“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. This quote by American writer Mark Twain is truly a significant contribution to the literature around purpose. Interestingly, whenever I ask people what their purpose is, or what their contribution to the world is beyond keeping up with their taxes, I am usually met with either a cringe followed by a sigh and deep introspection. Whilst my intentions are always pure, I am not naïve to the unsettling nature of these conversations.
Guillermo Maldonado, in his Bible App series titled “Created for Purpose” writes “One of the biggest problems many people face today is not a lack of time, although they may think that’s the issue’. Rather, it is the exhaustion and emptiness they feel – even after working hard and being involved in many activities and tasks – because they don’t have a clear direction in life or know what they really want to achieve. A child was asked, what do you want to be when you have come of age? The response, “Ah noma yini, sobona phambili” read “argh it really doesn’t matter we will see in the future”. Whilst that child may have time to correct, the likelihood is that there is a fully grown adult behind that statement.
We were all created for a specific purpose that only we can achieve encompassing all our strengths and weaknesses. This purpose is tailor made for us and suited for the way in which we were created. From our thoughts, passions, desires and burdens, it all comes together and creates an overwhelming force of energy.
There are many ideas around how you discover your purpose. The generic response is connect with your passion, what drives you, what you’re able to see that others can’t, what you want to solve, what is bigger than you and so forth. The counter response is, I am passionate about many things, my passion changes all the time, I want to bring about world peace, I have a vague idea, you know what… I don’t know.
If you are in the “I don’t know” camp, then I am right there with you. I have invested time, prayers, readings and other things to connect with my purpose. Whilst I have a vague idea, I cannot wake up tomorrow and say this is me and this is what I have been called to do. What I have realized is that connecting with purpose is a journey and not a destination. You have to know who you are, what you are able to do and why you want to do it. It has to be bigger than you. It has to impact a life. It has to outlive you.
A number of successful people have been asked on what the magic pill for connecting with purpose is. The response is always there is no magic pill. Business tycoon Sandile Zungu, was asked on how he connected with purpose, his response was that he served a company well for years on end and at bonus time he was not rewarded. From that day he told himself that he is not going to work for anyone anymore and pursued a career in business. UCT Vice Chancellor Prof Phakeng was asked the same question, her response was that she was concerned with how students performed poorly in mathematics and pursued a career in academia.
From the two stories above, what we clearly see is that the drivers were not the same and time in which purpose was fulfilled is not the same. Whether you have not connected with purpose, uncertain about it, found it but are fearful of it or found it and thriving, it is important to keep striding towards it. Don’t lose heart, keep walking, your purpose awaits you.