Crawford Hart Guest Writer
When you refer to the idea of purpose, there seems to be two different applications of the concept.
- One suggests purely intentional activity, as in, “I don’t think it’s an accident you’re being a asshole; I think you’re doing it on purpose.”
- The other suggests an almost passive process, as in, “I wandered down a bunch of different career paths, until I discovered my true purpose.”
Is this just another deficiency of the English language, forcing one word to accommodate wildly divergent meanings? (See “love”). I don’t buy it. I’ve never been comfortable trusting something as significant as “finding my purpose,” to an almost random “light on the Damascus Road,” process of revelation. Must we really just stumble around in the dark, hoping for a collision with our destiny?
The problem is in equating occupation and purpose. Don’t get me wrong – if you find yourself working at something fulfilling on a personal level, and which tends not to either crush the souls of others or leave the surrounding landscape a desolate wasteland, good for you. You’ve kind of hit the lottery.
But purpose is neither what you do, the results you achieve nor does it depend on your impact on others.
Purpose is attitude. Purpose is intention.
I once wrote an article wherein, among other topics, I had occasion to brag about my daughter, who appeared to be well-along the path to a successful launching. I opined that, should it turn out that my only purpose in walking this earth, breathing its air and generally taking up space, was to provide the kind of platform that gave her a solid start … that would be just fine with me.
Perhaps the impact on humanity would be hers, possibly someone else who’d been influenced by her. The point is: all I did was try to be a good father, to the best of my ability. In order to accomplish this, I needed to choose, at myriad points along the path, to not only give my best, but to not do the cheap thing, the dishonest thing. I didn’t find my purpose, as a father – I had to consciously choose it.
For me, this has been the case, no matter the activity. Purpose that comes down to a quasi-spiritual, ambiguous statement might soothe one’s feelings, but it commits you to nothing specific in terms of real actions in the real world. Do your duty, take responsibility for your words, your actions and your results, and give your best.
Do these things and purpose will take care of itself.