We explored the notion of purpose from various viewpoints in the first ten blog posts in this series. We then started making sense of our purpose in the next nine blog posts. I invite you to now reflect on the eighth aspect in the model of purposeful living– Learning & Growing; the bronze colour circle in the model. While this is the eighth circle, in real life it can happen anywhere in the nine circle process, it’s not necessarily chronological. Learning and growth that occurs due to an experience could make us feel fully alive and of service to the world and this can make us reflect and find purpose.
This blog post deals with learning and growing with the struggles we face as we attempt to live a purposeful life. What I mean by attempting to live a purposeful life, it is about living with a set of values that can attract spiritual energy, it’s about looking after our health with good exercising, rest and consumption practices, it’s about building relationships by letting go of selfish motives, listening, understanding, respecting and becoming mutual, it is about building financial stability with healthy earning, saving and spending practices, it is about building intellect by reading and studying purpose related content and willing to let go of the interesting but not purposeful content. These require going in to discomfort as the body and mind is used to a different way of being.
After I had discovered the notion of ‘purpose’ and formulated the first cut of my purpose, I decided to look after my health by going to the gym regularly, eating nourishing food, giving up the consumption of alcohol and attempting to sleep at least for six hours a day. This resulted in struggles in the form of leaving office early and work piling up, attending cocktail parties with a glass of soda in hand, giving up some of the food I enjoyed and struggling to fall asleep. But after some time, I learnt how to delegate and this resulted in being able to leave office early to get to the gym, the body got used to the new way of eating, drinking and sleeping. I started feeling healthier and more energetic. Therefore, the struggle had helped me to learn how to look after my health and grow in health during the process. I had similar experiences in my spirituality, relationships, finances and intellectual development.
It is also about taking risk such as changing jobs, starting relationships, migrating to a different city or country, starting a business etc., to be in line with our purpose that might be risky, sometimes resulting in struggles. I decided to leave a prestigious and financially secure position of director of a leading company in Sri Lanka and establish a company to represent Sensei International, who was providing organisational and personal transformation services, as it was in line with my ‘purpose’. The initial years resulted in struggles due to the need to continuously find assignments for financial sustenance, personal financial difficulties during dry spells, facing difficult audiences, needing to learn and skill up etc. resulting in very little time for family or self, damage to my ego, and the sacrifice of some comforts I was used to. However, these struggles helped build an organisation with a strong image and create the financial freedom, personal space and self-esteem to be able to give more time to my family and for myself.
A title of a book by Robert Schuller, Tough Times Never Lasts – Tough People Do, has helped me to go through these struggles, knowing that the tough times will pass. Principles that I have learnt, experienced and teach practically such as ‘focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself’, ‘champions are comfortable when they are uncomfortable’, ‘the harder I work the luckier I become’, and ‘happiness is the willingness to be in the discomfort on behalf of growth’, has helped me to accept the struggles positively until I started experiencing the learning and growth they are designed to achieve.
I recommend you use your ‘purpose’ statement, when faced with struggles while attempting to live purposefully, to reflect on the learnings and growth provided by the experience. A first step would be to go back to some of the struggles you have experienced in the past and reflect on how they helped you learn and grow to be fit for purpose.
In case you have not established your purpose statement, I suggest you visit the 14thblog post in this seriesthat suggests a process to articulate your purpose statement. Keep building yourself and be fit for purpose so that you can say ‘yes’ to opportunities presented to you. What is important is to be in the process, and be relatively unconcerned about the outcome, which is part of a larger plan that we may not be privy to.
In the next blog post, we will explore the dark blue colour circle, ‘inspiring’ that explores aspects related to living in a manner that inspires others to live a purposeful life.
Meanwhile I wish you purposeful living!