How to uncover your purpose
The following in an extract of the talk I gave at January’s DARETOGROW in Newcastle. In this talk, I share the six keys to success and reveal the seventh key that a lot of people miss! I also share a technique for overcoming self doubt, and end with a booster to get you fired up to take action!
PART ONE – HOW TO UNCOVER YOUR PURPOSE
I strongly believe we all have a unique purpose – a drive – a reason for existing but too often, we rule out our gifts, and passions and our purpose and hobbies: “oh I can’t do that for a living. I work so I can do it – horse ride, cook, teach, socialise, coach, paint…”
So, what’s your gift? What’s your purpose? What’s that one thing you would love to do if only you were braver, if only you had more money, if only this would change, or that would happen?
Sometimes, people find it hard to recognise their purpose, because it’s been hidden away for so many years. So how do you find your purpose? Well, think about your life over the last five years. What keeps coming up for you time and time again – what patterns do you see in your life? (For example, I always put on events, and invited people to hear inspiring talks. What are you drawn to? (I love the self help section of Waterstones, obviously). How do you spend your free time? (For me it’s reading, blogging…talking). What comes so naturally to you, you can’t see why people value it? (I’ve come to realise that I have a gift for speaking to large audiences and I am so grateful for it.) What do you feel compelled to do? (I feel compelled to share what I know about finding success, happiness and joy.) What is the legacy you’d like to leave behind in the world? (I want to change the world by empowering people to live the life of their dreams.
Who would have thought I could make a living doing this? A few years ago, I would have laughed…but now I’m doing it!
Uncovering your purpose is a journey. Discovering your purpose is something only you can do and it’s something you have to do actively. You start by being open to it; listening to your heart, your inner voice. Don’t see it as something you have to make a living out of right away, that will come when the time is right.
It’s taken me four years but now I know, I am off. I can see my dream life unfolding but you all know I’ve been through a lot to make the transition from my old life (my ego life), to my new life. See, one day I woke up and just didn’t like the trajectory I was on and so, I changed it. No-one died. It was uncomfortable, yes. People judged me, yes, but they’re all in my past now and I’m happy.
I think the only true way to be happy is to do what you want deep down, to live a life of purpose but I think so many of us get caught up on the conveyer belt of life: education, job, marriage, family, retirement. Who said you had to do it in that order? Who said 9-5pm was a rule? I hate working 9-5pm. I can’t do it.
PART TWO – THE SECRET TO SUCCESS
My first job was on a graduate scheme – an insurance company. It was a 2 year (24 month) programme and I nailed it. I mean I really nailed it. I wanted to be the best!! The very idea of ‘being the best’ is an ego driven need. Being the best means I want other people not to be the best – why on earth would I choose that? That’s mean!!
In my first few weeks they told us all (there were about 20 of us) about the performance rating scales. Five meant pack up your stuff, you’re going home. One meant, why haven’t we promoted you sooner?
I wanted three ‘ones’. Of course I did. Every one of my managers told me it was impossible and I shouldn’t bother. Well, that was like a red rag to a bull. I knew I was getting ‘ones’. I already had. I just had to make it a reality in their eyes too. I was a pain in the arse. But it was a competition and I wanted to win – I’ve been trained my whole life to win!!! We all have! No one wants the medal for ‘showing up’ do they?
What I did ‘to win’ was so simple. I asked each manager to tell me what they wanted from me in measurable outcomes, in detail. They told me and I typed it up and took to them. Is this it?? If I give you all of this in eight months, you’ll give me a one, yes? They added a few more things. I typed them up. Is this it, I said?
I then went and did all the things on the list, checking in with them every two months and guess what…I got my ones. I was the only graduate in the history to do it and so 18 months later, I was removed from the scheme early and promoted to a 4B role, whilst my colleagues were all in 6b, maybe 6a roles.
Can you hear my ego screaming out? Compare, compete, defeat!!
I thought, well, that worked!! Maybe I should tell people about it. And so, two years after joining the after graduate scheme, I launched Gradvert – the graduate coaching business.
And here is what I learnt about what it takes to succeed
One – You need clear goals
Two – You have to ask for what you want and be unapologetic about your ambition
Three – You must ask ‘what do I need to do to achieve x.’…and then do it.
