What is life purpose?
It is in our nature to seek life purpose. Ever since humans have contemplated their place in the universe and tried to create something that would make the world a better place and outlast their lives, there have been purpose seekers.
Autonomy and mastery are essential to keep you motivated and performing at the highest levels. But there is a third element that is crucial to raising performance even higher, its purpose. The most highly motivated people not to mention those who are most satisfied have aligned themselves with a cause greater than themselves.
“One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
If you look at the business arena companies are just beginning to realize how purpose plays a major role in motivation. They are noticing that compensated engagement is going down and uncompensated effort is going up. You are seeing more and more Americans volunteering than ever before. Wealth maximization doesn’t fully motivate people. The profit motive may not be as powerful as a purpose motive. The impetus to take on challenges is much stronger when you are aligned with something larger than yourself.
An excellent example of this would be TOMS started by Blake Mycoskie in Santa Monica, CA; their mission is when they sell a pair of shoes they provide a free pair to the needy.
Grameen Danone (Know in the U.S. as Dannon yogurt) is a collaboration of Grameen Bank and Groupe Danone their mission is a social business enterprise which, launched in 2006, is designed to provide children in Bangladesh nutrients which are missing in their diet. The company is run on ‘No loss, No dividend’ basis. The company provides a 3oz cup of a nutrient enriched yogurt for about seven cents to children; they are also attempting to reduce poverty by providing jobs and sourcing all the raw materials locally.
“If your dream does not involve serving others then you need to think bigger” Mo Khan
Find your part
- What message do you want your life to proclaim?
- Is your message about cooperation, wisdom, peace, inspiration?
- When it is all said and done what will your epitaph read?
If life were viewed as a play, as each character makes its entrance and every action has an intent and provokes an emotion or reaction from the audience.
- Why did this character make an entrance?
- What is its message for the audience?
Avoid falling into a pattern that limits your capacity to recognize your part in the play of life.
Don’t let extremes impede you discovering your purpose: – Don’t exaggerate your importance – Don’t deny your effect on the world – Don’t minimize your abilities. Self-importance can be detrimental to discovering your purpose. Purpose is not always an individual effort; so don’t over personalize. Great aspirations are not individual efforts they have historical continuity.
Every effort has a message as a musical note in a symphony. Every action creates ripples which either uplift or diminish life.
What moves you?
There are situation in your community, country or world that move you so strongly, that you feel compelled to do something about it. It may be a trip to Argentina, like it was for Blake Mycoskie that impelled him to start TOMS. The desire to end suffering or spread joy, you are creating a world you want to live in. Responding to inspiration may be a good starting point, but try and find what moves you the most.
Whom to serve?
Is there a particular group of people you are drawn to? If you know these people then you know their needs, wants and aspirations. Or you traveled someplace and feel a connection with the people; feel you can make a difference in their lives. Follow your gut.
How many do you want to influence?
As you contemplate your life’s work, consider the depth and width of the impact you want to make. The impact could be at the level of the individual, community, nation, and world. The quality of impact you make on others is as important as the breath of the impact. You may have heard the saying by Peter Drucker “effectiveness is a matter of doing the right things and efficiency is doing things right”.
Your life purpose is to consider what you do is right. Why-you-do precedes what-you-do. Find yours and you will live a productive and happy life. Look deep within to how much the world needs your love and how much you are willing to give. Once you have determined your life purpose, play the part you were meant to play.
Bonus: Have you written your life’s mission statement?