Since we so often lack connection to our deepest values
and firm beliefs, we are easily distracted or knocked
off balance when we face challenges and difficulties.
We need a strong, clearly defined sense of purpose in
order to hold ground when storms come. This month letís
spend some time discussing:
Becoming Fully Engaged: Defining Your Purpose
Whats it really all about, anyway?
"All men should strive to learn before they die what
they are running from, and to, and why.James Thurber
One of the most powerful sources of energy is passion.
When we are connecting to our most important values and purpose
in life, our passion and energy seem boundless. The most compelling
source of purpose is spiritual, which is what happens when
energy is derived from connecting to deeply held values and
a purpose beyond ones self-interest.
What is meant by spiritual in the context of this article
about energy is a higher order of thinking that includes ethical
and moral reasoning and connection to purpose beyond oneself.
When we define purpose to include those values and motivations
that are more than self-serving we tap into a very strong
source of energy.
However, it is never easy to discover what exactly our
higher purpose is. For most of us, our motivations are hidden
from our awareness in the realm of the subconscious. Although
we may have a sense of our true values, it is usually only
after a life-shattering crisis that we become more interested
in discovering what is really important for us. This requires
the sort of exploration and questioning best done with a trusted
coach or mentor.
Many of us get caught up in following the path others
think we should be following. It takes life experience and
some failures along the way to force us into getting in touch
with what we dont want for ourselves. That can push
us to find what it is we do want. We let responsibilities
and daily chores distract us from our true purpose and deep
values. We get too caught up in earning a living and just
staying afloat to stay connected with our true purpose in
The Quest for Meaning
There comes a point in most peoples adult development
when they ask themselves, Whats it really all
about, anyway? The search for meaning is one of the
primary quests of philosophers, theologians, and scientists.
Few of us are satisfied to be ordinary. The drive to achieve
is a means of escaping mediocrity and boredom. We want to
be the best we can be.
Yet, if we are to be the best we can be, we must narrow
the field a bit. We cant be great at everything. When
asked to describe what gives life meaning, many people hesitate,
hem and haw, and respond with generalities and platitudes.
Taking care of my family and being successful
at work are typical answers.
Since we so often lack connection to our deepest values
and firm beliefs, we are easily distracted or knocked off
balance when we face challenges and difficulties. We need
a strong, clearly defined sense of purpose in order to hold
ground when storms come.
Tapping into Unlimited
Purpose is a unique source of energy and power. It fuels
focus, direction, passion, and perseverance. It becomes more
powerful as it moves from being negative to positive, external
to intrinsic, and from self to other. A negative purpose is
defensive and based on deficits. Someone who works to escape
poverty is not tapping into as much energy as a person who
works to make money to buy things that excite him or her.
Money is an external source of purpose. As a source of
energy and driving purpose, it has its limits. Having more
money is not correlated with higher levels of happiness. All
humans need food, rest, warmth, and social contact. Money
provides the means to these ends. But once those basic needs
are met, money has less power as a source of motivation. People
can be motivated by material gain and external praise, but
they feel much more passion for those activities that satisfy
internally. We derive more pleasure and energy when we freely
choose and focus on what we most enjoy.
To truly tap into maximum energy and power, we must connect
to a deeper sense of purpose that is beyond our own needs
and desires. There is no question people will work long and
hard to get ahead, to get rich or famous, and to win admiration.
But there is always a price to pay. It seems that people are
willing to sacrifice much more when they are driven by a higher
purpose that includes serving others.
Many people blame their work environments for their unhappiness
and lack of passion. It is easy to do. The challenge we face
is to express and embody our deepest values in our work. We
can find a sense of purpose when we mentor someone, or contribute
to communicating positive energy. Our values can show up in
small ways if we are alert to and aware of the opportunities.
Discovering What Really Matters
Clarifying purpose takes time and reflection. A coach
can guide you through questions to arrive at what is really
most important to you. Deeply held values fuel the energy
on which purpose is built. When you know your true values,
your code of conduct becomes clear. While the pursuit of power
or wealth or fame may all be sources of motivation, these
goals are external and fill deficiency needs rather than serve
intrinsic needs for growth and development. Values have intrinsic
worth in that they provide a source of inspiration and meaning
that cannot be taken away from us.
Here are some values that have been universally admired
across cultures and religions throughout history:
Here are some questions to explore with your coach to
help you define your true values:
- What do you do at work that gives you great satisfaction
and is something you would do even if you werent
paid for it?
- What three qualities in yourself do others see in you?
- Who are you at your best?
- What are three most important lessons you have learned
in your life?
- What would you like to see on your tombstone that best
captures who you really were in your life?
- What were three small incidents in your day today that
gave you great pleasure? And what about those incidents
ignited your passion?
If you have a coach, congratulations.
If you dont, now might be the perfect time to find one.
I would love to help you find a coach that you can work with,
that you can afford and that will help define your purpose.
You have plenty of time to make 2012 the best year yet.
compliment you can give us is to refer your family and friends.