Purpose: “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
Perhaps, like me, you have been considering this concept a lot lately? And perhaps (also like me) when you’ve tried to figure out how to find the purpose of your own life, you’ve been posed with questions such as:
· “What would you do for free or if money was no longer an issue?”
· “What energises you?”
· “What activity totally consumes you to the point that you forget to eat?” and so on.
Now, these are all very valid considerations as our purposes do typically require the use of our gifts, talents and skills. Also, given the amount of commitment that the pursuit of purpose usually takes, it is important that we are passionate about it. Hence, another platitude that you may have encountered in the hunt for your purpose is “follow your passion” (given in the belief that this will provide the fuel and sustained interest required to live both on and in your purpose).
Given the line of questioning that usually leads to the “follow your passion” prompt, I used to think of this in terms of
only associating myself with the things I love. However, through observation and my own life experiences, I have come to realise that passion can also work in reverse. Here’s how-
I don’t really watch TV these days, however when I was a child I was very much on the other end of the spectrum. As such, I would sit glued to the TV set for hours upon hours watching my favourite shows during my spare time. Up to today I still remember many theme songs, but do you know what else I still remember? Advert jingles!
We typically think of hate as a bad thing. Indeed, all we have to do is look to recent events such as what happened in Charlottesville to see why. However, when thinking about this concept of passion working in reverse, the Honda advert of my youth came to mind because it illustrates it so well. For example, the words to the jingle literally began by asking:
“Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be something we don’t hate?”
Thereby challenging the idea that hate is always a bad thing.
The chorus then went on to answer this question by asserting that we can “hate something” so much that we become motivated to “change” it and “make [it] better”. In other words, hatred can be a good thing if channeled positively in order to both serve and improve things for our fellow man. This was definitely the case for bygone people that we now hail as heroes. For example, Mother Teresa– whose hatred for the suffering of poor people caused her to dedicate her life to alleviating it.
As a contemporary example, this very platform was founded out of Arianna Huffington’s hatred for the growing epidemic of stress and burnout that people seem to believe is simply “the price of success”. Her purpose via Thrive Global has therefore become “accelerating the culture shift that allows people to reclaim their lives and move from merely surviving to thriving”.
This was also the case for me when launching my website in late 2016. As much as I have the skills to write and love to express myself, I did so more as a form of therapy and actually had no desire to do so publicly before then. What changed this was my growing hatred of the social/religious constructs and mindsets that disempower women, keeping us from enjoying the same opportunities and human rights as men. Now I write to both challenge and dismantle these things.
So, when considering your purpose, from now on I want you to expand your thinking and challenge yourself. Although these are important, don’t just think about the things that you love doing. Don’t just take inventory of your natural skills and talents. Remember that passion can also work in reverse and that the things that you despise could also hold a clue to your purpose.