What’s Your Purpose

While tucking my daughter in to bed the other night she asked me a question. “What if you found a genie lamp, and when the genie came out he only gave you one wish instead of three? With only one wish, what would you wish for?”

In the blink of an eye a thousand possibilities streamed through my mind and only one was clear and easy to choose. “I would wish that I am living my purpose on this earth.”

“That’s it?” says my little girl. “What else do I need?” I respond.

“Hm, that does make a lot of sense” she responds while I can see her pondering the scenario.

Thankfully I’ve done a lot of internal work over the last several years so I don’t have to wish to be on my path, I know inherently I already am. This quick yet powerful interaction between my daughter and I was yet another reminder of the simplistic nature of the world we live in.

The truest answers are almost always the simplest.

I could have wished for more money, a bigger house, to be forever healthy, to travel the world… and while all of these are valid responses and all serve good purposes, they all leave other areas in life lacking.

None covers all the bases.

Yet if we find and actively pursue the purpose for why we are here, all of those other areas in life fill themselves in effortlessly.

Our purpose may or may not have anything to do with what we THINK we want to do. The discovery process for many, myself included can take years of persistent trial and error. For those willing to put in the time and learn to embrace the process, the reward is far better than can be imagined at the start.

It is a journey free of a specific destination and full of surprises, risks, accomplishments to be enjoyed along the way.

If you haven’t found your path yet, or are trying to force a path you think is right, take a step back and evaluate what feels forced and what flows naturally. Lean into the natural flow and release those things which create friction.

Learning is all about perspective, and each “failure” or “hardship” is only a course correction and a grateful heart will notice this and quickly adapt a change on the path.

Carry your flag.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone where you are truly confused as to how they can hold the position they do? No amount of trying to convince them to change their mind has even budged them, AND their side of the argument is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

Most of us can easily conjure up a few quick examples of this, be it from our relationships, talk of politics and/or religion with friends and family, perhaps in discussions with co-workers about how to move the company forward. If you can’t think of anything, flip on some sports talk radio after the local football team looses, or find a local political talk show and you’ll quickly be brought up to speed.

Perhaps it’s something closer to home, maybe your a parent trying to get your kids to stay on track in the midst of the chaos of a teenagers world. Perhaps its’ trying to get your significant other to see the benefits of changing some habits to create a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps we’re trying to help a friend see the relationship they’re in is toxic, yet their blind to the concept. It can be hugely frustrating to watch someone we love and care about do (or not do) things which are ultimately hurting themselves. Often times this makes us try even harder to get our message across, even to try and force our perception onto them so they can finally see the light!

Perhaps though it’s us who need to see the light in instances such as this. I’ve come to realize people need to come to their own conclusions, in their own time if they are truly to learn the lessons. Perhaps the best we can do as we care for those we see heading down an unhealthy path is to give them space to experience what they must. (To be clear I’m not talking about a physically abusive or life threatening scenario, these obviously need to be handled with a more direct urgency.)

I am talking about guiding our children to create their own path in this world. I am referring to relationships where we feel we can help a spouse or friend to begin exercising or eating healthier. I am speaking about someone who needs to realize on their own they are far better than the current relationship is treating them. I am speaking about creating a long term sustainable change for the wellbeing of those we care about.

If you’ve ever noticed, life is lived in patterns and tends to repeat itself until we learn the lesson in the pattern. Many people find themselves in and out of relationships, yet when evaluating the relationships they realize they’ve all been the same, simply the other person changed and the scenarios are all too similar. The same goes for jobs, financial health, mental and physical health. Perhaps you’ve been working towards financial freedom for years and feel like you’ve made progress, you have a better job, a nicer home, a new car. Things are good! Yet you still don’t have any money in the bank, you still can’t afford to up and quit your job… Things really haven’t changed, only the scenery.

These patterns are in all of our lives and in all kinds of ways. Try as we might many of us will never even realize these patterns exist. These souls are the ones who end up beat down in the long run, who’s luck “ran out” on them. Our education system sure isn’t going to teach us about these things, neither is any of the mainstream educational outlets. People who notice these patterns, and find them in their own lives are the ones who actively sought the cause of what was holding them back in a certain area or areas of life.

When we try and provide our perspectives to others we are giving them the benefit of our experience. This is a great tool when we share this in a way which allows for the listener to make their own choice to utilize our experience for themselves, or not. When we try and force our opinion or perspective onto someone, we are much more likely to drive them away from us and towards the very thing we are trying to save them from.

