Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one's aim.
This blog is dedicated to ALL whom are on quest to find meaning, purpose and are at a loss...may this blog be a resource to you and your quest for meaning. Thanks for continuing to read the series we started in the previous blog - Fill-In-The-Blank...ON Purpose
In that blog, I discussed the importance of being more INTENTIONAL in how we approach OUR world. I closed out the blog with some questions to begin to identify any gaps. Below are the LIFE-centric / gap-identifying questions:
The ONE question: Has not asking the tough questions ever kept me from leading a more intentional life?
More specific questions:
How do I want my life to matter AFTER I'm gone?
What is my "WHY-ering"?
Am I holding someone to a higher standard than myself?
What faith do I lean in on?
So, let's further address how we can approach "LIFE ON Purpose".
Depending upon whom you speak, some say life takes too long - others argue it's fleeting...I find myself in the fleeting camp. As someone shared with me and my wife, Mary Martha, when we had two infants (now 13) - "The days are long…the years are short."
To exacerbate the dynamic, here is some more data points about our TIME...
Here in the USA, we can expect an AVERAGE life expectancy of 75 years...let's see how we spend our 75 years...
The time it will take you to work through the steps outlined below will not be inconsequential. It will take soul-searching, feedback, perhaps some coaching, and maybe even life-changing, course-correcting outcomes! So, be ready for the journey!
So, how can we approach the rest of our "LIFE ON Purpose"? While there are benefits to making meaning out of life, there is still not one definitive way in which one can establish such meaning. Which speaks to why this topic and the outcomes will vary based on EACH person who undertakes such a quest.
When we approach life and "it's meaning" it has its "swim lanes" and like a swimming pool, create ripple effects that can be felt across the entire spectrum of the pool - in this case, the pool of life. According to Abraham Maslow, "Human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable."
The original hierarchy of needs five-stage model...
1. Biological and Physiological - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
2. Safety - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
3. Love and belongingness - friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
4. Esteem - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
5. Self-Actualization - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
Over time, there were a few other categories added beyond stage 4:
5. Cognitive - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.
6. Aesthetic - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
And one more beyond Self-Actualization:
8. Transcendence - helping others to achieve self actualization.
So with that as a backdrop, I present my 7 steps! Yeah, I know, you might be thinking (I do), "Is it REALLY 7 steps? Could it be less than 7 steps? More than 7 steps?" YES! :)
Since we are ALL different, the 7 steps are meant as guideposts, so please keep reading!
Life...ON Purpose in 7 Steps!
Step 1. What's important to YOU?
We often talk about our priorities in life. But how many of us have ever stopped to really think about which things are most important to us, let alone how much time we spend on our priorities compared to less important things?
The following is adapted from "Near-Term Priorities Exercise" in the book "In Transition" by Mary Lindley Burton and Richard A. Wedemeyer...and works well for helping you answer this important building block to "LIFE ON Purpose".
Below is a list of items people consider to be important in life:
Choosing priorities is all about making trade-offs and deciding which things we're willing to compromise in order to make the important stuff happen.
So, how did it go? For many it's a very difficult exercise as it forces us to realize that we can't have everything at any given point in our lives - we have to make some difficult trade-offs.
Part B: The "Diary" Ranking
The next step is to look honestly at how you're living your life at the moment and see whether this is consistent with your priority list from Part A. Take some time to redo the ranking exercise, and this time imagine you're reading your daily diary that has been monitoring your activities 24/7 for the past few months.
Now put your two lists side-by-side - how does the diary's ranking compare with your own priorities from Part A? Is there any inconsistency between how you would like to order your life and how you are actually living it?
If so then consider how you might make changes in your life - at home, at work and beyond - to get your diary ranking to better match your priorities.
If you're facing a big life decision - such as a potential change in life, career, location or lifestyle - try to think about how the diary ranking would look a few months after you make that change.
