The 6Ps: Staying Intentional About Our Purpose
This piece is the third post in a series on the “The 6Ps for Profound and Positive Living". You can find all writings on the subject by searching 6Ps in the search bar.
When I meet a client for the first time, I love for them to share their “story” about how they came to be in front of me to include the early choices they made in their lives regarding education, friends, hobbies, and skills, as well as the factors that influenced their lives such as where they lived, their parents’ professions, their birth order, and influence of siblings, teachers, and other family members. I am always amazed by people’s stories and how so many end up in professions or certainly taking professional paths by unplanned or unanticipated opportunities, much like my own story. These interactions also lead me to reflect on a quote by the influential author, Jim Collins. In Great by Choice, a book that has had a great deal of impact on my work, Collins shares that:
‘Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is a matter of conscious choice and discipline.’.
For me, Collins is saying that being great is open to all of us, but it must begin with CLEAR INTENTION followed by incredibly HARD AND DISCIPLINED EFFORT AND PERSISTENCE.
I have always found it amazing that many of the most exceptionally successful people in the world dropped out of school or did not obtain educational credentials. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both dropped out of college. Dreaming and achieving greatness often requires a boldness and willingness to overcome conventional thinking and mental models. While education has certainly opened many doors and opportunities for me, many educational programs teach and reinforce conventional wisdom and rationalization and have the potential to temper our dreams and the courage of our aspirations.
I have found in my own journey, reinforced by solid research from pioneers like Jim Collins and inspired by anecdotes from successful individuals, that the more intentional we can be in our lives, the more we can create lives of significance and meaning. And this goes beyond the professional sphere. I often ask clients if they have goals or aspirations outside of their professional lives. For example, do they create meaningful goals regarding the quality of relationships they have with their spouse, children, extended family, or friends? Too often we feel that setting goals for our professional lives is sufficient and hard enough. But, in the most precious things in their lives, like the quality of our relationships with those they loved, should not creating and tracking goals be even more important?
All of this purpose-driven goal setting can feel overwhelming and it can sometimes be challenging to see the practicality behind all of it. But remember, our thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex, is highly limited and easily diminished by fatigue and stress. It’s impossible to think of and remember everything we need throughout our busy days, even if you read all the time or know a lot about science. We just don’t have an efficient retrieval system. If you can remind yourself and others of important virtues or qualities to focus on for the day, it makes it easier to stay on the path to joy and happiness.
When I want to be at my best, I am disciplined in being intentional about what my purpose, what key principles or values I want to live by and embody to achieve that purpose, and on the most important priorities that will bring me closer to achieving my purpose. Whether you quickly think about it, say it out loud, or even write it down, making a habit of creating space to reflect on your purpose, principles and priorities can support your efforts to be your best self for all those you serve, lead, support and love.