YES, it’s Important to Know and Allow Your Purpose to Guide You – Here’s How You Can Begin to Understand What Drives You

My inspiration to discuss your purpose today was triggered by seeing something in social media, posted by someone I know who has a clear and important purpose. I began to think about how one arrives at his or her purpose. I reflected about my purpose statement and the process by which I reached my current understanding. I began to realize that not many people have a clear appreciation of their bigger why. You may not be able to articulate your purpose in words, let alone use it to steer your life.  Don’t worry – this will help you get started on the journey of discovering your purpose and using it to guide you.

If you’re lucky, someone asks you about your purpose

Until you are asked the question explicitly, you probably don’t think about your purpose or why you’re here on Earth. Maybe you were asked by a coach or mentor, or a parent, or even during a job interview.

Woman standing in laboratory

Variations of the purpose question might be:

  • What’s your purpose?
  • What’s your big WHY?
  • What is the legacy you want to leave?
  • What do you want to be known for? Why does that matter to you?
  • What is the meaning of life, and how can you contribute to people living meaningful lives?

Any variation of this might seem like a heavy question. If you have not given it any thought before, your journey begins now! I deliberately use the word “journey” because the answer is likely to be one that evolves as you evolve.

For some of you, your daily challenges might be distracting you from a fully enlightened answer – you just want to get enough cash flow to pay the bills next month, for example. Over time, you can find ways to get grounded and let your worries dissolve long enough to ponder the deeper meaning to why you are here.

 My story of how I developed my purpose statement

I first started to go deep into understanding my purpose in 2007 when I attended Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough to Success seminar, back when it was a 7-day workshop. I did this exercise multiple times, because I assisted Jack at this training for multiple years plus learned to run this guided visualization myself, and do it with clients. I also had hired coaches who helped me figure out the answer for myself, and build it into a semi-regular routine to check-in with the question and my responses. Plus, I am super alert these days to my life experiences and how they might reshape my answer.

After countless hours over the years of self-reflection, meditation, introspection, journaling, and discussions with coaches, mentors, and family, I have a really solid understanding of my purpose.  I share it here for you because I think it will help you in your journey.

My personal purpose is to share what I’ve learned to enable people to experience more fun, freedom, and fulfillment.

This translates to the business purpose for Win Enterprises, where we do this for business leaders and help them and their teams – to transform yourself, your team, and your company.

Simon Sinek: Your WHY Inspires Action

Simon Sinek talks about why your Why matters. Look at his book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, or watch his famous TED Talk by nearly the same name. As you articulate your purpose, you enable people to appreciate what you do and how you do it. Your purpose gives your employees, team members, customers, and the world at large a sense of who you are, and it builds followership.

He says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”  He goes on to point out that loyalty comes from people aligning with your why. I believe it is this alignment that starts within you – as you behave consistent to your purpose, and use your purpose as a filter for your decisions and actions. Your team and your customers can observe your actions – if they also understand your “why,” they can appreciate that you are someone who operates from a place of integrity, because your actions are consistent with your word.

A Recent Tweet by Steve Gleason

One of the people I follow is Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans saints football player who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a rare and incurable neurodegenerative condition.  I didn’t know of him when he was a player – my first exposure was when I was on a flight in 2018 to Denver with my son, Nick, for him to attend a leadership camp for teens called, Leaders 4 Life. During the long flight I watched a movie called Let’s Play Two, about the band Pearl Jam – it was a documentary of them playing in the Chicago Cubs’ home, Wrigley Field during the 2016 season (the year the Cubs won the world series – the perfect mix of two things I love: baseball and music).

Steve Gleason has a close relationship with members of the band, and he was brought out on stage to introduce one of the songs, Inside Job. He drove onto front stage in his electronic wheelchair and spoke electronically through his computer to remind the full stadium of this important message from the lyrics to the song he was introducing: “how I choose to feel is how I am.”  I was blown away and found my eyes welling up while sitting in my airplane seat.

To get an idea about who Steve Gleason is, and get a sense of his purpose, drive, resilience, and his love for his family and this world, watch the movie Gleason this week. It will leave you inspired and wiping tears from your face.

Here is a recent tweet he shared that caught my eye, and inspired me to write this blog post today.

Journalists love to say I’m “confined” or “imprisoned” in my wheelchair, or my body. Say what they will. For my purpose, I have two responsibilities of love. Creating my own freedom with ingeniously innovative solutions is MY responsibility. Compassionately helping others, who feel confined or imprisoned, find their own path to freedom, is MY responsibility.

I LOVE his message, especially as he recognizes his role in making the world a better place. He has been a crusader for ALS awareness, and received a Congressional Gold Medal to recognize him for his contribution. His why is clear and inspiring, he has impacted millions of lives, and he continues to lead.

His story is an example for all of us.