Four – Checking in on progess is a good thing – you need feedback to get it right
Five – You’ve got to get comfortable with doing what other people don’t even think is possible.
Six – You’ve got to ignore every doubter around you, particularly people in places of influence who say it can’t be done. Don’t ask for the opinion on how, ask them what they’d need to see to believe it’s possible too.
But there is something crucial I missed. Something no-one around me could teach me because they didn’t know either. Something I wasn’t going to learn for another four years!
Seven – You’ve got to want the result you get, and that result has to be purpose driven for it to make you happy!
The result I got was a big fat salary, a perky job in Head Office, reporting to a director, lots of opportunity to learn…ahem…about insurance. What about my personality says I’ll be good at managing risk?? I am a risk taker – comfort makes me uncomfortable. You don’t want me working in insurance…I can tell you that. People could end up in jail for my attitude to risk!
I didn’t want to work in insurance…and so it wasn’t long before I left to pursue my career as a graduate coach.
Now there is a quote I want you to know before I finish this story.
Success comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
I was about to get me four years of experience!
I’ve told this story before so I won’t repeat it in detail – safe to say, I went on to build a graduate recruitment company, and a digital marketing agency…not the coaching company I was really passionate about, the coaching company I was driven to build; the coaching company I finally launched last year. I built what was easy…what happened…what made money…what got me kudos at networking events, and with peers. I didn’t build what I truly wanted. I copped out.
And so, the final lesson I had to learn was this:
Be careful what you ask for…you might just get it.
I asked for a business I could grow. I asked for prestige. I asked for money. I asked for bigger and bigger contracts and I got it all. Last year alone, I billed just shy of a quarter of a million. (Ego!!)
What I didn’t ask for was financial freedom, or happiness, or fulfillment and the only way I was going to get any of that, was by being of service to others. I was happy to post pone and even sacrifice all of that for the shiny things I wanted – I think I thought they’d bring happiness. And so what I got ticked lots of boxes but it never made ME happy, an ultimately, if you know my story you’ll know I recently sold Gradvert, dramatically downsized Digitia and took on a boat load of debt in investments I just wouldn’t get back, in order to tackle a new goal: finding happiness doing what I love. FOUR YEARS LATER.
So, think about your greatest passion…Is it a dream for living out your purpose, or it is a dream for making your ego happy? Is it for you, or it is for someone else?
In order to truly find happiness, you’ve got to identify what your ego wants…and ignore it. My ego wanted money, a sports car, a big company. It caused me to compete, to judge, to compare. Your higher self doesn’t do that – it doesn’t need to. Your higher self is only concerned with adding value to the world for value’s sake. And the funny thing about this is that when you do that…all the wealth in the world will flow into your pockets.
The last six months have been the hardest of my entire life, I’ve been in debt for most of them. But I’ve never been happier. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I die tomorrow, I won’t care. I am being true to who I am. I not taking my dream to the grave. My messages are out there. They’ve helped so many people already and can help so many more.
Can you say that? If not, it’s time to get radical about your life.
PART THREE – A TRICK FOR REMOVING THE BARRIERS
So why don’t we follow our purpose, and build our dream lives?
There are four main reasons:
ONE – We’ve been raised to be average and fit in – by parents, by teachers, by society, by managers – we’ve been told to be sensible, to choose a trodden path. We’ve been told to stop day dreaming and concentrate. We’ve been taught to repeat the right answer, not to listen to our hearts.
TWO – We’re afraid to hurt people – because we love our family and friends, and because we respect the people we look up to, we’re afraid to defy them; to drop our ‘responsibilities’ to pursue our dreams.
THREE – We’re afraid we’ll fail – when we branch out on our own, on a foolish mission in pursuit of our purposes, we stake everything on it, we want it and everyone knows it.
FOUR – We’re afraid we’ll actually achieve our dreams – and in doing so, can never go back. We feel guilt and sadness for others who haven’t dared to do the same. We forget about everything we overcame to get here, everything we sacrificed and everything we risked.
Does this resonate? It’s important tonight to make time for realising what barriers we are putting in our own way, and taking steps to remove them, or step around them.
I did this next exercise with a client a few months ago and it was so powerful, so transformative in that moment that he called me just a few days later to tell me how powerful this little trick was. I’d never even used it myself…I have now!!
