Rekindling Your Purpose
Have you ever been involved in a project or something where you were helping a person or group and you felt something much bigger than you?
Like maybe you helped tutor a kid and by your tutoring him, his entire life changed?
And it wasn’t the tutoring. It was much, much bigger than that.
Yes, tutoring was the vehicle.
But somewhere in that relationship between you and that child there was a transformation.
He knew it and you knew it.
He wasn’t old enough to articulate what happened because the transformation was spiritual.
Yet when he looked you in the eye with a smile bigger than the success of the math problem you were working on; at that moment he touched the very thing in you that was the driver of that vehicle.
Your purpose to truly help him.
Purpose in a Business Suit:
I talk to people about their businesses every week. Sometimes they will relate to me their private thoughts about the big broad purposes they had in college and their concerns they should be doing more.
When I ask them more directly about this purpose they will often open up and tell me how they helped an employee or colleague at work.
And I could readily see that this help was borne straight out of the heart of that college kid with big broad purposes.
And it wasn’t just helping them with some customer service problems.
No, they reached down into another chamber and they helped them over a personal barrier that transformed not only their performance at work, but their personal life as well.
See, it never had to be big and broad.
It just had to come from inside you because that is where purpose resides.
And the person that was helped?
They were eternally grateful.
Like their life had indeed been transformed.
Because it had.
The Meaning of Purpose:
The word purpose interestingly enough comes from Latin propose “to put forth,” or “to place.”
This may be an eye-opener but in order to have a purpose or be on purpose you have to put it there first.
I know, right?
If you had a purpose to save the whales you didn’t wake up one morning and just have that purpose.
You will find that you followed the plight of whales and one day you decided you were going to help save them.
You put that purpose there.
Society has had its hand in injecting into the culture this idea that you need to “follow your purpose.”
Well, let’s get that myth sorted out right off the bat.
A purpose is not something you follow.
What the hell are you following?
You are the lead dog.
There is no follow in lead dog.
Once you put forth what your purpose is, then yes you “can follow it,” but really, it’s a misnomer.
You don’t follow what it is you create.
You simply continuously create it.
So, when I dive into the subject of purpose with people, they often default to these big broad ideas. Which is great as a framework.
There’s nothing wrong with big and broad purposes.
But at the same time people often exhibit this tiny bit of hesitation or inhibit when they discuss their purpose in life.
Like they are falling short.
Like their own purpose is not big enough.
That maybe they should be doing more than getting their numbers up for the fourth quarter, and instead helping improve education in today’s schools.
But see this can be losing sight of what purpose actually is.
If the idea of something altruistic or headier makes you emotionally slump, there is something wrong with the idea, not you.
Purpose: A New Look
See, propose is verb and yes, as much as you hated verbs in school, I’m here to tell you that you are Captain Verb.
When you get your head out of the lofty clouds of not saving all the starving children in the world and you get down to brass tacks about what are you putting forth each day, then we get a lot closer to where you live as a being and your own purpose.
The truth is that most people do have a purpose. They do.
Talk to anyone who is committed to a purpose and you will observe in them being steely-eyed about what they are committed to. You will hear in their conversation a certain passion that runs parallel to every word they say. You almost feel like you’re attending a mini old-time revival when they talk.
You know that this person is purpose driven.
You listen to your friend Sarah who is a Mom who also works during the day and is completely committed to the success of the company she works for.
She will talk enthusiastically about the expansion of her company and her role in it. But when she switches gears and starts talking about her teenage son you will hear different notes in the piano chords of her voice.
And what you hear is unmistakable.
It is the purpose of a mother that no matter what else is going on in her life, is dedicated to putting forth the best possible child she can in today’s often turbulent world.
The sound of purpose is one octave higher than the success of a business or enterprise.
Purpose is as close as you’ll ever get to touching a spiritual being.
Like closing your eyes and hearing a single note being carried into the heavens by Andrea Bocelli, you pretty much leave your body.
And here’s something new and novel you may not have considered:
Purpose believe it or not is a place.
I know. Hang in there with me.
A place by definition always has a location but not always on the corner of 5th and Elm.
Like a special place in your heart.
Purpose is a place inside you.
When you come from that place the notes and chords from your heart and soul when you help a kid, colleague, or family member, are unique.
And the person on the receiving end knows this.
You did not have to agree with the religious views of Billy Graham when you heard him preach or the politics of Winston Churchill when he spoke, but the place they came from was unmistakable.
You know those notes.
If you find yourself doubting or questioning your purpose it is more often than not, not the doubts you have about your purpose, but a retreat from this place inside you.
It is why some of my clients have a problem initially when writing down what their purpose is.
They treat it like an assignment.
Rather than a return to a place.
I usually go back and find where they were last really winning putting that purpose forth and their eyes brighten up like that kid who got tutored.
Purpose does not have a uniform, security badge or even a diploma.
But it has its own place inside you that is unique.
Husbands & Wives:
Ever put aside your QuickBooks and go put your arm around your husband and let him know you’ll get through the financial stress? You imbue him not only with your love but a forgotten sense of comradeship that makes him turn and look at you like you are a dream.
It’s that place.
It is the experience and care being completely committed to the well-being of another or others.
When I do marriage coaching with couples the wife might say, “My purpose is to have a happy marriage.”
That’s a great purpose.
But any couple will tell you you have to continuously create it.
