Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Confirm Your Purpose

The 4TsHow to Confirm Your Purpose

Ever have one of those days when you're stuck and wondering what you're doing with your life? Those days are clues that you are not fulfilling your purpose. Maybe you think you don't have a purpose. That's a glum outlook, but even if it's true you still have a job to do.

I'm reminded of one of the anti-success posters that depict the ruins of a shipwreck piercing through the waters surface with the caption, "Your purpose may be to only serve as a warning to others." You're probably not that person because if you were, you wouldn't have read this many words in one sitting.

So, let's start with the assumption that you have a burning in your stomach. This exercise will help you better identify that yearning or confirm the one you're pursuing is worthy of your attention.


Think about how you most often win others over to your way of thinking. How do you successfully get your way most often? It might be through humor, or telling a story. Maybe you communicate with pictures or through writing. Perhaps it's via deceit and debauchery or brute force. In this exercise I'm not going to judge your answers. I do have an opinion on pursuing a worthy purpose versus something less savory, but people have different standards of "worthy". This is a matter of influence. How is your influence most felt in your world?


Where do you find your rewards? For many, this means money and that's fine. If profit is the applause you get for doing good work, where do you get your standing ovations? Rewards needn't be money. Yours might be measured in smiles or hugs or some other way that makes you feel happiest.  For many people, that's a check. It feels good when people pay you. For others it's intangible.  Identify what it is for you.


What group of people do you most enjoy learning from? In school you probably had a favorite teacher. Think back as to why? If you're no longer in school, you're still learning things from people. It could be your parents or your children, your colleagues or members of your spiritual circle. You might learn something from a favored author, or the neighborhood grocer. These life instructors are all around you. Take stock of who they are and see what they have in common.


This is the amulet you wear around your neck, figuratively, but maybe not. Think about what symbolizes you most. It's a tangible object you can look at, and preferably hold that epitomizes you. Some people can answer this very quickly. Truth is, the first few things that entered your mind were probably accurate. Some people feel compelled to combine a bunch of images into a collage, like a family crest. Some can get too complex or confounded by this, but you're the one who has to look at it with meaning. It's your symbol.

Look at your tool, treasure, teacher and talisman of choice and you'll have a good indication of your purpose. I'll run through mine as an example.

I influence people most via my writing, that's my tool. I do a decent job with public speaking, but those words first come from my writing. If I need to have a difficult conversation with someone I often script it out first to practice.

With consulting there's a wide continuum from analysis and advice to instruction, collaboration and implementation. My treasure, both figuratively and literally has always come from a variation of my consulting. My rewards come from helping people find the a-ha within and accomplish great things.

My teachers come from nearly everywhere, young and old, left and right, foreign and domestic. What they all have in common is that they are leaders or artists. That's who I learn from most readily, easily and frequently, Leaders and artists. Because those are my teachers, they are who I serve.

My talisman, the symbol that epitomizes me was a toss up between the scales (both of justice and of the zodiac sign Libra) which have always attracted me, and another image I couldn't shake, a pen. In truth I am never far from one. It is my sword; my ornamentation; my functionality. It couldn't be anything else but a pen.

When you combine writing, consulting, leaders and artists and a pen you get a pretty good picture of my purpose. When I do things that combine those elements, I'm acting on purpose. When I drift away from that foundation I'm not.

Now it's your turn. Share your tool, treasure, teacher and talisman items with me and tell me what your purpose is. If you need help, send me a note.

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