“I know my purpose,” said Marcus, a friend of mine and finance executive. We were catching up and I had just shared with him about my work as a Purpose GuideTM.
“Awesome, tell me about it,” I said.
“I love making food, it’s my flow, my jam,” he replied.
“I know, you’re a talented chef, but don't you also find flow in sex, travel, bike rides, and music? How do you know that making food is what you were put here to do?”
Marcus didn’t have an answer to that. Perhaps I was being a little too direct, or perhaps it was just what he needed to hear.
It’s a good thing that he knows an important piece of his purpose, his flow, his passion. However, when my question moved him into a sense of destiny, mission and calling, he wasn’t able to see how food was connected to it. He has what I refer to as a tight-angle purpose, where he sees one, perhaps two (of the ten) aspects of his purpose, but his peripherals are blurry.
And many people fall into Marcus’ camp, where they feel connected to one aspect of their purpose, e.g.
Professionals tend to be connected to their powers, what they’re good at.
Activists tend to be connected to their mission, the change they are committed to.
Millenials, like Marcus, tend to be connected to their flow, the activities that bring them joy.
Healers and artists tend to be connected to their craft, their calling, their sacred connection and devotion to their work.
Religious people tend to be connected to their virtues, what they know to be true about their ethics and conduct.
Spiritual but not religious people tend to be connected to their core, the effortless radiance of their being.
And so on...
And they are all correct, of course. However, they are only seeing a part of the picture. Like the Tibetan parable of the four blind men touching the elephant, each of these people believe the totality of their purpose is just the part of their purpose that’s in focus.
Unfortunately, people with a tight-angle purpose, often experience considerable conflict and lack of momentum in their lives, wherein a few aspects of their lives feel aligned, and others are “just there”, or seen as an obligation, or worse, as enemies of their purpose and are avoided or attacked.
Before I did my purpose discovery work to unlock the fullness of my wide-angle purpose, I was only connected to my powers - writing, developing ideas and leadership, and two of my four virtues (wonder and courage), while ignoring the other two (integrity and compassion). I had a Silicon Valley job that violated my worldview, mission and virtues. I ate terribly, drank to excess, was hostile towards my (now ex-) wife, my family and my community, ignored my debts and wasn’t meditating. My life didn’t work. Although, I experienced great joy and alignment in my writing and activism, everything else in my life felt like a sacrifice, a compromise, a war even.
My purpose demands full-throttled expression, wholeness, embodiment, walking the talk in every area of my life. To truly inhabit my purpose, to make my highest contribution, to access the grit to be unstoppable, my whole life needed to be a match for my purpose. This is where a wide-angle purpose is needed.
After I did my purpose work and the fullness of my purpose came into view, there was a sense of clarity, alignment, adventure and possibility. I took purpose-aligned actions in every area of my life, but not with teeth-gnashing will, rather with the calm certainty that comes with a wide-angle purpose.
In the months after my purpose work, left my Silicon Valley job and launched a purpose-driven venture. I started doing more yoga, lost 20 pounds, set clear boundaries in my relationships, cleaned up my debts, moved from San Francisco to the East Bay and built an authentic community of friends. In the years that followed, as I continued my purpose work, I went on to get certified as a Guide and began leading courses, writing books, aggregating the research on purpose and bringing purpose discovery work to audiences in over 50 countries.
And it turns out, the world is ready, willing, aching even, for this work, as 97% of Americans believe having a sense of purpose is important. There is a growing body of research that says awakening your purpose is the key to a life you love and that the importance of purpose is on the upswing. 30 years of powerful research from leading institutions, such as Harvard, Stanford and McKinsey & Co. paint a clear picture. This research reveals that your higher purpose is the key to a life and career you love, marked by higher levels of income, wealth, abundance (+47%), fulfillment (+64%), engagement (4x), productivity (5x), longevity (+7 years), attraction and love (+31%), and most importantly, a world that actually works for all beings, marked by greater civic participation (+50%), appetite for racial diversity and learning (2x). Sources: ScienceOfPurpose.org.
And I want this for everybody. It is what drives all the work I do. If you want to explore what the the power of a wide-angle purpose could do for your life and career, if you want to be fully unleashed and aligned, I encourage you to explore my book, Planet on Purpose, and begin your journey. As you move through the chapters, and do the work, you will begin to feel the power, clarity and potential of your wide-angle purpose.