Four subtle, yet significant, clues to purpose
It’s hard to read the label when you’re in the bottle.
In few things is that common saying more relevant than when it comes to finding your Authentic Purpose.
You’d think purpose would be easy to find. After all, you are, well, you, and you of all people should see your natural gifts and how to apply them in service to the world.
But that’s precisely the irony of purpose — it’s the hardest thing for each of us to see about ourselves. It’s so much easier to see it in others.
Have you ever lost your keys and searched high and low for them, only to discover they were in your pocket the whole time? Or searched for your glasses when they were on your head?
That’s what finding purpose is like.
Here are a few subtle yet distinct and unmistakable clues for seeing what’s right in front of your face:
1. What you respond to quickly.
Years ago I was writing a book for a guy who won the Mr. America title in 1998.
I asked him how he got into bodybuilding and he kind of shrugged and said something offhand, as if it were of no account. It was so subtle, but it leaped out at me: “I started lifting weights with my dad and my body just responded to it.”
Every master has had to earn their mastery — but their mastery came relatively easily because they responded quickly to their field and discipline.
I stress the word relatively here. Make no mistake, mastery is no small task. But there’s a world of difference between pushing through something you hate and developing something you love.
Just as Van Gogh took to painting, Mozart took to music, and Frank Lloyd Wright took to architecture, there are things you respond to naturally and quickly. Take note of them and ponder on how you can develop them to create value for others.
Haven’t found them yet? Experiment with a lot of different things until you find them.
2. What you remember easily.
I didn’t discover I was born to be a writer until I was well into adulthood. I took no special classes, I didn’t earn a directly-related degree in the field.
One thing I never noticed before discovering my purpose was how easily I picked up on and remembered spelling, grammar rules, and writing techniques. I learned them mostly on my own, just intuitively picking up on them through reading.
If I see a word one time, I remember it forever. It’s how I always won my school Spelling Bees. In fourth grade I corrected my teacher on grammar rules.
There are things you remember forever after seeing them one time.
Keep in mind that it won’t leap out at you that you remember them. Remembering will come so naturally that you won’t even see it. Being self-aware of what you remember is the key.
3. What makes you think, “I could do better than that.”
Have you ever watched someone doing something and thought, I could do that better? I do it almost every time I read a bestselling book.
We tend to judge this as jealousy, and it certainly can take that form. But understand that there’s a reason for that jealousy — underneath it lies a natural talent to develop.
The key here is to not let it remain in this form — watching on the sidelines as someone else performs. Get into the arena yourself and prove it.
4. Where your heart is.
Carlos Castaneda wrote,
“Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”
My wife and I have done a lot of real estate investing. We’ve learned enough that I could quit everything and make a fortune in real estate.
But my heart wouldn’t be in it. My heart is in learning and teaching the truths that help people become the greatest versions of themselves.
Sacrificing your heart to anything else, whether it be fame, fortune, or security, is a path of misery.
Sacrificing everything else to heart is not only the path to purpose, but also the path to peace.