What is it that I’m trying to do?
A simple life for all
In 18 & Lost? So Were We, I wrote about my life after leaving high school, and the feeling of being lost, the feeling of going through the motions.
I’m 27 years old at time of writing. Those years feel like a lifetime ago, and that boy who lived them feels like a stranger to me.
We are, each of us, the culmination of our stories — those stories crystallise how we’ve interpreted and encoded the events of our lives. Though it’s never too late to re-write your story, those earlier pages will always be part of it.
When ‘things changed’ for me, it was like the opening of A Thousand Doors. Not a room with a Thousand Doors mind you. I speak of the Doors sequentially — Door after Door, Room after Room. I realised a larger number of possibilities for myself, and I found myself creating my own path. This has been a very gradual journey, but it has been a huge privilege.
As I’ve continued on my path, the calling to write and speak about the things I’ve noticed, learnt, seen and thought of has leapt from my mind and out into the world.
It has become inextricable from the rest of me — it has become part of my story.
But why? What do I want to do?
In the Introduction to The With Joe Wehbe Podcast, made in November of 2020, I talked about potential. “Something I know about you, right now” I said in the episode, “Is that no matter who you are, you can’t see your full potential right now… it lies hidden, behind Doors”.
Any work that aims to unlock or enlighten people is notably hard to articulate or summarise with mere words. I’ve thought about this from time-to-time. So much of what I do seems to flow out of me, like water down a river — it does not pause to think about whether it should flow, it just flows.
One word I think about a lot is ‘potential’. Is it my goal to unlock people’s potential? Hmm… well some of the happiest people I know leave their potential untapped, recognising the difference between what they can do and what they should do.
Pushing people towards what they could do doesn’t always go well
This is normally the mistake of pushy parents, as well as people who identify heavily with the worlds of entrepreneurship, personal development and self-awareness. Noticing a gap between someone’s potential and the realisation of that potential, our impulse is to see them fill it, even if that’s not what they want.
Just because you have the potential to grow your company, does that mean you should?
Just because you could be a world class singer, does that mean you should?
At the same time, potential is a big part of it (that which I aspire to achieve), and so many of us have fatally unfulfilled potential.
My conclusion is that speaking of potential is too vague. There is a condition we must insert — the alignment between the individual’s key internal drives and the unique potential they possess. I often reflect on this with the principle of ‘I only do what only I can do’, a quote from Jack Delosa. My version of that might look quite entrepreneurial, whereas for someone like my grandfather, who wasn’t a writer or big businessman, it was creating a good life for his family and being a faultless community member.
There is nobility to be found in both lives, but nothing links them but the individual’s role in determining them.
And there we have something airtight to state as our goal — it is a condition we can add to this vague goal of ‘helping people fulfill their potential’. It is a suffix and it is very simple, comprising of two very simple words…
I hope to open Doors for people so they can just be themselves. It’s something the great Gilly always emphasises, and what he loves about communities like the Constant Student — creating spaces where people can just be.
This becomes a very noble, singular objective, especially while it is so clear to me that being yourself is not an easy accomplishment in this world.
Some people are meant to create tech companies, others are meant to live quite simply or away from big city life. All lives are valid, and all ways of ‘just being’ are valid, because they are individually determined. Improving the agency of people to just be themselves, whatever that means to them, means everything to me.
That diversity is the great gift of our times, but it is so easy to overlook that.
I believe that every living organism is born and created with an aspect of inherit remarkability. I’m yet to see evidence that suggests otherwise, but my mind remains forever open. For human beings, we are called to share this remarkability on an even grander scale.
The haters might say, but Joe, we need an influx of entrepreneurs, thinkers, people to create a better future!
And I would say, ‘I agree’.
I would say, ‘we unlock that, if we just let people be themselves’.
Some would rush to the outcome of making things bigger and better, making people more ‘intelligent’, richer and more comfortable.
But if we focus too much on those outcomes, we miss the larger, more important goal, of just being.
Those are the Doors I want to open… those which unlock a simple life for all.