Some seriously awesome stuff that you really want to know about your Purpose
When I first began to read “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, I thought it was repetitive and a little dull. What I soon began to realise however, was that the insight contained within the book is even more brilliant than it first appears. Sinek is talking about what makes great leaders great, mostly in the context of business – as in, how do you become a phenomenally successful business leader? And he’s right. His stuff is freakin’ genius, even if you only want to apply it to business!
But this is even more awesome: everything that Sinek says about business in his book can be applied to the individual. In other words, he is providing a road map not just for how to create a groundbreaking business, or be a phenomenal speaker, but actually for every individual to define, connect with and live their purpose in the world. Now that’s pretty sexy if you ask me. It implies a new definition of what purpose is. It’s like when Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity and it changed our view of the universe forever. Although he doesn’t explicitly say it in his book, Sinek’s theory begs an entirely new definition of purpose. And an entirely new definition of purpose means we can approach it in a whole new way, one that is far more direct, immediate and applicable to everyday life.
I can’t tell you how much this stuff excites me. I am literally having trouble keeping it together with the phenomenal implications that I can see for human empowerment. You see for me, what matters is bringing illumination to things, and adding value to everything I am involved in. And just as science is continually evolving, so too is our understanding of the world and ourselves and how to use this knowledge to change life as we know it. This isn’t mysticism (well it is also), but we’re doing it all the time actually. Like, remember when no one believed that Turing could build a mechanical brain? or when personal computers were a just a crazy idea because computers were the size of a room? Humanity is changing the world every day. And take it from someone who has changed dog shit into paradise; YOU can change your world right now, if you want to, and, let’s fact it, it’s easier if you know how.
So, what am I talking about, right? What is this new definition of purpose? Let me start by telling you a few things it’s not:
Your purpose is not in the future.
It’s very common for people to have a concept of their purpose as an unlived potential that will be realised at some beautiful euphoric moment in the future. The major problem with this is that if we create our universe with our minds (and we do), and then we define our potential as something that we will one day become in the future, then that’s where it will always stay, and as we all know, the future never comes. All this does is leave us feeling empty as we chase after a carrot that we somehow never get to actually taste.
Your purpose is not a job description.
Sure, you may express your purpose through your job, and it may be more suited to some jobs than others, but you are not what you do. You may be a mother, or a teacher, or a CEO, or an entrepreneur, or a musician or an artist or a scientist or whatever. And you may have skills and talents and abilities that relate to that work you do. But it is not your essence. It is not who you are. Your purpose is what stands behind what you do – it is, as Sinek says, something closer to why you do what you do, rather than what it is that you do. This means that you can change what you do at any time and still be “on purpose”, because your purpose can be expressed in a multitude of ways in the world and never has to get stuck. It’s what the mystics mean when they say we have limitless potential. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are everything – actually who we are is very specific – but it means we are free to express who we are through any medium.
Your Purpose is not Static.
Your purpose is active. It is a verb, not a noun. You are not a musician, for instance but rather you are someone who seeks to connect, or someone seeks to create transcendence. You are not a teacher, for instance, but rather someone who seeks to add value to people’s lives. Your purpose is “to…do something”, to contribute to yourself, others and the world in some vital way that is completely unique to you. This active, fluid nature of purpose makes it naturally desire to flow out of you into the world, like how water just naturally wants to flow downhill, so your purpose wishes to flow out of you, which is why it can be so excruciatingly painful when this flow is blocked. I remember being 18, and so so terrified of my own expression that some days I wouldn’t even leave the house. And I also remember the pain. (Incredible desire to contribute + intense resistance to expression = bucket loads of pain).
Your Purpose is not something to Aspire to.
Please, please, please, stop holding your awesomeness as some amazing quality or qualities that one day you will be when you are good enough, or get your shit together enough, or feel comfortable enough, etc. etc. etc. This is the knight in shining armour / fairy tale prince delusion. The idea that one day the knight (your purpose) will gallop into your life because you have finally made yourself worthy of him. Well, as great as they are, fairy tales are for children. Because the real story is more like The Alchemist, where you go on a huge journey seeking your truth, only to find that everything you need and want has been with you all along. Your purpose is not grand. It’s not glamorous. It’s not magnificent. It’s just something that deeply motivates you, beyond all else. Something that is very beautiful in its own way, but not so beautiful as to be unattainable.