Part of today’s talk is about helping you to identify what you have in your life that is keeping you from pursuing your purpose and setting up your dream life.
In a notebook, add a title “What is preventing me from following my purpose and living my dreams” and start writing down what comes to mind. What is blocking you, what are you holding on to that is keeping you busy, or distracted. This is private you don’t have to share any of it.
I’ve experienced all of these blocks, in different ways, at different times.
For example, when I realised I wanted to make a change, I was terrified of telling my team. I was terrified to tell my parents. I was worried about the debt I’d incur.
One day, sat with Alice I said: “it’s just not possible to downsize Digitia, it’s too big, there are too many projects”. She asked: “okay, well what would have you to do to close it? Just give me a list”.
Perhaps one of the biggest blockers I had was my ego. I’d built two six figure businesses, very visibly in the North East. I was known as a marketer. I had built my reputation around getting results for clients, around business growth. A time came, last year, when I had to give it all up – my revenue streams, my team, my offices, my clients, my brand, my reputation. I had to let it go to follow my dreams and become a transformational speaker.
It’s taken me a year to empty my hands of what I was ‘busy’ with. It could take you a week, a month, five years but what’s the alternative? What, it’s too hard so we’ll just leave it and carry on like this? I don’t think so!
So, give this exercise a go…Write down everything that comes to mind. What is stopping you? “I don’t have the money.” “No-one believes in me”. “I don’t know how.”
Work through your list, one by one ‘flip’ each negative thought into a powerful question your brain can work on. Let’s say, for example, that you wrote down: “I don’t have the skills”. Your brain is a very powerful computer – it will find evidence to support your theory. It will actually give you evidence to prove you right; that you don’t have the skills. Instead, you need to give a powerful, positive problem to solve.
Instead you could ask: “What could I do to develop the skills I need?” “Who do I know who could help me?” “What one thing can I learn this week, or this month to prove I can do this” “What skills do I even need?”
Remember, the reason people resist change is because the focus more on what they have to give up than on what they’ll gain. Most people want to feel like kings and queens in their comfort zones, not you: you’re willing to experience a little discomfort now to enjoy a life of joy, happiness and abundance. Your dream life could be less than 12 months away!
There’s one more thing I wanted to share with you before we end and it’s this. Don’t worry about how far you’ve come already, or what time you might have wasted, or what opportunities you might have missed. Don’t blame anyone else for where you are, or what you have or what you know.
You are here, right now, in this moment with a dream in front of you, a whole list of ideas for making it happen and the rest of your life ahead of you to try them all out!
Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Look inside, let your inner champion out and commit to being the best possible version of yourself, for your own sense of happiness, achievement and contentment.
Act according to your goals not your mood – just because you’ve had a bad day doesn’t mean you have to quit.
Forget the stigma – I have depression. I’m not supposed to have depression – I’m a motivational speaker – I’m happy right? No, I have days when I don’t want to get out of bed but I force myself. I’ve looked at my diet, my surroundings, my activities. I run, I watch motivational content. In fact, I’ve switched the story. I now tell myself that depression fuels my work – I want to find more and more ways to pursue and stay happy for longer. It’s actually really handy! Just last week, I had a really bad episode and I said “brilliant, what a fab opportunity to test my new ideas”.
Give it a go, the more positive solutions you try, the more chances there will be of you breaking through!
Doing nothing is a choice. If you’re not happy, visualise what will happen if you make these changes. Visualise what will happen if you don’t!
The thing you have to control more than anything in the world is your mindset. What you think controls how you feel, what you feel controls what you do, and what you do determines what you get.
Let me tell you something else. This is on you. If you take action, well done, that’s on you. If you don’t, that’s on you too. No-one is going to come and willingly help you until you help yourself. They won’t help you, not because they don’t believe in you, but because they don’t believe in themselves.
You will be tried tested, questioned. You will fall and you will stumble but you’ve got to get back up again and again, until you make it because the world needs what you have to bring.
Get your mind right. Listen to what you tell yourself and if you don’t like it – change it. Your mind tells you how to feel and your feelings tell you how to act. Start with how you feel, or act until the feeling comes with it.
Are you willing to do what you’ve never done to become what you’ve never been before? Surprise the hell out of yourself.
Thank you all for listening! (Or, in this case…reading!)
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