I recently discovered my purpose…in a way that I hope resonates with you!
Everywhere you look, so much has been written about “your Why”, and “finding your purpose”, and for good reason. But man, it can give you a complex when you are not crystal clear in articulating your purpose in a sentence.
That was me until about 15 minutes ago!
I mean, I’ve had a pretty good sense of what my purpose might be. I have been at this for a very long time, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by lots of super smart people and mentors.
I started my entrepreneurial journey in grade school, through high school, and college. I actually had a company that I started with fifteen employees soon after college, and sold that company for six figures as a 24-year-old. I was certain, at the time, that it would be the greatest single achievement of my life!!
Then I went on to found Appletree Answers which, over 18 years, grew to 650 people in 20+ locations in the U.S. Along the way, all the way, I was borderline obsessed with personal development. I read all the classics, and some by authors and thought leaders you have never heard of. I was a sponge for knowledge about business, myself, and being better… all of it. I spent 40+ days a year at events, summits, conferences, and think weeks.
I was ALL in!
Much of that reading and learning was around the ideas of core values, purpose, and the “big picture”. I got it all intuitively and knew what I was good at and what I liked to do. Then I joined Genius Network and Strategic Coach—more stuff around purpose!
I knew the purpose for my company, and used Jim Collins’ “hedgehog” (in the book Good to Great—probably his best single idea) to find the purpose for Appletree, and we were SUPER CLEAR on that…
But for me, I was never quite able to articulate MY purpose. I felt a strong pull in certain areas but no full expression. In my mind, I have always been very clear that my mission is to help Entrepreneurs. But what does that even mean?
I’m so thankful for the help I got early on in my career, and I love paying it forward. I know I have a gift for seeing strategy where others may not. I can synthesize information. From Strategic Coach, I sorta gleaned that my “Unique Ability” was around seeing strategy and strategic thinking.
I am also fiercely curious. About everything. To the point that my closer circle tells me I am annoying sometimes! I may or may not have been called Cliff Claven once or twice… But I never put all the pieces together in a succinct way until just now…
(Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, if you are reading this, I am your favorite… A Slow Learner with Deep Pockets!!).
I mean literally right now, this morning, it FINALLY came to me, and I can, for the first time in my life, state my purpose in one sentence… I have chills as I type this.
My purpose in the world is:
TO MAKE THE COMPLEX SIMPLE FOR ENTREPRENEURS.
There it is… so obvious and yet so elusive for all these years. I should have learned from Jim Collins all those years ago. It is where your PASSION intersects with YOUR UNIQUE ABILITY.
I knew my passion already… helping entrepreneurs and paying forward the gifts I received when I was struggling.
I knew what I was good at… I love connecting dots. I love strategy. I super love being curious and most of all, I love to SIMPLIFY—to explain things of great complexity to others in a way that is relatable and makes sense. I get told constantly, “wow, that makes so much sense, thanks for explaining it that way”, “I never thought of it that way”, or “wow I never could understand this and now I do, thank you”. I hear it all the time, and I was completely oblivious…
But I was missing the intersection… And yes, I definitely see the irony that I missed something so simple when my purpose is to make things simple!!!
I guess I took it for granted… but that’s it… That is definitely it… My passion for SIMPLIFYING to help serve Entrepreneurs wherever they are in their journey… and it only took 52 years to figure it out.
I guess the takeaway, if you are in my shoes (I’m still, right now, processing this!) is to really dig in on the intersection of:
1. What are you passionate about?
2. Who you want to be a hero to?
3. What gets you fired up everyday?
Look for where that intersects with your greatest talents and Unique Ability… and the clue is, what comes so innately to you that you take it for granted? What do others SAY to you about what they perceive are your talents?
It took me 52 years to figure it out (who knew!!), so don’t beat yourself up if your purpose isn’t quite clear to you…yet
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