374 days ago, give or take a day, I wrote an e-letter to you. It started off like this.
My name is Sterling Lynk.
I believe that everyone has their own personal purpose in this life.
Whatever that purpose is, I believe that most of us spend the majority of our lives not living that purpose. We are either unaware that we have one, we are looking for one, or we just plain ignore the one that we know we are called to.
I believe I have discovered my purpose: to do what I can so that everyone can discover their own personal higher calling, express those callings in the world, and find and share their stories.
The bad news for me is that I am pretty sure that I am not doing that great of a job living my purpose, and sometimes I am guilty of ignoring it. This makes me unhappy and I don't want to do that anymore. I am building this website to help me do a better job of remembering and living my purpose. Starting with this post, I intend to document my journey to do a better job at living my calling. I also intend to share what I hope I will find.
I have never done anything both cool and worthwhile by myself, so I hope a few of you out there will find this interesting enough to join me and get involved with this quest.hi
I don't know if this will work (we'll find out), but starting this odyssey is better than doing nothing.
So a year later, how do you think I did? What has been your experience of this purpose-project of mine? Shoot me an email at email@example.com
or, better yet, use the comment section below.I Ask Because...
I am asking because MightyPurposeMe
The mission can't change. This is my purpose-project; it is intended to be the current best expression of my purpose. If you want live your purpose, I am here to help. I am here to help you do meaningful, good, powerful, soul-in-the-game stuff
I just need to do it better.
P.S. - Are you struggling with meaningful, good, powerful, soul-in-the-game stuff? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and tell me about it.
Who is this "mighty purpose thing" for?
I don't know. But, I have a few ideas about who it is not for.
This isn't for you if you...
- Are looking for success or to succeed.
- Don't want to take the downside so others can have the upside.
- Not only don't have in skin-the-game, but you don't have "soul-in-the game" as well.
- Are looking to win.
- Are doing this because you may be rewarded, praised, compensated, paid, esteemed, loved, grow, feel joy, feel happiness, feel good, feel hope, or for any reason other than because it is what you are called. We should live our callings everyday.
- Are looking to be cool.
- Are doing this because someone else thinks it matters.
- Expect to both do well and live your purpose.
- Expect to survive.
- Expect to be better off.
- Expect to be special.
- Assume you are not special.
- Expect this to be fun.
- Assume it won't be fun.
- Expect to be alone.
- Expect to be a part of a community.
- Expect to not be worn out.
- Assume you won't be renewed.
- Expect to not be thrown on the scrap heap.
- Expect to leave a legacy, to be remembered or to be a role model.
- Assume that you are not a model.
- Expect it to easy.
- Expect it to be quick.
- Expect it not cost you.
- Expect you simply add purpose to your life without taking purposelessness out.
- Assume it will be impossible (it may still be impossible even if you don't assume it).
- Are looking for something to manage into your life. Purpose takes leadership and a pile of blank checks.
- Assume you won't have to manage parts of your life.
- Expect to find the answer or at least an answer.
- Expect you won't find an answer or two.
- Assume you won't have really to take action and do something.
- Think whatever ignites your holy discontent or the injustice the Injustice Test pointed you towards is too big for you to even start. It may be too big (see 23 above) but it's never to big to start.
- Think you have to do this alone.
- Think you will get to do this with others or even one other.
- Expect anyone else, even me, to really understand.
- Assume that no one will ever really understand.
- Expect to become powerful.
- Assume you are powerless.
- Think there is a safe way to go on an adventure. Adventures are dangerous and you will get hurt and you will die.
- Think when you get hurt or die on an adventure what you lose when you get hurt actually matters. You may lose something that, in the end, didn't really matter.
- Think when you get hurt or die on an adventure that won't lose what you value and love. You will pay a heavy price for your purpose.
- Think by not going on the adventure you won't get hurt and die.
- Think a real expression of your purpose is "nice", "polite" or "safe".
- Think when it comes to your purpose the ends justify the means - you have values.
- Don't have values.
- Think your values won't be tested, stressed and, if you are blessed, made stronger.
- Think you may lose your connection to your values and get lost.
- Think your most important relationships won't be tested, stressed and, if you are lucky, made stronger.
- Think you won't lose the most important people in your life.
- Think you won't pay the ultimate price (whatever that is for you).
- Think saying the right stuff matters. Experience doing the right stuff.
- Assume paying that ultimate price will be too much for you.
- Assume it doesn't matter anyway...because it does matter.
That's my list today.
P.S. - I find the idea of having "soul-in-the-game" compelling. If you do too, check out Chapter 23 of Nassim Taleb's Antifragile
. Please, don't forget to follow the rules
I have a game you need to try. Let me describe it for you.
- It is a computer game where you will be offered 3 doors: red, blue and green.
- You click on a door to enter the room behind that door.
- Once in a room you can choose to click as many times as you like. For each you'll receive 1 to 10 cents.
- Each room is programmed to provide a different range of payoffs with each click.
- You can switch rooms at the cost of 1 click.
- You get 100 clicks.
If you played this game, what would you do to maximize your payout? And, what does this computer game have to do with you living your purpose everyday?
In his book Predictably Irrational
, behavioral economist Dan Ariely describes what happened when he offered this game to real people. I'm guessing you'll be surprised by what happened and what it means for the way you should approach your purposeful life.
If you receive the periodic Mighty Purpose email, then you may have noticed at the bottom of the mails the following:
"Copyright © 2013 Mighty Purpose (Sterling Lynk). Everyone has a purpose - even copyright lawyers."
I'd like to offer this amendment; everyone has a purpose - even men who have spent nearly half their lives in prison. Artist James Morgan is such a man.
Since being paroled, Mr. Morgan has worked to survive, create meaningful art, and serve his community. He also has a message to share with all of us - and it starts with this Max DePree quote:
"We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."
