Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Live a Purpose Driven Life

As you may know, yesterday I celebrated my birthday. It was a great birthday – quite honestly, the best one I’ve ever had. I’m not just saying that for the sake of saying it, it’s really the best one. There are a number of reasons why I say that but the most significant one is this: I have never been surer about my purpose than I am right now. That’s a powerful statement to make but that’s my honest and true assessment.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Birthday Reflections, every year as my birthday ends, I actually bid it farewell until the next year. I typically go outside and take a ½ hour walk starting at about 11:45 PM. During that walk, I reflect on how far I’ve come since my last birthday. And then I think further on what I’d like to accomplish over the next year. I pray and ask for guidance along this journey. It’s really a powerful self-check – a personal inventory, if you will. And then I try to refocus on the task at hand as I try to maximize my effectiveness in life.
Last night’s reflection walk was powerful. I thought of my newly expanded family (our son was born this past August). I also thought of my new family – The Upbeat Dad and its readers. These are people all over the world, many of whom I may never meet. Yet I consider our readers as family because, in a sense, we’re on the same team – we care about our children and want the best for them. And our readers recognize the importance that a loving, caring dad has in a child’s life. As dads, moms and kids read our blog, this is the consistent message that we try to convey.
After coming back from my walk, I had a little down time before going to sleep. But it’s as if I had turned on a faucet while reflecting and couldn’t turn it off. I was able to see, in a very real sense, the things that I’ve envisioned over the past several years coming to pass. I’m just taking notes on these things and getting in place because this coming year, I expect to see some monumental accomplishments. I have never been at this point before in my entire life and that’s what so thrilling to me!
In athletics, teams start each season trying to get better. And some of them have a realistic chance of winning a championship. They envision greatness and work relentlessly towards achieving that level of success. When they are successful and are right on the brink of reaching their collective goal – a championship – it’s a thrilling moment, one that they greatly anticipate. Right now, I feel as if for all of my life, I have had certain goals and ideals that I’ve aimed for. And over time, that which I aim for has become more clearly defined. And now, I’m really on the brink of attaining a significant feat.
This feat that I speak of has little to do with me. I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, we’d acknowledge that what is most fulfilling to us, is knowing that through our efforts and commitment, others’ lives are enhanced.  Our lives have greater meaning and purpose when we’re in service for our fellow men. A doctor may become wealthy and drive a fancy car but he or she does so by helping others to become healthy. That’s the reward – not the material things that are gained in the process.
When a singer gets on stage and shares the gift of song with thousands of screaming fans, it’s not the revenue earned from concert tickets or royalties from CD sales that satisfy them – but rather, it’s knowing that they’re inspiring and satisfying these adoring fans. We all have that inner need to be of service to our fellow men and until we fulfill that need, any success we may appear to have is somewhat empty.
For me, having been raised in a wonderful, loving two parent household, I know that my life is so much better for it. So when I went through a divorce and got an eye opener going through the whole family law process, I realized just how negatively families are affected when happy homes become broken homes. I made a vow then to make a difference in the lives of families, to whatever extent possible. Because when I saw my 3 year old daughter go through the pain of seeing her parents divorced, I wanted to ensure that as few families as possible would find themselves in that plight. That marriage ended but I wanted to keep as many families together as possible.
I also know that many fathers simply do not care to fulfill their obligations to their children. I really don’t understand that mindset but I know it’s a reality. Just 2 weeks ago I met a divorced mother who told me that she knows things are tough economically so she doesn’t even mind the fact that her former husband can’t send money to help support the kids. She just wants him to call them and keep in touch. Far too many men see the ending of their relationship with a woman as the ending of their relationship with their kids. How sad and unfortunate.
On the other hand, I know many women who recognize that the family law system generally favors them so they seek to exploit that same system, thinking that they’re just hurting the fathers of their children. They do hurt the fathers, no doubt, but in the process they hurt their own kids even more. The kids become nothing more than pawns in a game of power struggle. When different parties think that they win because they get what they wanted through the legal process, quite often, the children are more damaged than they would’ve ever imagined.
Children are wonderful and so innocent that it pains me to see their plight when families fall apart. So I made a vow to not simply sit back and be a critic. I want to do something about it. This is really my life’s mission – a calling, if you will. To be at this point now, on the brink of seeing what I’ve envisioned for most of the past decade coming to pass, is thrilling – not because of me, but for the sake of our children – all our children all over the world.
Let me ask some simple questions of you: What is your life’s purpose? What is your calling? What injustice do you see in the world that you know how to make right? What service do you think you can offer to your fellow men that would not only help them greatly, but would make your life more meaningful and complete? Did you know that there are tasks that only you can accomplish? Yes, you. And until you do those tasks, any success you may have, would be somewhat hollow and meaningless. I heard someone say several years ago, “It’s like a voice is inside of you saying, `you’ve done everything but you haven’t done me!’” We all have that voice.
Our lives have greater impact when we have a purpose driven life – one in which we’re not just going to work to collect a pay check so that we can accumulate more things. Fulfillment is something that you simply cannot buy. I encourage you to seek to live a life of purpose, one that helps others. This isn’t necessarily a call to social work and charitable endeavors, as noble as those callings may be. It’s a call to serve with our time and talents. If it’s as a banker, then do so, helping people by meeting their banking needs. If it’s as a teacher, do so, imparting into your students the knowledge and wisdom that you’ve gained. If it’s as an entertainer, do so, knowing that people have choices in entertainment so you give them nothing less than your very best every time you have the opportunity to entertain.
You understand where I’m going with this? I sure hope you do because when you look at the lives of great men and women throughout history, this one trait is common in their life story – they have lived and in the process, they served mankind with their gifts. And when they pass on, they leave a legacy that impacts the world for generations to come.
As we live purpose driven lives, we also are shining examples for our children. They too will learn to live lives of purpose. Our 12 year old daughter already has the mindset that she is obligated to share her gifts with others. And I will teach these same principles to our 4 month old son as he grows.
Do teach these principles to your children. Encourage them to learn as much as possible in school. Find out from them what they desire to be when they grow up. But please, I ask of you, don’t focus so much on how much money they will make – ask them, who will benefit from the service that they offer. If your child wants to become a police officer, focus more on the fact that they will protect the public, rather than thinking of the excellent salary and retirement package that the police department offers. Likewise, if they want to go into politics, focus more on the fact that they can help to enact laws that will help our society in a meaningful way. This is what we call a purpose driven life.
I’ll close with the last two stanzas from my poem A Lasting Legacy, found in my book, Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation:
Whenever I come to the end of my days
And I go to my final resting place
When the sun goes down and I finish this race
May I leave this world a better place.

This is my vow to humanity
A vow that will last all eternity
For my children and all who will come after me
May I leave a lasting legacy.

Have a great day.
The Upbeat Dad

1 comment:

  1. This is so inspiring. I like the part about focusing on how your child's career will benefit others when discussing what they want to be when they grow up. I can't wait to try it out on my son!