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Chapter 11 How Do I Stay on Purpose?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Staying on purpose through the busy routines of work and life is not easy. Our daily routine often lacks a sense of ”why?” Life may appear to have no purpose, to serve no apparent ends.

Thus, we are in great need of deliberate reminders of the ”why.” Yet we create little time for regular relaxation and reflection. It is through open, focused refleaion that we see beneath the surface to the place where we know not with the mind but with the heart. Here our intuitive side recognizes a power beyond the natural and rational, and we are able to accept the unknown on faith.

There are steps we can take to enhance our ability to think quietly and calmly and to open our listening. This chapter suggests two tools that will help you reflect, listen, and stay on purpose: regular times alone, or ”solos,” and starting a purpose study group.

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The Purpose Study Group

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Session 1: The Meaning of Purpose


The Preface and Part I, Chapters 1—4.


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)


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


Part II, Chapters 5-7.


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-


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 1: Reimagining Work—What Do You Do?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

How soon after you first meet someone do you ask the question? How quickly do others ask you when you first meet: What do you do?

It may be the most common question we ask of others and which others ask of us.

It is certainly one of the most important questions we can ask of ourselves: What do I do? What do I really do? What is my real work?

Recently, Richard was on a plane trip where he sat next to a businessperson who annoyed passengers as they settled in by talking loudly enough on his mobile phone for everyone to hear. As soon as the plane hit cruising altitude, he asked Richard the standard question: “What do you do?”

Hoping to keep the conversation relatively short, Richard answered quickly, “I’m an author,” and turned his attention to his laptop by way of illustration.

“I knew it!” exclaimed the man, “I knew you were somebody! Someday I’d like to write a book myself! That is what I’d like to do!”

At a fundamental level, we all need to feel like “somebody,” to do something that gives our life meaning and purpose, some reason to get up in the morning. Work is central to our well-being; what we spend our time doing each day ultimately determines how fulfilled we are. It is not surprising, therefore, that the quest to find fulfilling work is one of the dominant aspirations of people everywhere, at all ages and phases of life.

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Chapter 1 The Purpose Moment

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I was just trying to get home from work.

Rosa Parks

Purpose is fundamental to human life. It is what makes us human. Purpose is not only what makes us human, it is the one thing that cannot be taken from us. Purpose gives us the will to live or to persevere. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Purpose gives us courage.

Most of us want to know that there is a purpose to life—that our being here does mean something and that what we do matters. Most of us want our lives to matter, and we want to live courageously.

Purpose is one of the chief requisites for courage in life. A constant in the lives of people who experience a sense ofcourageisthe ”purpose moment” —moments of meaning. This chapter shows the importance of purpose moments to the purpose quest and helps you to recognize and create such moments in your own life.

Rosa Parks had a purpose moment that ultimately changed a nation. She was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. This single act of courage sparked a bus boycott that led to the integration of Alabama’s bus system and paved the way for the civil rights movement in the United States.

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Chapter1: The Flame of Identity: Recalling Our Stories

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


New Elder
Richard Strozzi Heckler

At an age when most of his contemporaries were wondering what to do with themselves after retirement,Richard Strozzi Heckler embarked on a new and exciting journey uncommon to men at any stage of life.

The words of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung seemed to have been written just for him: “Wholly unprepared, we embark upon the second half of life . . . we take the step into the afternoon of life;worse still,we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as before. But we cannot live the afternoons of life according to the program of life’s morning—for what was great in the morning will be little in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”

We cannot tell if we have entered the second half of life solely by counting the candles on our birthday cake. We do not really step into the afternoon of life just because we reach a certain age. To know where we are in the process of becoming a new elder,we must learn to look inside.

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