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Posts tagged Purpose
Intentional gathering

How we show up to a courthouse is different than how we’d show up to a barbecue with good friends.

This is normal. Environment matters, and each of us are multi-faceted human beings with a wide-range of qualities and attributes. Part of the joy of life is being able to experience environments that pull these unique aspects out of us.

Here’s the relevant question — as you think about the next appointment on your schedule, what kind of environment are you creating for those who attend?

It’s very simple to do what we’ve always done when it comes to the meetings in our calendar. It might be worth pausing to consider what the gathering is actually for, how you want everyone to feel when they come, and how you could create an environment that matches your purpose for your guests.

Yes, but why?

There’s a fascinating human phenomena that occurs often, and yet mostly goes unseen and unnoticed.

As we ask each other what goals and projects we’re working on, there’s usually an answer that immediately comes to mind.

Here’s the fascinating part — if anyone were to ask us why the goal matters to us, what’s often quickly revealed is that in reality, there’s a goal behind our goal. One that goes deeper, and matters more to us than the initial goal we were so quick to share.

Even more interesting — if our friend were to continue to ask us why, we frequently find that there’s even more layers to peel back; each one deeper, richer, and more meaningful than the last.

There’s many smart people out there that would suggest if you repeat this “Why?” exercise 5x time in a row, you’ll get to the heart of the matter. I’m not sure that there’s an exact number for every scenario, but I do know that five is certainly better than zero. So is one, and two, and three, and four.

However many times we ask the question, one thing is for certain — it’s worth asking. We may be surprised by what we find, and it will certainly be worthwhile as we seek to understand how best to invest our time.

Is convenience the dream?

Our garbage problem grows.

We’re happy to trade away our privacy.

As their availability increases, it’s clear that technology devices make great resources. It’s extraordinarily unclear that they make great parents, teachers, babysitters, and friends.

Meanwhile, basic needs are going unmet around the world.

We vote every day for the kind of future we want with the decisions we make.

Intent matters

It’s possible to do the same action with quite opposing intentions.

We can offer to help a friend in need with the expectation that they will now do the same for us in the future. We can also offer to help simply because we want to help them.

In a vacuum, the two scenarios may be entirely indistinguishable from each other.

The important insight is that, over time, intent reveals itself. Our friends begin to notice, our team starts to see, our clients can feel it. The difference between someone who shows up seeking to get versus someone seeking to give is palpable.

And so, over the long run, not only is positive intent more generous, we also find that it’s more productive.

Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash
Comparison and an antidote

Comparison is an ever-present distraction in our current digital age with virtually unlimited, around-the-clock access to each other’s lives. We can always find someone smarter, better, more beautiful, and more popular than we are. It’s not even that hard.

And then the negative self-stories follow like a waterfall.

The enemy of Comparison? That would be Purpose.

What if rather than spending our time fending off fear, we spent more of our time seeking out something worth living for?

Just because it's hard…

doesn’t mean we should do it.

Climbing a barbed-wire fence would be hard for me. I don’t think that means I should choose that route over the perfectly good and wide open gate right around the corner.

It’s true, ‘hard’ can be a signal for irrational fear. And that kind of fear is never a reliable frame for decision making. It’s important that we look for that fear in the midst of hard things, that we name it, call it into the light, and do our best to not operate from it. But that doesn’t make all hard things worth doing.

Yes, let’s not be afraid of hard things merely because they’re hard.

AND…

Yes, let’s seek out the best — sometimes easier — path as often as we can.

It can be both.

There’s plenty of hard parts in life. I’m not so sure we need to go out of our way to seek more of them out simply for the sake of keeping things hard. We might be missing the point.

Energy reserves

Here’s two reserve tanks we can rely on anytime we’re feeling tired:

1 Training
2 Clarity of purpose

Whether its the practice of repetition or the building of discipline, training sharpens our skills so that they’re still reliable tools for us even as our energy dulls.

At almost any time in life, there are activities which we participate in that are luxuries to us and our core purpose. These are nice, and even beneficial. But as the pressure rises and our energy wains, our ability to focus on what should — even must — be done is an invaluable asset.

Both are decisions we make far before the time where we’re most in need of them. The trick is to anticipate this moment coming far in advance and choose with intent what we’re going train, and why.

Step by step

I’ve recently gotten into the habit of taking walks on a bike path directly behind my office building during the day. I’ve found it to be not just rejuvenating for my energy and body, but also my mind and spirits. Once I’ve gone far enough to feel my muscles loosen (and ideally before I break a sweat), I turn around and head back.

One useful insight from this story is to highlight that the only way to get to my destination is to keep walking. Stopping does me no good. I’d be essentially in no-mans-land, neither here or there. So of course, even if I were to get tired or start sweating, I would always keep going until I made it back. Perseverance of a sort.

More interesting, I think though, is how choose to keep walking. There’s many different ways to make it back.

Steps too small and the journey back becomes horribly inefficient with no more noticeable value accrued.

Steps too big and I’ve used more energy only to arrive in probably the same amount of time (or worse).

Steps too flat, too wide, or angled and now I’ve caused myself long-term harm with my short-term lack of purpose.

The most reliable way back — much like the most reliable way to make change — is with a consistent, repeatable, continuous stride.

Intentionally, deliberately, purposefully we make change. One step at a time.