When you are in between jobs careers, relationships, or phases of life you are in a state of becoming. It’s a state that we all experience, but rarely discuss as a stage. This makes it even more challenging to navigate.

The School of Becoming is a place where we seek to understand how to navigate this space, learning from experts and people like you and me about what it means to become, professionally and personally.

If this is of interest to you, subscribe to get a weekly dose of inspiration, tools, and information that help you become.

I am looking forward to welcoming you all as Student of Becoming, hear about story, and supporting you on your journey.


Fuel Your Becoming

According to research by Tascha Eurich and team, self-awareness is not only how well you know yourself (internal self-awareness), but also about how well you how others see you (external self-awareness). To quote Eurich:

Self-awareness isn’t one truth. It’s a delicate balance of two distinct, even competing, viewpoints.

Tascha Eurich

Only by knowing both, we can be truly self-aware. If we are lacking internal or external self-awareness we fall into one of four categories.

  • Seeker – I don’t know whom I want, not how others understand me. As a result, I am directionless.
  • Pleaser – I know how others see me but I don’t know who I am. As a result, I end up doing what they want most of the time.
  • Introspector – I know who I am but I don’t know how others see me. As a result, I struggle with relationships and don’t see ways to improve myself until it’s too late. 
  • Aware – I know who I am and I know how others see me. Surprisingly only 10-15% of us are truly (self-) aware according to Eurich.

Tascha Eurich and team, who developed these categories, suggest two simple approaches to improve your overall self- awareness:

  1. Ask for what instead of why? This allows you to find out what makes you happy and seek these events and moments out, intentionally.
  2. Ask for honest feedback from loving critics. Tell them you really want to improve and are looking for new perspectives as it is sometimes easier to see what is going on when you are not in it.

If you want to test your self-awareness, you can take Tascha Eurich’s test. The test will make you answer a couple of questions (internal self-awareness) before you are prompted to invite a person that knows you to provide their answers to the same questions (external self-awareness). In the best case, both align. In the worst case, you know what to work on! You can find the test, here.

We all think we are somewhat self-aware when asked. But it turns out, that we are self-aware to different degrees. This results in four categories of self-awareness: Aware, seeker, pleaser, and introspector. Which one do you fall into?

Are you special? Are you “some one”? I love these questions which Nilofer Merchant just raised on LinkedIn.⁠ Nilofer contributed to our speaker series last year with a session on Onlyness. I really appreciate her for her thought provoking ideas which inspired today’s journal prompt.

This prompt is a great follow-up to last week’s prompt and a reminder that our becoming starts and ends with us. Not the next job or the next lucky break but with who we uniquely are. ⁠

When I think about “How am I special?” I am thinking about what makes me uniquely me. I think that being special comes from a unique combination of qualities including a persons’ values and the resulting attitudes, strength, and purposes. Thinking about it this way made me realize that I am special, while I’m also the same.

I am similar to others as I value education and hanging out with other nerds (at university). I love adventure, exploring and living in new places. I enjoy the freedom to create what I find meaningful. Taken by themselves these things are not that special. However, I think that the combination is. It is the combination that makes me a misfit for the university as I love adventure and the freedom to create new, meaningful, things. I am a misfit for larger organizations as I hate repetitive tasks and hierarchies – although I acknowledge their value. The list goes on.

But knowing that I am a misfit that does not fit 100% in any of these places makes me realize that I am special. It made me move on pushed me to discover who I am. It also made me realize which places I can uniquely occupy in the world. And while the journey wasn’t easy I am happy to have found a place where I can be the “special” person I am today 😉

This brings me back to you and the question:

How are you special?

Journal Prompt #7

Every time I hear the question “What is your purpose?” I want to ask “What do you mean by purpose?”

Most of us are challenged by this question, and I was too. Researching the topic, I realized that three myths that stop us from finding and answer and recognizing that we might already experience purpose in our lives.

Myth 1: It has to be big!

When we think about purpose, we often think about “saving the planet” or “ending slavery.” But a purpose does not have to be big. At the end of the day, purpose is about believing that your action contributes to what Prof. William (bill) Damone (Stanford University) calls “super goal” or “ultimate concern”. In comparison to everyday goals, purpose can never be achieved and it goes beyond personal interest. As such it has to be about other people and you believing (and feeling) that what you do has an impact. This could be you supporting your kids with homework, contributing to your community by shopping local, or you volunteering at a local organization that works towards a cause you recognize as meaningful. 

Myth 2: There is only one purpose.

Research by Damone has shown that only 20% of people can identify a single purpose. 80% have either none or multiple purposes. So yes, you can work on gender equality and support your kids and find both purposeful. Further, it means that you don’t have to have a purpose, although it might benefit your motivation and give you a feeling of meaning in life.

Myth 3: You can rationalize it.

