We are giving away two copies of The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider. Check out this excerpt and then leave a comment for your chance to win the book!
It’s not just the high achievers but people who achieve less dramatic successes as well, who have to overcome their self-imposed doubts and other obstacles to get started when they discover what moves them. The following are four common myths that may block us from intentionally moving ahead toward our purpose. As you read each one, ask yourself, Do I believe this?
Myth 1: To have purpose means I must do something completely original.
Reality: Can you think of anything that is totally new? Almost every idea or creation is an extension or synthesis or previous ideas. New scientific breakthroughs are built on existing fundamental truths, often as the result of reorganizing or reapplying old concepts. As we uncover our purpose, we often need to accept this fact: that at the heart, most new ideas result from borrowing, adding, combining, or modifying old ones. Like runners in a relay race, we simply carry the baton another leg of the race.
Action: The paradox of purpose is that in order to address new solutions to problems, we must first familiarize ourselves with the ideas of others to form a base for launching our own ideas. Gather as much information as you can (realizing that you’ll never have enough). Make a decision. Get on with the business of living on purpose.
Myth 2: Only a few special people have true purpose in their lives.
Reality: This is the most commonly rationalized of all myths. There is no denying that often we have relied on saints, sages, and experts to solve many of our problems. However, history is filled with great contributions made by ordinary people who had virtually no expertise in the areas where they made their mark. In fact, being a novice is often an asset because we aren’t hemmed in by traditional ways of viewing a situation.
Action: Purpose appears and is successful in proportion to the energies we expend rather than to our degree of expertise. It’s the passion to make a difference that counts most, so we must carefully tend our passion.
Myth 3: True purpose comes as inspiration or revelation. Until that time comes, I might as well keep plodding ahead.
Reality: The “pop-in” theory of motivation would have us believe that creative ideas and new directions are flashes of brilliance that suddenly appear to the fortunate: purpose descends on the lucky few. If we believe that, nothing will happen for sure! Any successful person can attest to the absurdity of waiting to be inspired.
Action: Inspiration comes to those who seek it. First we begin, then purpose moments appear.
Myth 4: Purpose is nice, but impractical. I need money!
Reality: Many times we become so caught in day-to-day survival activity that we lose sight of what we’re doing and our activity becomes a false end in itself rather than a means to an end. Henry David Thoreau put it bluntly: “It isn’t enough to be busy. Ants are busy.” The question we should ask ourselves is What are we busy about?
“Gee, I’d love to get involved, but who’s got the time? I have a spouse, job, children, and financial commitments. How on earth can you expect me to find the time?” Sound familiar? For most of us, time is indeed the bigger barrier. But waiting until we have the time is as futile as trying to save money by putting away what we don’t happen to spend.
Action: The only way to commit time to purpose is to steal it from some other activity. This is what the power of purpose is all about — aligning our energies around our true priorities.
Excerpted from The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider. Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
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