Peter Diamandis of Singularity University is known worldwide as a man on a mission to solve some of the grand challenges of humanity. His organisation Singularity University is one of the most influential places to go if you want to incubate moonshot thinking as a way of life. He’s had a lifelong passion for space exploration and the power of exponential technology . Peter uses two questions that help you explore and find your purpose or passion in life.
1. What did you dream about doing as a child?
2. If you had $1billion to change something for the better in the world, to solve a problem, what would you do?
What was your dream as a child?
As a child we all have dreams. Many of us go on to fulfil those in our careers straight away. As a child all I ever dreamed of was a life with animals, mainly horses. I wanted to be a vet, work with Joy and George Adamson in Africa, and explore the oceans with Jacques Cousteau.
What did you dream about as a child? As Peter shares in the clip above, there are many circuitous routes you can take to fulfil those dreams. He speaks about the geeky kid who wanted to be an astronaut. A kid who happened to love computer games and became so good at them he created a global business that he sold for millions. Money he used to buy himself a seat on the first commercial space flight.
Ok, if your dream was to play football for Manchester United and you’re now in your forties – I have bad news! It’s not likely to happen. But there’s nothing stopping you taking that sports coaching training, starting with your local team and working your way up to being the best sports coach you could be, is there?
This takes time to remember.
- Take time out each day – just 10 minutes is enough – to remember those dreams
- Fill a whiteboard with memories of all those childhood dreams you had – however crazy
- Keep a journal of each dream and research businesses currently operating in that space.
Not all of your childhood dreams will translate into a business, but some just might. The most important step is to start going back and remembering what they were, to re-ignite that excitement and sense of wonder you felt as a child. That’s the first step towards creating a purpose-led enterprise.
What can you get inspiration if you need a new dream?
But what if your childhood dream doesn’t lend itself to a business or you have already fulfilled that dream? When you have fulfilled your childhood dream, it takes time to find a new dream so you have to sit with what I describe as the ‘creative pause’ a little while to allow a new dream to emerge. Peter’s second question here is great.
The best model you can sit with and explore are the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Almost all the world’s most pressing problems are encapsulated in these 17 goals. And guess what? If you’re commercially minded, this is also where there is a lot of opportunity to create a purpose-led and valuable business too.
Sitting with question two takes persistence because it is a question that throws up all your self-limiting beliefs immediately. Don’t focus on the $1billion and start limiting your ideas because you don’t have $1billion. First find the problem that absorbs you and then scale it down to whatever size you’re comfortable to start at. Experimentation is key here.
If the answer is ‘change the way we grow our food to 100% organic’ – start in your own garden. Get a group of neighbours to grow organic in their front gardens and share the food with the street. Get a small group together, buy a field and build a local community that wants to grow organic food. Experiment and learn until you’re ready for your dream to take commercial shape. Or create a new food snack brand that’s plant based – I know one young startup that’s aiming to replace popcorn with split-peas!
If your answer is ‘stop ocean pollution’, the world’s your oyster. You could invent a plastic collection boom like young scientist Boyan Slat. If it’s marine life, you could start a tourist business that educates people about whales and dolphins like ex-lawyer Pedro Filipe of Horta Cetaceos and about the pollution that threatens them. If it’s protecting fish stocks, you could start a kelp farming business.
If you care passionately about the loss of our rainforests, you can be an activist, work for WWF or Rainforest Alliance. Or like Topher White, you can invent a listening device that focuses on one sound only – a chainsaw. Which helps trackers find illegal loggers faster than ever before. And if you’re really smart you can make it from old phones and help solve recycling too!
Are you passionate about education? You can produce innovative educational materials like Digital Explorer, train teachers how to embed more creativity in the existing curriculum like Seahorse Education or provide entrepreneurial experiences as we do at Earthkind.
Is clean tech your thing? Laurence Kemball Cook of Pavegen took 2 years in his bedroom to invent technology that could capture kinetic energy from flooring and convert it into clean energy for local lighting and data capture, and another 5 years to turn it into a thriving startup, but now it’s flying.
There are endless opportunities for successful new businesses in the world, but it starts with the courage to dream followed by the commitment to learn everything you can about the arena you want to play in.
And it all starts with purpose. Have a think about yours and let me know how you get on!