Purpose — 66

This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!

Purpose

I want to live for something. I want to be part of something so much greater than myself. Don’t you feel it in your very bones? Doesn’t it cut you to the quick? Isn’t it like an itch that you can’t quite scratch?

Businesses and organizations have mission statements although most of them are simply postering, full of pomp and circumstance that doesn’t actually lead to anything close to fulfilling those statements. I’ve even known a handful of people who had personal “purpose” statements that they may have even tattooed on their very body so as to help them never forget it. If it was so important to them then why would they ever have to have a physical imprint on their skin to remember it? I never understood that.

But real purpose – now that’s intoxicating, that’s something worth getting up in the morning for. It’s worth something throwing yourself completely at and if you find it you’ll find it difficult to ever feel in want. Daniel Pink, someone who I’ve come to really respect and admire, completed some research that he boiled down simply like this:

A healthy society – and healthy business organizations – begins with purpose and considers profit a way to move toward that end or a happy by-product of its attainment.

It’s something that speaks so natively to me that I can’t see the world any other way. I don’t understand businesses and organizations (even non-profits) that are so hungry for profit that they’ve forgotten the original intent. As one who can’t help but do that which I am currently engaged in I find it more difficult to lift my head at times and realize that it’s important that I profit as well, especially if I’m trading my most valuable resource in the service of others.

My time and your time is very important and we give it freely to pursue those passions, those special interests, and to fulfill a native mission statement that rings unadulterated and true. You see, our personal mission statements are not impossible – they are very much possible. We not only stand for something but we are that something. We are unique and our obsessions are our very gifts and reflect who we are deeply. We don’t postulate, we don’t just say that we stand for something, that we have discovered purpose. We act on it. We go and do it.

It’s something that many have regarded as one of my greatest “strengths” – that I mystically seem to “know” what to do and where to spend my time. I chuckle at this idea now although for most of my life I couldn’t explain it very well other than a light-hearted shrug and a ”Hey, I dunno… I just follow my impulses; I just go and do whatever is on my mind and my heart.

People and organizations are desperate for what we’ve got. We can center and zero-in on purpose instantaneously. We know it in our bones. You know what it’s like to work in an environment that doesn’t have purpose, that seems to just “exist” and take up space. The world is littered with boring companies, and soulless people. We are anything but boring and we certainly have a soul.

I was created to create. I was made to pursue the little 1′s and 0′s that race across live wires that circle the globe. I was destined to put them together, talk about them, and explore their infinite potential. Although at times I feel I got completely lucky with this as I was able to convert this incurable curiosity into something of a career, I feel that it has less to do with luck and more to do with perspective.

Sure, purpose is one of those difficult and intangible parts of building a successful organization, building a successful career, that sometimes can come much later, even much later than the founding. I don’t believe that it’s absolutely required that a new business have Daniel Pink’s purpose in order to proceed but any organization that’s worth working for appears to have this quality created over time. In the same way I don’t believe that it’s absolutely required that you have it all figured out the moment you start taking your work seriously to convert it it into a career and vocation.

You must first strongly identify those qualities and strengths that make you, you. Then you must realize that those things may be the very purpose that you need to pursue. It’ll change your entire trajectory. Again, companies and organizations spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars to “re-organize” themselves around mission and purpose. You don’t need to do anything nearly as dramatic and it’s very cost-effective.

Long-term you may find yourself in the blessed place where you earn your income and your own financial freedom via the very things that you love to do. You, through purpose, have discovered profit. You may not be head-over-heels wealthy and that’s fine because that was never the intent or explicit goal. You pursued your interest because you were creative. You desired to create, to explore, to know. You are a creative aspie; have you forgotten?

Take it one step further and help others do the same. Leave a legacy of incredible value, not just another trail of money.

Some thoughts and reflections:

  1. Do you experience Purpose in your current role and organization? In your current job?
  2. How can you make sure you create or work in an organization that has Purpose built in?
  3. How important is Purpose to you really? Do you believe that we need it to function well?
  4. How much does money play a factor in Purpose for you?