“if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t it was never yours in the first place.”

When we give somebody the space to make their own choice, (especially when we think it’s wrong) we give them the opportunity to learn a life lesson and shatter the pattern, thereby giving the ability to fully move past it. This is a tough concept to accept, and even harder to apply in the moment it matters most. It is also a powerful one which can benefit all when done right.

In my last blog post I talked about acceptance of self, and therefore the world around us. Letting go of what we think others “should do” is a continuation of that thought.

In the past I used to joke how I liked to “learn lessons the hard way” which was by going through the painful experience or process on my own, even when so many people around me told me exactly what was going to happen. More often than not they were right and ultimately I would give them the old “I should have listened to you” line. A few times though, things turned out so much better because I went through it and found a new way to accomplish what I wanted, when no one (even myself sometimes) saw the path.

These times which went my way where always meant to go that way, yet there is no way to know on the front end. These are all lessons I would have had to repeat over and over again in some way until I succeeded. For all the good intentions of others, had I listened I wouldn’t have walked my path, but theirs. In each case creating a repeatable pattern in my own life.

When we truly love somebody we desire only the highest and best for them. Yet we know not what that actually is. As a father, husband, brother, son, business owner and so much else this used to be a very painful approach for me. The more I practice it and understand it though, the more I know my fear of what might happen is nothing compared to the growth and long term development of everyone involved. All will be exactly as it should, and I accept that.

I choose to carry my own flag, as I support others to carry their own.

Leader on Duty

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have noticed when most people talk of leadership it’s almost always referred to in the environment of a board room, the workplace or sports.

I say this with due humility, as I am a natural leader and have been in management/leadership roles professionally since I was about 19 years old. Now in my early 40’s I have more experience managing people than most people well over my age and based all of the feedback I receive I am a good leader. Feedback to me comes in the moral of my team, the results we deliver to the customers, the observations of customers, vendors and people in and around my company.

Leadership in my experience isn’t just something you do at the office. It’s not a role to play while in front of your employees and customers. Leadership to me is a lifestyle lived in each moment and applies as much to parenting and gardening as it does in our professional lives.

Gardening? I imagine you’re trying to connect the dots on this. Parenting is an easy connection though often not obvious, but gardening? Yes, in the sense of an example. As leaders, when we do a thing like gardening we tend to do it well, with intention of a quality outcome. It may or may not actually turn out well, but the effort and intention is on display as we do the thing we have set to do. This can be exercise, painting, washing the car, cooking, anything we choose to do, great leaders apply themselves to the experience.

This intent-full approach resonates to those around us often in a sub-conscious way. As leaders we don’t turn off this switch when we go home at the end of the day. We are wired to do things the best way possible, and to help others grow in a similar way.

We get to be the example we want to show to others. For me leadership flows effortlessly from the workplace to the home, to fitness and nutrition. Balancing the areas of our lives in a successful way provides the example for others to follow, and is what a new generation of leaders are doing more and more.

I for one treat my employees and my kids with the same level of appreciation and respect, and I expect from them much of the same things. While I certainly don’t believe employees are children or child-like, or that my kids are employees and have measurable expectations for performance, I do believe in treating people with one foundational starting point. I treat everyone as I would want to be treated. This simple and powerful starting point for my interactions in all aspects of my life allows for all my relationships and interactions to draw a clean and consistent pattern through them all.

My job as a father is to mentor and cultivate by kids own unique natural talents. I get to tend the garden of their little worlds, while they grow and eventually flourish in their own light. When we think of leadership in the workplace and employee development, is it really different? In scope certainly, but the concepts are the same thing. No two kids are the same, as no to employees are the same and each must be uniquely tended to.

The world is changing as it always has and will. This means everything gets to shift into focus anew. As we shift gears to the ever-changing world we can update a few definitions. Two stand out for me at the moment, which are the definitions of “Success” and “Leadership“. Leadership is no longer simply a professional capacity and success doesn’t have much to do with a bank account these days.

My definition of leadership is this: A leader is being the example of success in relationships, business, lifestyle, and mental and physical health.  Leadership is the state of being the result of how to balance all of these things with sustainable, healthy results for all persons directly involved with and around the leader.

My definition of success is this: A consistent state of being in harmony with oneself and the world we experience, while we experience it in real time.

To me being successful in leadership and in life is when you can remain calm and collected in the best of times, and the worst. Being the rock everyone else can cling to when the world (or the business, or the relationship, etc…) goes a bit crazy. By being the rock for ourselves, we can truly be there for others.