Think Like an Engineer

How do you know if you are on the right path? Is there content in your actions, is your current situation a means to an end? Are you able to equate your life to a great purpose?  I asked myself these questions all the time, and always struggled to answer them.  My story is a quest for purpose to find answers to why, just like an annoying kid that keeps asking why and won’t let it go.

I need to know why, I need to ask the question, “Does this make sense? Does this work?”  I have a hard time with bureaucracy, the layers and layers of road blocks and administrative actions that create ten times more work for the executor, than the actual action itself.  I need things to make sense, I try to rationalize all things in life (Disclaimer: does not always work well in relationships) and extract the all the details then complete the task.

During four deployments to the Middle East, there were plenty of tasks to accomplish to get the mission done, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of control and authority over my division.  Some things were done by the book – many were not.  I wrestled with the question, was it ok to fail due to bureaucratic red tape, or could I do something to accomplish the mission?  More often than not, the answer is you can always do something, it requires you to take action and it is not always pretty. I was surprised that working with people in the military that are content with not doing their job, kicking the stone down the road and neglect their responsibilities.  I could not tolerate this type of behavior, or be around people that were mentally prepared to fail.  So I asked myself, “Does this make sense? Does this work?”  These were the questions that guided my transition out of the military.  The system no longer made sense to me, and I could not subject myself to that self-torment any longer.

With the decision to start a new life and forgo the security of a paycheck was easier than I thought, but I needed to find purpose outside of the military and went searching.  This landed me at a job fair with Fortune 500 companies and some of the best graduate school programs in the world, and needless to say, after a panic attack, I did not find purpose working for someone else’s vision.  So this left me with the challenge to create my own purpose and own “why.” After much soul searching and many self-help books about finding purpose, I concluded my core principles are that I like building things and solving problems.  With my “why” clarified, I could now answer the more mundane questions of “what” and “how.”  I landed on coffee because how multifaceted and intricate the whole process is, from farm to cup, it is a very dynamic and problem infested business that would allow me to build connections and bridges all over the world while solve complex systems. Boom! Nailed it!  The details and roadmap are still being written, but the hardest part has been answered, and I can now free to live with purpose.

This process is not always clear, with many smoke screens and muddy waters ahead.  The best advice I can offer is to just ask yourself the questions above, and think like an engineer, “Does this make sense? Does this work?”  The answer might not be as clear as you would hope.  Job security, money, mortgage and marriage are all very real and complicated issues that have to be addressed, and I guarantee you will continue with your current path while the pain and discomfort are minimal.  For us humans, it normally takes a large pain point to clarify our purpose, and in efforts to avoid that, I urge you to ask yourself the tough questions now, so the universe does not have to for you.  Discover your passion, and fight to live with purpose, it is why we are all here.  When our time is up, the number of integers in your bank account will not define you, it will be erased from history, but your impact in this world, that legacy is worth living for.


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