Various exercises seem to suggest that we can rationalize our purpose. These exercises can indeed help us increase the chances of finding purpose. After all, researchers have found ways to assess purpose which allows us to understand some of its “components”. However, rationalizing purpose is no substitute for experiencing it. Experiencing purpose is also about an emotional response. That response is hard to conceptualize and is mostly experienced in the moment. Thus, in case you have a hunch of what it is, be mindful the next time you work towards your “super goal”. What you feel will help you to understand if you are on the right path or not.

You probably got the question "What is your purpose?" at some point in your life. The question is not that easy to answer, partly because of the following three myth.

We all have our standard responses to “Who are you?” But who is the person behind the title, the achievements, and the physical features? Who are you, really?

I recently read the book “In Love With The World – A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos Of Living and Dying” by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Helen Tworkov. In the book the authors describe Yongey Minguyr Rinpoche journey from living in a monastery to sneaking out and spending the next four years on a wandering retreat without a title and a role.

Early on in the story, the author found himself wondering about who he was, beyond titles (I am a monk), his name, his skills, and physical appearance. Asking himself numerous times, he tries to peel back the layers of his identity in an effort to figure out his essence.

Inspired by this story, I started to ask myself “Who am I, really?” I have to admit, it is not easy to answer. In the past, I made it easy for myself. Based on the situation, I would refer to an appropriate title such as professor, designer, or student. Starting to journal on this question, I was tempted to do the same and I feared running out of words. But, to my surprise, I didn’t. There are things that I forgot and took for granted that surfaced, and although I feel that I am at the beginning of this journey, I enjoyed peeling back the first layer.

Based on this experience, I can already tell you that this prompt is worth pondering about, as knowing who you are is the first step in finding what you want.

So, in case you want to challenge yourself, ask yourself:

Who am I, really?

Journal Prompt #6

Suzana found herself walking around moping, surfing the internet, when she clicked on a video trailer that changed her life and career in unexpected ways.

In her story Suzana shares how her perspective on life in 5 unexpected ways as a result of the walk.

Read Suzana’s full story in her blogpost.

Suzana Barbosa, a successful musician who had a signed deal with Universal Records, was at the ends of her wits. She had been a musician and a songwriter for 15 years, but that all ended, almost overnight.

I love this prompt, but it is challenging to answer. Every time I do it, it takes me a while to focus on myself and not think about my friends, girlfriend, or parents. But once I get into the flow of writing, what I write helps me to discover what I truly long to create in my life, and serves as an inspiration to make small changes.

In the past I came up with ideas of being a train conductor that travels North America, a stay at home son and friend, and a world problem conference organizer. And while I know I won‘t change my life in these radical ways, these ideas show me what’s missing or what i need to cultivate in my life.

For example, They inspired me to dedicate more quality time with my loved ones, play chess with my dad, learn photography from my brother, and paint with my mom.

So I challenge you, to ask yourself:

What would I want to do next if money, fame and the opinions of others weren‘t a thing?

Journal Prompt #5

I can’t do this! This was how I felt two weeks ago when I thought about launching an online life design course. I had taught this course for the last 8 years, yet I felt like I couldn’t do it.

Teaching students about imposter syndrome, and missing self-efficacy (your belief in your ability to perform), I knew that there was a way to overcome this. Never the less it was challenging to engage.

According to research there are four ways or keys to overcome this barrier and build your belief in your abilities. So, I thought I would run a little experiment. Based on what I knew, I had the following five options based on these four keys that I knew would – theoretically – improve my belief in my abilities:

  1. Find someone like me who did what I want to do.
  2. Find people I trust and that can give you a pep talk.
  3. Practice to get an experience that shows me, I can do it.
  4. Get someone with experience, who can hold your hand.
  5. Keep your psychological and physiological state in mind. e.g. I have more willpower in the morning.

Here what I did:

  1. I searched (and watched) videos of other professors who developed their own courses – after all I feel closer to them than to internet marketers. Nerd alert! 
  2. I reached out with a LinkedIn video and an email to people I trust and worked with to ask “Should I do this” and “Would you Join me.” The feedback was amazing and it really encouraged me to take the next step.
  3. I discussed this idea with my girlfriend – who has marketing experience – and who gave me another pep talk.
  4. Lastly, I did most of these things first thing in the morning. This prevented me from overthinking it and feeling low on energy.

And now, two weeks later, I finally trusted myself to put a landing page up offering my Life Design course online, for the first time. The page isn’t finished, yet – it will launch tomorrow. However, doing the things I did, especially talking to people about it, did not only effect my belief, but also my motivation! I am really excited, which I didn’t expect.

We all know this feeling. We stand at the top of a diving platform, the water surface 10 m below us. Rationally we know we can do this, yet we feel like we can’t.