[Last updated March 2016]
Often I see clients who are unhappy with their jobs for variety of reasons, from feeling undervalued, underappreciated to feeling bored and not sufficiency challenged. At times they seem not to be able to name their unease and discontent, but deep down feel some sort of lack and emptiness. Some are looking into few options ahead of them but cannot be clear enough which one is best for them; often they feel stuck and confused in some sort of analysis-paralysis. At times like this, one needs to learn to get out of their own way to allow one’s purpose to find them.
“How to let your purpose find you” is an article in the Harvard Business Review that at many levels speaks to InnerChnage’s worldview about work and purpose. It is by Umair Haque who is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50.
Umair talks about having the courage to go out there, roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty and live our life with what he calls Big Love, not “substitute lower-quality ingredients for it, talking about ‘passion’ or ‘dreams’ or ‘bucket lists’.” To “head into your heartbreak zone”.
We need to learn to get out of our own way to allow our unique purpose to emerge. Our unfounded fears (read anxieties) and hopes (read someone else’s dreams) are what keep us away from the reality and truth of the moment. We miss the beauty and glory of “what just is”, we stand in our own way and miss our “Big Love”.
Your genius is your gift to the world, and your purpose is a specific, unique and tangible way in which the gift is given. -Dick Richards (Author of: Is your genius at work?)
He adds: “In our overly numb culture of icy cool, when we do feel something, we so often feel the opposite of love: hate, anger, fear, and envy. And those can give you drive. But drive isn’t purpose — drive is a fury to be slaked, an ambition to be achieved. Purpose is love, not just little-l love, but Big Love, the grand affair that defines a life — first between you and your better, fuller, truer, worthier self; and then between your that self and the world”.
Purpose is not something to be found and then live life on cruise control. Purpose “is the hunger you and I have for transformation to transform us; not merely to endow us with a sense of exhilaration, gratification, or pleasure, but to bring us closer to completion, fulfillment, wholeness; not merely the appetite for the possession of McStuff, but the hunger to be possessed by a sense of meaning.
So don’t make the mistake of thinking that having “found” your purpose, all that’s left to do is execute the subroutines of an intricate, cold program of predestination; purpose is a process, not a state; an ever-unfinished accomplishment, not an algorithm. And so all the above must be not a set of steps you take to a plateau of purpose, once — but a ladder that one keeps ever-ascending.
Finding your purpose is not a phase of life — but a way of living.”
He also likens the success in today’s plasticized gladwrapped life as driving a flawless, avoidant Formula-1 race, whereas a life with purpose would be more like a NASCAR race: “But in truth, the creation of purpose is less the construction of the Platonic ideal of the perfect life, and more like NASCAR: a bruising contest of wills, cussedly defiant, often inelegant, and usually impertinent.
You take your knocks, and your knocks make you. So the question is: what are you going to make a dent in — that’s worthwhile enough to make a dent in you?”
Watch out: Just to avoid any misunderstandings, Umair’s article might sound like encouraging people to take huge risks out there in the world, perhaps with knee-jerk reactions. I’d say that while you need to posses a risk taking attitude and see big; however in order to avoid damaging yourself and others; you should direct your risk taking attitude towards understanding your own personality traits and patterns that block your purpose from finding you. Essentially to get to know yourself amidst the ups and downs of life, the mess of relationships and work matters. To reemphasise: “Purpose is love, not just little-l love, but Big Love, the grand affair that defines a life — first between you and your better, fuller, truer, worthier self; and then between your that self and the world.” In fact, by gradually reorienting your identity from your social self towards your essential self, you allow your purpose to find you and you will be acting in the world in the direction of your purpose; living a fulfilling life in the light of your unique purpose.
I highly recommend reading Umair’s full article.