You have to put forth or place a happy marriage there.
Why This is Important:
See, some people will feel that they have fallen off their purpose or do not feel on purpose.
This is actually quite common.
The truth is to be “on purpose” you have to put it there every minute of every hour of every day.
Things like “falling off your purpose” are not quite accurate descriptions which lend to more confusion.
You cannot fall off something you put there.
In truth you can only decide to stop putting it there.
You may need to let that sink in.
If your purpose is to “skip rope” you grab your rope and skip.
If your “friend” comes along and says skipping rope is for sissies, you either pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and keep skipping, or you are so “taken aback” you stop.
Mr. or Mrs. Captain Verb.
See, the language we’ve been brought up with are phrases like, “follow your purpose” “be on purpose” “let your purpose lead you,” etc.
And then when you feel you’ve “fallen off your purpose” or you are “not on purpose,” you take a lose.
How can you lose if it’s something you create?
Entire cultures have been caught up in this cobweb of psychological mumbo-jumbo about “falling off your purpose.”
When you were a kid and you were just learning to ride a bike, you might have woken up that first morning with the purpose to “ride like the wind,” with enormous excitement coursing through your seven-year old veins.
And when you got on your bike you felt that unforgettable rush of putting your purpose out there.
You rode like you were invincible without a care in the world.
And you did just fine until you crashed.
Fueled by your purpose you got up and rode again.
Now here’s the tricky part:
You fell off your bike several more times compiling more cuts and scrapes and banged up knees.
You may then decide in your kid like brain “the hell with riding bikes,” and in a huff throw your helmet on the lawn, and stomp back into the house muttering you’ll never ride again.
Yes. You can fall off the bike.
But you cannot fall off your purpose.
And no, this is not about semantics.
People have a problem with purpose because the language in their minds is reminding them that they are “off purpose” or have fallen away from what they should be doing.
This then makes the person feel like they have failed. It can even produce misplaced guilt because they are not doing something that comes from within themselves.
So, let’s put forth some truth:
Purpose is something you put out there.
It’s uniquely your create.
You can create the purpose of being the best Mom or Dad for your kid.
You can create the purpose to make your company enormously successful because delivers a great service.
You can create the purpose to help others with their lives be it in the health industry or education or others.
How Your Purpose Gets Blindsided:
People who have strong purposes will at some time in their lives unfortunately run into beings who have counter intentions or counter purposes to theirs.
And this is where you get your skinned knees.
Like the kid falling off his bike, in life people will abandon projects and goals and things they put there with all their passion.
And in doing so they don’t realize that they had a burning purpose to “ride like the wind” which got them out of bed and almost on their bike in their pajamas.
Let me reiterate:
You don’t fall off your purpose.
But you can decide that sometimes it is too much when you are faced with those who covertly or overtly put forth their own agenda to take the air out of yours.
And in doing so, it often feels like “the wind getting knocked out of you,” and while emotionally reeling, you pull back.
It is your own pulling back and not continuing to put forth your purpose that makes you feel life you have fallen off your purpose.
You either skip rope or you don’t.
Billy Graham had to keep preaching because he knew no matter whether you or I believed in the Devil, certainly there was a counter or other intentioness that fought those in his congregation with a purpose to lead a better life.
Rekindling Purpose: Pay No Attention to the Naysayers
You don’t need to “get back on purpose” or worship red M & M’s or add extra wheatgrass smoothies to start your day.
You only need to rekindle your purpose.
to kindle (something) again: rekindle a fire
to start or stir up (something) again: The couple appeared to rekindle their romance, exchanging loving messages promising to try to make the relationship work again.
Every purpose you’ve ever had from riding your first bike, starting your first company, to creating a loving relationship has been started with your decision or postulate to put forth that purpose.
I cannot emphasize this enough.
It started with your intention.
It came from that place inside you.
And when your kid was born or you exchanged “I do’s” I assure you those were manifestations of you putting forth your purpose.
But when your kid became a teen and seriously challenged the common sense of the purpose you were putting forth as a good parent or your spouse expressed his counter intentions about the handling of the household finances, you may have hung in there, but you did take a hit.
We all feel invincible until the “Dear John Note” sits alone on your kitchen table or a call from the police station that your son is being detained for underage drinking.
Listen: You only stop being a loving spouse or parent or purposeful leader when you encounter opposition and then you take on the characteristics of that very opposition.
You stopped skipping rope which was their intention.
When you encounter enough stops or opposition you unwittingly take on those characteristics and begin acting like and sounding like those who stopped you.
Ever yelled at your kid sounding exactly like your Mom or Dad which you swore you’d never do?
Exactly. Case closed.
If you’re going to make
it, you will from time to time need to rekindle your purpose when the flames
are not as bright.
We were taught in the Scouts how to fan that flame.
It takes some care and skill to fan that flame. If the flame is almost an ember, it’s a much harder task.
When you rekindle your purpose, you put forth the very intention and purpose you started with.
You put forth again the love and commitment when you lit that match.
You reach down inside that place inside you that made you committed to your spouse or unwaveringly determined to help your kid.
That place has never changed because it is uniquely you.
It is your place, purpose and heart that you gave to another.
Your skinned knees, cold shoulders, and fiery arguments are the real world telling you to pull back.
Pay no attention to your skinned knees, the naysayers, or the man behind the curtain.
Ride like the wind.