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The Three Most Important Questions

This is the transcript of a short video from Vishen Lakhiani founder of Mindvalley.
vishenSo the big problem of life in industrialized countries is that all too often, we wake up one day at the age of 40, dreading going to work because we were forced to pick a career before we could legally buy a beer.
Why does this happen? Because so many of us in our younger years thought that a “means goal” was really an “end goal.” We confused the two and these two types of goals are really, really different.
And this is one of the lessons that I wish more people could learn earlier in life. The difference between and end goal and a means goal.
End goals are beautiful. End goals are the end result of being human. End goals are about experiencing love, traveling around the world, being truly happy, contributing to the planet—learning a new skill.

Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller

Means goals are the things that society tells us we need to have in place to get to happiness. For example, getting a good GPA, getting into a good college, getting into a particular firm, being with one particular someone—getting a good review at work.
The problem is we get so obsessed over these means goals that we loose sight of the end goals. For example, when I was younger, in the early 1990’s, I had a goal, and that goal was to graduate from a good college and get a job at the leading software company at that time, Microsoft. And I accomplished that goal. After five years of slogging it out, senior year of high school and then university, I finally ended up at Microsoft.
And 11 weeks later, I realized I absolutely hated my job, and I actually got myself fired. Why? Because I confused a means goal with and end goal.
Now what did I really want? What I really wanted was to travel around the world, to have my own business, to have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. And I simply thought that the only way I could afford all these things was to become a software engineer and slog it out for 20 years doing something I really didn’t like.
I confused the means goal with the end goal. All of us make that mistake. It’s not about law school, it’s not about GPA, it’s not about doing good on a particular test, it’s about truly experiencing life. Now if you think about it, all of life boils down to three things. And I call these—the three most important questions.
codeHow do we avoid the trap of one day waking up at the age of 40, miserable in life and our job because we made the wrong decision? Well I have found that all end goals fall into one of three categories—it’s really only about experiences, growth, and contribution.
I call these the three most important questions. The three most important questions you can ask yourself are:
What do I want to experience in life?
How do I want to grow?
How do I want to contribute to the planet?
Why are these important? Well if you think about the first one, experiences—right? Money for example, is a means goal. We don’t really measure ourselves by the size of our bank account, however, we do live our lives based on the experiences money can buy, so in that sense money is still important, but what we really want are the experiences.
And let’s think about the other two, growth and contribution. Tony Robbins who is an amazing speaker and trainer, said that deep down inside we have two great spiritual needs; the need to grow ourselves and the need to contribute, and everything else just creates happiness, but true fulfillment comes from growth and contribution.
Now if you put all of this together, you have those three sections of your life; What do you want to experience in life? How do you want to grow? How do you want to contribute?
Answer these three questions, FORGET THE MEANS—go straight for the end—and you’ve come up with the most powerful thing you can do in terms of setting goals for your life.
And you’ll find, especially at an early age, that you’ll open up yourself to opportunities to go outside the system and to drive at the heart of being happy way faster than ordinary people.
Now this is such an important exercise that when someone enters my life, and we’re about to go into a partnership or a close friendship, I ask them these questions over a drink or a meal—I want to know what drives them? What experiences do they seek in life? How do they want to grow? How do they want to contribute? I believe in these questions so much that I even made this a part of our company Mindvalley.
So every new person who joins Mindvalley, we take them through an exercise where they answer these questions.
We have them write the answers to these questions on a single sheet of paper, we collect all of these papers and we put their photo on each and then we put all of them on what is perhaps the biggest vision board on the planet. And this is such a beautiful practice because you know exactly what drives your co-worker, what drives your employee, if you are a manager, you know exactly what are the motivations of the people under you just by looking at the answers to the three most important questions.
It’s a blueprint into their soul.
So I totally recommend this for anyone running an organization.
I want to get everyone who works for me, everyone I know as a friend to by-pass the rules of the Industrial Age society—to forget about what society says you have to do step-by-step, but instead, to go straight towards that end goal, towards the very essence of being human. It really is all about three things – Experiences, Growth, and Contribution.

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