Sometimes it’s easier to name what you’re against than it is to state what you’re for.
Think about Super Heroes for a moment. On one hand, you have what makes them special:
- Particular powers: Superman has strength and X-ray vision; Spiderman has spider senses and abilities; Professor Xavier has telepathic powers.
- Particular resources: Batman and Iron Man have lots of money to build machines to help them.
On the other hand you have what and who they are trying to stop:
- Batman, driven by the unjust murder of his parents, seeks revenge by bringing criminals to justice. His arch nemesis is the Joker— a psychopathic criminal mastermind.
- Xavier is trying to create a society in which mutants and non-mutants can live together peacefully. He is fighting against violence toward non-mutants by mutants and violence toward mutants by non-mutants. His arch nemesis is Magneto who is trying to establish a mutant-controlled world through violence and oppression of non-mutants.
To understand a superhero’s story, we have to know what they’re fighting against. An arch nemesis is a personification of that mission. If they’re not fighting something, there’s no story. If there’s no arch nemesis, there wouldn’t be a purpose to their powers and resources. They wouldn’t have a mission.
Similar to these heroes, your life’s work is about fighting something. It’s about preventing and healing some kind of difficulty.
A hero isn’t a hero unless she stands up against something. What are you against?[tweet that]
Who/what is your arch nemesis or rival? What are you trying to change?
It’s ok if you don’t know yet. But spend a few moments thinking about it. Try to draft some words for it.
What is it that you have a desire to stop, break, change, heal, destroy?
What are the things that break your heart and make you angry? What is it that you want to stop?
Some might answer loneliness, self-doubt, sexism, racism, lostness, hopelessness, poverty, apathy, homelessness, etc. The list would be as varied as each of you.
An essential part of knowing your life’s work is knowing what you’re against.