Once You Find Your Purpose, Run Your Race

Do you know your purpose? Everyone wants to know the answer to this question. Don’t you? Leaders must seek the answer to have any lasting legacy.

My purpose is to help other people find their purpose.

To get a clear and true understanding of my purpose took a lot of time and revisions. Then, once I was finally able to articulate it, my purpose seemed so, well, plain.

I think that is why so many people miss their purpose. It’s right there before them. Yet they keep looking for something with a bigger headline. Cure Cancer! World Peace! No, your purpose statement should be simple, so clear that it might seem boring. However, living your purpose is anything but boring, it is the essence of life.

Purpose is always about helping others or being in service to another. It’s being of use for others as only you were designed to be. Like this Starbucks cup in my hand. It was created for a purpose. In this case, to hold a warm beverage.

All sorts of other wonderful things happen as a result of the cup fulfilling its purpose, though. My hands are warmed as I hold it; I am refreshed when I drink it; other people want one when they see it.

Discovering Your Life-Race

Once you discover your purpose, the next question is, how will you go about fulfilling it? Think of it as putting legs on your purpose.

I refer to it as your life-race. What race are you to run? This is so important that I write about it in my book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters, and I teach it in our Life 301 workshop.

Years ago, I used to wish I was a runner mainly because it is convenient and all my friends run marathons. Alas, poor ole’ Shandel kept ending up with twisted ankles, shin-splints, and daily icing of hurt body parts.

That is until one day, a wise physical therapist told me I didn’t have a runner’s body, I had a swimmer’s body. Well, swimming isn’t convenient for a girl like me. From the hair issue to the travel dilemma, it is a pain! Still, if I am going to train to do something, I might want to consider focusing on swimming, don’t ‘cha think?

A huge lesson was learned that day. I was doing the popular, convenient, cheap thing — and it was not my thing. My race to win was a swim meet, not a marathon. The same is true with our lives. We were made to do and be something specific and spectacular. An individualized life race that is ours and that we were made to figure out, train hard, compete diligently, and win in the end. Think about your gifts, talents, strengths, and opportunities.

Are you doing life like everyone else around you, with no sense of the WHY? Are you working 80 hours a week, with no satisfaction? Or is there a deep driving purpose behind all of it that is truly and uniquely you?

What life-race are you to run? Let’s put it all together.

How Deep the Impact?

My race is to coach leaders. Here is how it works out in my world. If my purpose is to help others find their purpose, then the most impactful route I can take is to coach leaders who will pass the wisdom, skills, and tools down to their sphere of influence.  If I help five leaders find their purpose and run their life-race, and they each influence and lead five others to do the same — that is a good ROI on my time, talent and treasure. Thus, I am running my race by coaching leaders to find their purpose. What about you?

The race analogy can morph with time, while your purpose never does. My Starbucks cup originally designed to hold coffee, can hold green tea, chai tea, or hot chocolate. My body that won swim meets as a kid now swims laps (well, should be at least!) to keep me healthy and strong. In my 20s, I helped teenagers find their purpose; in my 30s I helped entrepreneurs; and in my 40s I am helping leaders of leaders. 

I influence thousands of leaders where my mom concentrated on one: me. So who has the more purposeful life? If I got married and had a child tomorrow, I would be helping future generations by being a stay-at-home mom and raising my kids to live with purpose, as my mom did.  It’s not about how big the reach; it’s about how deep the impact.

Think about what matters for a minute. What if you are missing the one person you were put on earth to help? You must get in touch with your values, what motivates you to action and then stand up and stand strong for what you believe in!

Purpose is finding out the reason you are here on earth. The answer will be to be of service to another. The solution will be to figure out your specific niche of a life-race and to run it … and win!

If not now, when?