We were all put on this earth for a purpose. Most of us are aware of this simple yet profound fact. However, many people seem to waste their lives frolicking from here to there, flitting from one thing to the next, never really doing anything important with their lives. Others are constantly on a search, a search to figure out why they are here, what their purpose is, and how can they fulfill it. Some people get extremely anxious at the thought that they will never “find” their purpose as if it is lost, and they just have to hunt and chase it down. Too many people think that in order to fulfill their purpose that they must become rich or famous or powerful or all three. They think the real way to serve their purpose here on earth is by getting a bunch of accolades from a bunch of people that they don’t know for doing a bunch of stuff that sounds good. But is that really the reason God put us all here? Does He really just want all of us to get on the cover of a magazine or have our names known all over the world?
Over the past year and a half, I have continued to encounter this one word: WHY. Not the simplistic why that starts random questions, but the why that has you truly evaluating the things that make you excited about life, that make you want to get up in the morning, those things that you’re passionate about doing, even if they’re not the easiest to accomplish or the most “important” things to other people. This short, three letter word has caused me to view life much differently and to evaluate the things that I do.
First, I had to consider my why when thinking about my reason for becoming an independent consultant with Thirty-One Gifts. Other than just making extra income, I needed to be able to explain to other people why I chose to join. Next, because of my new position with Thirty-One, I was lead to read a book entitled, Start with Why. While it may seem like it’s just a book for someone starting their own business or trying to make their business better, this book really hit home when I looked at what I did in my classroom as a teacher. It really made me reflect on my approach to teaching and how I saw my students. Now, just this past weekend, I was again confronted by this word. This time it was a tad bit scary. I had to reflect on why I wasn’t doing the tasks that I knew I needed to do in order to be successful, in order to live the life I feel that I should be living. I was asked what was my non-negotiable why. And that’s how this post came along. LOL
With all three of these examples, I was basically told to get past the superficial things in life and really dig deep into my heart and think about my true motivation for doing what I do or don’t do. With Thirty-One I had to look past just making extra money because making extra money wouldn’t ultimately keep me fulfilled. With teaching, it had to be more than just test scores and evaluation scores; it had to be about what my students needed in order to survive in the real world. This past weekend’s revelation was in the fact that the reason many things were not getting accomplished in my life was that I allowed fear of failure to get in the way (or just plain laziness at times) and I didn’t allow my actions to match my vision. With all three of these examples, everything goes back to the why. Why do I need to make extra money? Why did I go into the teaching profession? Why am I not living up to my God-given potential and why was I allowing things to get in the way?
You see, when you start digging deep and letting the why lead you, you begin to live life differently. As I learned from reading the book, Start with Why, too many times we are focused on the what and the how. Many of us have jobs because we need money. That is a what. But why do we choose the specific career that we have or the career that we long to have? As we all know, money can buy us stuff, stuff, and more stuff, but at the end of the day, none of that stuff can hold us tight on a cold winter day when we are all alone with our stuff. Our what can be in the form of results that we want to get, such as having kids obtain a certain score on a test, but that is not why most of us completed four or more years in college, sat through several certification exams, attend several workshops throughout the school year, and work hard to create and recreate new and interesting lessons. What can also keep us from accomplishing our goals as well. Whats such as fear of failure or even fear of success, feelings of inadequacies, harmful addictions, and other excuses we can conjure up keep us from doing what we know we are destined to do.
But when we start with why, the results are completely different. Why do I need extra money? It’s because my family is extremely important to me and I want to be able to spend more time with them doing fun activities. The extra money will allow us to do just that. If I keep my focus on my family, then I shouldn’t have excuses for not rocking my business. My drive to work hard for my why (quality time with my family) is more important than my what (extra income). Why did I go into the teaching profession? It’s because I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. I wanted to help students become well-rounded, educated young men and women who were ready to take on the world, not just be able to pass a test. I wasn’t looking to just receive a paycheck, a good evaluation, or a pat on the back. Both of these whys tie into this past weekend and all that I learned about myself and the answer to the question of what is my non-negotiable why. And I’ve come away with the conclusion that God has given us all an unquenchable passion for something and our own personal assignments in this world. We are all here to touch the lives of others in some way through our talents and the wisdom that He has provided us. Therefore, sitting back and making excuses as to why we shouldn’t do these things is unacceptable.Telling ourselves that we can’t do them is unacceptable. Giving up on ourselves is unacceptable.
No, I am not saying everyone is called to be in the pulpit. However, we can all touch other people’s lives in ways that are bigger than we could ever imagine. Some of us may become famous for what we do; most of us, however, the world will never know. But believe me, we were all given a special assignment here on Earth and it all leads back to positively impacting the lives of others. How can this be, you ask? It’s through that “why”, that thing that drives you, that thing you’re passionate about.
There’s someone out there saying something like, “Oh, I’m just a mechanic. How can I possibly impact someone’s life by fixing their car?” If you really love fixing vehicles and you’re open and honest with people and your why is to make sure that people get their cars back in good working condition, then you’re on the right track. Imagine that desperate woman who doesn’t know what’s wrong with her car and comes to you frantic and helpless because she has been having a horrible morning and really needs to get to work on time because she needs her paycheck to take care of her children. She has been burned in the past by dishonest mechanics and she is sick and tired of dealing with people in general. You get the point. Your kindness and honesty and ability to fix her car in a timely manner may be exactly what she needed that day to see past all of her frustration and to believe that there are still good people in the world. She will leave your shop with a smile on her face and may even pay it forward by using her own gifts to bless someone else in need. Just imagine that.
I’m not proclaiming to be an expert on this; I’m just telling you what I believe to be true. Your purpose doesn’t have to be this big, larger-than-life dream that impacts millions of people at one time. Don’t get caught up in comparison with someone else’s dream.Your purpose can be using your God-given gifts and talents to touch a different person’s life each and every day. Small acts tend to have a ripple effect, and while you think that all you did was help one person, your one action may touch so many more lives than you will ever know. Strive each day to live the best life possible, using your why to lead you and to push you forward. Discovering your why won’t happen overnight and it might even change as the years go by, but (and again, this is just what I believe) if your ultimate goal is to live the best life possible being true to yourself and to your heart while positively impacting the lives of other people, you will find your purpose and ultimately be left with a blissful sense of fulfillment.