Last month, we began the journey to unleash the potential that lies within us! Our focus was the first of “The Four Essential Questions” - What do I believe in? The goal was to build one-half of our foundation for growth by identifying our core values.
Was your discovery process successful? Did your core values surface? Did the analysis of your calendar and checkbook show you are living congruently with these values? My hearing isn’t what it used to be, but I am pretty sure I just heard you reply, “Yes, yes, yes!”
If so, the time has come to complete your foundation by answering the second essential question - What is my purpose? Let’s not get hung up on semantics. If you prefer the words “mission” or “calling,” use them. But I like “purpose.” For me, the word has power and strength. It excites me!
Purpose defines why you exist. It may relate to the work you do and the way in which you do it. It may involve your family, your relationships, your community activities, or the causes you support. It can be all of these things and more! Purpose also is about your spirit and your heart. It’s connected to what matters to you the most.
It�s all about meaning
Why is purpose so powerful? I can only offer a personal perspective. Understanding my purpose is becoming more and more important to me. The pace of life is getting quicker. Time and energy are two of my most valuable resources. In this fast-paced world, I want to know I am spending these resources wisely. Knowing “how” to do something is no longer good enough for me. I also want to know “why” I am doing it.
Purpose provides that “why.” When I am doing things in harmony with my purpose - i.e., when I am honoring my purpose - then my life has meaning. The time, the energy, and the sacrifices are worth it! This attachment to meaning makes purpose so powerful.
Purpose drives performance
What sets purpose-driven people apart from others? Of course, there is the strength of commitment some bring to what they are doing. Somehow, people with purpose find the energy they need to meet the really tough challenges. But there is more that distinguishes them. They set high standards of performance for themselves. With that comes the courage to stretch their abilities ... to get outside their comfort zone, because what they are doing is so important.
Purposeful people also are willing to be vulnerable. They welcome feedback. When it is received, it is taken in and considered nondefensively. In other words, the people I am describing are prepared to step up and pay a substantial price to honor their purpose. They want to explore the depth of their talents. In doing so, they move closer to unleashing their full potential.
Unearthing your purpose
Similar to last month’s discussion of core values, getting in touch with your purpose is a process of discovery. Let’s look first at what you don’t do. In “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor Frankl taught us that you don’t invent your purpose. Because it is personal to you alone, you cannot copy or borrow it from someone else.
Your purpose is already a part of you, just waiting to be detected. Your task is to look within yourself. This six-step process will help you unearth it.
1) What things do you care about so deeply that they stir your emotions, energize you, and provide maximum fulfillment?
2) Identify your talents and gifts - those things that uniquely characterize and distinguish you.
3) Define your legacy. How will the world be different because you are here?
4) Review your writing each day for one week. Add to it as new insights appear.
5) Combine all your thoughts into a statement that begins, “My purpose in life is ...” Make it an expression that reflects who you are when you are using your talents to support your greatest passions.
6) To go deeper with whatever you have written, ask yourself, “Why is this important?” Use your responses to refine and finish your statement of purpose.
With your core values and purpose in place, the foundation for unleashing your potential will be complete.
Doug Young, MBA, and his spouse, Marlyn, MCC, have a professional speaking and executive/team coaching business in Parker, Colo. They share an interest in leading-edge business concepts, achieving personal and professional potential, serving the patient, and improving the way people work together. Marlyn’s insights into people and relationships and coaching skills complement Doug’s motivating and mind-expanding presentations. They can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at (877) DMYOUNG (369-6864), or at www.dmyoung.com.