“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice asked the Cat. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the Cat replied. “I don’t much care where–” says Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” says the Cat. – Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
A simple phrase with a powerful message.
Early last year I began to pay attention to my workplace. When I came across the Alice and the Cat parable, it reminded me of some people in the workplace (yes, including me) who are following an undermined path. In financial terms, the workplace provided for us to live a comfortable life. But the overall experience for some of us was underwhelming.
Naturally, I started asking them, “why are you doing this?” After several inquiries, I began to realize the reason was that they were not Being Purposeful in their endeavors. The Purpose is an intriguing element in the work we do. The Purpose doesn’t spring up for any reason. It has to have a compelling motive, to show up in your work. Now, I want to be very clear that I’m not suggesting we must have a Purpose in everything we do. We are emotional beings and we will have cravings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing things for no reason and enjoy them. But the satisfaction from these activities doesn’t last, because there is no compelling reason for them to last. Once upon a time, I want to work for a bank. I that desire sizzled out in two years. Once upon a time, I want to work for an Investment Bank. I thought that will become the pinnacle of my career. That is exactly what I did after leaving the bank. That bubble lasted barely a year. These were my early work cravings. Then I worked in a whole different field and about a year and a half later, I joined the airline industry. That lasted for 20 years. I learned a lot about business in that industry and the airlines were good to me.
After that inquiry, I began to ask myself, what discerns a Craving from a Purpose? The answer is to question your thought, your idea, or your desire. The Right probing questions will determine the Right path of your career.
What questions did I start with? WHY, What, and How, began the revelation for me. When I began to ask those questions, I realize that I went through four phases to arrive at the path I wanted to take.
1. The questions brought Awareness to my thought of endeavor. It was like a big, luminous spotlight on my thought.
2. That Awareness then lead me to Reason my thought of endeavor. I repeatedly questioned that thought. I wanted to know what was the true motivation for the venture, what needs are fulfilled…etc. For the next couple of months, I was interrogating myself. Many times, I found myself frustrated. Later I understood that the objective was, not just to explore, but to excavate, to dig deep into realizing what is important to me, what matters to me…
3. Once the Reasons began to confirm, it led to me to lay out the path for my endeavor. The groundwork began. I begin to focus on dos and don’ts, attractions and distractions…
4. That naturally helped me to create the vision for the Purposeful Venture. This is the goal, the destination for the venture. But it is not an end. There is no brick wall at this juncture. It is a landmark. The clear vision brought clarity to the mission.
So, finding Purpose is about what’s important to you and that aligns your heart and mind.
Once I began to work on our Purpose, my Passion showed up in me. Passion is energy, and it fuels our drive to achieve the Purpose. Still understand, easily your mind will be clouded with negative, abandoning, and self-defeating thoughts. But the Passion in you will bring you back on track. I think, there is a symbiotic relationship between Purpose and Passion. In the heat of the Passion, imaginations blossom, strategies blossom, and supporting ideas blossom.
When we act on Purpose our values become highlighted and there is a natural tendency to help others. You will give others a hand up. Values are an inherent part of success. Here’s something really interesting. If you don’t know what your values are, then you will begin to fill that void by taking on other people’s values. Other people's values have different priorities than yours.
I want to emphasize that finding Purpose is never about searching for something magical, mystic, or sacred enlightenment. If you think like this, then you are only fostering your ego. You don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. Remember, the Purpose is about finding what is truly important to you, something that aligns with your heart and mind. I know many who love what they do, no matter how routine or boring, or menial, we think their work may be. These people are happy, they are invested in their work and they are fulfilled.
The time you need to act is when you begin to feel discomfort in your role. It is that simple.
The purpose is the reason, why we love Rags to Riches stories, the people who found Purpose, and achieved their Purposeful Vision.
Think of the story of Chris Gardner. A pivotal moment in his life was when he saw the red convertible Ferrari in a parking garage in 1981. Instead of fantasying that he would own a car like, or being wishful thinking that he will work hard to get a car like that, he asked the owner of that car, two questions: “What do you do?” and “How do you do it?” And the rest is an inspiring Rags to Riches story.
Fellow Toastmasters, being Purposeful is a privilege.
As the coach and author Terry Orlick said, “The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy, and passion.”
How true is that?