I have long believed and contended, by experience, education and observation, that we know more about what drives us than we think. Far too often, and if we are fortunate enough to keep seeking purpose, we discover that it was right there under our nose, closer than our life vein and even signaled somehow in our childhood. I suggest that this is that WHY thing Simon Sinek speaks to and about. If you hear his thoughts on the origins of same, they speak to a purpose that is already there. It is about living to your very core beliefs in order to advance them.
When I consider my own path thus far at 61, growing up amidst business, 40+ years in leadership training and development, 39 years a student of What Color is Your Parachute?, 26 years in business education, 19 years with The Virtues Project, 17 years around temperament and personality and 14 years with Dale Carnegie Training… I am consistently reminded that my purpose was born and revealed in childhood. As I walked my path, intrigued by each opportunity and moving on when no longer so… that clarity grew. It grew from exploring and learning and rediscovering that which fascinated me as a child, and into adulthood.
Now, I am not saying that I am Iron Man or Caesar from Planet of the Apes. What I am saying is that I have been fascinated since childhood with the ideas of Character and Unity. They drove my imagination in the worlds I created. They drove my interests. Even and especially back then.
Over the last several years, I have been meandering through a reflection and reset for my own next chapter, if you will. With Pandemic and the passing of #bestlittledogintheworld Panda and new developments around my health (and my road back to optimal health), I have been consciously and even unconsciously asking what is next. I started such a heightened process as I approached my 60th birthday. Now, going on 3 years into this reset, a number of things are ever more evident.
First, purpose is less likely to change, while platform will.
Our WHY is core. Mine is and has been this fascination with and exploration of humanity, character and unity. What has become even more clear is a sense of mission, vision and just cause. As a Baha’i since 1992, my ultimate sense of purpose is grounded in the advancement of the unity of humankind. That is universal to Baha’is; not a pretense type of unity, but a full and high functioning Unity, in diversity.
That said, I ask myself “What is my individual sense of mission, vision and just cause in helping build that kind of Unity?” Well, considering Simon’s thoughts and my own 60+ years of experience, I have, as of today, gotten ever closer on articulating same.
My why… my core belief since childhood is that the only true leadership is noble. Period. I believe this at heart. That is my why. I unapologetically believe, at the center of my being, that the only true leadership is noble. My what is, based on a lifetime of experience, that I engage, educate and entertain on that very truth. My what is that everything I learn, practice, advance and enjoy is driven by that belief. My (and our) how is about platform … and, for me and many of us, that has grown and changed over the years. Our platform is not our identity. Our why is. For me, I speak, teach, coach, train, facilitate, mentor, sing, dance, write, blog, vlog, cartoon, act and create on same. Period, again period. And, my just cause is to advance noble leadership, everywhere.
That said, my mission is to find and help noble hearted leaders at home, school, work, business and community. And, my vision for Epic Engage is to be The Character Leadership Company, a watering hole for said noble hearted leaders anywhere.
Second… Courage, Candor, Curiosity and Cause
Why do I say all this? Not to impress but to impress upon… to impress upon you the second point. Rather than searching or building or creating our purpose, we get to accept it. That requires Courage…
… and Candor. I humbly suggest that our purpose is not a passion. We have many passions, interests and joys. But, if we look at common threads and ask ourselves what drives us with these, we will see signals. It takes Courage to admit. It takes Candor, with ourselves and, yes, others. In order to discern and get ever increasingly clear, we need Courage, Candor… and Curiosity.
To explore is clearly different than to create or develop. With purpose, we are discovering. That requires Curiosity. Finding our purpose is far less about building or conjuring something up. When people suggest to me that they do not know their purpose, I respectfully suggest that they do, but that it is somehow buried within. That requires going inward, but looking outward. Look at the people, places, ideas, thoughts, shows, movies, books, music, hobbies, and interests that you truly love and find some kind of fascination in. Look at the things you love to learn of and study.
Make a list of characters and stories you adore and admire. Think of the people you most admire. You already know all of these. What you may not have considered is the possibility of a common thread for an uncommon path. As I considered all of mine over time, humanity, character and unity percolated up from it all somehow. Even the foods I enjoyed were those that either had some sense of character or brought us together, lol.
What I am saying is that it is under your nose, closer than you life vein. It is found in all that you love. To determine purpose, then consider how those fascinations and loves signal a way you might serve in the world, or your corner of it.
For me, this is about getting more clear on Grace. For me, this is about owning our lives. It is most certainly, for me, about exploring my own personal sense of Noble Leadership, and rising to it as we each can… and my own sense of Justice. All that said, it is ultimately about understanding that our best Service is found in doing what we do, and seeing what we truly enjoy. Courage, Candor, and Curiosity will get you your Cause.
Peace, passion and prosperity…
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ― Abraham Lincoln