Find your purpose, and live it…

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

John Irving

What is it that you love to do? Have you found a way to make a living from it? So many people in this world have “jobs” that they do to simply earn a living. If you can find the beautiful intersection between a calling, a passion, and God gifted purpose you are a lucky soul indeed.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps you aren’t lucky at all, perhaps you are just blessed…

Busy on purpose…

“Everybody ends up somewhere in life.  A few people end up somewhere on purpose.”

Andy Stanley

Do we sometimes get so busy that we forget why we are living? It seems that we can easily forget that life isn’t about being “busy” and having a lot of stuff to do. I recently read a passage in a book that was talking about “busy” as way of showing our importance and relevance in life. The busier we are the more important we must be. This world we live in today is all about being “busy” and having a lot going on. In many cases it is perceived that if you aren’t stretched to the max you must not be very good or successful in life.

That’s why I like this quote from Andy so much. It makes me think about being “busy on purpose.” Am I headed in the right direction and is my busy focused on what matters or is it focused on me? It’s okay to be busy, but only if what you are doing really matters. Otherwise it is just activity…

Purpose = Hard Work

“When you live for a strong purpose, hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.”

Steve Pavlina

What is the purpose that you live for? When did it become so strong that the work required to to fulfill your purpose became part of the joy?

With a deep purpose driving you forward you don’t have a choice when it comes to doing the hard work, it happens naturally because you couldn’t fathom not doing it. I would argue that when you truly live for a strong purpose that the hard work doesn’t feel like hard work. The effort is rewarding and while the hours might be long or the work intense, the fact that it is driven by purpose makes the work itself part of the motivation.

Happiness of pursuit…

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.”

Denis Waitley

I know this is a reminder that I need constantly. Life isn’t about the goal or the objective, it is about the journey.

Think of it this way. Do you read a great novel to find out what happened to the main character(s)? If so then why don’t you simply skip to the last pages and see what happened? Or perhaps you could find someone else who has already condensed the book into an abbreviated version so you don’t have to read the whole thing. But that isn’t where you find the joy. The happiness comes from reading the entire tale, from going on the journey with the characters, in losing oneself in a great story.

We don’t achieve happiness through getting some thing or reaching some goal. Happiness comes from loving the effort expended to pursue the dream.

Individuals aligned & focused = necessary ingredient for success

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi

Working together with a team towards a common and shared purpose is so powerful. When there is a common purpose, a shared goal that has 100% commitment, then there is no room for hidden agendas, no place for politics, no backstabbing or power struggles.

When the goals of the individual are more important than those of the group that is when the bad stuff happens and dissension builds in the team. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen?

First, make sure you aren’t part of the problem. Are you spending any effort that detracts from the common mission and purpose? Are you more interested in being right, than in doing what is right?

Second, is there a common purpose? A clearly defined objective that everyone understands and believes in?

Third, Does everyone know what is expected of them? Are roles clearly defined with the key success metrics and targets aligned to the achievement of the goal?

Fourth, Is the team reviewing successes and CANDIDLY talking about failures or setbacks in a non-personal and non-threatening manner with the focus on the mission, not the person.

As Vince said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – That is what makes a team work…”

NO!

“Every yes must be defended by a thousand no’s.”

Jeff Walker

Yesterday I wrote about focusing on the important, not just the urgent. It made me think about the discipline required to say “no” to all the things that invariably come up in life that will then allow you to focus on the really important things. If you don’t say “no” then you will always be a slave to everyone else’s priorities and not putting the focus on those things that you have said are most important.

I will fully admit that this is an area where I have to be constantly diligent and focused or I will go astray. One tactic I have found that really helps me is taking my objectives and breaking them down in to weekly focus areas and then daily key priorities. Writing those down every morning ensures that I stay on point (or at the very least have a constant reminder throughout the day).

Bottom line. If you want to say yes to the really important stuff you have to say no to all the things that will get in the way.

Are you living life itself?

“We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are. Men do not really live for honors or for pay; their gladness is not the taking and holding, but in doing, the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things but more to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.”

R.J. Baughan 

This is very broad and profound and each sentence is worth mulling over and evaluating how one chooses to live their life.  I’m going to take a couple days and really dig into each of these and see where I “score.”  The  last sentence is so great.  “The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.”

