Listen to the podcast version of this post. Click HERE.
Part 1 shared the impact from developing your own life purpose along with living your purpose daily through conscious living. I shared aspects of my own life purpose along with the importance this has had in feeling great about my life. In this post I will use more of my own story to highlight how my life’s purpose evolved.
What prompted this thought was listening to the TEDx presentation on, “How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes” | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu. I loved the simplicity and profoundness of the message (80% of people are unhappy and feel like they have wasted most of their life!!), and the range of comments on YouTube (Lol, many were funny). The comments suggested that people got stuck, which I could relate to for much of my life. It made me reflect on my understanding of purpose…He suggested understanding these 5 elements to get started. Included are my own responses.
- Who Are You?
I am Michael, a spiritual being having a human experience.
- What do you Love to do? What is it that you do that you feel supremely qualified to teach others?
I love to guide and inspire others to grow and develop their full potential, in work, and mostly in their life. I have a strong understanding and personal experience of the journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. I am able to relate well to others.
- Who would you do this for?
Those that recognize a deeper need to understand who they are and/or finding greater levels of meaning, purpose, joy and love in their life. Those that want to reduce the levels of pain and suffering and replace with greater levels of joy and happiness.
- What is it that they want and/or need?
A framework along with tools and tips to help with their self-discovery.
- How would they change?
Self-image, self-worth, self-awareness,
So let me step back and share how this developed in my life, to help you consider applying this for yourself.
Initially my life was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I was truly more “asleep” than I was “awakened” spiritually. I was the “feverish selfish little clod of ailments” (George Bernard Shaw), which was largely a result of my traumatic past and the victim attitude I had then. There was no sense of purpose other than waking up, attempting to excel at work, and achieve the “American Dream”. I struggled more than I excelled. My life was consumed with attempting to keep my head above water.
My strength was that I was a high achiever at work. This led to a growth opportunity in our Corporate Management Training group. My role was to research topic of leadership, identifying the competencies of a great leader, and then to develop and deliver leadership development training. I loved my job including the research and learning what a great leader was all about. This became my own aspiration. I would be my own student, which led to several personality assessments that ultimately began my hard look within which included attending a “T-Group” workshop which led to working with a therapist. I finally confronted my past trauma and abuse and learned the cause and effect that my past had on my current day behaviors and consequences.
My purpose at that time related to personal growth and in particular healing my past while rebuilding my self-esteem and self-awareness. I realized that I had to take that hard look within to identify the unhealthy beliefs and behaviors that were holding me back from my second purpose to be a great leader and teach others to be the same. While I was excelling at work, my relationship at home was deteriorating. I was hitting bottom using counseling and other “tools for self-discovery” to keep me barely above water. I was discovering some of my core personal issues in this struggle and made the conscious decision to confront these and make changes.
I had made great strides at work and launched a new leadership curriculum. The feedback I received was outstanding with several commenting that I made a major impact on them. I felt awesome and my manager helped me to realize that I was finding my own purpose, helping to develop others to their full potential, which is what I was doing as well, and therefore able to role model this with my students.
About a year later, I met with an amazing leadership consultant at work to solicit his input to developing great leaders. One evening at dinner he changed the discussion and asked me, “Michael, are you happy?” I squirmed in my seat until tears came to my eyes despite every effort to hold them within, along with my reply which was, “others see me as living the American Dream, but I am not happy and have no idea what happiness means to me.” At the same time my mentor at work, a vice president, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer with only a few months to live. I shared the discussion I had with the consultant. He was instrumental in providing me with ideas to discover what happiness meant to me. I was open about my trials and tribulations with my manager and a couple of others. One of them left the following quote on my desk.
Throughout your life, there is a voice only you can hear. A voice which mythologists label “the call.” A call to the value of your life. The choice of risk and individual bliss over the known and secure. You may choose not to hear your spirit. You may prefer to build a life within the compound, to avoid risk. It is possible to find happiness within a familiar box, a life of comfort and control. Or, you may choose to be open to new experiences, to leave the limits of your conditioning, to hear the call. Then you must act. If you never hear it perhaps nothing is lost. If you hear it and ignore it, your life is lost.THE CALL – Jennifer James
The quote put words to the gnawing feeling I had inside. I was not happy because I was trying to find happiness based on what everyone told me was important. Although I was performing very well at work, I came to know that I had to address this gnawing feeling by “opening myself to new experiences”. My mentor encouraged me to pursue this since his own experience with cancer helped him realize the importance of being true to self while you have life to live. “Coincidently,” a friend asked if I wanted to travel to Europe, and I jumped all over this opportunity. Along the way I discovered Youth Hostels which provided a cheap way to travel. I returned knowing my next step. To take time and discover life around the world.
