your tribe can be critical to success. Surrounding yourself with those you trust will: (1) support you on the tough days when your journey gets rocky and (2) create an accountability mechanism that’s always instrumental in execution.
The hero (You): Keeps trying new habits, new routines, new thinking, new jobs, new experiments — but keeps running into bumps, gets bruised, fed-up, tired, annoyed and hits a plateaus. You definitely get tested. This will go on forever. It is called life.
An aside: I love the wonderful comment in this video from Neil deGrasse Tyson when asked by Tavis Smiley about the rocket that exploded on Elon Musk. I paraphrase but deGrasse Tyson argued that if the rocket didn’t explode on Musk it would have meant he wasn’t pushing the boundaries, trying new things, expanding his knowledge.
The hero (You): Rethinks assumptions, learns a few new things, tries different actions, takes new steps — until she achieves the immediate goal — or something close to it.
Stories end — but your quest journey and my quest journey are happily on-going. Thank goodness — otherwise, it will likely be the end of our road.
There’s more to say on finding your quest. For now, below are a few BookBundles that might help you while you’re on the road.
Questions to Consider:
- How do you feel about your career? Or is it a quest? Do you want to be on a quest?
- If money were no object, what would your ‘work’ life look like? Career or Quest?
- If you’d rather be on a quest, what steps can you take to get yourself on that journey?
- As you read, what do your authors say about careers & quests that appeal to you?
Book Published 1980
Image: Bogaerts, Rob/Anefo
Book Published 1998
Image: Robert Greene via flickr
THE NAME OF THE ROSE BY UMBERTO ECO
If you are expecting the novel, The Name of the Rose to feel like the Sean Connery movie, you will be sorely disappointed.
If, however, as you read you are willing to:
- put in some serious cognitive effort,
- trust the process,
- be patient, observant and pivot when given new information
you will be richly rewarded. These are also skills you will need to find and achieve your quest.
Here is a review by David Samuel Fish on Umberto Eco’s novel. His elegant review is an accurate assessment of this novel’s reading experience as well as the experience of many as they travel the path toward their quest.
THE 48 LAWS OF POWER BY ROBERT GREENE
In 1998, when Robert Greene published his first book, The 48 Laws of Power he was castigated in several reviews. Green often recounts in interviews that one magazine called it “chicken soup for the soulless.”
So, why you might ask, have I included it here in a category titled, Finding Your Quest?
Because I think there is so much soft and useless banter posted on the internet, sent in email newsletters and packaged for sale in on-line courses that makes finding your quest sound like some beautiful, blue sky journey.
Finding and achieving your quest is bloody hard if you want to do it right and you want to do it well; you’d better develop tough skin. Otherwise, you’re not going to have the mental and physical stamina to travel the path and achieve your quest. I don’t agree with everything written in The 48 Laws of Power — but I do think Greene’s assessment is more realistic than not and I guarantee you’ll come up against a few of his Laws in your quest. His books is a good wake up call to see the world through clear lenses — not rose colored glasses.
So, you ask, what are the 48 Laws of Power? Here they are in two formats:
Book Published 1946
Book Published 2008
Image: Katie Chan
THE BIG SLEEP BY RAYMOND CHANDLER
By the time Raymond Chandler at age 51 published, The Big Sleep, his iconic detective story that introduced the world to his quintessential gum shoe, Philip Marlowe he had been on a long quest as a writer; initially with poetry and pulp fiction and later as a Hollywood screenwriter.
Philip Marlowe is a tough, cigarette smoking, hard-drinking private detective; on the right side of the law, sometimes just barely. There’s a story with him but we’re never sure exactly how much we really want to know. He’s not the nicest guy nor the smartest but he’s a worker — staying on the case till he’s got it solved. He’s always following his quest. He’s always for hire to solve the crime and expose the really bad guys to face justice.
If you don’t get to read the book, at least watch the Howard Hawkes film of the same name with Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall. It’s a must!! Here’s a 1997 review from the late, Roger Ebert.
THE AGE OF WONDER BY RICHARD HOLMES
Richard Holmes beautiful book, The Age of Wonder tells the story of the individuals who were on the cutting edge of science in the 19th century. Men and women who were obsessed with their particular quest seeking both answers and beauty.
The men and women profiled here are barely known to most people today; but they had a profound impact upon our world. People like Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, William Herschel and his sister, Caroline were dedicated to the quest for greater knowledge about man and his Universe. Often, it cost them personally and professionally but we have benefitted.
The Age of Wonder is not for everyone. It’s a dense read but for those interested in the quest, it is worth the effort. If you yourself are on a quest, it will provide you with quiet encouragement to continue your journey.
This might seem like a weird recommendation — but run with me on this one and give it a listen.
The Moth — it’s an event & podcast whose mission is “to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.”
The Moth was launched in 1997 by by the novelist George Dawes Green with the first event held in his living room. The Moth has grown substantially with events produced nationwide as well as formal educational programs for both students & professionals. It’s a classic example of one person’s quest becoming a passion that leads to a movement that widens the world and makes it just a tiny bit better.
Here’s a fantastic story I particularly enjoyed — “Have You Met Him Yet” by David Litt.
We all have a story to tell. What’s your story? When are you going to tell it?
N.B. I need to thank my sister, Gretchen for turning me on to this gem. Her good friend and neighbor, Jian Powell is a fantastic storyteller.