Find Your Purpose by Michael J. Gelb | Omega

Michael J. Gelb describes how to clarify your life purpose and further your career in this excerpt from his book Creativity on Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius.

Once you realize that you are born to be creative and that you can continue to cultivate your creative energy throughout life, the big question becomes: “What do I want to create?”

In order to know what you want to create, it helps to know your purpose. Perhaps you already have a well-defined and inspiring sense of purpose. Most people find, however, that they can benefit by clarifying and energizing their sense of purpose. A clear sense of purpose makes it much easier to deal with adversity and overcome obstacles.

Leonardo da Vinci counseled, “Fix your course to a star.” 

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche advised, “He who has a why in life can bear with almost any how.”

What’s your star, your why? What’s the meaning of your life? It is, of course, to make your life meaningful. How? By knowing your purpose and striving to live in alignment with it.

Beyond the quest for shelter, food, sex, social acceptance, power, and money, why are you here?

Clarify Your Purpose

Try this exercise:

  • Get a pen and a blank sheet of paper and, in the next few minutes, write down your life’s purpose. Even if you feel that you have no idea of your purpose, please just make something up. After completing your first draft, highlight the words in your statement that have the most resonance for you at this time.
  • Invest a minimum of 10 minutes a day every day contemplating your key words and reviewing and revising your statement until you feel fully aligned with, and excited by, what you’ve written.

To inspire you, here are a few examples of what other people have written.

  • Margot Borden, a psychotherapist and author of Spirituality and Business: Exploring Possibilities for a New Management Paradigm, wrote, “Use my intelligence, wisdom, and humor to help people unravel the web of blockages and limitations that prevent them from fulfilling their potential.”
  • Two-time James Beard Award–winning author Karen Page wrote, “To raise awareness of the power of eating, drinking, and dining mindfully to create a healthier and more beautiful world.”

  • Mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski wrote, “Remind people of their connection to the divine by bringing to life the most beautiful vocal music ever written.”
  • Jason A. Voss, content director for the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and author of The Intuitive Investor, wrote, “To empower people to make more conscious choices in their lives using reason and intuition harmoniously so they can grow financially and spiritually.”
  • Thirty-five years ago, I wrote, “Be a champion for creativity, consciousness, and compassion while savoring the joy of living.”

How do you know when you’ve found your purpose? It’s easier to get up in the morning! Finding your purpose enlivens your energy, and enlivening your energy will help you fulfill your purpose.

David Lamb is a fourth-generation business owner and a wonderfully creative leader. His purpose statement is simple and clear: “Have fun, make money, do right.” He says, “All our endeavors must meet all three criteria. The last one is the most important.”

David refers to his purpose statement as “the Mantra.” He explains, “Our Mantra evolved from my taking six companies through bankruptcy in five countries in 2001. We went broke long before it became fashionable. We bounced back from adversity, guided by the Mantra. Our people buy into this way of thinking. They love it. And it brings us together.”

David adds, “Of course, it is easy to say and, sometimes, hard to apply. But we are committed to bridging the gap.”

As you clarify and refine the expression of your purpose, you will probably notice increased incidents of what Jung referred to as synchronicity, “an acausal connecting principal.” In other words, you will experience more meaningful coincidences. The notion of synchronicity is expressed in the proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” If, for example, you decide you want to be a landscape painter, don’t be too surprised when your seatmate on your next flight is an instructor of landscape painting.

Every time I’ve decided wholeheartedly that learning something was part of my purpose, a superb teacher of that discipline has appeared. The key is wholeheartedness. Wholeheartedness organizes your perception to follow your purpose. You notice connections you might have missed previously.

This is why clarity of purpose is an essential element of the creative mindset.

Wholeheartedness is also the secret of discovering and clarifying your purpose. While you are doing the exercise, your purpose is to discover and clarify your purpose. And refining and aligning with purpose is a process that continues throughout life. Sometimes, people start out in life with a clear sense of purpose, but as they face the challenges of making a living and the disappointments and heartbreaks that are inevitable parts of life, they lose touch with it. Remembering, clarifying, and enlivening your purpose are essential elements of re-geniusing.

Create Your Own Logo

In Renaissance Italy, princes, nobles, and scholars all created a symbolic representation of their purpose known as an impresa. Coats of arms began as battle standards in the rest of Europe, but eventually evolved into symbols of a noble family’s identity or purpose.

In contemporary times the corporate logo represents an organization’s identity as it reinforces their brand. Think about the logos with which you are familiar. Perhaps the most recognized and ubiquitous logo in the world today is the Nike swoosh. The swoosh serves as an internal unifying force for employees and an instant brand identifier for customers.

Logos can be very powerful, and you needn’t be a noble or a corporation to have one. You can clarify your purpose in a more memorable and creative way by developing your own impresa or logo. Begin by getting some scrap paper and a pen and doodling symbols and images that you feel are representative of your identity and purpose. Play with this exercise for a few minutes every day until you create something that resonates for you.

Excerpted from Creativity on Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius by Michael J. Gelb. Copyright © 2014 by Sounds True. 

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