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What’s next?

Years ago, I met a very bright, aggressive and brilliant marketing lady who happened to be my business competitor way back those days when I was still in garments. Her brand was gaining up on us and creating a substantial command of the local market share. We would often meet and exchange pleasantries because competitors tend to meet and see each other whenever a new mall is being inaugurated.

A few years later her brand had overtaken ours. I knew it and she knows it but this time we discussed things honestly and with candor. She said, “Francis, it’s very near… it’s very close… we are about to dislodge the country’s number one garment brand.”

I looked at her ethos, her excitement and admired her directness. Then I asked her a very simple question. “So you have been building your entire career wanting to dislodge this number one brand and you’re close to it right?”

Again with enviable excitement and energy she said, “Yes Francis, we’re very close.”

I said, “Well you have beaten us. You’ve beaten a lot of other brands and now here is just that one brand you want to beat. What’s next after that?”

She looked at me in a quizzical way and said, “Francis, maybe you have not done enough research into this competitors of us. Don’t you know that they have held on to the number position for these number of years and that there is finally a brand coming close enough to beat them?”

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I smiled at her and said, “I admire your enthusiasm and if only everyone in an organization has yours then they would definitely accomplish a lot more. But assuming you capture the number 1 slot and dislodge them. What comes next for you?”

This time her smile dissipated and with a light frown on her face she now stared at me with fiery eyes and said, “Francis don’t you understand the meaning of this? This brand was unbeatable and a legend. And now we are about to remove them from that status. If you were in my position wouldn’t you be ecstatic about it?”

I smiled and with a softer voice I said, “I get it, I understand all that you are saying and I am happy for you because you are now so close to the realization of your dreams but you have not actually answered my question. The moment you reach the pinnacle of your dream you should of course celebrate your success. But still the question remains: What’s next for you?”

And this time she stayed quiet and stared at me. I maintained my smile awaiting an answer. It never came. The store opening ceremony started which was a relief for both of us at that given situation.

Many years later we met and we have both added a few years to our age. After the usual pleasantries, I asked her how she has been doing in her company.

She said, “Oh I have left the company. I am now doing something else.”

“Something wrong with the company?” I asked.

“Oh no they are still number one in the industry. But Francis, that day during the store opening many years ago, when you asked me what comes next to for me after achieving my goal to be number one and I did… it haunted me like crazy and it spurred me to search for something else more meaningful than what the victory offered. I never knew you were serious and philosophical. I began searching and this is why I left the company and did something else. After getting the number one spot, there was nothing there for me anymore.”

She is not alone in this journey and discovery. I am sure she is doing very well today. This would explain the reason why boxers reaching their number one status, actors and actresses receiving their Oscars, basketball players and rock stars reaching the heights of their dreams would spiral downwards from there. Businessmen and professional executives are not exempted from this too.

There is a difference between a personal goal and a personal purpose. A goal is something you want to achieve for yourself and can provide momentary satisfaction when reached. A purpose usually involves something that is focused on serving and bringing good to others that will always bring fulfillment and meaning to one’s existence.

Young people now are having their quarter life crisis. Old people still do not know why they exist in this world despite their billions in whatever currency you propose. There is always an existential hug in the heart of everyone but people do not talk about it, it’s not something to be bragged about but it is there.

Perhaps, the question I would like to ask you is this--You have your goals and you probably have even surpassed it. Congratulations. But what’s next? And what would be your purpose?

(Attend this whole day conference called “Live Full. Die Empty” featuring bestselling author and productivity expert Todd Henry, successful executive Vic Gregorio, Francis Kong to talk about Passion, Productivity and Purpose on November 9, 2017 at Samsung Hall, SM Aura. For registration or inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798)

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