Purpose is an incredibly powerful thing. It provides the strength to fight the impossible. —David Hieatt
Find your focus and you can fight the impossible. (Truth be told, there is very little that is realistically impossible. If you put your passion and weight behind anything – in my experience – it more often than not works out.)
Focus is difficult, but focus matters.
Ask yourself: What's your focus? If you can answer that question, you're half way there. Very few take the time to really think this through. Very few take the time to confront themselves, asking the deep, but important questions. Very few take the time to ask, "What really matters?"
Ask yourself, "What's your vision?" Use that to guide you on your journey, don't just blindly stumble along.
If you've been following along and applying the different techniques we've discussed in the previous thoughts (essentially: priming the brain, by fuelling it with a constant stream of raw material), trust me, something will emerge. In my experience it always does.
Immerse yourself in the world you love and – as if by magic – something will bubble to the surface. It works for my students, I'm sure it will work for you.
If you've primed the brain effectively, purpose will emerge. Everything you've read and absorbed will feed into your vision. Out of those inputs, outputs will emerge.
Identifying your values is critical. Ask yourself, what matters to you? What are your core values? How do these define what you do?
Drawing on over a decade of experience as an educator, the question of values is the blind spot I encounter all too frequently, and yet, it's critical to defining future trajectory. Ask yourself: What values do you hold deeply? If possible, put these at the heart of your purpose.
You don't need to be everything to everyone, indeed, you will often do better when you focus. As David Hieatt, of Hiut Denim, puts it:
Be narrow. It's much better to mean a great deal to a few people than next to nothing to a huge amount.
Or, as Hieatt also states, "Do one thing well."
Spend some time identifying your values and, once you have a vision of what these are, put your weight behind them. Aligning your purpose behind your values increases your chances of winning. The trick is to focus, not to get distracted….
It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to find yourself wandering down false paths. The challenge is to find your true path, avoiding distractions along the way.
One moment you're consuming X, suddenly you're thinking, "X is my passion." Moments later you're consuming Y, suddenly you're thinking, "Y is my passion." You find yourself derailed by the last thing you consumed.
I'm not a psychologist, far from it, but I see this pattern – in myself – all the time. I find myself consumed by the last thing I consumed. As a writer it's hard to avoid distractions.
Last night I watched the final episode of The Game. (If you haven't seen it, I recommend it highly.) Wonderfully set in a bygone, cold war era, it's a game of espionage, gripping until it's finely wrought denouement. I watched it thinking, "This! I could write spy stories."
A few nights previously I'd watched Bladerunner. (I'm sure it needs no introduction.) I watched it thinking, "This! I could write about the future."
I enjoy both espionage and science fiction (and lots more besides), but, on reflection, neither is my true path. (My true path is education. I've been working as an educator for what seems an eternity. I enjoy witnessing my student's accomplishments, helping them along the way, I can think of no other path that leads to so many successful outcomes.)
The bottom line? Find your path. You only have one life, use it well, use it for yourself, not someone else.
At the end of the day, it's all about you.
What do you believe in? You need to dig deep, asking yourself, "What really matters?" Once you identify that, stay true to your vision.
If you've immersed yourself enough in the world, purpose emerges. Inevitably. If you're stuck, lacking inspiration, immerse yourself a little more. The more you immerse yourself, the more you identify what matters to you, and – in so doing – the clearer your purpose becomes.
As David Hieatt states, purpose is the fuel for the fight, "It provides the strength to fight the impossible."
Your purpose matters. Surround yourself with enough raw material and it will inevitably emerge. Pursue your passion and you'll find the everyday tasks slip by effortlessly.
I’m looking forward next month to exploring how we conquer 'The Blank Page'. As we all know, blank pages can be intimidating, but make the first mark and the rest will follow. It's all about making the first step. See you in a month for the next step of the journey.