Updated: Jul 15, 2021
In a casual conversation, I mentioned to a friend how much I can’t stand delivering the same workshop more than twice. I get bored by the third time. Her response was “Not me! I am all about mass producing the message and getting it out to people!” My initial reaction was “How dreadfully boring.” Until I realized that in a kind and gentle way what she was really saying was…
“You are focused on entertaining yourself, you are not focused on serving people.”
Purpose. In this moment, I realized my search for purpose was completely self-centered. “What makes me happy? What will keep me intellectually stimulated?” Me, me, me. Of course, yes, you need to do what makes you happy, ‘find your bliss’ as Joseph Campbell says, but it’s through your bliss that you serve a larger purpose.
I’ve been grappling with the word ‘Purpose’. It seems to be universally accepted that we all need a purpose. The problem I’m having is that purpose just seems so competitive. There are so many gurus out there telling us to find our unique, purpose, that differentiates us, creates our brand, makes us special snowflakes. Then a friend told me, “We use ‘Purpose’ for competition instead of connection.”
“We use ‘Purpose’ for competition instead of connection.”
What if our purpose was something more simple. Someone suggested to me that as humans our sole purpose is to evolve. To evolve. Much more connective than “10% growth in sales year over year.”
Uniqueness and Connection. We all want to be unique. And we all want connection. (yes even you) There’s a paradox there, a polarity. We balance wanting to stand out with wanting connection. When I scroll through social media and see all the ‘personal branding’, I wonder if we’ve swung too far to one side. Ironically, social media itself proves that we crave human connection. Maybe the question is ‘How can we use our uniqueness to connect more deeply?’
Motivation. Dan Pink talks about motivation being based on autonomy, mastery, and purpose. So now everyone thinks they have to give their employees purpose. Please stop. You can’t give us purpose. Let’s align on strategy, direction, and goals. But our purpose is to evolve, together.
Boredom. So what about boredom? Should I just resign myself to being bored? I don’t think so, I have found renewed energy in using my message to serve. It’s not the same thing over and over, because the people are different. AND there are new ways to tune into the frequency of how that message is received. AND there are new ways to spread and support the good without being the only messenger. AND the adaptation and need of people I serve is always changing. I no longer have the sole purpose of entertaining myself.
Soul Twist. Take another look at your purpose, at what motivates you. Where do you fall on the polarity between uniqueness and connection? What can you do to bring it into balance?