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Then, last week, with two years of success behind him, Paul called me and said, "I'm not sure if I'm on track or if my purpose is correct."
Sometimes even when we know direction we want to go, we can get lost. We lose sight of our goal; we forget why we're doing something or maybe day-to-day pressures and distractions make it seem like we're off track. Maybe we think our purpose is not big enough.
So, with this new doubt we took some time and reviewed Paul's purpose. (We only wonder if we're off track when we're in doubt, when we lose focus, when our vision is cloudy. Of course most of us don't review if we're on purpose, when we're feeling great, focused and aligned.)
This may sound simple, but in review, I asked Paul if he was still "eagerly seeking to acquire and share his knowledge". He said yes. Then I asked him to look at his drive to do this and "to be of benefit to all".
"Is this still what you are trying to do?" "Yes, it is."
"Does this purpose still reflect your deepest drive to contribute?" Another resounding "YES!"
"Then is this statement of purpose indeed still absolutely valid?" "YES!"
"Are you sure there is nothing missing or is there something else you need to add?" "No" said Paul, "I guess I wasn't really seeing things with my purpose in focus."
Paul was reconnected to his purpose.
Because of clarity of his actions and intention, Paul is doing incredible things in all aspects of his life. His business, his church life, and his relationships all continue to grow and be aligned with his unique contribution, despite occasional feelings of doubt or distraction. Living a meaningful life, one of purpose, is an evolving process. As a matter of fact, it's a lifetime job.
SPECIAL NOTE Usually we equate success with being on purpose. But note: you can be 100% on purpose and not necessarily succeed or reach your goal. Your purpose is about your drive to contribute. It is "what you are trying to do" and at which you may or may not succeed. Purpose is driver. In Paul's case, driver is "to acquire and share knowledge to be of benefit to all."
Maybe he is unsuccessful in acquiring a certain nugget of knowledge or is unsuccessful in clearly sharing his knowledge. This does not mean he is not on purpose. The mere fact of attempting to acquire and trying to share knowledge shows alignment with purpose.
Sure, we all want to be successful but it is not only criteria by which we measure your alignment with your purpose. We measure being on purpose as process of authentically seeking to create results you want. It is process of being and doing and is not necessarily tied to immediate results.
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela all strived for years in service of their purpose, often meeting with defeat after defeat. They too may have had setbacks and doubts, yet continued to keep focused on their purpose.
If you get stuck, try stepping back from "results" and look at bigger process. Are your actions aligned with your deepest drive to contribute and live a purposeful life? Only you know, and your answers will reveal to you if you are on purpose. You may need to make a few adjustments or maybe, if you are like Paul, just need a reminder that you are on right track.
Robert Knowlton is an Executive and Business Success Coach. Coaching executives, managers and teams in leadership development, communication strategies, and discovering organizational purpose and vision. Visit my web site at: http://www.SuccessOptions.com/ezine.htm?SF