Borrowing from Simon Sinek, who, in 2009, put it eloquently in his ground breaking TED talk: "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" and introduced us to his simple and powerful model for inspirational leadership - starting with a "golden circle" and the question "Why?"...
In his TED talk and his book, "Start With Why", the golden circle includes: the innermost circle - "WHY"; a middle circle - "HOW"; and an outer circle - "What". I submit, you could apply the same principal to your life, calling and career...it would look like this:
Step 3. Values
"We often let our behaviors define our values. Values should define our behaviors." Anonymous
What Are Core Values? Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They are the guiding principles that dictate behavior and action. They can help people know what is right from wrong; they can help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide. There are many different types of core values and many different examples of core values depending upon the context.
Core Values About Life...
Often, when you hear someone discuss why they fell in love with a spouse, a cause, a company they usually mention, "We have the same values." They are often talking about core values, or internal beliefs that dictate how life is to be lived. Core values about life focuses around BELIEF. As parents, we also try to instill these core values in our children. Of course, core values don't always have to be positive. Some people may be driven by self-interest or greed, and these are core values as well.
So, WHICH value is the most important? Yes!
Like thumbprints, we are all DIFFERENT, our opportunity is to align ourselves with people, companies who share similar values...ideally, while being able to embrace the differences and accept the fact that we may differ from what others hold near / dear.
Learning nugget: as you approach your friendships, relationships, and career, you will be best served if your values align...misaligned and it will be only a matter of time before you disengage OR they disengage you!
Step 4. Identify your wiring!
"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom." Socrates
Or, another way to put it, "Identify your unique capabilities you consistently deliver without thinking."
Since each of us is a thumbprint - we each are different combination of gifts, talents and strengths. No two people are the same - even among identical twins. Understanding and having an appreciation for who YOU are is important since you should be AIMing those capabilities in a way that could provide exponential results.
I have a simple equation I like to apply: G X P = S. Translated, it looks like this: GIFTS X PASSION = STRENGTH.
When you take time to FIRST understand / appreciate your gifts, you set your path toward being able to maximize your time and career. In other words, you lean in on you GIFTS.
So, what are your gifts? For the career-focused, the gifts are a bit more subtle to discover. They may not be as blatant as those demonstrated in art or sport BUT they can be observed and identified. Go back to where are you "most at home", "where do you disappear" and have a gut feeling where you "belong".
What seems natural to you?
Example: When asked about his abilities as a swimmer, Michael Phelps said "I feel most at home in the water. I disappear. That’s where I belong."
Couple the self-reflection with an assessment or two, maybe even some feedback from someone certified to help you interpret the results and you're on your way. (SEE: Passion Is OK But It's Not All of It! Just Ask Tim Tebow...)
"People" skills...wouldn't it be great if we we had a "map" for effective relationships, conflict resolution and work with others to reach your goals? Trick question. We already do. The challenge for everyone is relationships involve people, and people are complex beings. What makes it even more complex, is we can have numerous relationships at many levels - from casual to deep - from personal to professional - from family to friends - from associates to bosses.
According to some, relationships produce pain for you so you may awaken to what needs to be worked on within yourself.
When asked about relationships, Anmol Mehta - Master of meditation, yoga & Zen said: "We need to utilize the suffering caused by relationship to inspect closely the disease of our attachments. The pain, upset, discomfort caused in the relationship helps to reveal the attachments we have and the inner working of our minds. It could be as simple as feeling bad for not being complimented on a new dress or as complex as getting upset with your partner for giving away too much to charity. All the upsets, big and small, simple and complex have their roots in our attachments. The attachments could be to security, money, sex, power, prestige, name, fame, religion, children, family, country, comfort, food, etc. It does not matter, our relationships, specially the intimate ones, will poignantly reveal them to us."
He goes on to say, "Any relationship upon which you depend for your personal gratification and security will eventually lead you to less-than-positive results such as anger, control, possessiveness, jealousy, fear and hatred. If we watch relationships in action, you will be able to observe this dynamic."
