The Stream of Purpose

In my experience, I’ve noticed people tend to live a relatively binary approach to life. Either we are happy, or we are sad. We’re having fun, or we’re bored. We’re right, or we’re wrong.

We view purpose much the same. Either we are living a life full of purpose, or we are not.

In a recent post, I wrote about purpose as a theme. Purpose is not a vocation; rather, your vocation could be the mission of living what is the theme of your purpose. For instance, if the theme of your overarching purpose is to serve women to live extraordinary lives, you will potentially express your theme through various missions in your life. You will go through seasons of your life (like raising a young family) where the theme of your purpose is still alive and well, but your missions are few and far between. In other words, just because your job isn’t satisfying your purpose, doesn’t mean you still can’t live out your purpose.

Living your purpose is not a binary event. I offer you to view your purpose as a stream--your stream of purpose. Some days, you dip your toe in your purpose. Other days you’re fully immersed. Yes, you can treat the stream of purpose as binary: either you get in, or you don’t get in. That’s still your choice, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can decide to walk in the stream of your purpose for an hour a day. For me, that means getting up in the morning, setting aside an hour to write as I am doing now. As I write, I’m in the stream of my purpose.

You can dip your toe in the stream every day by taking in content that is related to your purpose, such as, reading a blog in the morning. You can walk across its rocky river bed to the other side as you go to work while listening to a podcast that relates to your purpose. Or, you can get in and float for an hour every day as you take one of your direct reports to lunch and pour into them.

Living your purpose isn’t binary. You don’t have to quit your day job to live your purpose. You can choose to dip your toe, wade across, or even get in and float for an hour or two every day. For the mom who wants to serve other women, she leads a women’s bible study, she is in a women’s book club, and she meets with women for lunch throughout the week. She may not be in her stream of purpose all day long (though that’s possible too!), but she is in the stream of her purpose often throughout her week and her day.

For the woman above, her purpose theme is serving women. My purpose theme is connecting people to their True North. What is your purpose theme? And what would it look like for you to dip your toe in, wade across or float in your stream of purpose? What would it look like for you to commit to increasing the amount of time you spend in the stream of your purpose?

Purpose as a Theme

Purpose is the reason for which something exists. Many a man and woman have struggled to discover why they exist. But in my experience, if they looked at their lives as a whole, they would discover a theme to their existence.

Often times we confuse purpose with vocation. Or purpose with doing. Purpose is first about being. And when we stop all the doing, and we relax and just be, we can sink into our story and discover the purpose theme for our lives.

A great way to start this journey is to ask yourself, “What is it that I can’t NOT do in my life?” For me, coincidentally, it’s about helping others discover and bravely embrace their purpose. Over 20 years ago, I wrote this purpose statement: To free men from living the status quo by helping them discover and live their God-Given purpose.

Since a teenager, I’ve challenged people to challenge the status quo of reacting to life: Going to work, watching 5 hours of TV, going to bed and doing it all over again in the morning. Instead, I challenged people to live proactively. To set goals, plan their days, weeks and months, have hobbies, learn, experience and live!  I called that idea The Proactive Life and in my early 20’s wrote curriculum around that, led a men’s retreat and mentored men to define what living looked like to them. I lead our marriage by taking my wife and I on quarterly retreats. The intent of those retreats was to identify the purpose for our marriage and to set goals individually and as a couple so we could live proactively instead living reactively.

How purpose has manifested itself in my life has come in many different forms. In my late 20’s I founded a marketing company with this purpose: To challenge people to be their best version. Naturally, I became a certified executive coach. And recently, I was talking with a friend and he summarized my purpose as: “Oh, you help people wake up!” The overarching theme of my life and therefore my purpose is to challenge others to live purposefully. How I do that can be in various forms, many of which I’ve yet to discover or employ!

What is your Purpose Theme? Purpose is one of those easier-said-than-done things to define. It makes sense that it can be an extremely daunting task to put a stake in the ground and say “This is my purpose.” I know for me, I was reluctant to define my God-Given purpose because I felt God was going to send me to be a missionary in Africa. Or, I didn’t want to define or own my purpose because it meant I would commit to something, and if I committed to something, *gasp*, I could fail! Failure would affect my lifestyle, or threaten my identity, or worse, leave me desolate and alone!

The good news is once you define your Purpose Theme, you can ease into it. You don’t have to make a radical, dramatic change all at once. In my next post, we’ll talk about the Stream of Purpose and how you can begin to dip your toe into that stream to lead a life filled with purpose, direction and fulfillment--one day or even one hour at a time.

Live Your Perfect Day

Think of a day that you would call perfect. Picture what you did that day. How did that day make you feel? What if you could create that perfect day each and every day?

For me, that perfect day may look something like this: Get up at 5am, grab my golden retriever and go on a five mile run. I’d come back, make a cup of coffee (or even better yet, coffee would be made for me), and I’d head into my study as I’m cooling down to read some scripture and have a 20 minute meditation. I’d jump in the shower and pray for 15 minutes, and once dressed, join my family for breakfast. This day is looking pretty good so far. I’d drive my kids to school, and return home and work for an hour or two in my study and read my favorite business book. I’d grab my wife and we’d jump on our bikes and ride the path to one of our favorite cafes and have lunch. And we’d leisurely ride back until about 2pm. I’d give her a kiss, put on my golf clothes and head to a golf course. I’d play 9 holes, and for me, breaking 40 would be great but the score wouldn’t be so relevant. I’d meet a good friend for a drink after golf, and I’m back home for dinner with the family. After dinner, I’d hang with my family for about an hour, before heading to bed (early). I’d read and right before falling asleep, I would smile, sigh and thank God for a perfect day.

