You don’t “discover” your life’s purpose.
It’s not like it’s buried somewhere and It’s up to you to Indiana Jones your way through the jungle to a trap-filled ruins to dig it up, dust it off and hold it above your head in triumph…BEHOLD! !
Purpose isn’t something outside of yourself that you have to be fortunate to stumble across.
Purpose is a choice.
You pick your purpose.
This is an important distinction. If you believe that purpose is some elusive unicorn waiting to be discovered, that suggests that you might not find it. It also suggests that you don’t have much control over your purpose. That having a meaningful life’s purpose is only for those fortunate few who are fated for something great.
Your life is your story, and you choose the title and the theme of your life story. So, why not write a story that truly matters? Why not write a bestseller?
Now, I’ve heard some people say that life doesn’t have a purpose. What they are really saying is that their life doesn’t have a purpose. And by saying that life has no purpose, they are creating an excuse for them to do any damn thing they want. After all, if none of this means anything, it doesn’t matter how they live does it?
The belief that your life is purposeless is the coward’s way out. It let’s you off the hook for living a safe, small, forgettable life.
Think about your life story for a moment. If you are the main character, the hero, of your own life story and you wanted to write an amazing story, what would do?
I know what i would do. I would live my favorite kind of story; the redemption story. You know, like Star Wars, where Darth Vader is a bastard the entire time, then at the end of Return of the Jedi, redeems himself by killing the Emperor and saving his son Luke. Or like Schindler’s List, where Oskar Schindler starts the story as a Nazi ally and war profiteer, and finishes it as the savior of over 1200 Jewish lives.
I love stories where the hero loses everything due to their own bad decisions and worse behavior. Then they hit bottom, realize the error of their ways, and turn their life around, redeeming the bad things they did. Redemption stories are the most goosebump inducing, triumphant stories we tell. They are so powerful because the hero has to overcome not only the villain, but also himself.
You can use the redemption story as your template for living a BIG purposeful life.
Your life’s purpose has something to do with redeeming your biggest personal struggle.
Redemption means taking something bad and turning it into something good. It means taking trash and turning it into treasure. Garbage into gold.
I grew up raised by a single mom. That was hard. It created all sorts of confusion, hurt, and hardship for me. Why did my dad leave? Why doesn’t he love me?
It was a bad thing. But, it lead to me learning about leadership the hard way, through failure, which lead to me wanting to be a better leader in my own life, which lead to me starting a company to help ordinary men like me become remarkable leaders. Trash…into treasure. Redemption.
You might be saying, “Bullshit. I was abused as a kid, but I don’t want to make child abuse my thing, it hurts too much. Why can’t I just forget about it?” The answer is that you are welcome to forget. Just know, that you’re choosing to ignore an opportunity to make a real difference in your world. You’re choosing to ignore an opportunity to live a BIG life story. And by choosing to ignore redemption, you are choosing to live with the unresolved guilt, resentment, and pain you still carry with you.
You might be saying, why me? I don’t want to lift that heavy burden. My life’s pretty good. I don’t need the drama.
Why you? Because what you went through is one of the most valuable experiences in your life. They don’t teach what you went through at Harvard. I can’t get a masters degree in “growing up fatherless.” The only way anybody can learn what it’s like to have a child addicted to heroin and to come out the other side is to live through it.
While there are countless things you can do with your life, none of them are more valuable than the redemption of the trauma you went through or the hurt you caused.
So what are you supposed to do with this?
1. Identify the thing in your life that need redeeming the most
Maybe it’s your relationship with your mom, or your son, or your wife. Maybe it’s the abuse you experienced. Maybe it’s being abandoned by a parent. Maybe it’s being an absent father. Maybe it’s the addiction you’ve overcome. Whatever YOUR thing is, you need to call it out and name it. Let it know that it’s about to lose it’s grip on you.
2. Redeem It
Use your wisdom and experience to help other people who are going through, or have gone through, the same stuff you did. Use what you learned to to make a difference in the lives of others.
Here are some real life examples of inspiring redemption stories to get your wheels spinning.
- Dave Ramsey-experienced business failure and personal bankruptcy, and turned that experience into a world-wide movement to help people find financial peace in their lives.
- Frank Meeink – the inspiration for the movie American History X is a former skinhead who turned his life around and now preaches a message of tolerance and acceptance
- Joshua Milton Blahyi. A Liberian warlord who estimates that he has killed at least 20,000 people. But at some point, Blahyi had a religious epiphany.He now works as a preacher, rehabilitates child soldiers, and visits his victims’ families to ask forgiveness and offer compensation, all while raising his three adopted children.
Your redemption story doesn’t have to be as public as these to change your world. Maybe you were bullied as a kid because you were gay, or short, or smart. Redeem that by mentoring other children going through the same thing.
Whatever your redemption story, don’t wait. Let today be the day that you started on your Purpose. Not only will you feel better and live better, you will also show the people in your lives that they can live their own redemption stories.
The world needs redeeming, and it starts with you.
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