I love fruit, especially low hanging fruit so why don't we start by answering the first question, What is purpose? As Lao Tzu states in the Chinese proverb, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." In case you are wondering, What is purpose is the low hanging fruit. What is purpose is an easy question to answer because you can Google it and find an answer. Purpose, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.
Pretty straight forward, but let's think about that for a minute. Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists. By itself and knowing nothing else about it, purpose sounds important. It sounds like something we should put some thought into. It also sounds a little intimidating so I can understand if you haven't put much thought into it. Lord knows I spent the first 30-some years of my life not thinking much about it, but that all changed a few years ago and my vision is much clearer today.
Several years ago... Who am I kidding? On September 20, 2010 I found myself thinking about purpose - specifically, my purpose for the first time. At that time in my life I was looking for answers. I often spent time thinking about and answering questions like, What am I doing? Is this what I should be doing? Is this what I want to be doing? How long am I going to do this? What am I here to do? And not just on a professional level. I was thinking about all of this at a very high, macro level - both personally and professionally. My mind was racing.
It became real for me when I asked myself, What is the meaning of life? What a powerful question to have bouncing around your mind and one that I knew was important and needed some consideration. So I sat down on the couch, turned off the television, pulled out the little moleskin notebook I kept in my back pocket and wrote, What is the meaning of life? on the top of the page. And then I stared at that question. And stared. And stared for what felt like an eternity as I racked my brain for the answer. I have no idea how long it took me to find my answer, but I can assure you it didn't come easy.
Ah ha! And then it hit me. I found my answer and I wrote it down as fast as I could so I wouldn't lose it. Once I wrote it down I found myself staring again - this time at what I had just written, To determine your purpose then exhaust every effort to fulfill it. On one hand, I felt very proud because I had just answered a question many before me have pondered. Yet on the other hand, I felt incomplete because answering that question led me to another question. This time, What is MY purpose? If the meaning of life is to determine your purpose then exhaust every effort to fulfill it, then I had to figure out what MY purpose is.
As I sat there, I kept thinking to myself, what am I good at? What gifts have God given me? And then I realized it. I realized that my purpose was to identify my talents or my God-given gifts then use them to improve the lives of those around me. But wait! That led me to another question. What are my God-given gifts? The journey continued... Two days later I arrived at my answer and completed my journey. My God-given gifts or talents, if you will, are public speaking and influencing people, which led me to my purpose. The next day I signed up for my first Toastmaster's class to sharpen the skills I was blessed with.
You see, after all that time spent thinking, I finally found my purpose. Today I remind myself that everything I do has to be aligned with my purpose, otherwise, I'm wasting time and I'm wasting my talent's.
My purpose is to educate and inspire. And my hope is that I have done a little of both by writing and sharing this post.
What is your purpose?
Only you can answer that question, and hopefully you will because life moving forward with the answer in your back pocket makes the journey of a thousand miles seem less daunting.