Purpose: What is your Center?

June 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

In my journey of personal development, reading dozens of books, and listening to hundreds of audio programs, I have found a common first step in just about all of them. This step is critical to developing your integrity, courage, and direction in your life. While purpose can be defined a dozen different ways, I’ll be utilizing two great tools to define what I think gets to the heart of the issue: Orin Woodward’s Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE and Stephen R. Covey’s classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Why purpose?

“Purpose is what gives a life meaning” -Charles Perkhurst

Orrin Woodward relates the purposeless life to playing a basketball game without a rim:

“One can hurriedly dribble up and down the court; however, nothing of any consequence seems to get accomplished.”

Yes it’s important to start planning and get into action as soon as possible, but if that planning and action is not directed toward the purpose for your life, what is it worth? Too often, we (especially D-type or Choleric Personalities) will rush into action without doing the most important step of answering the question: Why?

Purpose Applied

Woodward proposes that we can identify our purpose in life by analyzing the intersection of three ideas: Passion, Potential, and Profits. Passion, simply put, is that thing that you are willing to fight and die for. Potential is where “[your] unique gifts and skills” lie. Profit is “turning [your] potential and passion into a fruitful calling.” At the intersection of these attributes is Purpose.

This is a great visual representation of how to discover your purpose. Orrin Woodward is one of the best at taking in-depth concepts and explaining them in fascinating ways.

The Center

To go deeper into purpose, we must determine where your North Star is? What will your decisions be judged by? What or who determines your purpose? To answer these questions, we turn to Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.
Guidance means your source of direction in life. Encompassed by your map, your internal frame of reference that interprets for you what is happening out there, are standards or principles or implicit criteria that govern moment by moment decision-making and doing.
Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness.
Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
These four factors – security, guidance, wisdom, and power – are interdependent. Security and clear guidance bring true wisdom, and wisdom becomes the spark or catalyst to release and direct power.”

Now consider what it is that you think is the center of your life. Read that section again and ask yourself if your life really represents that center. For example, if your center is faith in Jesus/Bible/Christianity/etc, consider if your security (sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it), is founded in that faith?

If your center is your spouse, family, money, work, possessions, pleasure, friends, church, self, etc, do you find your guidance (source of direction) in that center? Do you find your wisdom (perspective on life, your sense of balance, etc) and power ( faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish) in that center?

WARNING: Consider carefully what you choose as your center, because it will affect EVERY area of your life (see Alternative Centers in the 7 Habits book). If your center is your spouse, what happens when he or she lets you down? Is your security, guidance, wisdom and power shaken?

“Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” -Bertrand Russel [Athiest]

“You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God – and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” -Rick Warren [The Purpose Driven Life]

To conclude, ask yourself how you can apply this to your life. What is your center? Is your claimed center evident in your daily actions?

Keep reading and leading!

David J. Garza

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