So what's the key?
The key - Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin!
When self-sufficient (i.e. they are not dependent on someone else) people meet, respect each other and perhaps even enjoy each other’s company, we have the makings of something special!
No surprise, when dependency is the "hinge" of the relationship - that's usually where conflict will arise.
When you consider 86% of the world's population is religious - according to some estimates - there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Here's a breakdown of the largest religions from the CIA World Factbook::
Unconditional = not subject to any requirements.
Faith = 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something. 2. strong belief in a higher power or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. Synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, and conviction.
Further, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Perhaps the best word we can use to translate the Greek word “pistis” (usually translated faith) is the word “trust” or “trustworthy.”
Put the two together - unconditional faith - and you have a powerful frame-of-mind that will allow you to weather any storm, be open to all possibilities, and not be judgmental.
Those whom have achieved a "Life On Purpose" have this step down whether a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamist, Jew, Muslim, or fill-in-the-blank. This is what they do:
Merriam-Webster defines it as: 1: a gift by will - especially of money or other personal property: The bequest she left us a legacy of a million dollars. 2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past the legacy of the ancient philosophers: The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.
I submit a 3: something intangible you leave behind after you depart: A retiring company president left a legacy of honesty and servant leadership...
People don’t particularly like thinking or talking about the end; especially their own end. Research though has confirmed that the #1 regret of the dying, is people stating, “I wish I had more courage to be true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Case in point - Bronnie Ware – an Australian nurse and counselor – worked in hospice care; taking care of terminally ill people, most of whom had less than 12 weeks to live. No surprise, she pressed her own "reset" button and went on to become a writer and songwriter. (SEE: Pressing the Reset Button...)
Many of us may know someone whom has been there before. They followed the path society promised would lead to success, happiness, and financial security: just to wake up one day confused, heartbroken, and unfulfilled – left only to ask ourselves one or all of the following questions.
“What am I doing?” “How did I even get here?” or … “Is this really it?”
Steve Jobs gave sage advice when he said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” While this is easier said than done…it must be done.
Imagine you’re at a funeral. You look around, and all your friends are gathered. Suddenly, you realize it’s your funeral. It’s the part of the ceremony when your loved ones, friends, co-workers, and members of the community share their eulogy about you. One by one, they share what they admired most about you. Your best personality traits, the cool things you did in your life, the ways you made the world a better place.
Now come back to today, and think about what you really want people to be saying when your time comes. Take a good look at the way you are living right now.
Making the time to do something like the eulogy exercise (and sharing those results with friends and loved ones) can provide us with the clarity we need to begin boldly walking in the direction of our dreams.
Imagine a world where more people protected the legacy they wished to leave, by holding it top of mind each every day. Think about how this level of clarity would not only direct that individual’s steps, but ultimately influence how they showed up in the world and the impact they’d have on others.
Step 1: Understand what's important to YOU!
Step 2: Know your "Why-ering"!
Step 3: Appreciate your values
Step 4: Identify your wiring
Step 5: Be comfortable in your own skin and establish / maintain healthy relationships!
Step 6: Unconditional faith
Step 7: Legacy
Remember...this quest may not be as simple 1...2...3...it might be downright arduous yet it will be well worth your attention and effort. After all, YOUR life depends on it!
My best in your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation / team.
Other "On Purpose" Blogs!
80K Hour Career...ON Purpose!
30 Ways to Attend a Conference...ON Purpose!
Training Intervention...ON Purpose!
Your Time & Energy...ON Purpose!
SERVant Leadership...ON Purpose!
Authentic Leadership...ON Purpose!
Developing Others...ON Purpose!
About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
Based out Roam - Buckhead - 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Suite 1400 (2nd Floor), Atlanta, GA 30305
Can meet at other Roam locations if appropriate: Alpharetta; Dunwoody; or Galleria