Today, the notion of living with purpose is something in which we all have an interest. So, what is purpose? How do we think about it? A purpose is the reason in which we do something, or something gets done or created or exists is the sense of resolve or determination. That’s sort of the down and dirty kind of definition of what purpose is.
You see, what happens in crisis is that we have a chance to repurpose ourselves in the family, business, community, and self. We have a chance to really rethink who we are and what we want to do with our lives. It’s this notion of finding new resolve and determination. It’s finding why we exist, why something gets done, and what its ultimate purpose is. So, we want to spend our time doing that. It’s at the core in the center of everything we do, both large and small, and sometimes the crisis is the catalyst by which we repurpose ourselves or discover our own purpose.
As we think about the coronavirus and its impact across the globe, all of us are touched by it in different ways. As we think about how we’ve been touched, does it cause us to think about what our purpose has been and does that change? Do we want to modify it? Do we want to start from scratch and really go somewhere else completely?
As I’ve talked with people around the globe who are struggling with this pandemic – some of whose businesses have been closed, some struggling with their cash flow to keep it open, and others who may be all right as they go through this process. Many of them are really thinking, “what is their purpose?” Why are they here and what should they be doing? It’s a classic example of a crisis being the catalyst. And that really happened to Christina Scala, my good friend who lives in Littleton, Colorado.
Christina suddenly found herself as a single mother raising her children, the primary breadwinner in the family. Her exposure to EO and its principles caused her to want to start a new venture and her background in understanding education allowed her that opportunity. With the support of EO friends and family, she created the Aspen Academy, a K-8th grade school. She wanted to make it unique and different – fundamentally changed by her exposure to entrepreneurship. So, she used the values of EO and the principles of EO and entrepreneurship to really create a new school. It’s a school where children have to write a business plan, have to have a business by the time they graduate from the eighth grade, where they run the school cafeteria, and actually buy the inventory of food and serve that food. It’s where they run the school store. It’s where the students know the vision, mission, and values of the school. It’s where the teachers are alive with energy. Christine has created this unbelievable school. She is the leader and she’s now become an expert in the field. People come from all over the world to study her school and the principles on which it’s founded. But her purpose in creating it came from a crisis. Let’s use crisis – it creates opportunity and Christina is a great example of that. She’s an extraordinary woman and a remarkable leader.
The first principle that we need to think about or the first step in purpose is to pursue purpose with passion. We hear a lot these days and common vernacular is to pursue your passion. Let me push back on that just a little bit. I think you need to define your purpose first and then pursue your purpose with passion. Passion is an emotion that ebbs and flows; the purpose is constant. So, let’s be sure of what our purpose is. The second is purpose drives our sense of resolve and commitment. This notion is that we are more determined because of what we are doing with our purpose.
As we refine and think about who we are, I hope that you can better find your purpose using the definitions that we’ve talked about. In this crisis, you can write, review and think about where it is you’re going because the world will not be the same. It may come back incrementally over a long period of time. The world is fundamentally altered by these huge geopolitical, geo-medical kinds of conditions that travel across boundaries and that affect our lives in new and unique ways. So, I ask you to write down your purpose. Start with a few words that are important to you then build those into phrases and when you have time write down your personal statement of purpose. Perhaps then write your family statement of purpose to be used to be sure that you’re aligned and to be sure you know what you want to do.