On the Search for Purpose with David Blum

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Julia

David Blum loves purpose, variety and freedom. Ever since he realized that a classic business career is not for him, he has been searching for a meaningful job and is now helping other seekers of purpose with Blum Coaching. How and where you can find it, what Life Design is all about and even more is shared with us in this interview!

1. David, you completely changed your career a few years ago in order to find more purpose. What is the purpose of your work today?

I help so-called scanner personalities, which are people who have a thousand interests. These people would ideally have 10 or 20 lives to live out all their ideas, because they simply have so much curiosity, a desire to discover and also abilities. I help these scanner personalities find their dream job. For me, a dream job means a job for which I get up in the morning with a smile, looking forward to my colleagues and tasks. 

At the same time, I don't only identify myself through my job, but I also have fulfilling hobbies and passion for projects as well. All in all, I have a colorful life and don't follow the standard career life, where you come home at 8 p.m., fall flat on the couch, maybe eat a pizza and think to yourself: Oh God, tomorrow it's going to start again.

2. You talk about projects from the heart. What is that and how can I find one?

Projects from the heart don't have to have anything to do with the profession. In my opinion, we put ourselves under incredible pressure when a profession has to combine everything. Money and lasting happiness is hard for a job to provide. That's why I'm a fan of pursuing side projects that are truly enjoyable. Especially people who have 1000 interests should consider what heart projects they could pursue on the side that really make the heart skip a beat. 

I've found with myself and through working with my clients that it does take time to find and realize your heart's projects, though.

I help people to first create more flexibility in their lives and, for example, find a job that allows them to work remotely. Another way is to reduce the work to 80 - 90%, so that for example Friday is completely free to really try and test. Once there is more time and structure created, more me time is possible. Then it's a matter of asking: what is actually my passion or where do my passions lie? To find an answer to this, you can think about your past. What excited me as a child, as a teenager? What were highlights in my earlier stations and jobs? What was the best time of my life? Quite often, things and treasures from the past come up that we had completely forgotten. It can also be simple hobbies, like handicrafts or painting.

For example, one of my clients recently changed her job and reduced her working hours to 80%. In her remaining time, she is now designing fanny packs and selling them to San Francisco and Paris through an Etsy store. Suddenly she had something she was burning for, a heart project, and in parallel she was working in a job that brought her joy and security. What if I start a heart project and realize that it's not my passion after all?  We advise a 30-day rhythm: in January you try out one idea, in February a completely different one. Whether it's starting a podcast, renting a studio, or taking a photography class. The main thing is to get started and test out new passions. To get you started, there's also a list of more than 50 ideas from us that you can start with to try out a bit of what moves your heart. Oftentimes, you won't find your passion at your desk. Because it's about making the world your playground!

3. You are often dealing with scanner personalities, meaning people with many interests. How can such people determine what makes them feel happy the most?

Especially scanner personalities like me are quickly overwhelmed with finding THE single passion or vocation. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself, until at some point I realized that my many interests in particular are what make me unique! Just like jumping between them, almost like a bee flying from flower to flower and having fun trying out and discovering new things. Instead of a deep-sea diver who always does the same thing and is only an expert at it, you should value your own flexibility. Therefore, one should first take away the pressure that there can only be one passion.

To find your own interests and passions, it helps, for example, to write a kind of diary for everyday life. There you can write down what gives you energy and what moments make you happy. These can be conversations with colleagues, giving a lecture or going for a walk. In everyday life, you should ask yourself: When do I feel my heart beating? When I'm sitting in front of an Excel sheet, preparing a presentation, or when I'm doing something rather creative? Often in everyday life we are wearing blinders and no longer even feel what appeals to us. It's also important to notice what particularly annoys me and what I don't really feel like doing anymore.

4. Frithjof Bergmann, the mastermind behind New Work, already advocated work that you really really want. What does the optimal New Work world look like to you?

In my podcast "Design your Life", I interviewed a number of experts on the subject of New Work and understood that this concept is very broad. For me, the optimal New Work concept is flexibility and self-determination in one's own actions. Remote work gives you the opportunity to work from Spain or Berlin.

Another incredibly important factor for me is to tailor working hours to when employees are at their most productive. Of course, there may be certain core working hours during which meetings are held. However, there should still be some personal freedom. While some people are fit as early as 6 a.m., others may experience a drop in energy at 2 p.m. and would like to be on the tennis court then. We should no longer think in terms of very fixed structures, but instead focus on exploiting the potential of our employees and at the same time enabling them to have a great time.

This is also the approach we take in our company. For example, I first asked our new employee about her Big Five for Life, i.e. what her big 5 life topics are. For her, travel and flexibility are important, so we allow her to work from anywhere in the world. Currently, she has changed her working hours to an 80% position so that she can try out many things on the side, just like our clients.

Of course, leadership is also an important topic in New Work. Leaders are challenged because they have to manage so many employees. We should ask our employees more often what they want to learn and what they want to get better at? Then we should try to incorporate these wishes into current projects. 

Last but not least, we are all always looking for a purpose for what we do. In my opinion, we don't have to work for an NGO or build wells in Africa to achieve this. We can find meaning in very many different things, even if we are marketing a candy bar, for example. The goal for leaders should be to create purpose for employees in their work context. That can be simply being a warm co-worker and fostering team spirit. 

New Work should create a context in which people can live according to their own values. To do this, however, you first have to find out what your own values are and whether they are the same as those held by the company. With our support we help people to find out what they really want and help them to find the right job.

5. Work and life are closely connected and you often talk about life design. What do you understand about this and what does it have to do with work?

I think it's difficult to separate the two areas completely these days. Especially for classic high performers who want a steep career, it's difficult to switch off in the evenings. A common mistake is that life only revolves around the job. 

I came from a classic business administration career, then moved up to business development, consultant and so on, and made exactly that mistake. We look for jobs that give us prestige, that fit well on our CVs, or that we just slipped into because that's how things turned out and we never really made a plan for what actually fulfills us. This job is then the pillar around which everything revolves and to which everything must adapt. 

You have little time for hobbies, you're annoyed in the evenings, and you're no longer the passionate partner you might like to be. This creates a small cloud of gray haze. If the work is then also not fulfilling or happy, the cloud expands.

At this point, at the latest, you should ask yourself what you actually want from life. What does my perfect week actually look like? How much time do I want to spend with friends and family and how much energy do I want to come home with? You should create your own picture of life and then ask yourself, what job provides this framework? Unfortunately, we often do it the other way around, we look for a job and the given framework is then usually very small.  

We do it differently in our workshops, we first create the life picture and then find a job that really fits you. Many people think that there are no such jobs, you just have to know exactly what you want. This is exactly what our podcast Design Life is about, as I share many more tips on these topics.

Thank you very much for this exciting interview, which not only gives scanner personalities a lot of tips for life!

If you want to learn more about scanner personalities, David recommends the book "Ich könnte alles tun, wenn ich nur wüsste, was ich will" ("I could do anything if I only knew what I wanted") by Barbara Sher.

Julia

Julia

Marketing

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