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Creating a sense of purpose for ourselves and others

To do that, one needs to know one's gifts, opportunities, ambitions and restrictions

The world is in considerable turmoil. The pace of technology has become frenetic.

Politically, we are at a crossroads. Our species is on the brink of self-recreation and immortality.

Having a clear purpose will help you choose the direction to take, but how will you choose?

Whatever you do, there is always a purpose behind it. As you advance in your career, you must discover your purpose.

Here are four questions to get started on:

WHAT ARE YOUR GIFTS?

We call them strengths and weaknesses. We usually know the latter, but often forget that maximising our strengths will enable us to make much greater developments than correcting our weaknesses.

Besides, growing strengths is easier than altering weaknesses.

We must assess our gifts; they are our assets.

WHAT ARE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES?

Our lives are limited by many factors over which we have no control. However, opportunities and our ability to see and leverage upon them are within our control.

We can never compile a complete list of opportunities, but we can write down the major ones and brainstorm a few more outside the conventional.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

Not everyone is imaginative about what they want to do. Some answer the question with "make money". What they want is to become rich.

That is a consequence of doing other things well.

The happiness associated with great wealth is illusory.

Instead, it is better to figure out what you look forward to doing, and seeing what gives you the greatest pleasure when looking back.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESTRICTIONS?

Constraints of obligations to be fulfilled, limited time available, urgency of putting food on the table, increasing old age, propensity to sickness - all these restrict our options.

These restrictions may be less than we fear but they are very real nonetheless.

We shouldn't work on this aspect of our purpose until we have dealt with the earlier three.

As we become senior and take responsibility for others, we must help them find their purpose, too.

Managing a business to achieve great success means handling others just as well as you handle yourself.

By lifting their eyes above their current horizon of the business, you enable them to get a vision of the future.

Failure to do this will leave your group uncoordinated and over-competitive.

When managing a team within a business, it is important to have a common objective.

This means focusing every individual's attention, interest and curiosity on the project in hand. But it, too, requires a view beyond the immediate.

To gauge your team members' purpose, ask them the following questions:

  • What are you most proud of having done (a) in your life and (b) at your work?
  • Whose project are you working on at present? How do you feel the outcome of your current work will impact other people?
  • What will the things you learn from your current work enable you to do in the future that you might not have been able to do previously?
  • If you could create, build, invent, something new, what would it be?

The answers will tell you all you need to know about their purpose - and a great deal about them.

Enabling others to discover their purpose has been one of the most fulfilling things that I've done and has become my purpose in life.

John Bittleston is the Founder Mentor of Terrific Mentors International (http://www.TerrificMentors.com), an organisation that provides mentoring, coaching and training.

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