A Life of Purpose

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Have you ever just stopped yourself in your tracks, “hit” your forehead, and thought, “I haven’t heard from ‘so-and-so’ in ages. I need to call them!”

A couple of years ago, it happened to me, and I went home and called Rich, Don, and Mike. I had three delightful conversations. I must share that all three are my age. Yet, their voices bubbled with joy over the phone to such an extent that if you had never met them, you would have convinced yourself they were in their thirties.


Where Are They Now

In addition to my classmates, the three men shared at least one unifying trait: purpose. Rich had to be kicked out (I don’t mean that literally) of his office building every day as a company’s national sales manager. He retired for about a week, and then at age 62, started an organization that trained and placed service dogs with men and women who needed therapy dogs.

Don was a big-time television producer and director in Hollywood. He worked in the earliest years of network TV, and then he started writing children’s books. A life-long musician, he formed a Dixieland jazz band when he was in his fifties. They played for any audience that would listen!

Mike was a minor league baseball umpire, switched to sales, and grew successful selling synthetic fabrics. If you were obligated to wear polyester trousers from your mother, you could thank Mike. When he retired at age 60, he started to mentor students. However, he expanded his coaching efforts and using his extensive sales and marketing background, and he works with men and women starting small businesses. He does not charge for his services and instead considers it an honor to help people who were convinced they would never be successful.

Does purpose give life?

We all know that there are no guarantees; however, purpose does give meaning.


A Purpose Mindset

Dr. Stephanie Newman, in her column for Psychology Today (June 2, 2019), writes:

“Research has shown that the experiences a person has in their late teens and twenties are among the most formative and influential of their life. Studies also show that most young adults and adults want to live a purposeful, fulfilling life for the sake of both personal edifications and giving back to others; the majority of adults, however, neither have a clear sense of their purpose in life nor feel their career paths further it.”

What has happened to many of us that we no longer feel our lives have a purpose?

Another Psychologist, Dr. Christine Whelan, might have hit upon a solution.

She writes: “research suggests that getting into a purpose mindset––identifying how your specific talents and values intersect with the needs of others––is the first step toward living a purposeful life.”

Rich, Don, and Mike had specific talents, but their real brilliance was finding people who needed their help.

What are your talents, and how can those talents help others? Don made beautiful and fun music, he played for most everyone, but his Dixieland band loved playing for the elderly. His purpose was to bring joy into their lives. In turn, their smiles brought joy into his life.

Rich saw his veteran father struggling to make it through the day with his psychological scars. Rich loved dogs, and he knew he could raise funds. He created an organization. The dogs his organization trained have saved many lives.

You can find Mike at his computer to this very day, helping people whom the world has labeled as disadvantaged to build small businesses and gain greater self-esteem.


Find Your Gift

As the psychologists and my old friends might ask, each of us is simply this: “What is your purpose?” Perhaps you might shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t know.” Then they might ask an even more fundamental question: “What are your talents?”

We all have them, you know.

Did you play a sport? Why not coach or officiate? Can you paint or draw? Teach a child to paint or draw. Can you cook? There are thousands of people who would benefit from your recipes and instructions. Write a cookbook! Your purpose may be right at your fingertips.

Don’t let your mind tell you that you’ve done all it is for you to do. Don’t let yourself be defeated by feeling you have no meaningful talent. You are relevant, and your presence on this earth is more than enough to change a life or a great many lives. The purpose of life is a life of purpose.


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.