Bijoy Goswami on What Makes Life Meaningful

In Chapter 7 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, leadership philosopher Bijoy Goswami answers "What Makes Your Work Meaningful?"  Goswami finds meaning trying to enhance the world by creating internally, in other words himself, and externally, in his work and family. 

Bijoy Goswami is a writer, teacher, and community leader based in Austin, Texas.  He develops learning models, including MRE, youPlusU, and Bootstrap, to help others live more meaningfully.  Previously, he co-founded Aviri Software after working at Trilogy Software.  Goswami graduated from Stanford University, where he studied Computer Science, Economics, and History. 


Erik Michielsen:  What makes your work meaningful?

Bijoy Goswami:  So I believe meaning is invented, it’s constructed. We make our meaning, we decide what is meaningful.

A lot of times we might make a decision based on, you know, we might decide based on other things people have given us and said this is meaningful so then we say okay great but ultimately we are making a decision deep down that something is meaningful. But, so meaning has to do with what I find beautiful, what I find pleasing, what I think is something that enhances the world in a way that I like it be enhanced and so, you know, that doesn’t change day today necessarily but it’s got a thrust to it, but I also know that it’s something I've chosen. So, that, you know, that I'm like my meaning is this but it isn’t necessarily the meaning. There’s separation between those two things.

So, things that I find, that I find meaningful is, you know, I think we’re here to create, you know, we have this ability to create, to create first of all our lives, ourselves, that’s the most important thing you're creating is who you are in the world and if you could succeed to that creation, you know, that’s a pretty darn amazing thing, you know, and then can you create externally. You know, can you create in the world so that others can enjoy your creations, you know, and that takes a whole other set of work whether you create as an entrepreneur or you create, you know, you create family or you create… but that fundamental act of creation and bringing something into the world is I think the core thing that is meaningful. It just seems like that’s, that’s very universal. So, what you create and how you create, what you choose to create maybe that’s the part that you go okay.

For me, like, having a family not a big priority, in fact not a priority – Negative priority in other words. I see my friends who have families and I'm like a love but they do that and I know it gives them great joy and great meaning and there’s a lot of structural things that give you meaning in that. So there’s biology and billions of years of evolution that are gonna causing you to go, that’s a really meaningful experience and what’s the most important thing is I've got my kids and I get that, you know, and I'm not decrying it and I think that’s fine. But for me that’s not a place where I feel like – I know like if I did it things will kick in that would cause me to feel like it was meaningful but it’s just not something I wanna spend my time on, where, you know, raising a kid is a long term commitment, it’s a lifelong commitment and it shifts your priorities, it shifts your focus to that. How do I bring up my kids and how can I make enough money, just wanna take care of my kids and in a way I think it becomes very – For me it becomes a more narrow pursuit rather than something that I wanna kinda keep more, more open and more, you know, more global.