What’s Telos?

Telos (τέλος) means “end” or “purpose” in ancient Greek. Simply put, I can help you find—and realize—your (or your organization’s) true purpose. However, we tend to see our purpose (or perhaps our calling) as fixed, and we grow frustrated and distressed when “life happens”—but not according to our desires and plans. I’ll help you explore and work toward your τέλος in a flexible, creative, practical, and more successful way.

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound). In the real world, such goals are limited at best, generally counter-productive, and sometimes downright catastrophic. That’s because the world is complex—which is why I use complexity theory to help you chart a much better path towards your τέλος.

But my role isn’t to tell you what your τέλος is, or even how to reach it. As an individual, YOU know that best—though you may not know just how much you know. As an organization, you (plural) possess the collective intelligence to identify and pursue your τέλος, though it’s unlikely that you’re utilizing that intelligence to its full.

Clue: If you frequently experience that “flow” feeling (personally or as an organization), you’re probably fairly well aligned with your τέλος. And, if you wake up energized and joyful to pursue your day’s work—as arduous as that may be—you probably don’t require my services. But, if not . . . well, keep reading!

Aristotle wrote a lot about τέλος—and he was pretty darn smart! He also dominated the scientific worldview for almost 2,000 years. Sure, some of what he said is outmoded. But his views on τέλος are still highly relevant.

Aristotle’s teacher Plato might have written the bumper sticker, “We’re spiritual beings having a physical experience.” And Plato would have added that this is largely an impediment to our true nature. Aristotle disagreed—strongly. Our true Self, he said, is BOTH mind (or form) and matter. Both are essential. And our true Self is really a unity (or composite), in which mind and matter are seamlessly welded together.

Case in point: Imagine you’re an architect designing a house. You can see it in your head. You can even draw up blueprints. (That’s form.) But none of the above will keep out the rain. For the house to be useful, it has to be physically constructed. But physical matter, without form, is also useless. A heap of bricks and studs and trusses and plywood  isn’t a good place to live in, until all the physical materials are put into the form that you’ve envisioned.

Translation: Your mind needs a body in order to achieve anything at all on this earth. And vice versa. [For a company building better mousetraps, you might say that R & D (plans, or form) needs manufacturing (rubber meets the road).] In short, you’ve got to walk the walk (matter) as well as talk the talk (form). But that still leaves the question:  What are you meant to achieve? Enter τέλος.

Τέλος (Aristotle says) initially resides in your mind or spirit, in a state of pure BEING, which is non-physical and not bounded by time. When mind inhabits a body, it enters the world of BECOMING—this world, where the action is. As pure BEING, mind already has potential (like the architect’s blueprint), but in order to be useful that potential must be actualized (or realized)—i.e., the house has to be built. That’s BECOMING. So the τέλος (the blueprint) has to BECOME an actual house. When this happens, its potential has been realized.

But getting back to the question: what are you meant to achieve? Answer: Depends on who you are. Aristotle gives another example. If you’re an acorn, your τέλος is to BECOME an oak tree. If you’re one of those maple “helicopter” seeds, your τέλος is to BECOME a maple tree. So you just have to figure out what you are. What is your essential BEING that you’re meant to BECOME? What’s the potential that you are here to actualize? (The “you” here can also be your organization.)

I’m not trying to sell you on Aristotle. In fact, I mostly draw upon two very  cutting-edge sciences—epigenetics and complexity theory. But you could say that each of these, in its own way, just updates the concept of τέλος. I can also help you find out who you are (and where you want to go) as a person (Life Transitions & Search for Meaning) and as an organization (Beyond Change Management), as well as through Leadership, Coaching & Mentoring for individuals and in organizations

To SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION, at which we will discuss how I might best serve your needs, go to Contact and call and/or email.

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