Are you a happy man (or woman)?

Don’t skip over the stretch…

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In fitness and exercise stretching is the key to preventing injury and enabling your body to perform at an optimal level.  It is a very intentional practice that, if skipped, leads to stiff and sore muscles, sub-optimum performances and potential injuries later.  Stretching is a key activity because it enables the future, but you have to choose to do it.  

I think that growing through our experiences in life requires the same intentional effort as stretching before or after exercise.  Pausing to reflect on what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, what specific experiences have taught you is critical if you want to enhance your abilities and achieve new levels of growth.  Another way of saying this is that by choosing to actively reflect on your experiences you are stretching your mind and soul versus simply living a passive existence.  

Taking the time to intentionally pause and learn is the mental stretching that enables any experience to become a foundation for bigger and better things.  I have met a lot of people in life who have a “something happened TO me” attitude or perspective about their experiences.  Reframing this to focus on what you can learn shifts this to become a “something happened FOR me.”  These are the people that inspire and motivate me.  They choose to take any experience, whether good or bad, and not be defined by it but to instead learn from it and redefine their life based on having been stretched and grown.  

How are you stretching in your life?  Are you taking the time to intentionally learn and grow from the experiences that happened for you?  

Stretching is a choice that enables future performance and prevents injuries.  It is an exercise that is best done daily by simply taking five minutes at the end of each day to ask yourself “what have I learned from my experiences today?”

If you want to grow, don’t skip the stretch…

There are just two types of people…

“We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world. ”

Heidi Wills

For as long as I can remember one of the driving principles of my life has been the belief that there are just two types of people in the world.  Those who the world happens to, and those who happen to the world.  I have always focused on being in the latter category.

Today’s quote says basically the same thing but with a  slight different perspective. Is it overly simplistic and generalizing?  Probably.  But just maybe it isn’t.  Happiness is a choice. Determination is a choice. Focus is a choice. Everything we do is a choice we have the freedom to make.  

I think many people, myself most certainly included, get lost in the “big picture.” Because we can’t control what happens at the macro level we choose not to manage ourselves at the micro level. But we have to choose to affect the world at the micro level, taking ownership of our decisions and behaviors daily.  When we do this we have much more influence on the world around us.

When you wake up in the morning are you going to define your day, or be defined by the day that happens to you? Ask yourself tonight which person you were today.  Did you affect your world?

The ripple effect…

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Nelson Mandela

close up water drop photography

Life (and leadership) is like tossing a pebble into a pond.  A big splash and then nothing remains on the surface.  

Except that’s not really true is it?  There are always ripples leading away from where your toss landed.  

It’s interesting that when you toss a pebble the ripples have to move away from the point of impact.  No matter how much we want to make life about ourselves, or try to focus on our own wants and needs, our behaviors and actions send waves out that intersect with others and impact their lives, for positive or negative effect.  

What is the impact that you want to happen today based on the pebbles you toss?  Are you tossing pebbles without thinking of the effect beyond yourself?  Are you living a life that will impact others and that they will say was significant?  

 

 

Walking a path of purpose…

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.”

Marla Gibbs

One of the most profound exercises I have ever done in my life was the creation of a  “Faith Map”  timeline.  In this exercise I created a map of the people that God has put into my life to further my journey.  I call it a faith map because I literally drew it out on large paper so I could visualize the impact that people have had on my life and understand the broader picture.  Taking the time to think through all the  people that I have been blessed to know is truly astounding. I can say with absolute certitude that I wouldn’t have nearly the blessings I have today I certain people hadn’t been placed on my path. If you are interested in digging deep and doing a similar exercise sit down and ask yourself these questions:

  • How did I get here?  Who specifically influenced my journey? (I find it easier to start with more recent relationships)
  • What did I learn from them?  How did they influence my journey?
  • Where would I be without that intentional nudge?  What would my life be like?

I know it sounds corny, and it probably is, but for me it gave me a much greater sense of how intentionally God has worked in my life.  It gives rise to an interesting question.  Because God was so intentional with our creation that he knows every hair on our head and we were created in God’s image, doesn’t that mean are supposed to be intentional with how we spend our lives?  

 

 

 

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