Religion has taught us to worship divinity (now replaced by celebrities and gurus for the most part), and there is certainly greatness in the oneness that happens when humans come together to worship (in church, nature, or the cinema), but the Greek Myths warn us to avoid the terrible crime of hubris.
What’s hubris? It’s thinking you are a God yourself. In Greek myths those guilty of the crime of hubris suffer terrible tortures, often forever, and I always thought, literally until this moment, as I write this, that this was because, as stated in the myths, they have offended the Gods. But the Greek myths hold incredible wisdom, and now I realise that hubris doesn’t offend the gods because they are jealous of human power – it offends them because when you think of yourself as something unbelievably great, then who you are will always be an aspiration rather than a daily commitment and therefore, in the end you must fall short of the glamorous fantasy, and then in many cases, fall in a heap, never be truly great in real life. It’s the classic Icarus story: if you aim too high you will fall (or in many cases never get started in the first place). Your purpose is not an impossible dream. It is something gorgeous and perfect and you can live it right now, from this moment, as soon as you know what it is. In fact, the truth is you are already living it. It is such an intrinsic part of you, how could you not be? It’s just that when you cultivate awareness of your purpose and actively pursue you live it so much more. (And, just quietly, experience so much more pleasure).
Your Purpose is not complicated, hard to work out, or illusive.
Of all the reactions I thought I might get to my recent offer to get people’s purpose out in a 20 minute session, the most common was one I never would have expected: people simply didn’t believe it was possible. Man! That made me laugh. But it is indicative of how a lot of us can tend to hold purpose out as something unknowable, or hard to get to, or really complex or something. Well – let me blow your mind: It isn’t. The fact is, in that 20-minute session it only takes about 5 minutes to get the purpose – the rest is me giving background and showing you how to use it. Your purpose is simple. It’s easy. And you have been living it your whole life. You just don’t know it because it is such a natural compulsion in you that you have never even noticed it. In fact, you probably think everyone has that same compulsion, but they don’t. They have their own, unique and very special compulsion that is different to yours. Anything that is powerful in my opinion is essentially simple. The more simple the more powerful. So, of course, your purpose is simple as shit. Because it is intended for you to use it, to live it, and to ride the magnificent wave of what it is to be a human truly being himself or herself in the world.
Your Purpose is not hard to live.
When you think of your purpose as an aspiration, or as a job description, or as far off in the future – it feels like a big deal to live it. But your real purpose is meant to be lived. That’s why it’s easy to uncover because you have been unknowingly living it all your life. And you can live it right now, in every moment of your life, with only the smallest shift of attention in your mind.
This one is my favourite:
Your purpose is not separate from your “dark side”.
There are a lot of dualistic concepts out there in the spiritual world, the therapy world, and the mind science world. Most are some version of: you have a high side (it has many names but let’s say Soul) and a low side (again, many names, let’s call it ego) and the idea is to live more high than low. All good. The problem comes in when people don’t remember that all of these models of how it all works are exactly that: models. The thing about a model is that it isn’t the real thing. Remember semiotics? The picture of a pipe with “This is not a pipe” written beneath it? So if you hold one of these models as an absolute truth then you are creating a separation between “ego” and “soul” that doesn’t exist in reality. (And this can then lead on to all kinds of head fucks like: am I coming from my ego or my soul here? Is that my ego or my soul that wants that? She’s just being egoic. I’m more Souly than you are, etc. etc.). The truth is a model aids understanding, but once you have the understanding the next step is to throw the model away. There is no real separating line in our consciousness between our lower and higher sides. We are both/AND not either/OR, and a lot more besides. The beauty of an active purpose as Sinek describes it, is that it is both light and dark, and also neither, so it does away with this duality (which causes unnecessary trouble in the end), and just lets us get on with the job of living it.
So that’s what it isn’t, which may go some way to describing what it is. The short version is: Your purpose is a simple statement of what it is that you have always been standing for, what you stand for now, and what you will always stand for. Knowing what it is will change your life.
Lots of Love
If you want to know more about getting your purpose out in a half hour session, click here.
If you are interested in a 7 week Creating Masterclass (meaning how to create the life you love with your mind), click here.