My perfect day may be nothing like your perfect day. My circumstances or situation may allow me to do somethings you don’t have access to or vice versa (for instance, I don’t live near water and your perfect day may involve fish or a boat!).

Whatever your perfect day may be, what if you could live the perfect day, day in and day out? Who says you can’t?

Ok, maybe it’s not realistic. I get it. You have a job. Family. Responsibilities. You can’t just do whatever you want whenever you want it. Or can you?

What if, on purpose, you could live one perfect day a year? Twice a year? That seems doable. What about one perfect day a month? Now it’s getting interesting. Let’s go for it: One Perfect Day a Week. Could you commit to living at least one perfect day a week?

Creating Your Perfect Day

A perfect day is doing things that energize you. For me, I love to run. Love it. I love golf. I love my family and my wife. I do like to work, and doing 1-2 hours of meaningful work is energizing (not so much the monotonous stuff). I love golf (most of the time). Outdoors, check. Spending quality time with my wife; you bet. Reading. Connecting with God. Ample alone time (I’m an introvert). There’s not too much in my perfect day that doesn’t energize me. Hence, it’s a perfect day.

What energizes you? What are 3-5 things you could do, that if you did monthly would just be awesome. What if you could do that weekly, and if that’s not going to work for you, what about the perfect morning or the perfect afternoon?

My goal is to live the Epic Day once or twice a year. The Ultimate Day once a quarter. And the Perfect Day at least once a month. For me, an Epic Day would be one of those days that blow you away. Maybe it’s spending the day in Paris, or playing a world-class golf course. An Ultimate Day would be skiing out West with my wife and kids. And, well, we went over a perfect day. Doing those things you love to do, but being intentional to make the whole day with those and the things you love.

Now, I know the world doesn’t revolve around me so I can just live my perfect day. But I work with my wife to create her perfect day. And I encourage her. With my teammates at work, I challenge them to live a perfect day and encourage them to use their PTO to do what they love. And now, if you’re reading this, hopefully I’m encouraging you to create and commit to living your perfect day.

2nd Place Ain’t So Bad

2nd Place Ain’t So Bad

Second place ain’t so bad. I mean, it’s close to first, better than third. You’re not the winner, but almost the winner. It feels good. In a track race, you beat 7 other people. Only one person beat you. Second place ain’t so bad.

Recently I had a client that was committed to second place. And at first, I noticed fear in my stomach. Who would settle for second place? But she unpacked it for me and it made sense: You don’t have to work as hard to get second, you really can’t fail if you stay in second. You’re pretty much as good as first and you know it, but you don’t have the pressure of being first. It’s more comfortable to be in second; you have more free time to enjoy life. Second place ain’t so bad.

She didn’t like noticing she was playing for second. She wanted to be first, but realized she was unconsciously committed to Second Place. She wanted more, but she wasn’t willing to quit make the commitment to what it took to get from second to first. Let me say that again: She wanted more, but she wasn’t willing to do what it took to accomplish more. This is where the change formula comes in: Her Vision of first place X her Discomfort was not more than the First Steps it would take to overcome her Resistance to Change (VxD + F.S. > R = C).

So second place it is. However, she is now aware of her racket. She stays in second out of comfort. She has the potential to be first--to blow first away--if she wanted to. But second is safe. Second is comfortable. She has it pretty good. Why jeopardize second for an unknown first, when she doesn’t even know what it would take to get to first?

What are you committed to? What is keeping you from accomplishing what it is that you want? Are you willing to accept the one in you that is protecting you from something? That one in you is probably doing a pretty good job keeping you where you unconsciously want to be. No big deal. A high-five is warranted. A handshake, a hug. A nod of acceptance. Simply allow the one who holds you back to be here. When the discomfort becomes too great, the vision too big, and the resistance not enough to stop you, you will change. No need to force it.

In the meantime, second place ain’t so bad.

Building a Business: Why Doubt is Worth It

One of my most favorite movie quotes, which happens to be from Parenthood:

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. 

Gil: Oh? 

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! 

Gil: What a great story. 

I always wanted to go again. 
You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. 
That just goes around. Nothing. 
I like the roller coaster. 
You get more out of it.

Building a business is hard.

At times, you have a tremendous amount of clarity. At other times, a stupendous amount of doubt.

I can do this…wait...who am I
to pull this off?

Back and forth, back and forth. Real entrepreneurs that say they never doubted...are liars; I’m sure of it.

But building a business, whether you’re the one running it or part of the team building it, is one of the most enjoyable things you can do. You have such an opportunity to impact people. You can make a great difference for your clients, your teammates, your vendors (we prefer to call them partners as we request the same of our clients to refer to us).

The reward for watching people grow, learn, accept challenges and do the impossible is...worth the risk.

So the next time you doubt--the next time you wonder if what you’re doing is worthwhile or not--just remember: you’re impacting people’s lives.

And that’s why building a business is hard. And that’s why it’s worth it. And yes, you, can do it. Keep going. Keep pushing. Make it happen and let it happen. It’s quite the ride!