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‘The Pursuit’ Blog

A Life Lived on Purpose

Many things make human beings different from animals, but one aspect that has always stood out to me is our desire to pursue meaning in our lives. For example, your pet dog doesn’t wake up in the morning and consider questions such as, “Why am I alive?” Or, “What meaning does my life have?” Most dogs’ sole goal is survival – they eat, sleep, go outside to relieve themselves, and occasionally bark at pedestrians as they walk by. 

If you’re anything like me, this type of life probably sounds incredibly boring. Sure, it might be a nice change of pace from the regular grind and hustle of everyday life, but it’s certainly only enjoyable if it’s the exception and not the rule. This highlights the unique wiring human beings have, and our desire to cultivate some sort of greater purpose and meaning in our lives. 

I’ve written extensively about purpose previously on this blog. I even devoted an entire chapter to purpose in my book, “The Never-Ending Pursuit.” As we continue our “Leadership Beyond Limitations” blog series, I’m specifically curious about the role of purpose in leadership. How can a deeper understanding of your unique sense of purpose help you live – and lead – at a higher level? 

In his best-selling book “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek describes how some individuals and organizations rise above the rest. In Sinek’s opinion, the people and teams who are able to attract a larger following or achieve a higher level of influence are the ones who not only understand what they want to do or how they want to do it but also why they want to take action. They can clearly identify what problem they are trying to solve and how the world will be different as a result of their decisions.

What about you? Do you have a strong sense of your individual “why?” Is this reflected in the way you structure your life, the way you relate to others, and the way you spend your time each day? Does this sense of “why” impact the way you make tough decisions? Understanding your “why” is a powerful first step, but it’s practically useless if it’s not supported with action.

Discerning – and embodying – purpose is especially important for those of us who aspire to lead others. At its core, leadership is identifying a future outcome that is different from the present-day reality and motivating others to go on a journey with you to discover that future possibility. What makes this hard is our innate desire for comfort. We would typically rather maintain the status quo (even if we agree that things aren’t as good as they could be) because remaining in place requires less effort. 

This is where a strong “why” can make all the difference. Over the course of history, we’ve seen people passionately devote their lives to a “why” they could agree with. My strong “why” is my belief that God loved the world so much that He gave His son so that anyone who believes in Him could have life (see John 3:16). If we can identify a significant “why” that is captivating and motivating (both to ourselves and to others), we’ve taken a significant step toward bringing about the change we desire to see in the world.