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Giving Your Idealism Wings: Embracing a Personal Purpose

April 1, 2011

Giving Your Idealism Wings: Embracing a Personal Purpose

Do you remember a time when your idealism was at its peak? When you were passionate about pursuing noble goals and principles? Or believed far more was possible than you do now in creating a greater good? I remember times like those in my life. I became involved in several causes du jour.  I learned, grew, and became more aware of what I truly believed in. Then reality struck. I discovered it was harder than I thought. Then my life changed. I worked long hours, had a family to support, and valued time with my wife and son.

Through all of this, my idealism remained in my mind, if tempered by greater life experience. My passions and interests matured. They became more focused. Soon I found ways to pursue them in bite size pieces that worked with the other priorities in my life. I began once again to give my idealism wings.

I realize now that my journey to a meaningful personal purpose (which has changed and evolved over time) involved four key steps. In interviewing others who followed their own routes, I learned their journeys followed a similar path. These steps include:

  • Identifying what is truly important to you – what you really value and are inspired to pursue. Some people feel a burning passion. Others may describe is as a genuine commitment to creating a greater good or making a positive impact in a specific area. What’s important is believing it in your heart. You may discover it through serendipity, personal experiences or observations, epiphanies, spiritual awakenings, local or global events, news reports, everyday activities, reading, learning about worthy causes, or many other ways. The key is identifying opportunities that resonate with you for creating a different future. Creating a future better than today is the purpose of a purpose. Sometimes your purpose comes to you and other times you discover it. Examples are embedded in explanations of the next three steps.
  • Transforming your passion into a personal purpose, perhaps even a vision.  This involves defining the scope. It may be very ambitious or close to home. Some people have transformed their purpose into significant endeavors, even though they started small. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was initiated by a mother whose 7-year old son, Chris, was dying of leukemia. He dreamed of being a police officer. His mother’s friends found a way to grant his wish and a caring group of Arizona Public Safety Officers made it come true. Officers in cruisers and a motorcycle picked Chris up at his home and drove him to police headquarters, where he was sworn in as an honorary patrolman. He was given a special custom-made uniform, hat, motorcycle helmet, a ride on a police helicopter, and much more. It was the happiest day of his life. He died two days later. The Make-A-Wish Foundation started modestly but now grants a wish every forty minutes. The purpose you embrace may not be nearly as ambitious or borne from a family tragedy. It may be as intimate as helping the less fortunate in your community, or just one person, or volunteering with a local organization. It’s not the size that matters, it’s what is meaningful and works for you. The idea is to channel your energy and commitment to have a positive impact in ways that are personally fulfilling.
  • Pursuing your purpose. This is the step that gives your purpose wings. Nothing happens without action. Action moves it forward and transforms an idea into something real. It elevates idealism and gives it life in the world. One great facet of pursuing a purpose is you can decide how much energy and time to devote to it. As time allows you can adjust it. A friend of mine worked in the department of corrections, around hardened criminals. He desperately desired a purpose that would lift his spirits. One day, driving home from work, he passed a park and saw children with disabilities learning to play soccer. Jerry stopped and watched. In that moment he found a purpose to embrace. The teachers were struggling to teach the children how to play. They did not know much about sports or coaching. He gave them a few tips and then asked if he could help as a volunteer on weekends. Jerry devoted Saturday afternoons during the fall and spring to coaching them. He was able to tap into his sensitive and caring side. It added a wonderful dimension to his life and he saw the contributions he was making in the children’s lives. His job was in a grim, dispiriting place. He found the perfect bright spot for him – where he could give his newly discovered idealism wings.
  • Fulfilling your purpose and bringing it to fruition. This step is continual, until you choose to go in a different direction. It’s about moving beyond activities and making your purpose an integral part of your life. It’s not for everyone and some people pursue their purpose just though occasional activities and volunteering. That’s perfectly okay. For those interested in becoming purpose-guided leaders, this is where it happens. Sometimes the inspiration for it can come in a most mundane way. Elaine Birks-Mitchell, a full time IT professional, was cleaning her closet. She created piles of clothes to donate to local charities. Then she noticed that she had several bras she couldn’t wear anymore, but her parents told her that you cannot donate undergarments. “A pity,” she thought, “these are in great shape and some are practically new.” Elaine called a local women’s shelter to see if they would want them. They were thrilled! Many women came to the shelter in nightgowns, escaping abusive husbands in the middle of the night. Clothing was often donated to the shelter but rarely bras, yet they are expensive and needed, especially when the women go on interviews. From this beginning, Elaine started The Bra Recyclers, which now sends over 20,000 bras annually to women’s shelters and to underdeveloped countries where women have little access to them. Elaine discovered her passion and everyday fulfills it.

How can you discover your passion? What inspires you? How can you pursue it? How can you make it a fulfilling part of your life? How can you give your idealism wings?

Steve Weitzenkorn

Our book, Find Fulfill Flourish, is now available! Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times calls it “an inspirational tour de force” Click here to purchase it. Click here for an overview and here for a free sample chapter. Book readers also receive FREE access to all premium exercises and content on our website.

Visit our new website, see the video: FindFulfillFlourish.com. Take the FREE Guiding Values Exercise.

Copyright © 2011, F3 Forum LLC. All rights reserved.

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