What's your Purpose?
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
These past few Sunday's in church, our pastor has been talking about purpose. What purpose were you put on this earth for? It was an interesting question in many ways. I'm sure many of you have never thought about it, and although I've thought about it, I've never really reflected on it.
So, I decided to spend a little more time trying to find and define my true purpose. Now that doesn't mean just looking at my strengths, setting goals, and putting a plan in place to achieve them, but it's about living a purpose driven life. I think that to this point in my life, I've had a purpose; my purpose. It's probably not all so clear, probably not all so direct, but I've accomplished many things I set out to do. The real question is "What will I do with the Rest of my Life?"
This question has come up many times as I've been talking with business owners and executives that have achieved much in their life. They've had successful careers, raised a family, and have gained financial success. But the question that comes up for many of us as we get older is, "what will I do now." Now that I've sold my business, now that my children are out of the house, and now that what has driven me to get to this point in my life is not what is driving me moving forward, what's next?
Because I don't yet have the answer to that question for myself, I started looking at what characteristics would I want to have in order to fulfill my purpose. I learned that there are several:
Dare to Fail - We learn from what goes wrong more than what goes right. Having resilience, or the ability to cope with losing, failing and not getting what you want, is critical for well-being. If I think back on my experiences, I've learned so much from what didn't work. The ability to "dare to fail" is a stepping stone to future successes.
Give - There are three types of people in this world, according to organizational psychologist Adam Grant: Givers (those who prioritize helping others), takers (those who help themselves) and matchers (those who seek equal benefit for self and other). After investigating years' worth of psychological studies as well as conducting his own research, Grant concluded that givers are the most successful. Givers bring out the best in others. They see more potential in others than they see in themselves. They teach, they invest, and they care.
Give yourself a Break - Take time to reenergize. Taking regular personal time, whether it's a daily yoga practice, Saturday tech sabbatical, or twice-annual vacation, keeps a person mentally sharp and ready to take on new challenges. If you don't first take care of yourself, you can't help anyone else.
Really Listen - Look people in the eye, and listen to what they have to say. Genuinely caring about others, no matter how busy you are, and always giving people the time of day. When you are truly engaged, you understand and feel what is happening within the other individual. The experiences become more real.
Seek out New Experiences and Ways of Thinking - Keep an open mind. Having intellectual curiosity, a drive for cognitive exploration, and having a flexible and fluid mindset to adapt to changes and new challenges, provide expansion of thinking. We are never done growing and learning no matter how old. Keeping an open mind keeps filling your "bag of experiences" with which to build upon.
Empathize with others - Truly caring about the people around you. Successful people do not operate alone; each of us needs the support of others to achieve positive results that push us toward our goals.True empathy combines understanding both the emotional and the logical rationale and provides connection.
When following your purpose, as Joe Reiman, CEO of BrightHouse states, "Purpose leaders don't manage; they mesmerize. They don't execute initiatives; they lead crusades. Their brands are not labels but flags that should evoke the kind of patriotism we have for the countries we live in."
We all have a purpose for which we were put on this earth. It may take us a while to discover it, but starting to live by daring to fail, giving of yourself, but yet rejuvenating yourself, really listening, seeking new experiences and ways of thinking, and empathizing with those we interact, are definitely starters in moving us toward a purpose that is both worthwhile and impactful. What will you do with the rest of your life?
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay