Two bricklayers are working alongside one another at a building site. A man walks by and asks one of them what they’re doing.
The first bricklayer replies, "I don't know and I don't care. All I do is slap this crummy mortar on these crummy bricks and pile them up in a crummy line."
The other bricklayer smiles, proudly proclaiming, "I'm helping to build the new cathedral."
We’ve all met people who focus on the “what” they’re doing instead of the “why” they’re doing it. It’s difficult to feel passionate about something when we’re missing the meaning behind what we’re doing and why we’re here.
So why are we here? What’s our purpose?
How a person defines purpose has as much to do with his or her mindset as it does with personal, philosophical, cultural, religious and scientific beliefs.
The Purpose of Knowing Your Purpose
[blockquote author="Mother Teresa" align="pull-right right"]“Don't try to hide in the shadow of fear it casts behind you. For you are committed to finding the courage to live with an open heart, there is no greater way to love others, or to love yourself, than fulfill your unique potential, to express your unique greatness and to become the unique leader you have it within you to become.”[/blockquote]Defining purpose in work, life and business is not about the daily tasks, it’s about the reason for the tasks in the first place – the why, not the what. Discovering purpose allows a person to create the vision behind the tasks, and knowing that vision can dramatically change results.
For example, a chef’s purpose is not to cook food – that’s a task. The reason for this task is to help people enjoy life by having a good time with loved ones around a meal they didn’t have to prepare (or clean up) themselves.
People who are fulfilled at work know how the work they do supports the company’s vision, values and goals whether it’s their own company or someone else’s.
Knowing your purpose helps:
- Give meaning to everything you do.
- Guide you through tough times and difficult decisons.
- Encourage you to follow your instinct instead of following the crowd.
- Motivate you on your journey even (or especially) when you encounter failure or rejection.
How to Fulfill Your Purpose AND Make a Living
We’ve been talking about finding purpose in the work that you’re already doing. If you want to envision a career, based on your life purpose, try the following approach.
1. Determine your strengths.
Life purpose is directly related to personal strengths. E.g., if communication is your strength then your purpose may be found in that area.
2. Determine your passions.
Passions are the things you love to do - with or without external rewards (like money or recognition).
3. Determine your causes.
Identify the causes that matter to you. Is there a condition in the world that makes you feel discontent or compels you to action?
4. Find the sweet spot.
After determining your strengths, passions and causes find the overlap between them. That’s the sweet spot, where you’re likely to find the most fulfillment in your work life.
5. Your mission, should you choose to accept it...
Based on the information above, write a personal mission statement – it can help guide your passions throughout your career.
It’s not (necessarily) about the money.
Instead of focusing on a money goal, try setting goals that “add value” - a goal that improves the quality of people's lives or of the earth. Whether you’re a bricklayer, a coach, a CEO or a solopreneur, it’s ultimately through helping others that we all achieve our life purpose.
Contact us if you need some help getting started now.
© 2012 Vanessa Shaw
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