The Power of Purpose

December 21, 2007
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Sometimes when I sit down to write a column like this, I get this feeling of dread. Dread of the deadness of the words, “blah, blah, blah,” we’re all so inclined to fill our days with. Words arise to fill the space within us and around us, between us and other people. Words can take away the discomfort and pain we all feel about the perceived lack of meaning of our lives and of the work we do.  And I know I’m not alone in this.

I meet people everywhere I go who suffer from the same malady. This seems to stem from a lack of nourishment or meaning in their lives. It is the lack of a deep connection with their lives, their work and other people and the lack of meaning behind who they are and what they do.  Few would say that to me at the outset. But, as we become better acquainted – no that’s not the word, it has nothing to do with becoming better acquainted, it has more to do with feeling each other’s desire to be more authentic than we’re being – as we feel more accurately about each other, we begin to sense the lack of depth that exists in the words we choose to use with each other. How easily we choose rhetoric instead of meaningful exchange. We choose the words that have become politically and psychologically and functionally correct. Words like those I’ve so often been chosen many to elucidate on, such as “Leadership.” Or words like the one I’m writing about now, “Purpose.”

I’m sure you could make a list of such words that you hear, read and use without truly delving into the meaning of those words. These are the words that, as I said, fill the space of our lives without transforming our lives.

 In short, it is my contention that we don’t always mean the words we say. We simply say them expediently to fill the allotted space because we don’t know any other way to do it. People want to be perceived as authentic and not the possibility of not doing so is very discomforting to the majority of us. The only way to “be authentic” is to take our words seriously, and pursue the meaning of them. In thus doing, we discover for ourselves, each and every one of us, what our purpose is in using those words. There, I’ve said it. What is my purpose?  The word, finally arrived at, the subject of this article I’m writing to you. The word “Purpose.”

Here’s what I would like to suggest you do:
  1. Go to the dictionary. Any dictionary will do. Look up “Purpose.” You will find several definitions. Think about each, and then write down the definition you feel best about.
  2. Using the definition of “Purpose” you selected, ask yourself this question: What is my purpose?  What’s the purpose of my life?  This question is more than likely going to stop you cold. But, don’t let what I just said intimidate you. Do it anyway. Write down what comes to mind and then read it to yourself several times. Ponder it. Is that really the purpose of your life? Is it really? Or is there something else that is more important to you?  Ask that question, and write down the answer. Ponder it.
  3. Using the answer you arrived at in No. 2, ask yourself the question: What is the purpose of my business? Write down the answer. Ponder it. Is that really the purpose of your business? Is it really? Something else is going to come up when you seriously begin to ponder the answer. As it does, write it down. Ponder that answer, too. Keep writing. Keep exploring. Keep discovering. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
What just happened? What feeling did reading the above process evoke in you? There are any number of feelings you could have had. Maybe you felt discomfort with the tone of what I wrote. Did you think it was strange or that it’s not instructional? Maybe it was just too personal. You could have felt excitement at the possibility of pursuing something real or deep within yourself…something authentic. You could have felt fear. This may have been fear of the unknown or fear that if you let in the possibility that your life or your work or your relationships have little meaning, that you’ll be faced with the decision about what to do about it. Maybe you felt a little of all of the above. There is no right or wrong, it’s just for you to notice what you thought or felt.

And everything I just shared with you reveals – if you’re open to the possibility – the enormous power underlying the word “Purpose.” Do you feel that? Do you really feel that? Purpose is the manifestation of Vision. Vision is the creation of Passion. Passion, Vision, Purpose, the holy trio which lives in potentiality within each and every one of us as a deep, deep, pure well of life-giving water, the water of our spirit, the spirit of our lives.

By understanding your purpose, or even being open to the possibility of exploring what your purpose is, you open up to a whole new level of authentic being. In thus doing, you are creating a space for the vision to evolve and for the passion to quicken or reawaken. Are you ready for that journey?  Pursue it. And tell me what happens when you do.

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