If you have been a part of what we are doing here for any length of time, then you've probably run into at least 1 test. It turns out that I have proposed 7 different ones over the past year.
My hope for you is that each test you engage, whether your pass or fail, propels you forward on your purpose-adventure. They should be challenges, battles and obstacles you face so that become more and more the person who lives life purposefully. So, have you been wrestling with the tests I have offered you?
Consider the following list of tests I have shared with you over the last year.
Would you really describe these as obstacles that make you grow when attempt to overcome them? Or, are they just questions that may be nice to think about in a quiet moment?
The truth is that there are not 7 different ways to face these 7 challenges. There is only 1 way and here it is:
- Quickly pick one of the 7 test mentioned above. I've linked the text to each test for your convenience.
- Quickly come up with a good enough gut response to your selected test.
- Quickly select away you can take action tomorrow, actually it would be better for you to take action today, on your response. I am talking about you taking real-life action, about you doing something real and meaningful now. Just take action.
Stop reading for a moment and do this now. It should be quick.
It is as simple as this to get started. As hard as it can be to actually take the leap, taking action is actually the easy part. It's not a real test. The test only comes after you have taken action.
The truth is that there are not 7 tests or 70 tests or 700 tests. Just as there is just 1 one way to face a battle while on an adventure, there is actually only 1 test. You may need to overcome it 7000 times, but there is only 1.
Here is your real test:
- Once you've taken action do you keep going?
- If your real and meaningful action doesn't work or your gut reaction was wrong today, do you quickly re-engage and try something new tomorrow?
- Will you have the courage to keep pushing until you really learn if what you're doing is working or not?
- Can you keep working without knowing?
- Will you be driven enough to keep doing more even after it works?
This is your real test and every time you overcome this obstacle, better this challenge, and win this battle then you are truly living purposefully. And, even if you don't overcome, better, or win you are still growing.
Perhaps it is a “sign of the times” but more and more people have been telling us that they feel stressed, disengaged, disconnected, unfulfilled, fearful, and overwhelmed with too much to do. Sadly, in increasing numbers they’ve revealed to us that they want to feel inspired, and that they want their lives and work to really matter. Much like Sisyphus, the Greek hero who was ordered by the gods to push a big rock uphill only to see it slip out of his hands at the last moment, living the “good life,” a philosophical term originally associated with Aristotle, for many people has become an endless--and joyless--undertaking.
Back in May, I suggested that you give up trying to be happy
. But, that didn't mean that living purposefully should be a joyless ordeal.
So check in with yourself. Has your quest to first discover and then to live your purpose everyday become miserable?
If it has, then please make sure you are not in one of those dips that tempt you to quit
. You are in one of those, then you're not miserable or joyless - you're just doing the sometimes thankless, mostly challenging, often seemingly impossible, work of purpose.
But if you're not in one of those troughs, then you need to pause. Take a week off. Then come back, reread your favorite post on this site and start over.
Having joy comes with strength. So restart by finding a way to leverage your strengths. Your purpose has a lot to do with your strengths and strengths make you feel stronger when you leverage them.
P.S. - The quote above is the first paragraph of Pattkos' and Dundon's piece called Can This One Greek Word Improve Your Work and Life?
. When I first tried to read it I was stopped cold by the first paragraph. Joyless-ness in living your purpose is a particularly brutal member of the Army of the Dead
. Eventually I got to the rest of the column. It's interesting and comes with a TEDx talk of one of "Dr. Meaning" himself, Alex Pattkos.
Early today Nicki Pombier Berger sent me a link to a bit of oral history she collected from me back in September. In case you missed it, Nicki's latest purpose project was featured here last week
That bit of oral history (which can be heard here
) was a recording of me sharing the moment when my work and leadership of the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society
stopped being meaningful to me because it was a source of success, achievement, and challenge for me. This was moment when it was transformed into a calling - and, callings demand sacrifice.
Her email reminded me of something I shared with you back in December
; sacrificing for a calling is an important part of living purposefully. But, you'll probably need to be really inspired to respond to a call.
When you listen to this story, you'll have another example of my holy discontent
When was the last time you were grumpy because something sparked your holy discontent
? Yes, grumpy you may not be as pleasant or nice or likeable or fun. But, when your values demand a little grumpy-ness and you take action, then you are being authentic and living your Mighty Purpose
So, when was the last time your holy discontent
P.S. - A couple weeks back I shared with you my concern about the impact of decision fatigue
on what we are doing together. Abby Hall
, the woman who first shared the idea of decision fatigue with me, read the post and thought I was missing a few things. So we rewrote it together. You can see the new post here
. Also included are new resources that I didn't have originally, that will help you battle this most impressive member of the Army of the Dead
While on a recent trip to Chicago I had the chance to catch up with Abby Hall
, a self-described "drill master" and an old classmate of mine. Abby works in politics and I used to be a little political, so we'd crossed paths more than once over the years. But, we really hadn't had the opportunity reconnect so we had a lot of catching up to do.
Since we were in Chicago, we had to find a place with good pizza. We did. Unfortunately for me, I was in trouble with her before the pizza even arrived.
Here's the story and here's why it should matter to you as you live your purpose.
I believe you have a purpose and that you should be living that purpose everyday.
One of the best way to live your purpose is to take on a "purpose project"; an opportunity to express your purpose via a defined, time-bound, meaningful, and planned action.
There is no "standard" place for these projects: work, entrepreneurial side hustles, community leadership, spiritual service and all other areas of your life qualify.
If you don't have a purpose project stop reading immediately. Go back through Mighty Purpose, respond to the tests and explore some of the ideas. Then, take action. Once you taken action come back here.
For those of you with one of these purpose-expressing projects please read on.