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Chapter 4 The Gift of Purpose

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Service is not possible unless it is rooted in love and nonviolence. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Mahatma Gandhi

Life purpose is a gift that you give naturally and spontaneously. Remember those times when people you care about wanted you to share with them? Maybe they were in need and asked for your contribution. Think about what you love doing and what you want to contribute naturally. What do you want to give others that would make a difference for them? What is it that you see naturally, that you would like them to see for themselves?

Your life purpose is a gift for three reasons. First, you didn’t have to earn it—it came with your birth. Second, it is a gift because you get something for yourself when you interact on purpose. And third, it is a gift to others because they get something from you that is theirs to keep. This chapter will help you realize that you are uniquely gifted for serving others, and will show how your own story can help you uncover your purpose, gifts, and passions.

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The Purpose Checkup

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

After a certain age, many of us accept the necessity of regular physical checkups. We’re also generally willing to review our financial situation with some regularity.

So if money, medicine, and meaning are all essential to a purposeful life, we might be wise to take guidance from the financial and medical worlds and adopt the praaice of a regular checkup on that third dimension to ensure that our spirit—our sense of purpose—remains healthy.

Please read each statement carefully and take a few moments to decide on a true response for yourself. Then write the number that most nearly reflects that response. The answers offer the following range of responses:

1. Definitely disagree.

2. Somewhat disagree.

3. Somewhat agree.

4. Definitely agree.

_____

I derive satisfaction from what I have in my life.

_____

I express my creativity in a number of ways.

_____

I have found ways to offer my gifts and talents to the world.

_____

I have a positive vision for my future.

_____

I feel satisfied with my location.

_____

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The Purpose Study Group

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Session 1: The Meaning of Purpose

Read:

The Preface and Part I, Chapters 1—4.

Do:

Before the session, answer the following questions:

If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently? (Preface)

Look ahead. How old do you think you’ll live to be? (Chapter 1)

My calling in life is_______. (Chapter 4)

Discuss:

Decide who will be the facilitator.

Perform group introductions.

Read the quote by Andrew Greeley in Chapter 5 (”It seems to me that in the last analysis there are only two choices ”) aloud and discuss it.

Discuss the three presession questions (above).

Session 2: Paths to Purpose

Read:

Part II, Chapters 5-7.

Do:

Review the eight intelligences in Chapter 6.

Rank-order yourself from 1 to 8 based on what you perceive your natural strengths to be (1 is highest, 8 is lowest).

Think of a talent that would fit in your #1 area.

Review the nine passion questions in Chapter 7-

Discuss:

Read aloud the quote by Viktor Frankl at the beginning of Chapter 5 (”We can discover the meaning of life in three different ways . . .”) and discuss it.

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Chapter 4: The Flame of Meaning: Reclaiming Our Purpose

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

104

New Elder
Frederic Hudson

“I refuse to become a marginalized person! So many people just disappear, lose their nerve,and disconnect. Not me. I’m at the end of who I was. But I’m at the beginning of who I might become. That’s exciting to me.”

These bold reflections from Frederic Hudson opened his dialogue with Richard on a sunny May morning in Santa Barbara, California. As the sunlight slanted through the living room windows of the Hudson household,Frederic took Richard on a passionate journey through his recent paintings. As he spoke,he was describing—as someone who is coming to terms with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease—what it is like to confront the limitations of the flesh.

“I’ve had to give up one era of my life,” Frederic claims, “in order to enter another. I’ve always been fascinated with how people deconstruct and reconstruct their lives. We all need to constantly do this, to reinvent ourselves.”

105

Frederic speaks slowly,crisply,and clearly. This friend and colleague of Richard,this new elder who one year ago worked with a vengeance—traveling,speaking,writing and creating, always creating. Frederic, founder of both the Fielding and Hudson Institutes,is one of the thought leaders in adult development and coaching in America. Today Frederic savors solitude.“The life force,”he says,“now is about celebrating life and about generosity—giving it all away. It’s all about being. The peace I’m gaining is coming from using my illness as a challenge,as permission to be.”

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Chapter 3 The Purpose Spiral

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We are all on a spiral path. No growth takes place in a straight line. There will be setbacks along the way. . . . There will be shadows, but they will be balanced by patches of light. . . . Awareness of the pattern is all you need to sustain you along the way.

Kristin Zambucka

All life is a spiral of change, a continuous graceful curve toward purpose. There is a definite pattern to it all, and we spend our whole lives seeking that pattern by living with different questions at each age and phase. Searching for the pattern is the heart of our human quest. If we’re aware of that pattern, and our place in it, we can identify the best choices to sustain us along the way.

Most of us find that our purpose evolves as experiences change over our lifetime. A new sense of purpose may be triggered when we reach a particular age, by a crisis, or by a natural, ongoing discovery of who we are.

Asking new questions as we age is part of the quest for purpose. This chapter will help you detect the spiral pattern of your own life and recognize your current question.

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