Individualism - A timeless principle for discovering life’s purpose

4/3/20244 min read

person standing at the top of mountain
person standing at the top of mountain

“Ever since I was a child, I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and the duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential”

- Bruce Lee

The last 5-6 decades have seen the mushrooming of private corporations in almost every industry. Some of these companies are extremely influential multibillion-dollar entities that command the attention of a sizeable chunk of the world population. These include social media giants, oil majors, online retailers, FMCG groups, software companies, etc. At the core of these companies are their employees who work as part of the team assigned to them for delivering the company targets. The moment they are hired, among the plethora of corporate jargon that they are bombarded with, ‘teamwork’ finds prominence in almost all training sessions and workshops that they attend as part of their induction program. Individual consultants are also hired to work on specific assignments, but they too are a part of a larger departmental / functional group. While teamwork actually is one of the most important requirements for any employee to prosper in an organisation, it restricts him / her to explore the limits of what he / she is capable of achieving as an individual. In a team, the effort required from each of its members is directly proportional to the desired output and the available time, both of which are constraints to an unhindered individual exploration of an interesting assignment. Therefore, for testing one’s true potential, it is often necessary to disassociate oneself from others and embark upon an individual journey of self-discovery. Of course, during the journey, one would require assistance from family and friends, but the effort put in and the resulting outcome are purely individualistic and hence supremely satisfying in nature.

The world wouldn't have seen so many great minds achieve the most impossible of the feats, if not for their appetite for sacrifices and single-minded focus for pursuing what stirred their curiosity. The scientific works of Archimedes, Galileo Galilei, Thomas Alva Edison, Marie Curie Sklodowska, Louis Pasteur, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and many other similar minds would have required unshakable faith and singularly individual efforts from their creators before becoming the greatest works of all time. The sporting giants like Major Dhyanchand, Muhammad Ali, Sachin Tendulkar, Usain Bolt, Lionel Messi, Lin Dan, Michael Schumacher, Roger Federer, etc. must have had an unwavering belief in their capabilities and shown moments of individual brilliance before becoming all time greats of their respective sports. The literary works of William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Roald Dahl, Mark Twain, JK Rowling, Ruskin Bond and the likes, would’ve definitely required monumental powers of concentration and imagination from their authors before becoming the must-read books for all humanity, present and future. Similar to these three fields, the majority of the game-changing discoveries, inventions, business ideas and achievements, could see the dawn of the day due to the romance of the willpowers of a few passionate individuals with their distinctly unique thoughts. These individuals must have been belittled during the initial stages of their endeavours, challenged thereafter upon showing resistance and eventually ridiculed when being openly defiant. Furthermore, they would have made sacrifices on the family front, alienated themselves from the society and renounced all types of entertainment. The only focus in their lives would’ve been that ‘distinctly unique thought’ and their devotion to it. During this process, had they not tested their potential to the point of physical / mental / social breakdown, the world would have certainly been a lesser place to live in. One may wonder - why to embark upon the journey of self-discovery when it entails so much sacrifice and renunciation of worldly pleasures? The answer lies in one statement - ‘the cure to one of the most prevalent (yet often ignored) ‘diseases’ of the 21st century, i.e. meaninglessness, lies within us, in the true discovery of our potential’.

‘Meaninglessness’ of one’s existence, is the vague, fleeting sense of 24x7 purposelessness that grasps an individual and affects his daily activities at work, outside work and at home. Gradually, it manifests into physical and mental ailments like untreatable body weakness, headache, ennui, and extreme irritation. The best cure is to discover some purpose in life and then devote oneself to it for a sufficiently long time. However, realizing that one actually needs a ‘purpose’ and then zeroing in on it, are two of the biggest hurdles that people find in their lives. Unfortunately, there are no set recommendations or guidelines to overcome these hurdles. It ultimately depends on the concerned individual, the level of his personal satisfaction as well as the physical, mental, social and financial sacrifices that he is willing to make by devoting time and effort to finding his purpose. Once a purpose or even a vague sense of purpose is discovered, an enriching and life-changing journey of self-discovery starts, wherein the more an individual focuses on his ‘purpose’, the closer he gets to realising his true potential. The best part is that this journey is purely individualistic in nature - one is his / her own boss, there are no deadlines and schedules to meet, there are no performance evaluations or interferences from other individuals and most importantly there is no cap on what can be achieved. Therefore, one must channelise his / her efforts, initially, to finding a purpose in life and subsequently to mastering it. The biggest underachievement isn’t in ‘not finding a purpose’, it is in finding one and not valuing it enough till it gets too late and one is only left with ‘regrets to deal with’!