Perennial Questions

Justin Foster
4 min readJun 4, 2021
Texas Wildflowers

Perennial questions are the questions we return to over and over in the seasons of life. I believe they should be re-visited at least once a year; as the answers to these questions form our intentions, mindset, systems, actions.

There are many perennial questions from a variety of sources …

At Root + River, we help our clients answer this question: “What am I here to do?” This question is directly related to uncovering and rooting in your mission — which is the taproot of your brand as an individual, entrepreneur and/or leader.

In his book “The Book of Soul”, Mark Nepo offers up two perennial questions:

What do I stand on?

What do I stand for?

Mark says, “Standing on gives us a compass. Standing for gives us a direction to stay true to by following that compass.” This is similar to the concept I wrote about in my last essay, “Two Point Stance”.

For the sake of this essay, I am sharing my two favorite perennial questions:

Who am I?

What do I want?

I believe these two questions are the beginning and re-beginning of a contemplative, conscious and creative life. Without answers to these two questions, the other perennial questions may have different answers. They are foundational to our being.

Let’s start with “Who am I?”

Without significant inner work, we are rarely who we think we are. Most of us view ourselves through a composite of survival tools, environment, relationships, tendencies, skills that we call “personality”. We are a hologram of who we needed to become in order to survive, feel safe, be accepted. If you are a childhood trauma survivor, your illusory “I am” can be even more rigid and resistant to change. Race, religion, nationality, gender roles, ideology are all identities that we can over-attach to. For many people — especially Americans — we are overly-identified by our roles and our careers. If our “I am” is attached to roles and careers, any change (which is inevitable) will produce deep anxiety.

It takes an inciting incident to spark a journey to answer “Who am I?” This could be an unexpected tragedy or struggle, a spiritual experience, a chance meeting. Whatever the…

Justin Foster

Co-founder of Massive, a conscious business leadership coaching practice. Poet, essayist, music & coffee snob.