Many very successful people know what they were born to do (personal mission) and why they were called to do it (personal purpose). I wrote about developing your own personal mission statement. Now I shall share a few thoughts about discovering your purpose and living purposefully. It answers the question, “Why am I here?”
In The Law of Success: How to Become Truly Successful, Napoleon Hill wrote, “Vitalize your mind with a DEFINITE PURPOSE and immediately your mind will become a magnet which attracts everything that harmonizes with that purpose.” There is an old adage that says when the student is ready, the teacher will come. In other words, when you purpose in your heart to be successful, you will attract people and circumstances into your life to help you. Sometimes the help will show up as failures and difficult people. Stay the course. These are life lessons to help you grow.
Alongside purpose exists core values. Knowing your core values will help you understand your purpose. Knowing your core values will help you choose employment in the right company. It will help you choose the right church to serve. It will help you attract the right mate. We find individuals leaving entities not because of a mission misalignment. Rather, they leave because of a core value misalignment. For example, if one of my core values is integrity (and it is) and I serve under a leader who has integrity very low on his list, if at all, there will be a misalignment. Sooner or later, either he or I will need to go.
Speaking personally, my mission is to help bring out the best in others. I do this because God called me to it. I know why I am here. He placed certain core values inside of me (integrity, servant-hood, desire to see others succeed, etc.) that can benefit others. One of the reasons I get along so well with the executive team at Logicalis (a business partner while I was with Intel) is because our values are aligned. Their company values are integrity, advocacy (delivering value to clients through relevance and intimacy), and sustainability (engaging compassionately to improve the communities we serve). I could thrive in this environment.
Staying at Intel for over 26 years was due in part to my embracing of the company’s six values that have stood the test of time. They are quality (do the right things right), risk-taking (embrace a growth mindset), an inclusive, great place to work (building trust and maintaining dignity), discipline (conduct business with uncompromising integrity and professionalism), customer orientation (make it easy to work with us), and results orientation (set challenging and competitive goals). While the company has not mastered each of the values, they drive the company’s actions. These are ideals for Intel.
My core values determine where I will work, the industry specifically for me, the church I will pastor or attend, the universities where I will enroll, the boards I will serve, and the clients I will work with in my consulting company. My core values feed into my purpose which supports my mission. The same goes for you. As you discover your core values it will help you learn your purpose which drives your mission. But just how do you discover your purpose? I will share thoughts on how to discover your core values in an upcoming blog. I find that people are challenged more by discovering their purpose than they are by discovering their core values.
Shannon Kaiser wrote, “The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is, but if you don’t know what your purpose is then you don’t know why you are here, and it can be hard to keep going.” Steve Pavlina offers this simple exercise to discover your purpose in life. Here’s what to do:
- Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster.)
- Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
- Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase if fine.
- Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.
Pavlina goes on to say, “That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a counselor or an engineer or a bodybuilder. To some people this exercise will make perfect sense. To others it will seem utterly stupid. Usually it takes 15-20 minutes to clear your head of all the clutter and the social conditional about what you think your purpose in life is. The false answers will come from your mind and your memories. But when the true answer finally arrives, it will feel like it’s coming to you from a different source entirely.”
Your organization has a purpose. Do you know what it is? As pastor, I would ask the congregation, “Why are we here?” The answer helped us form the purpose statement. Churches, schools, businesses, etc. would do well to become a purpose and mission driven establishment. Further, individuals would do extremely well to become purpose and mission driven undergirded by their core values. Fulfillment in life comes when you are able to answer the “why” of life? Why was I put here?
In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren suggests, “Knowing your purpose focuses your life. It concentrates your effort and energy on what’s important. You become effective by being selective.” I know the exercise suggested by Steve Pavlina above seems rudimentary. Just give it a try. What have you got to lose? Knowing what you were created to do and why will place you on the path to success (your own personal definition of success). Who knows? You may discover you already are in the right place doing what you were created to do.
Are you ready for more success? It’s yours. Discover your purpose, driven by your core values, and live the abundant life on your way to success.