Recently I was interviewing candidates on behalf of a client and I ended each interview with this question:
"If you had to state your life purpose in 7 words or less, what would it be?”
Candidates were overwhelmed. They hemmed and hawed and stalled for time. I would then bail them out, admit that it was a difficult question and encourage them to just take their best stab at it. Don’t overthink it — just state it.
Thing is, they nailed it every time.
That last one broke the 7-word rule, but it’s powerful regardless.
They spoke from their heart, and there was almost no redundancy. Each person had a unique purpose. More importantly, their purpose is what motivated them to apply.
These purpose statements hold power and one thing I’ve learned in helping clients define their core purpose is that it pulls them. Purpose pulls you through difficulty, doubt, and rejection. It makes you more resilient, confident, and motivated. When you don’t know what to do, work toward your purpose.
So what is purpose?
Purpose is simply your intention to contribute, your desire to add value to the world. It’s the “why” for your existence and the motivating force that moves you forward.
Purpose (or lack thereof) is the reason you sometimes feel flat. When you are misaligned with your purpose or are ignoring it altogether, you feel disconnected. It’s also the force that keeps you moving when you feel fear.
How do you find your purpose?
Chances are you probably already know it. A few things that it is, and one thing that it’s not:
What’s YOUR purpose?
(Hint: it’s unique, but not unique only to you. For example, I exist to maximize human potential. I’m sure others do as well, but no one does it in the way I do it. And I don’t do what they do. It will take many people making inputs into that purpose to bring it to fruition. That’s ok!)
I have a client who is good at math. Always has been. As far back as she can remember she’s done well in math classes. But she was puzzled when I asked her, “Yeah, but do you enjoy it?”
She thought about it for a moment, then asked, “Do people always enjoy what they’re good at?”
No, people don’t always enjoy what they’re good at. You could excel at writing, speaking, organizing, calculating, analyzing, or any other skill but dread it, loathe doing it, and feel exhausted once it’s complete.
This is one of the great traps of career — people get hired, paid, and even promoted for being great at something they don’t enjoy. They feel that just because they have aptitude in something they should pursue it and make it 80% of what they do.
I’m not interested in spending my days getting paid to do something that drains me.
What I’m looking for when I coach clients is talent, which is defined as something that makes you feel strong. I’m seeking those innate abilities that release energy, motivate you, make you feel fluid and powerful, and keep you coming back time and again. I’m interested in those natural aptitudes that you do better than most other people and that set you apart from the general populous.
Talents are the foundation of a satisfying career.
Can you spend all of your time in your talent? No. Every job has aspects you will love and loathe. But the goal should be to spend the majority of your time — if not 80% of it — living in your strength.
Do people always enjoy what they’re good at? No. But all people are hard-wired with things they’re good at that they also enjoy, and those things are the key to getting paid and loving what you do.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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