Discover Who You Were Created to Be
During some days, do you feel that there’s something deeper you could be a doing? Do you feel the pull towards something, but you can’t exactly pin it down—it eludes you and frustrates you?
You’ve probably heard stories from people who have lived out their calling; the Steve Jobs of the world who jumped headfirst into his purpose to pioneer the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s. Deep down you wish you had this “knowing” to pull you forward.
Honestly, you do it just takes a little digging to uncover the truth. Think of uncovering your purpose like the work of a master sculptor, slowly chipping away the block of stone to reveal a masterpiece underneath. Your life’s purpose is this masterpiece, simply waiting beneath the surface to be revealed.
The fastest way to uncovering your life’s purpose is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper passion that pulls you onto a roadway that leads to a dream, and then a calling. Think of your life’s purpose as a street sign leading to your holy grail; for some, that street sign comes in the form of a certain career or profession, while for others it looks like a way of being or expression, and for many it takes the form of volunteering to help others.
Your passions and talents direct you to your calling, but there is another step needed to uncover the sign directing you to your purpose in life. You must discover the problem(s) you are tailored to solve. There is something in the world that really bothers you. It’s not a mere annoyance, but a grating, gnawing problem that eats away at your ability to enjoy life. Perhaps it’s some terrible injustice, like world hunger, or disease, the lack of good education in high schools, a corrupt work environment, or elder abuse.
Everyone with a purpose (that’s you and me) needs to undo what bothers us the most. A truly inspired oncologist must eradicate the problem of cancer whenever possible. A dedicated criminal attorney must work to ensure that people are not treated unjustly. An inspired children’s caseworker must prevent the problem of abuse. A devoted librarian must solve the problem of illiteracy. A business leader must fill a missing public need. These problems relate directly to helping others, and the process for addressing them points the way to our purpose.
The process begins with questions. Questions unlock doors of opportunity for us, by asking questions about every kind of situation, and every kind of problem. And then listening for the answers begins the learning process. The first question you must ask yourself is this: “How can I add value for others?” If you can eliminate the distractions long enough to the answer from within yourself, you will begin to understand your why. Achieving a life of significance happens from the ability to add value to others through a soul searching endeavor to uncover a solution. Try nurturing that idea while learning to ask that important “why” question.
One way to discover your why is to focus on your dreams and aspirations, and see what grows from that. In his book Aspire! Kevin Hall writes, “The first thing I do when I’m coaching someone who aspires to stretch, grow and go higher in life is to have that person select the one word that best describes him or her. Once a person does that, it’s as if he or she has turned to a page in a book and highlighted one word. Instead of seeing three hundred different words on the page, the person’s attention, and intention, is focused immediately on that single word, that single gift. What the individual focuses on expands.”
What is your one word? What best describes you? That single word may inspire you, focus your attention, and help you to understand your why. Where will that one word take you? How does it relate to adding value to others? Will it solve that insufferable dilemma? Why is it significant? Keep that one word in your mind as you go about your day in the coming weeks and see where it leads you. That one word is like a flashing light that says “go.” And it speaks beyond merely your wants to a compulsion that cannot be ignored, to a place even beyond your passion.
Your passion leads you to your vocation, whereas answering the why, and that one word that describes you, as well as identifying that intolerable problem you can no longer endure leads you toward your mission in life. You need not dedicate your career toward solving that problem. You may instead volunteer or do something else without receiving an income. Your mission may even turn into a career. But you must do it, or else not heeding the why of your existence will cause despair. Working to add value to others in response to that gnawing problem will cause you to thrive.
You were indeed created to solve a problem, to answer the why of your existence, and your satisfaction in life depends on your success in finding that significant problem and solving it. Most successful people look outside of themselves and find a problem, which eventually defines their life. Rather than developing themselves first and then leading a life, they are called by a problem, and that calling gradually forms their development.
Sometimes it’s a tragedy. A family member may have been the victim of a violent crime, which compelled a relative to become a police officer. A mentally ill loved one may be the impetus for creating a support group. An entrepreneur must create a solution for making computers smaller, more accessible – like Jobs. When a problem becomes a blood-fueled living force that boils over into consistent anger or frustration, not solving it would be tantamount to being disloyal to yourself.
So answering the why of your life begins with a question, and that answer leads you toward finding your intolerable problem and making it your life’s work to solve that problem so that you can add value to others. Living with intention is the best way toward satisfying the purpose for which you were created, and for thriving in life.
– Randy Kay