I returned and informed my mentor that I discovered what I want to do next, to travel the world! I hung up my career shingle for a backpack and ventured outward in what turned out to be a very inward journey, what I later referred to as a Modern Day Vision Quest. I heeded the call and left the familiar box to find this illusive meaning and purpose, trying to make sense of life. The result was that I found meaning which was huge, but struggled with purpose. A key realization was that so many around the world experienced pain and suffering. I was not alone. After a multitude of experiences I realized that with pain came the choice of growth or decline. I had made the choice to grow!
With many new revelations and realizations, I wanted to give something back which became a part of my new purpose. I volunteered in many capacities, with most of them dealing with struggle, death and dying. I volunteered as an EMT on ambulance which opened up doors to many new volunteer opportunities abroad. It reminded me each day that our life can change dramatically. I also volunteered with a children’s oncology camp and became a student of the children who taught me courage, resilience and love. On several occassions young children would tell me the most amazing stories of visits by angels, etc. The most profound volunteer opportunity was in hospice care. I recommend this to anyone wanting to figure out life. You will learn a LOT from those who are on the way out. Struggle was a common denominator with all humans and I began to see that it had meaning and purpose. I realized that I would most likely not have chosen this path if my life was easy and comfortable. No Pain … No Gain!
The most amazing people began to enter my life. They were all teachers to me. I was learning about humanity, one person at a time! When we open up and share the good, bad and the ugly, we begin to see a commonality amongst all of us. I stumbled on a “spiritual” group with others who were like myself, with a quest to learn more about life and beyond. It was then that I realized that I was transitioning from a focus on personal growth, to self-discovery (see image below for a description). I had a voracious appetite for books on these topics. I was a sponge for everything I could glean about life. Over time this would take the form in my books, blogs, videos and more.
After what was many years of contemplating purpose, there was a moment where I recognized a common thread in my life. I was passionate about personal growth and self-discovery. I learned the art of teaching and facilitating in my job. Facilitating allowed me to become more comfortable talking in front of groups, which was a huge accomplishment for a shy introvert. My travels helped me to understand how prevalent pain and suffering are to the human race. I found great meaning in helping others as a volunteer. I realized the huge gap that exists today with leadership helping themselves vs. others. I had experienced more than the ordinary with respect to pain and suffering so that I could relate well to others and their pain. I continued to receive positive feedback that I demonstrated passion in what I do, and was an inspiration to others. The culmination of these roles and activities were the foundation of my life’s purpose.
How would I describe my life’s purpose? Although it may continue to evolve, at this point I would say that I came into this life with a quest to grow and become my full potential, to be enlightened. My path included a lot of pain and suffering, which is what stimulated so much of my growth (personal growth, self-discovery and enlightenment). For as far as I have come, every day is the realization that there is so much more to learn. My goal is to inspire and guide others on their personal growth and self-discovery journey, helping them to overcome past trauma, find happiness and meaning in their life, and to ultimately discover their potential and use this to help a world in need. This is all captured in my purpose statement which is, “to love, share, teach, and heal, through God’s love in my heart.”
In summary, your purpose is to be you, fully you. Your goal is to learn about yourself and discover the values, beliefs and attitudes that represent who you truly are. Your life to-date has been the culmination of what you learned and applied so far. If it has not been a happy existence than you to are using pain and suffering to potentially stimulate your growth. This represents our free will to make our choices. Those drawn to live life on-purpose have typically lived a challenging life, setting the stage for a difficult choice to go your own way. It is not easy, as most great endeavors and accomplishments are. You have experienced The Call. Now you must act!
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. ― George Bernard Shaw
Michael is an award winning author, speaker, facilitator and coach on the topics of Career Coaching, Leadership, Personal Growth & Self-Discovery. Check out “Discovering Michael: An Inspirational Guide to Personal Growth & Self-Discovery” You can also view my latest development book on Leadership, “Leadership From The Inside Out: Building Your Leadership Foundation” which utilizes the concepts covered in this Framework to develop great leaders. Visit my website for more information growhumanpotential.com including links to my YouTube Channel, “The Ripple Effect”, Podcasts and more. You can contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org