Purpose. This word has been my nemesis for my entire adult life. Like many, I have struggled with what I feel my purpose or calling is. For the past seven years, I almost felt like I was walking through time, glancing at minor achievements along the way without feeling a sense of true passion for what I was doing. From high school graduation to college graduation, to landing my first job in my field of study, not once did I feel like I was doing what I was meant to be doing.
To be honest, finding your purpose is a daunting task. Let me be a 'Realistic Randy' here for a second. I want you to think about your friends and family...What is their occupation? Would you describe what they are doing as their true purpose? Perhaps I am being a shade less optimistic than even Randy, but that is not my intent. For most people, a purposeful life doesn't arise solely out of what they do, but also how they do it.
I am a firm believer that each individual has a set of unique talents, whether they are tapping into them or not, however, is up to them. While the work or actions of your life might not be what you really want to be doing (for now), the one thing you can control is letting your special talents and abilities shine through. You can always do your best.
We had the fortune of having Ted Perry on our Instagram Live this past week (If you weren’t able to tune in, I highly recommend you check it out here). He read an excerpt from Franny and Zooey, written by J.D. Salinger, where Franny and Zooey—a pair of performers—were having a conversation about how they were told by their brother to "shine their shoes for the Fat Lady" (whatever the hell that means). Ted described it as being your best self, not for you, not for others, but for whatever you believe in (this could be taken as serving your God, etc.). Shining your shoes for the Fat Lady means in everything you do, whatever you do, you do it not only to the best of your ability, but you also honor and exhibit your God-given talents. Do the best with what you've been blessed with.
Listening to him read and then speak to this passage got me thinking. I resonated with this message of "shining your shoes for the Fat Lady"—I understood the how of purpose, letting my talents and skill set shine through my work at all times (i.e. work ethic). But, I noticed I grew weary of pouring so much of myself into my what. And, like I mentioned, to find true purpose, you need both the how and what. I was working hard, but at something that was simply personally unfulfilling.
Typically, my priorities have been centered around my career, personal life, or fitting into societal expectations. I never took the time to consider my passions or what I would find ultimately satisfying. I was wrong to assume that hard work was all that comprised one's purpose. After all, it is touted as the key to success, which, once attained, must mean a meaningful existence, right? Now, of course I don’t want to say you can’t or shouldn’t have personal drive to be the best version of yourself and relentlessly chase your personal ambitions, but if that is all you are focused on, then perhaps you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to align this how with the equally-important what.
While I am still figuring out this what I have so often referred to, it's crucial that I consistently showcase my talents and let them shine in all that I do—never relinquishing my how, confident that this mindset and the pursuant actions will eventually unveil that ever-so-elusive what, a course of action. This how and why then hopefully combining into a greater purpose that pleases not only myself, but also my community—my brothers and sisters.
Live for a purpose...on purpose. Master your how, discover your what. These messages have inspired me lately, and hopefully they can have the same effect on you. We have all heard that life is too short and that doing what you love, and doing it to the best of your ability, leads to joy, happiness, and oftentimes financial prosperity. But as cliche as the saying 'YOLO' (you only live once) is, it has a point. We have a finite amount of time on this planet, so why wouldn’t we spend it chasing a greater purpose, one that pleases our God, our family, our tribe, ourselves?
Can you imagine if we all aligned our how with our very own, unique what, putting our special gifts and abilities to work to advance a cause bigger than ourselves - what a passionate and impactful world we would live in! This is what I am now chasing, and although I am a little unsure what that will look like, or even the talents that I can bring forth, I am prioritizing and entirely refocusing my ultimate purpose.
I am going to start shining my shoes for the Fat Lady, day-in and day-out, harnessing my how into what mark I want to leave on this Earth. Time to live a purpose-driven life.