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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 -
What’s 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 one’s 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 don’t 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 life.

The Quest for Meaning

There comes a point in most people’s adult development when they ask themselves, “What’s 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 can’t 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 Energy

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:

  • Integrity
  • Generosity
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Compassion
  • Loyalty
  • Perseverance

Here are some questions to explore with your coach to help you define your true values:

    1. What do you do at work that gives you great satisfaction and is something you would do even if you weren’t paid for it?
    2. What three qualities in yourself do others see in you?

    3. Who are you at your best?

    4. What are three most important lessons you have learned in your life?

    5. What would you like to see on your tombstone that best captures who you really were in your life?

    6. What were three small incidents in your day today that gave you great pleasure? And what about those incidents ignited your passion?

Final Thoughts:

If you have a coach, congratulations. If you don’t, 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.

Coach Jerry


The highest compliment you can give us is to refer your family and friends.

Jerry Pinney

For the last twenty-two years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm. Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits. He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications, Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.

Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

Jerry Pinney & Associates
102 East 32nd Street
Chicago, IL,
phone: 312-842-4577,
fax: 312-842-4705

e-mail me by clicking here


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