Everything You Never Knew You Always Wanted

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Latest Essays

David Perell, a burgeoning online writer who had the good sense to transplant to Austin, Texas from New York City, is also the prolific muse of thousands of aspiring writers who seek to learn how to leverage the Internet as a channel for their own writing.  Perell focuses on the strategy, structure and specialization required to optimize the Internet as a distribution channel – and one of the pillars of this coursework is the concept of a personal monopoly.  

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a monopoly as: exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concentrated action…exclusive possession or control.  So, a personal monopoly can be seen as something within a person (command of supply), innate or otherwise part and parcel, that can be leveraged through concerted action.  The concept is really an encouraging trumpet blast for writers to share what is singularly unique about themselves, their expertise and their interests.

During his online coursework, named Write of Passage (WoP for short), Perell quotes Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize winning physicist, to invoke an idea that Feynman once described as “ your twelve favorite problems.”  Perell suggests that, when thoughtfully devised and developed, the twelve favorite problems exercise (codifying your 12 favorite problems) becomes the basis for the development of a personal monopoly.

Perell further goes on to describe the idea of a personal monopoly using Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist and vocalist with the Grateful Dead, as an example – which is probably a mistake on almost every level.   Had he used Steve Perry of the incredibly talented rock band Journey, I think this concept would be much more clear to me.  But, I digress.

Having done performance life coaching work in this area for two decades, I tend to agree with Perell (outside of the Garcia thing), but I’d take the idea of a personal monopoly one step further.  The “twelve problems’ exercise, when properly completed, allows both powerful and vexing issues to bubble up from our cluttered conscious and subconscious mind.  These problems (or challenges) are always with us to the extent that we may eventually become accustomed to their weight.  And, the twelve favorite problems exercise brings new awareness of these issues in need of attention to the forefront.

To better understand how your twelve favorite problems might be inextricably linked to your everyday existence yet settle just below your active, conscious horizon, consider the time you searched frantically for your favorite pair of sunglasses, only to have someone point out that they were on the top your head (or trucker’s cap if you’re from Texas).  We have become accustomed to the existence of these problems and their constant presence to the extent that we, in a sense, have forgotten that they are always with us.

Once your twelve problems merge into your everyday awareness, you will likely also become aware of 3-4 themes that run throughout.  These themes give you clues about your unique purpose in this life.  Even better, these themes typically reflect elements of your passion, your moral compass – and present problems that you are often uniquely suited to solve.  Why?  Because, these problems emerge from the depths of who you are – they are the siren’s song (in a good way) of your soul – bringing you closer to where you were formed to be and what you were made to do.

I use the word “made” in the above paragraph purposely, because each human being is uniquely made (as we are all uniquely different), and a uniquely made being must have a unique purpose that is all their own.

In effect, your unique purpose is your birthright and your most pure and powerful personal monopoly.

Unique purpose can be a difficult concept to get both arms around, so try thinking about the idea of purpose utilizing the beauty of mathematics, specifically transitive property.  In short, if a=b and b=c. then a=c.

Here’s how this works: if you are wholly unique, it stands to reason that you are uniquely made, and if you are uniquely made, you must have a unique purpose with which to apply your unique make-up.

Put another way, if you are uniquely made (one-of-a-kind), then there are things in this world that only you are perfectly suited to do, and those perfectly suited things that only you should do, define and shape your unique purpose in this life.

The twelve problems exercise is a great place to start your search to discover your unique purpose.  Uncovering your unique purpose can become as much a journey as a destination – so don’t rush what is a logical and yet intuitive process that must be cared for and managed over time.  As Joshua Chamberlain wrote, “It is only when a man supremely gives that he supremely finds.”  To succeed, give supremely in your effort to discover purpose.

As a powerful “start here” exercise, sit quietly and imagine (or meditate) what clues your “future self” might offer you during a conversation about purpose – ask your “future you” about your twelve problems and their link to purpose.  Pay close attention to symbolism; our subconscious mind rarely speaks plainly.

In addition, search for the common denominator in your passions as a child, when your unique make-up was free to roam and explore unencumbered by social convention or restriction.  When the entire world was new and fresh, what did you love most and why?

Remember that your purpose never violates your moral code – that purpose is linked to the sharing of your light.  And, don’t worry – you are uniquely qualified to discover your unique purpose, and your ever-present intention to do so will be your guide.

Know that your purpose may take you in directions that are vastly different from the course on which your plans have been laid.  Get comfortable with that, or resistance and unwanted detours will surly convolute your search for purpose.

Lastly, remember that purpose – your purest personal monopoly – is rarely aligned with what we know we “want” – instead purpose delivers everything we never knew we always wanted.

So dig deep, consider whatever your inner self tells you.

Seek and you shall find.

Faithful / Strong / Courageous

Chief Kirk



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