Are you on the right track?

Jan 14


Robert Knowlton

Robert Knowlton

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Are you on the right track? "Every calling is great when greatly ... -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ... on purpose. It's a growing, evolving ... takes focus, clarity and regu


Are you on the right track?

"Every calling is great when greatly pursued."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes,Are you on the right track? Articles Jr. (1841-1935)

Living on purpose. It's a growing, evolving process.
It takes focus, clarity and regular reflection. Here's
one story about a client's evolution and effort to stay
on purpose.

Paul is doing some incredible things. His business
bottom line is up and stronger than ever. There are new
opportunities on the horizon allowing him to live his
dream and in many ways he's on the leading edge in his

I met Paul four years ago. He was referred to me when I
was making marketing calls to businesses in my area.
Paul was very interested in personal and professional
development. Our first call lead to some interesting
conversations and Paul subsequently participated in many
classes I taught. Two years ago, Paul joined my purpose
discovery workshop, resulting in his purpose statement:

"I eagerly seek to acquire and share knowledge to
be of benefit to all."

Paul told me he had always wanted to be a public speaker
and to him, his purpose statement was a clear reflection
of this desire. By understanding this is what he
naturally loved doing and sought to contribute, Paul
began to shift his life and pursue his dream. We
started a weekly coaching program. He also signed up for
Toastmasters to hone his speaking skills and he hasn't
looked back.

Paul's company is a small independent wholesale supplier
of cleaning and sanitation products. You might be
thinking to yourself, "That doesn't seem very
glamorous. I thought you said he's doing some
incredible things. He's just selling cleaning

Paul's business is selling cleaning products, but his
real passion is infection control. He has taken it upon
himself to develop an expertise in cleaning and
infection control so healthy people don't get sick and
sick people have a chance to heal. He's not a
scientist, but Paul understands the science of infection
control. His real specialty, however, is the Art of
Infection Control. He's the "what to do and how to do
it guy" people in his local health care community often
turn to for advice.

Today, aside from running his business, Paul speaks at
conferences and is connecting leading experts in the
field of infection control with the front line hospital
and nursing home staff across the country by leading and
facilitating group TeleLectures on the phone.

Let's back up two years. Although he longed to speak in
front of groups, Paul felt handicapped by a slight
stutter. It wasn't until he realized what his purpose
was, " acquire and share knowledge..." that despite
his reticence, he decided to go for it.

Paul is developing an excellent reputation now and in
just two years, is known as an "expert" in his field.
He has no Ph.D. in science and doesn't really need one.
He calls on others' scientific expertise when needed.
He's able to make a fantastic contribution through what
he knows, "The Art of Infection Control" -- how to use
the Science.

Education in the Art of Infection Control is part of
Paul's vehicle for touching the world. In the
beginning, Paul had a lot of doubts about actually
making this happen. "I need a degree," he thought. "No
one will take me seriously," he told me. "I don't know
how to speak to groups," etc., etc. All of these
"issues" have been overcome and he is indeed living his
dream. His goal of speaking and sharing his knowledge
and insights aligns with who he is. It "just seems
natural." When you act in alignment with your deepest
drive to contribute, it never really feels like work.

Then, last week, with two years of success behind him,
Paul called me and said, "I'm not sure if I'm on track
or if my purpose is correct."

Sometimes even when we know the direction we want to go,
we can get lost. We lose sight of our goal; we forget
why we're doing something or maybe the day-to-day
pressures and distractions make it seem like we're off
track. Maybe we think our purpose is not big enough.

So, with this new doubt we took some time and reviewed
Paul's purpose. (We only wonder if we're off track when
we're in doubt, when we lose focus, when our vision is
cloudy. Of course most of us don't review if we're on
purpose, when we're feeling great, focused and aligned.)

This may sound simple, but in review, I asked Paul if he
was still "eagerly seeking to acquire and share his
knowledge". He said yes. Then I asked him to look at
his drive to do this and "to be of benefit to all".

"Is this still what you are trying to do?" "Yes,
it is."

"Does this purpose still reflect your deepest
drive to contribute?" Another resounding "YES!"

"Then is this statement of purpose indeed still
absolutely valid?" "YES!"

"Are you sure there is nothing missing or is there
something else you need to add?" "No" said Paul, "I
guess I wasn't really seeing things with my purpose in

Paul was reconnected to his purpose.

Because of the clarity of his actions and intention,
Paul is doing incredible things in all aspects of his
life. His business, his church life, and his
relationships all continue to grow and be aligned with
his unique contribution, despite occasional feelings of
doubt or distraction. Living a meaningful life, one of
purpose, is an evolving process. As a matter of fact,
it's a lifetime job.

Usually we equate success with being on purpose. But
note: you can be 100% on purpose and not necessarily
succeed or reach your goal. Your purpose is about your
drive to contribute. It is "what you are trying to do"
and at which you may or may not succeed. Purpose is the
driver. In Paul's case, the driver is "to acquire and
share knowledge to be of benefit to all."

Maybe he is unsuccessful in acquiring a certain nugget
of knowledge or is unsuccessful in clearly sharing his
knowledge. This does not mean he is not on purpose.
The mere fact of attempting to acquire and trying to
share knowledge shows alignment with purpose.

Sure, we all want to be successful but it is not the
only criteria by which we measure your alignment with
your purpose. We measure being on purpose as the
process of authentically seeking to create the results
you want. It is the process of being and doing and is
not necessarily tied to immediate results.

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson
Mandela all strived for years in the service of their
purpose, often meeting with defeat after defeat. They
too may have had setbacks and doubts, yet continued to
keep focused on their purpose.

If you get stuck, try stepping back from the "results"
and look at the bigger process. Are your actions
aligned with your deepest drive to contribute and live a
purposeful life? Only you know, and your answers will
reveal to you if you are on purpose. You may need to
make a few adjustments or maybe, if you are like Paul,
just need a reminder that you are on the right track.